Since the re-establishment of the education discipline at Peking University in 1980, conducting innovative research has been the most important mission. From 1980 to 2000, educational research at PKU follows two major tracks. One is Chinese higher education and comparative higher education; the other is economics of education and educational finance. After the establishment of the Graduate School of Education, Peking University (PGSE) in 2000,educational research has been extended to theories and principles of education, research methodology in education, educational administration, educational policy, student development information technology and educational development, basic education, teacher education, and education and human resources development for business organizations.
In early 1980s, Professor Wang Yongquan and Professor Hao Keming led the study of “The Structure of Chinese Higher Education”, a key National Educational Planning Project; Professor Li Yining and Professor Chen Liangkun became principal investigators of another key National Social Science Foundation Project, “The Study of the Appropriate Proportion of Education Funding in National Income and the Measurements of the Economic Return of Educational Investment”.
During the past five years, faculty at PGSE received funding for 190 research projects, among which 44 were funded by the government. These include 3 National Social Science Foundation Projects with one of them being a national significant project, 6 National Science Foundation Projects, 2 National Education Planning Projects with one of them being a national key project, 8 key Humanities and Social Science Research Base Projects by MOE, 8 Humanities and Social Sciences Planning Research Fund sponsored by MOE, 2 Philosophy and Social Sciences Planning Project of Beijing Municipality, and 4 China Post-doctoral Research Fund Projects et al. In addition, there are 20 projects funded by foreign foundations or international organizations and 126 other commissioned projects.
These projects address educational problems of theoretical and/or practical significance. Research findings and policy suggestions from empirical studies have produced immediate impact on educational reforms and development in China. For example, the "connotative development" model of Chinese higher education, proposed by a research team led by Professor Min Weifang, has been adopted by the state educational decision-makers.
Over these years of academic research, PGSE faculty has developed its own research philosophy which can be embodied by six “consciousness”, that is, consciousness of relevant theoretical foundations, consciousness of research frontiers, consciousness of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, consciousness of knowledge accumulation and theory building, consciousness of team work, and consciousness of social service.