Doctor of Philosophy

More information on course requirements for the PhD in Curriculum and Instruction can be found in the Doctoral Handbook on our 'Current Students' page, as well as in the Graduate Bulletin.

Note: There are changes to the doctoral program for students entering in Fall 2012 and after. These changes to the program timeline can be found here.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction offers a broad and intensive investigation of issues in educational theory and practice. Theory and practice are each seen as necessary extensions of the other and as establishing criteria by which the other can be judged. The PhD program emphasizes cutting-edge theory in curriculum and instruction and rigorous standards of research in the construction of new knowledge about education. Doctoral students are encouraged to engage in active programs of research, both with faculty and independently, that demand strong conceptual understanding of contemporary issues in education and a flexible array of responses.

Areas of Doctoral Study

The Department offers a flexible array of specializations based on the interests of current faculty and students. Students are encouraged to combine elements across these areas, integrate them with offerings from other departments, and develop their own courses of study to help them achieve their educational goals.

The Studies in Learning and Teaching specialization prepares students to engage in effective research and practice that addresses the connections between learning and teaching across disciplines and differences, classes and cultures, genders and geographies. It values students' and teachers' voices as important sources of knowledge and understanding explored by faculty and doctoral students of learning and teaching. Research areas include pre-service teacher education, in-service teacher professional development, the history of teaching and teacher education, the relational context of teaching and learning, relational and phenomenological methodologies, reflection and reflective practices, boys' relational lives in school, diversity and social justice, and transformative learning and authentic assessment.

The Instructional Technology specialization fosters scholarly expertise in theories of learning and instruction and their application to the use of new and emergent technology. Research areas explored by faculty and doctoral students include instructional theories, learning theories, instructional systems design, the application of advanced technology in education settings such as multimedia, interactive video, computer tools, the use of media in teaching and learning, communications and education, media literacy, educational system design, and distance education through online learning.

The Language and Literacies specialization focuses on research and scholarship in first and second language teaching and learning including literacy, technology, writing, English, TESOL and literature. Research areas explored by faculty and doctoral students include pre-service and in-service teacher development, the anatomy of classroom and online instructional language, and the roles of language and context in teaching and learning, social and cultural factors that affect teaching and learning, second language development and language use, intercultural discourse, and the linguistic and literacy development of diverse students.

Students interested in English as a second or foreign language have the opportunity to explore the intersection of the field with pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, intercultural communication and bi- and multilingualism. Research can focus on a variety of issues include formulaic language, analysis of intercultural interactions, context and meaning, developing common ground, synergic concepts in the bilingual mind, bi- and multilingual language use and development, bilingual pragmatic competence, interculturality and others.

The Science and Mathematics Education specialization prepares students to examine critical issues in the teaching and learning of science and mathematics at the K-12 and post-secondary levels. Research areas explored by faculty and doctoral students include teacher professional development, diversity justice, cognition, assessment, socio-cultural issues in teaching and learning, instructional theory, integration of technology, postsecondary education, cooperative learning, calculus reform, persistence and attrition, and curriculum development.


Doctoral alumni from ETAP take on leadership roles in a broad range of careers, including:

  • College and university faculty in the liberal arts, schools of education, schools of nursing;
  • Educational practice and policy development at state, regional, and national levels;
  • Instructional materials and technologies developers in corporations, universities, medical centers, libraries and school districts;
  • Instructional materials and technologies developers in corporations, universities, medical centers, libraries, and school districts;
  • Training designers in corporations, government agencies, and the military;
  • Educational research;
  • Technology leadership in schools and industry;
  • Professional development specialists;
  • School district consultants;
  • Leadership positions in State and regional educational agencies, and in Ministries of Education in other countries, and
  • Administrative roles in K-12 and post-secondary institutions.