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 theories of learning, instruction, and curriculum 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 draw upon deep conceptual understanding of learning and education to address significant knowledge gaps and practical challenges related to how people learn and how to teach.

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 Learning, Teaching, and Teacher Education specialization prepares students to engage in effective research and practice that addresses the connections between learning and teaching, and learning to teach across disciplines and differences, classes and cultures, genders and geographies. It values students' and teachers' voices as important sources of knowledge and understanding. Research areas include deep and productive learning across settings, effective school practices, pre-service teacher education, in-service teacher professional development, the history of teaching and teacher education, humanizing pedagogies, reflection and reflective practices, school improvement, all with a focus on social justice and equity.

The Learning Sciences and Technology specialization fosters scholarly expertise needed for research-based innovation in learning with technology. Our students and faculty conduct cross-disciplianry research to investigate new learning processes, models, programs, and systems enabled by innovative designs of technology. Research areas include online and blended learning, computer-supported collaborative learning and knowledge building, game-based learning, self-regulated learning with technology, learning analtyics and assessment, computational thinking, connected communities of inquiry, and other educational innovations enabled by technology integration.

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 can focus on a variety of issues such as socio-cultural and cognitive processes of learning and teaching, classroom discourse, learning through authentic inquiry, mathematical play, integration of technology (e.g. games, modeling tools, online environments), curriculum development, and teacher development in STEM areas including computing education and environmental education.

The Literacy, Language, and Culture specialization focuses on the dynamic and interconnected roles of literacies, languges, and cultures in learning. Research areas include litearcy as a social practice, the role of context and culture in literacy and language learning, instructional discourse, writing and composition, the role of students’ cultural and linguistic practices in school-based and out-of-school time learning, disciplinary literacy, English education, and the creation of just and inclusive contexts through which students from diverse backgrounds can grow linguistic and literacy knowledge.

The TESOL and Second Language Acquisition specialization is for students who are interested in exploring the intersection of the field of second language acquisition with pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, intercultural communication and bi- and multilingualism, and the impact this type of research has on teaching and learning. Research can focus on a variety of issues including formulaic language, analysis of intercultural interactions, developing common ground, synergic concepts in the bilingual mind, bilingual pragmatic competence, and instructed second language acquisition, usage-based approaches to language and cross-linguistic influence.

The Society, Equity, and Social Studies specialization prepares students to examine the role of education in fostering just and equitable societies with well informed democratic participants. This specialization also includes a focus on social studies education in K-12 schooling, including the learning and teaching of history, civics, economics, and geography. Research areas include civic engagement, political interest and efficacy, democratic classrooms and schools, history education, equity in education, and socially just teaching.

Other Specialization: In consultation with the advisor, students are encouraged to construct their own specializations. These specializations might include courses from any of the departmental specializations, combined with offerings from other departments.


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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.