A diverse group of people discussing a book in a library.

Doctor of Philosophy


Program of Study


The PhD program accommodates full-time students as well as working teachers with part-time or full-time enrollment options, including online and evening class schedules.

Core Courses

The Nature and Acquisition of Literacy Across the Lifespan

  • Literacy Learning and Development in Childhood
  • Language Foundations for Learning

Literacy and Schooling

  • Texts and Teaching in Literacy Learning
  • Research on Preparing Literacy Teachers

Literacy and Society

  • Literacy as Social Reproduction and Transformation
  • Theory and Research in Teaching Literature

Elective Courses

Choose 30 credits with your advisor's consent. Graduate transfer credits may count toward the elective requirement.

Methodology Courses

To understand research design and analysis, you must earn 12 credits in research methods (minimum). Please note that these credits are not included in the 54-credit minimum required for the comprehensive exam.

Credit distribution is based on the primary method of inquiry involved in your dissertation project; either take 9 credits in quantitative methods and 3 credits in qualitative methods, or take 9 credits in qualitative methods and 3 credits in quantitative methods.

Sample courses include:

  • Discourse Analysis 
  • Practitioner and Participatory Action Research
  • Quantitative Methods in Research
  • Qualitative Research Methods
  • Doctoral Research Practicum
Comprehensive Exam

Professional Development

As a doctoral student, you develop professional teaching and research skills by assisting with the teaching of graduate courses or clinical practica, and by participating in faculty research projects. In addition, you gain experience presenting scholarly papers at a variety of professional conferences and submitting academic articles to peer-reviewed journals.

Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information, contact Reisha Rieder at [email protected] or 518-442-5100.


Group of college students

Assistantships and fellowships are regularly offered to full-time students when funding is available through the University and/or externally funded projects.

If you are awarded an assistantship or fellowship, you receive a stipend for 20 hours of research or teaching assignments per week, and a tuition waiver for 9 credits of coursework per semester for an academic year (fall and spring).

Some assignments require to you gather information, organize and analyze data, and assist with manuscript preparation, while others may involve teaching activities at the undergraduate or master's level.

Career Paths in Literacy

The PhD in Literacy prepares you for research and teaching positions in universities and colleges, or for positions in P-12 schools, government agencies, and educational organizations that require literacy expertise and strong research and data analysis skills.

Teacher helping student in class

Sample Dissertation Titles


"A Practitioner Research Study Exploring Critical Literacy in a Secondary English Classroom" by Dilnavaz Hushmendy (Chair: Margaret Sheehy)



"Fostering Literacy Learning With Three Middle School Special-Education Students Using Therapy Dogs as Reading Partners" by Donna Lamkin (Chair: Cheryl Dozier)

"Navigating the Complex Nature of Specialized Literacy Professionals in Formalized Teacher Leadership Positions" by Thea Yurkewecz (Chair: Virginia Goatley)


"Postmodern Picturebooks, Gender, and Reading Difficulties: A Phenomenological Exploration of One Boy's Experiences" by Diane Hamilton (Chair: Donna Scanlon)



"Talk to Text: An Application of Discourse Analysis to Text Messaging in Adolescents with Social Communication Disorders" by Wendy Bower (Chair: Margaret Sheehy)

"Understanding the Role of Literature in the Reading Lives of Secondary English Students" by Tracy Peers Pontin (Chair: Kelly Wissman)

"Teachers' Perceptions of the Impact of Education Policy on Their Teaching, Professional Development, and Sense of Efficacy for Literacy Instruction" by David Clickner (Co-Chairs: Virginia Goatley and Donna Scanlon)

Admissions Requirements


Departmental Assistantship Consideration

Fall: January 30
Spring: Not Available
Summer: Not Available

No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

Fall: January 30
Spring: Not Available
Summer: Not Available

Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
    At least one letter must be from a college/university professor/instructor and address the candidate's academic abilities and potential for graduate study.
  • Literacy essay within application
  • Official GRE scores (Note: The GRE requirement has been waived through Fall 2024)

Supplemental Documents

Writing Sample
The writing sample should be an example of academic writing. 


Available information for International Applicants.

Special Notes

This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.   

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  • Students understand both broad and specific aspects of literacy theory, research, practice, and policy.
  • Students can critically analyze, interpret, and apply research.
  • Students produce high quality and rigorous research in literacy.
  • Students are leaders who engage in collaborative inquiry to promote literacy.
  • Graduates engage in careers aligned with their areas of expertise and qualifications.

Careers and Advisement

The Pathways Into Education (PIE) Center is the central office on campus serving undergraduate, graduate, and prospective students interested in pursuing careers in education and programs leading to teacher certification.

Please call or email to schedule an appointment.

Graduate Advisement:
Email Graduate Advisement