Reading Program Leading to the Degree of Ph.D.

The program leading to the Ph.D. in Reading prepares individuals for faculty positions in universities, colleges, and junior or community colleges. It also can serve those who have or seek other positions requiring a comprehensive understanding of literacy and the ability to conduct research and/or to interpret or implement research findings.

The program of study and research requires a minimum of three academic years of full-time study; or, one year of full-time study combined with part-time study over a longer period.

Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general University requirements for admission to doctoral study, teacher certification and teaching experience are desirable. However, the program is open to college graduates with other appropriate professional backgrounds.

Application to the Ph.D. program involves submitting official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework, letters of recommendation, and a written response to the department's questionnaire, which replaces the Candidate's Statement of Goals in the application form. Submission of recent scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GREs) is recommended, but is not required.

Applicants may be asked to come for an interview with the Reading Department faculty as an integral part of the admissions process.

Program of Study (60 credits minimum)

Students, in consultation with their program advisor, develop an appropriate course of study. The distribution of courses is:

  1. Professional study in Reading (30 credits minimum);
  2. Allied Courses (15 credits, minimum, including 12 credits in an area of concentration);
  3. Research methodology (coursework taken in this area does not count toward the 60 credit minimum requirement for the Ph.D. program).

Qualifying Procedures

In Part A of the Comprehensive Examination, Doctoral students must demonstrate thoughtful and critical understanding of the broad field of literacy, in three domains: Literacy and Society, Literacy and Schooling, and the Nature and Acquisition of Literacy. In Part B, the student must demonstrate an integrated understanding of the research and methodology relevant to the domain of the dissertation.

Part A

After completing a minimum of 48 credits, the student selects one of two options, in consultation with his/her program advisor:

  1. A six-hour written closed-book examination; or
  2. A portfolio of learning, including a reflective essay describing the significance of the contents for the student's academic development. The portfolio can include anything the student considers relevant for a demonstration of competence in each of the three domains.

Part B

After successful completion of Part A, the student, in consultation with his or her dissertation committee, defines a topic which will be the focus of a proposed dissertation. Subsequently, the student must demonstrate knowledge of the areas related to the selected topic through either:

  1. A six-hour written closed-book examination constructed by the student's dissertation committee and approved by the faculty; or
  2. Two qualifying papers that integrate and critique the literature relevant to the student's dissertation research, one focused on methodological issues and the other on content issues.

The Part B requirement must be met before the student can present a dissertation proposal to the department.

Research Methodology

The Reading Department expects students to demonstrate a broad familiarity with the design and analysis of both quantitative and qualitative research. They must also demonstrate competency in the particular methodology(ies) appropriate to their dissertation topic. The research methodology requirement may be fulfilled through appropriate coursework (e.g., E Rdg 762; E Psy 530, 630, 750, 756; E Tap 743, 777, 778), independent study, or active participation in research projects (or a combination of these). Students are required to submit a statement to the faculty, detailing how they have met/propose to meet this requirement. The research methodology requirement will not be officially met until the faculty approves the student's statement.

Coursework taken to fulfill the research tool requirement may not be used to fulfill the 60-hour minimum requirement for the Ph.D. program. This includes E Rdg 762 (Current Research in Literacy). If not used to meet the research tool requirement, E Rdg 762 may be used in meeting the 30- hour minimum requirement under Reading Courses.

Dissertation Proposal

After successfully completing the Part B examination, the student, in consultation with his or her dissertation committee, prepares and submits a dissertation proposal to the department. The proposal should include a title page, a statement of the general issues underlying the study, an overview of relevant literature, a description of the research methodology to be employed, anticipated outcomes, and a bibliography. The proposal is not to exceed 15 double-spaced pages.

The student makes a formal presentation of his/her dissertation proposal to the department at a public meeting. The purpose of this demonstration is to:

  1. Access the perspectives and expertise of faculty beyond the student's dissertation committee in order to increase the quality of the study;
  2. Provide a community check on the nature of the dissertation so that any design or methodological flaws, or conflicts among faculty perspectives, can be detected before the study itself has been undertaken.

The dissertation proposal must be approved by the faculty before the student proceeds to the dissertation itself.

Full Time Study in Residence

All students in must satisfy the requirement of a period of sustained intellectual inquiry within the academic community of their department, the School of Education, and the University.

The residency requirement can be met in one of two ways:

The preferred method is to enroll full-time for at least a year, and participate in the intellectual community, either taking courses, or serving as a research or teaching assistant alongside the faculty, or conducting independent studies, or a combination of these.

An alternative method is to enroll part time, but participate in the intellectual community in one or more of the roles outlined above.

Advanced students, in consultation with their advisor, must prepare a brief statement outlining how they intend to fulfill the residency requirement. This statement is reviewed by the department. Once accepted, the requirement to be met has to approved by the student’s advisor and department. After completion of the residency, the student (in consultation with his/her advisor) prepares a brief statement detailing how he residency requirement was met. This statement is brought to the department for approval. Once this is done, completion of the residency requirement is posted on the students transcript.

Students who are currently in the advance program in Reading may petition the department to satisfy their residency requirement under the new regulations.

Students who seek to meet the residency requirements in a manner other than specified in (2) above may do so in writing to the department. The department will review the request, and decide if it will be approved.

Admission to Candidacy

Students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. in Reading degree upon the following:

  1. Completion of 60 graduate credits with an average of B or above;
  2. Completion of the departmental qualifying procedures (Parts A and B);
  3. Completion of the Research Methodology requirement;
  4. Completion of the University residence requirement;
  5. Departmental approval of the dissertation proposal.


The dissertation is the culmination of a program of advanced study leading to a doctoral degree and as such must attest to the attainment of a high degree of scholarship. The dissertation must report in accepted scholarly style the investigation of a significant problem in the field of literacy. It must demonstrate that a candidate is capable of sophisticated, independent research and analysis and scholarly reporting in an academic discipline or professional field.

When the dissertation committee feels that the dissertation is ready to be considered for approval, the student makes a formal request to the Department for an oral examination and defense of the dissertation. The dissertation committee conducts the oral examination. After approval of the dissertation is obtained by a vote of the dissertation committee and ratified by the department, the student submits final copies to the Office of Graduate Studies.

The following programs are all new programs that meet New York States changing Teacher Certification requirements that take affect in February of 2004: