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Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction

Our graduate programs at Clemson University build on the rich experiences and expertise of faculty and students to provide an educational environment in which both groups share in research, exploration and inquiry. The result of this synergy is impact — on our community and beyond.

Specialty Concentrations

  • Overview

    The Doctor of Philosophy degree in curriculum and instruction is a research degree designed to prepare the student to become a scholar who can discover, integrate and apply knowledge, as well as communicate and disseminate it. The intent of the program is to prepare the student to make a significant original contribution to knowledge in a specialized field. The program prepares students in one of the following specialty concentrations: early childhood education, mathematics education, science education, or social studies and educational foundations. In addition, students may choose from a range of scholarly focus areas including:

    • Early childhood learning and development
    • Informal education
    • STEM
    • International-global education
    • Learning technologies and educational psychology
    • Legal and policy issues in education
    • Mixed methods and design-based research
    • Motivation and learning
    • Professional development and educational quality
    • Qualitative research methodologies
    • Research, evaluation, measurement and statistics
    • Social, historical and philosophical foundations of education
    • Social justice and educational equity
    • Sustainability education

    All students — regardless of the specialty concentration and/or areas of scholarly focus — are expected to work with faculty to design programs uniquely suited to their areas of interest.

  • Program Goals

    • The student will be able to critically analyze social, historical, psychological, personal and policy factors in the development and current practices of curriculum and instruction.
    • The student will acquire an understanding of the research processes within the field of curriculum and instruction, including practical design, analysis and reporting.
    • The student will understand how to use historical, correlational, descriptive, experimental and qualitative methods within research in curriculum and instruction.
    • The student will be able to analyze critically and evaluate research within the field of curriculum and instruction.
    • The student will be able to conduct scholarly research and contribute to the field of curriculum and instruction.
  • Admission Requirements

    Applications for the curriculum and instruction doctoral program are considered throughout the year. Only complete application packets are considered for admission and should be submitted by Oct. 1 for spring admission and March 1 for fall admission.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Admission to the Clemson University Graduate School.
    • Minimum of two years teaching experience or the equivalent.
    • Master’s degree with a GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Complete application packet.
    • Online application.
    • Two letters of reference.
    • Unofficial transcripts (Official transcripts will be required if recommended for admission).
    • Competitive GRE scores.
    • Current resume/vita.
    • Letter of intent – Writing sample that communicates the applicant's professional philosophy and goals, research interests and purpose for seeking the doctorate. The letter should be two to three pages in length.
    • Students whose native language is not English must submit acceptable scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
    • In addition to the application packet, students may be required to participate in an on-campus or telephone interview. Interviews are conducted in October and December for spring admissions and February and May for fall admissions.
  • Program Requirements

    Program Curriculum
    This section includes the requirements for completing the doctoral degree. More detailed information about these requirements can be found in the Program Handbook.

    Doctoral Seminars (2 hours)
    Students will take these seminars beginning their first fall semester and continuing into the following spring semester.

    ED 9030: This course initiates new doctoral students into the academic culture of a doctoral program, particularly at Clemson, with emphasis on the skills, strategies and dispositions of academic research and writing.

    ED 9040: This course continues the process of introducing new doctoral students into the academic culture of a doctoral program, particularly at Clemson, with emphasis on the roles and responsibilities of teacher educators.

    Program Core (Minimum 21 hours) 
    Core knowledge consists of constructs in educational foundations and curriculum and instruction. Core knowledge should be demonstrated in the following areas:

    • Curriculum: Students will successfully complete at least one course and/or demonstrate competency in the theoretical understanding of curriculum as it relates to design and policy.
    • Instruction: Students will successfully complete at least one course and/or demonstrate competency in the theoretical understanding of instruction as it relates to teaching and learning.
    • Assessment: Students will successfully complete at least one course and/or demonstrate competency in the theoretical understanding of assessment as it relates to measurement and evaluation.
    • Research: Students will successfully complete at least four courses that prepare students to understand and use both quantitative and qualitative research methods and procedures.

    Area of Specialization (Minimum 24 hours) 
    Students study in a focused area of curriculum and instruction chosen from their concentration area. Each specialty area includes at least 24 hours of course work designed by the student's doctoral committee, to include:

    • courses and/or equivalent experiences to demonstrate competency in teaching and research practice (e.g., ED 8940 and ED 9800) and
    • 18 hours of specialized focus.


    Dissertation Credits (Minimum 18 hours)

    Total minimum program hours – 65

    Program Benchmark Expectations and Assessments

    Professional Competence (documented by advisory committee). These competencies will be fulfilled before the student is awarded the doctoral degree.

    • Students will teach a college/university undergraduate class and/or demonstrate competency in instructional methods as they relate to higher education.
    • Students will conduct national presentations as a primary presenter and/or demonstrate competency in scholarly communication within a professional setting.
    • Students will submit manuscripts for publication (national level preferred) as a primary author and/or demonstrate competency in scholarly writing in an external resource.

    Comprehensive Examination

    • The comprehensive examination consists of two components: a written response and an oral defense. Multiple formats for the written response are possible, but all students are required to complete an oral defense of their written responses.
    • An examination plan (necessary for alternative formats) approved by the advisory committee.

    Dissertation Proposal

    • Written proposal
    • Oral defense

    Dissertation

    • Written dissertation
    • Oral defense
  • Scholarly Focus - Specialty Concentrations

    Overview
    While students must select from one of the special concentration areas listed below, they are also encouraged to work with faculty to design programs uniquely fitted to their areas of interest.

    Early Childhood Education | Mathematics Education | Science Education | Social Studies | Educational Foundations


    Early Childhood Education
    In-depth knowledge of the early childhood education field with an understanding of the learning and instructional needs of young children (birth to age 8), including design, implementation and evaluation of curriculum; effective instructional methods; current issues and trends affecting teaching and/or learning; and competence in basic and applied research and evaluation.

    Associated Faculty
    Anna Hall, assistant professor | Sandra Linder, assistant professor (Mathematics) | Dolores Stegelin, professor

    Selected Courses
    EDEC 9100
    Foundations of Early Childhood Education
    EDEC 9200 Paradigms and Policy in Early Childhood Research
    EDEC 9300 Early Childhood Research in Educational Settings
    EDEC 9400 Seminar in Early Childhood Education


    Mathematics Education
    Students completing an emphasis in mathematics education will develop a knowledge base in current mathematics education issues, research and classroom applications, and be able to select and pursue appropriate research topics in mathematics education.

    Associated Faculty
    Nicole Bannister, assistant professor (middle level) | S. Megan Che, associate professor (secondary) | Sandra Linder, assistant professor (early childhood) | Andrew Tyminski, assistant professor (joint appointment elementary and mathematical sciences)

    Selected Courses
    EDSC 8420
    Advanced Studies in the Teaching of Secondary School Mathematics
    EDSC 8470 Current Literature in Mathematics Education
    ED 9010 Classics in Mathematics Education


    Science Education
    Students completing an emphasis in science education will demonstrate an understanding of how the science process and content are most effectively learned, the components of state-of-the-art curriculum models and the utilization of the most effective research methodologies designed to expand the theory base.

    Associated Faculty
    Michelle Cook, associate professor (secondary) | Cynthia Deaton, assistant professor (elementary) | Jeff C. Marshall, associate professor (secondary) | Cassie Quigley, assistant professor (middle level)

    Selected Courses
    EDSC 8430
    Advanced Studies in the Teaching of Secondary School Science
    EDSC 8480 Current Literature in Science Education


    Social Studies and Educational Foundations
    Students completing an emphasis in social studies education will develop a knowledge base in current social studies issues, research and classroom applications, and be able to select and pursue appropriate research topics in social studies.

    Associated Faculty
    Beatrice Bailey, professor (secondary) | Suzanne Rosenblith, professor (educational foundations) | Mindy Spearman, associate professor (elementary)

    Selected Courses
    EDSC 8440 Advanced Studies in the Teaching of Secondary School Social Studies
    EDSC 8490 Current Literature in Social Studies Education
    EDF 8700 Identity and Democracy in U.S. Public Schools
    EDF 8720 History of American Education

  • Scholarly Focus - Faculty Research and Scholarship

    Overview
    Faculty research interests and expertise span many domains related to education. Below is a list of current areas of faculty scholarly interest and expertise.

    Academic and Behavioral Interventions | Arts EducationBilingual/Multilingual ResearchEarly Childhood Learning and Development | Informal Education | STEAM | International-Global Education | Learning Sciences | Legal and Policy Issues in Education | Mixed Methods and Design-Based Research | Motivation and Learning | Professional Development and Educational Quality | Qualitative Research Methodologies | Research, Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics | Social, Historical, Philosophical Foundations of Education | Social Justice and Educational Equity | Sustainability Education


    Academic and Behavioral Interventions for Diverse Learners
    Research and scholarship focuses on instructional and behavioral interventions to address academic and behavioral learning needs of diverse students including those with disabilities and at risk of academic problems.

    Associated Faculty
    Jennie Farmer | Susan Fullerton Joseph B. Ryan | Pamela Stecker


    Arts Education
    Research explores social history, culture, ideology, cognition, pedagogy and curricula involving the arts (dance, drama, music, visual arts and design) in education using inter/trans-disciplinary perspectives.

    Associated Faculty
    Alison Leonard | Sandra Linder


    Bilingual/Multilingual Research
    Research foci include: emergent bilingualism, first and second language development and learning in and out-of-school, as well as language ideologies and policies as they interact with schooling for linguistically diverse students.

    Associated Faculty
    Mikel Cole | Susan Fullerton


    Early Childhood Learning and Development
    Research encompasses learning and developmental processes from birth to age 8.

    Associated Faculty
    C.C. Bates
     | Susan Fullerton | Anna Hall |  Sandra Linder | Jonda McNair | Dolores Stegelin


    Informal Education
    Research includes examination of the effectiveness of informal (after-school, summer, recreational) programs on student learning and development.

    Associated Faculty
    Cassie Quigley |  Mindy Spearman


    Integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM)
    Research examines the possibilities related to meaningfully integrating the STEM disciplines.

    Associated Faculty
    Nicole BannisterMatthew Boyer | S. Megan Che | Michelle Cook | Cynthia Deaton | Danielle Herro Alison Leonard | Sandra Linder | Jeff C. Marshall | Cassie Quigley | Andrew Tyminski


    International-Global Education
    Research expertise in this area includes international teaching, study abroad, international education and postcolonial studies.

    Associated Faculty
    S. Megan Che | Cassie Quigley | Mindy Spearman Dolores Stegelin 


    Learning Sciences
    Research examines the many ways technology impacts the learning process.

    Associated Faculty
    C.C. Bates | Matthew Boyer | Michelle Cook | Cynthia Deaton | Danielle Herro | Alison Leonard | David Reinking | Deborah Switzer


    Legal and Policy Issues in Education
    Research focuses on special education legal and policy issues, juvenile delinquency, desegregation and religion.

    Associated Faculty
    David Barrett | Mikel Cole | Antonis Katsiyannis | Suzanne Rosenblith | Joseph B. Ryan


    Mixed Methods and Design-Based Research
    Mixed methods research is the complementary use of quantitative and qualitative research methods in the collection and analysis of data, integration of findings and conclusions drawn from findings, while a design-based research is pragmatic and goal-oriented.

    Associated Faculty
    Matthew Boyer | Michelle Cook | Jennie Farmer | David Reinking


    Motivation and Learning
    Research examines both student and teacher motivation and cognition related to the learning process.

    Associated Faculty
    Nicole Bannister | Michelle Cook Susan Fullerton | Linda Gambrell | Alison Leonard | Sandra Linder | Jeff C. Marshall | Deborah Switzer


    Professional Development and Educational Quality
    Research examines the various interventions and programs that better prepare in-service and pre-service educators.

    Associated Faculty
    Nicole BannisterDavid Barrett | C.C. Bates | Matthew Boyer S. Megan Che | Michelle Cook | Cynthia Deaton | Sandra Linder | Jeff C. Marshall Lienne Medford | Debbie Smith | Pamela Stecker | Andrew Tyminski 


    Qualitative Research Methodologies
    Research that examines the teaching and learning processes using such traditions as ethnography, case study, phenomenology, grounded theory, historical and narrative research, as well as emerging methodologies such as photo voice, self-study, portraiture and arts-based research.

    Associated Faculty
    Nicole Bannister
    Matthew Boyer | S. Megan Che | Cynthia Deaton | Sandra Linder | Cassie Quigley


    Research, Evaluation, Measurement and Statistics
    Studies in education employing hierarchical linear modeling, advanced regression analyses, regression discontinuity design, structural equation modeling.

    Associated Faculty 
    Dave Barrett | Jennie Farmer | Antonis Katsiyannis


    Social, Historical, Philosophical Foundations of Education
    Research examines major issues in the foundations of education including segregation, religion, gender and democracy through several disciplinary lenses.

    Associated Faculty
    Beatrice Bailey Suzanne Rosenblith | Mindy Spearman 


    Social Justice and Educational Equity
    Research examines multiple factors and issues related to educational access, individual agency, collective identity and barriers to quality education.

    Associated Faculty
    Nicole Bannister
     | S. Megan Che | Mikel Cole | Alison Leonard | Cassie QuigleyMindy Spearman


    Sustainability Education
    Sustainability education is a 21st century reincarnation of the environmental education field with attention to sociocultural and economic factors affecting the environment. Education for sustainability seeks to educate students about creating a future where relationships between the environment, economic systems and human culture remain healthy.

    Associated Faculty
    Michelle Cook | Cynthia Deaton | Cassie QuigleyMindy Spearman

  • Find Out More

    For more information regarding the program or questions associated with applying to this program, please contact Julie Jones at jgambre@clemson.edu or 864-656-5096.