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Ph.D. Literacy, Language and Culture

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.

  • Overview

    The literacy, language and culture Ph.D. program at Clemson University is grounded in research and inquiry, and built on the rich experiences and expertise of its faculty and students who acknowledge the influence of culture on literacy and language practices. We seek strong applicants with potential and drive to serve as innovative leaders in the field of literacy. Applicants with unique personal and professional experiences and diverse perspectives are expected to engage with and be challenged by faculty and fellow doctoral students.

    The program provides in-depth, advanced education to individuals who hold a master’s degree in education and are pursuing careers as researchers and teacher educators at the college and university levels. The Ph.D. in literacy, language and culture prepares knowledgeable and skilled educators who promote equitable and effective instruction to improve literacy and language for students of all ages in a myriad of educational and community contexts.

  • Program Goals

    The program prepares educators and scholars with sophisticated understandings of the relationships among literacy, language and culture, and the ability to use this knowledge to improve learning in in- and out-of-school contexts.

    Program graduates will be able to:

    • Review, analyze and synthesize empirical research and theoretical literature in literacy, language and culture.
    • Apply theories and research to policy and current issues in the field.
    • Use knowledge of cultures’ influence on in- and out-of-school language and literacy practices to
      • capitalize on the cultural and linguistic strengths of learners and their families as resources for literacy teaching and learning; and
      • foster relationships with learners, families and communities in ways that honor the culturally specific ways of knowing and being in the world.
    • Analyze the relationships among economic and social inequality and literacy, and language development.
    • Critique and conduct research relevant to language, literacy and culture.
  • Admission Requirements

    The literacy, language and culture doctoral program admits for the fall term only. The priority application deadline is January 15. The application deadline is April 15. To ensure consideration for an assistantship or University Fellowship, applicants are encouraged to apply early. Applications will be reviewed beginning January 15 and will be accepted for consideration until April 15. Meritorious applicants will participate in an on-campus or Skype interview.

    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
    • Competitive GRE scores
    • Current resume/vita
    • Sample of professional writing
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Letter of intent communicating the following: (a) professional goals, (b) teaching philosophy, (c) research interests and (d) purpose for seeking the doctorate degree
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores for applicants whose native language is not English
  • Program Requirements

    Participants are immersed in a culture of intellectual curiosity aimed at developing the next generation of scholars who will advance knowledge leading to innovative, adaptive and transformative practices in schools and communities. The program focuses on acquisition of deep and critical knowledge of various theoretical perspectives, current data and diverse research methodologies in an effort to further literacy as a means for enhancing personal and social wellbeing. Public, civic and social engagement is expected as a necessary and natural extension of academic scholarship within and beyond the program.

    Literacy, Language and Culture Ph.D. (62 credit hours minimum):

    • Three core literacy, language and culture courses (9 credit hours):
      EDLT 9000 Sociocultural Theories of Learning
      EDLT 9140 Language Development, Diversity and Discourse
      EDLT 9390 Theoretical Models and Processes of Reading
    • Four elective cognate courses (12 credit hours)
    • Research Methods Courses (16 credit hours)
    • Teacher Education Doctoral Seminar (2 credit hours)
    • Literacy, Language and Culture Doctoral Seminar (2 credit hours)
    • Teaching Internship (3 credit hours)
    • Dissertation credits (18 credit hours minimum)

    In addition, students will:

    • engage in scholarly writing, publication and presentation of research and papers at national and international professional conferences;
    • complete qualifying examinations and/or projects;
    • develop an approved dissertation research proposal; and
    • successfully conduct original research and write and defend a dissertation.

    Download the Program Handbook.

  • Faculty

    C.C. BatesCeleste C. (C.C.) Bates, Ph.D.

    Bates’s research interests include use of technology in teacher training, classroom management and differentiated reading instruction in the primary grades. Bates is an assistant professor of literacy education, and is also the director of the Reading Recovery® and Early Literacy Training Center for South Carolina.

    Mikel ColeMikel Cole, Ph.D.

    Cole's areas of interest include English language learners in K-12 settings, preparation of teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse students, and the intersection of language policy and practice in schools and classrooms. He is an assistant professor in literacy, language and culture.

    Susan Crindland-HughesSusan Cridland-Hughes, Ph.D.

    Crindland-Hughes' areas of interest include adolescent literacy; morality-literacy studies, history of literacy, culture and literacy, and English education. She is an assistant professor in English education.

    Pamela DunstonPamela J. Dunston, Ph.D.

    Dunston’s research focuses on struggling readers, digital literacy, and adolescent literacy and reading motivation. She is an associate professor of literacy education.

    Susan King FullertonSusan King Fullerton, Ph.D.

    Fullerton’s research interests include strategic reading processes, comprehension instruction, literary response and discussion, struggling learners (including deaf/hard of hearing), and teacher expertise and decision making. She is an associate professor of literacy education.

    Anna HallAnna Hall, Ph.D.

    Hall’s research interests include early childhood writing instruction and the writing attitudes of teachers and students. She is an assistant professor in early childhood education.

    Kathy HeadleyKathy Headley, Ed.D.

    Headley’s research interests include adolescent literacy, writing and interdisciplinary specializations in comprehension and vocabulary. She is actively involved in policy development and implementation for literacy improvement. She is Senior Associate Dean for the Division of Collaborative Academic Services in the College of Education and the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences. She is also a professor of literacy education in the College of Education.

    Dani Herro.Dani Herro, Ph.D.

    Herro's areas of interest include game play and game design in the classroom, digital media and learning, and in-school practices with emerging technologies. She is an assistant professor in digital media and learning.

    Jacquelynn MalloyJacquelynn A. Malloy, Ph.D.

    Malloy’s current research emphases include learner engagement, particularly as related to instructional design, and discussion as a tool for learning and developing communities of learners – particularly in the content areas. She is also investigating teacher visioning and transformative teaching practices with a focus on equity education. She is enthusiastic about the contribution of formative and design experiments in advancing transformative educational goals.

    Jonda McNairJonda C. McNair, Ph.D.

    McNair specializes in literature intended for youth with an emphasis on books written by and about African-Americans. Her research interests include African-American children’s literature and politics of children’s literature. She is an associate professor of literacy education.

    Phillip WilderPhillip Wilder, Ph.D.

    Wilder is an assistant professor in adolescent literacy. He received his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2013. While at Illinois from 2007-2013, his work in a school-university partnership through the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities used collaborative practitioner inquiry to design responsive teaching practices, which expand notions of literacy and learning in secondary schools. Now at Clemson, his primary research involves partnering with schools to improve responsive teaching practices and the disciplinary literacies of adolescents.

  • Current Students

    Anastasia Homer is a Ph.D. student with research interests in the areas of reading recovery and motivation to read. She currently serves as co-coordinator of America Reads at Clemson University, a federal work-study program that trains university students to tutor struggling readers in kindergarten through third grade. She is involved in research projects related to children’s reading proficiency and motivation to read. Currently, Anastasia is vice president of Alpha Epsilon Lambda, Clemson's graduate honors society and president of the graduate student organization, Carpe Diem Guild.

    Emily Howell received her bachelor’s degree in English and government from Wofford College and a master’s degree in English Education from Georgia State University. She is an experienced English teacher who has taught multiple classroom levels, including middle school, high school and university. Her dissertation research is a formative experiment exploring improving students’ argument writing, both conventional and digital. Emily has spoken at both national and international conferences and has published her writing in Reading Matters and the Handbook of Research on Digital Tools for Writing Instruction in K-12 Settings.

    Koti Hubbard is a doctoral student in literacy, language and culture, specializing in early literacy development. Prior to pursuing doctoral study, she received a degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in literacy education from Clemson University. Her background is in early childhood education, working in school settings with differing student demographics. Her research interests focus on early childhood writing development, struggling readers, and literature response and discussion.

    Rachael Huber is a doctoral student in literacy, language and culture specializing in early literacy. Prior to attending Clemson, Rachael earned her master’s of education from Louisiana State University in curriculum and instruction. During her time in Baton Rouge, Rachael was a corps member with Teach For America, teaching in areas of high need in the capital city. She hopes her experiences will assist her as she researches social justice issues in education. Also among her research interests are early childhood literacy practices and the home/school connection.

    Juan Li is a doctoral student in literacy, language and culture. She got her master’s degree in British and American Literature from Nankai University in China. She taught English in China at the university level for nine years before she decided to pursue her doctoral degree at Clemson University. Kathy’s background and teaching experiences in China have brought diversity and different perspectives to the College of Education. She is currently interested in research in early childhood reading motivation, creativity and digital literacy.

    John McElroy received his Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego Christian College and his master’s of education from Roberts Wesleyan College. His teaching experience includes middle school and high school English and social studies, as well as undergraduate composition and rhetoric. His dissertation research uses a multi-case study design to investigate how in-service teachers implement dialogic discussion in their classrooms.

    Chris Massey is a former middle school and high school teacher. His areas of interest include adolescent content-area literacy, disciplinary literacy, and reading motivation and comprehension of lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and questioning adolescents. He has made research presentations at the International Reading Association, Literacy Research Association, Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers and the American Education Research Association.

    Erin McClure is a doctoral student in the literacy, language and culture program at Clemson University. She earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education at Wake Forest University and master’s degree in literacy at Queens University of Charlotte. Erin has been a classroom teacher, school-based coach and K-8 Literacy Specialist for a large urban district. She has presented at numerous conferences and staff development opportunities, including the International Reading Association Conference, the Annual Four Blocks Literacy Conference and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards National Conference. Her research interests include the reading and writing connection, teacher professional development, differentiated reading instruction and reading motivation.

    Sangho Pang is interested in literacy practices in an online environment. His dissertation research focuses on conducting a national survey of literacy faculty to characterize the type of literacy courses that are being offered online, what technological components and pedagogical approaches are being employed, and how online courses are different from conventional off-line courses and pedagogies. Sangho is originally from South Korea. He has a B.A. in Korean language education from Korea University in South Korea where he completed a thesis on the patterns between reading in traditional and Internet environments. He is a former high school teacher and online instructor teaching Korean language arts.

    Deanna Ramey is a doctoral candidate specializing in early childhood and literacy education. She currently serves as co-coordinator of America Reads at Clemson University, a federal work-study program in which university students tutor struggling readers in kindergarten through third grade. Deanna has a keen interest in international education research. She is a member of a multi-national team investigating the trajectory of young children’s reading motivation across grade levels, and has served as an instructor on a study abroad trip to Reggio Emilia, Italy three times. Deanna is also interested in preschool teachers’ attitudes and dispositions regarding literacy and language development; self-regulation and executive function; and the role of formative experiments in education research.

  • Find Out More

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

    Information about the program can also be found in the Program Handbook.