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College of Education

Literacy, Language and Culture, Ph.D.

Earn a Ph.D. in Literacy, Language and Culture from Clemson University College of Education

The Literacy, Language and Culture Program concentrates on issues related to learning about literacy and language in formal and informal settings such as schools, communities, and families. Some of the issues that can be explored within the Literacy, Language and Culture program include biliteracy and bilingualism, children’s and young adult literacy, digital literacy, diversity and critical literacy, early literacy development, elementary literacy development, English education, literacy assessment, literacy in the disciplines, and writing. This program provides rich experiences and expertise of faculty and fellow students to provide a student-centered environment in which both groups engage in research, exploration, and inquiry.

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  • Overview

    The Literacy, Language and Culture (LLC) Ph.D. program is designed to provide an in-depth advanced education for students who have completed a master's degree in education and desire to pursue careers as scholars, researchers, university faculty, and educational leaders. The program is grounded in the belief that literacy skills, including reading, writing, and oral language, are integral to success in school and in the workplace, to enriching social lives, and to active and effective citizenship. Coursework provides a broad background in the relevant theoretical and research literature in the areas of literacy, language, and culture along with opportunities to conduct original studies exploring the nature of literacy in a variety of educational and community contexts. Students pursuing an LLC Ph.D. receive research training enabling them to address educational challenges associated with literacy development, pedagogy, and equity with particular focus on linguistically diverse individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds and from areas of high poverty.

    This degree, offered in a HyFlex course design model giving full or part time professional students the option of attending class face-to-face or synchronous online. 

    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. Students have the option of full-time or part-time enrollment any acceptance of an assistantship dependent upon full-time enrollment and on campus residency.

  • 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- 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
      • 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

    Admission to the Program 

    Literacy, Language and Culture doctoral program admits students for a fall entrance term. Only complete applications are considered for admission. To ensure consideration for an assistantship or University Fellowship, applicants are encouraged to apply by the priority deadline.

    Application Deadlines 

    • January 15, priority deadline – Applications will be reviewed and considered for assistantships
    • April 15, traditional deadline – Applications will be reviewed, but assistantships may or may not be available

    In order to accept a graduate assistantship, a graduate student must be enrolled full time and must live locally close to campus as research assistantships require regular meetings with the assigned faculty member.

    Application Requirements 

    To be considered for the Program, applicants must:

    • Have completed a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or a recognized international university with a bachelor’s degree equivalent to a U.S. bachelors.
    • Have completed a master’s degree with a GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
    • Have a minimum of three years teaching experience or the equivalent
    • Submit an online Graduate School application which requires:
      • Unofficial transcripts – (official transcript(s) will be required if you are accepted into the program.)
      • A current resume
      • Three recommendation forms
        • Recommendation forms are emailed directly to recommenders via the online application process
      • A sample of professional writing
      • A letter of intent communicating the following: 
        • professional goals
        • teaching philosophy
        • research interests
        • purpose for seeking the doctorate degree
      • Official TOEFL/IELTS scores for international students
    • Participate in an on-campus or virtual interview (meritorious applications only)

    Additional information concerning supporting materials

  • Program Requirements

    Literacy, Language and Culture Ph.D. (54 credit hours minimum):

    Core courses (12 credit hours)

    EDLT 9000 – Sociocultural Theories of Learning 

    EDLT 9100 – Theoretical Models of Reading and Writing 

    EDLT 9110 – Academic Writing 

    EDLT 9140 – Language Development, Diversity and Discourse 

    Cognate courses (9 credit hours):

    Students will take three additional courses that will constitute a cognate in one of the following four focus areas: Language and Diversity, Digital and Disciplinary Literacies, Literacy Leadership or Early Literacy. In addition to LLC cognate offerings, cognate courses can be selected from doctoral courses in education or other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, English, and linguistics in consultation with the doctoral advisor and committee members. Some examples of cognate courses directly related to literacy that might be selected are listed below. Depending on the existing prior knowledge and/or experience of individual students, doctoral advisors and committee members will use the GS2 to request additional cognate coursework as needed. Please note cognate courses must be approved by the doctoral advisor and committee members. LLC students are highly encouraged to take EDLT 9130 and EDLT 9310 if possible.

    EDLT 9130 – Critical Issues in Literacy, Language and Culture

    EDLT 9170 – Disciplinary Literacies

    EDLT 9200 – Language Policy in Educational Contexts

    EDLT 9210 – Home, Family and Community Literacy

    EDLT 9220 – Research in Early Literacy Development

    EDLT 9310 – Literacy, Language and Culture Doctoral Studies Selected Topics

    EDLT 9370 – Reading Recovery Theory I

    EDLT 9380 – Reading Recovery Theory II

    EDLT 9400 – Advanced Diagnosis and Remediation in Reading

    EDLT 9410 – Advanced Practicum in Reading

    EDLT 9420 – Teaching Reading Through a Literature Emphasis

    EDLT 9430 – The Reading-Writing Connection:  An Integrated Approach

    EDLT 9450 – Special Problems in Reading Education

    EDSC 6850 – Composition and Language Studies for Teachers

    EDSC 8410 – Advanced Studies in the Teaching of Secondary School English

    EDSC 8460 – Current Literature in English Education

    Research methods courses (13 credit hours):

    The following three courses (7 hours) are required:

    EDF 9270 – Quantitative Research Designs and Statistics for Educational Contexts 

    EDF 9271 – Quantitative Research Designs and Statistics for Educational Contexts Lab 

    EDF 9790 – Qualitative Research in Education

    Two courses (6 hours) selected from the following list:

    EDF 9080 – Educational Tests and Measurements  

    EDF 9710 – Case Study and Ethnographic Research Methods and Design 

    EDF 9720 – Phenomenology and Grounded Theory Research Methods and Design 

    EDF 9730 – Narrative and Historical Research Methods and Design 

    EDF 9750 – Mixed Methods Research 

    EDF 9780 – Multivariate Educational Research 

    EDF 9810 – Design-based Research Methods 

    EDSP 9360 – Single-Subject Research Design 

    MATH 8070 – Applied Multivariate Analysis 

    PSYC 8730 – Structural Equation Modeling in Applied Psychology

    Departmental doctoral seminar (2 credit hours):

    EDLT 9320- Literacy, Language and Culture Doctoral Seminar (taken across two semesters, 1 credit hour each)

    Dissertation course (18 credit hours minimum):

    EDLT 9340 Doctoral Dissertation Research in Literacy, Language and Culture

    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
    • Successfully conduct original research and write and defend a dissertation.
  • Financial Information

    Tuition and Fees
    Explore information on tuition and fees using the Student Financial Services’ tuition and fee calculator (be sure to choose the correct tab -  ‘graduate’ for in person or ‘online’ for synchronous online). The selected modality, either in person or synchronous online, will determine the fee structure used in the tuition and fee calculator.

    Financial Aid
    For information regarding Financial Aid, please contact the office of Student Financial Aid.

    A limited number of graduate assistantships are available each year through the department, and they tend to be competitive. Assistantships are available to full-time students (enrolled in at least nine credit hours per semester) and typically require a 20-hour per week work commitment. To be considered for an assistantship, we encourage applicants to submit their applications by the priority deadline. 

    In order to accept a graduate assistantship, a graduate student must be enrolled full time and must live locally close to campus as research assistantships require regular meetings with the assigned faculty member.

  • Program Delivery

    Embedded within a R1 public university and designed for working professionals and full-time students alike, the Clemson Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning program is offered through a HyFlex option and can be completed through traditional face-to-face instruction or synchronous online instruction.

    Our in-person option offers courses via our main Clemson campus. Classes may be offered Monday through Thursday evenings, beginning no earlier than 4:30 p.m. EST.

    Our synchronous online option provides students the chance to join our in-person courses virtually. Through the synchronous online option, students have the opportunity to develop relationships with peers and faculty and pursue the degree while maintaining their current employment and living situation.

  • Information Sessions & Calendar

    Review our College of Education Graduate Calendar to view upcoming events and information sessions.

  • Find Out More

    For more information regarding the program or questions associated with applying to this program, please contact us at

Department of Education and Human Development
Department of Education and Human Development | 209 Gantt Circle