Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction Reading/Literacy Strand

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How often does the Reading/Literacy Strand admit students to the doctoral program?

The Reading/Literacy Strand accepts applications each year. Applications are submitted to the Graduate School during the fall semester for review by the Reading Strand program faculty during the Spring semester. After reviewing all complete applications, candidates are invited for an interview. Applicants will be notified of their status in March or April. The last group considered applied in the Fall 2007 for review and a decision during the Spring 2008. The next application period for doctoral students in the Reading/Literacy Strand will begin in the Fall 2008 for decision in the Spring 2009. The deadline for application to the Reading/Literacy Strand is November 15, 2008. We do not accept late applications or incomplete applications.

Q: How competitive is the application and acceptance process for getting into the Reading/Literacy doctoral program? How important are GRE and MAT scores and writing samples to the decision?

Currently, the program is highly competitive accepting less than 20% of the applicants reviewed. We recognize that earning a doctoral degree is both a rigorous and challenging process, and the Reading/Literacy Strand doctoral program sets high standards for its students. Our students engage in robust coursework that requires they read both broadly and deeply the scholarship and research in this field and produce a significant amount of scholarly writing. Students also engage in research and have opportunities to work with faculty on research projects and articles. Some gain experience teaching undergraduate courses and supervising student teachers.

It is our goal to bring in well-qualified students who can successfully complete their Ph.D. and compete for jobs in academia or at other levels of leadership in the field of reading and literacy education and have the ability to disseminate research. To that end, we consider all facets of the application including GRE and MAT scores. We also place great value on a student's demonstrated writing ability because writing is invaluable to obtaining a doctorate and contributing meaningfully to the body of scholarship. We also consider each applicant's letters of recommendation, statement of interest, work experiences, and educational background.

We have no cut-off scores for GRE and MAT tests, but in this competitive environment in which we seek the most qualified students, low scores raise concerns that higher scores do not. In the past it has been the case that students with GRE and MAT scores below the 40% mark did not get accepted into the program.

Q: What if I do not test well and my GRE/MAT scores fall below the 40% mark, should I still consider applying?

Keep in mind the competitive nature of such a program while making your decision to apply with low test scores. While GRE/MAT scores are not the only criteria for admittance, if applicants letters of recommendation, statement of interest, writing sample, work experiences and educational background are all equivalent then low test scores may be the criteria that keeps candidates from being admitted. If the candidate knows that their test scores are low then it is critical that the candidate have a strong letter of interest or statement of purpose. A strong letter will clearly articulate the candidate’s goals for acquiring a Ph.D. The letter will clearly demonstrate knowledge of research and express the candidate’s current research interests. This is critical. Candidates must recognize that attaining a Ph.D. means a commitment to research and disseminating research to the field at large. The letter of interest must shed light on the candidate’s research goals and interests. A strong letter of interest or statement of purpose may help candidates with low test scores to be considered for the interview process.

Q: What will help me identify research goals and write a strong letter of interest?

We recommend getting to know the reading faculty. When applying for a Ph.D. program it is critical that candidates take the time to read articles, books, and other publications written by the faculty involved in the Reading Program. Hopefully, the candidate will identify with a line of research or a topic of interest to one of the faculty. When a candidate’s letter of interest aligns with research goals of faculty then it is a better fit all the way around. When applying for a Ph.D. candidates are making a commitment to engaging in scholarly activity and working closely with select faculty. It is critical that the candidates goals and research interests have some commonality with the faculty at the institution that they are applying.

Q: How many students does the program admit every other year?

In the last two rounds of applications, our program accepted about one fifth of those who applied. In order to provide each student with necessary faculty time and support, access to coursework, and mentoring on research, we usually admit two to five students every other year. This number can change as our program resources grow.

Q: Does your program give preference to part-time vs. full-time applicants

The Reading/Literacy Strand accepts both full and part-time applicants but gives additional consideration to full-time applicants. We place great pride in our many students who are part-time doctoral students and who have full-time jobs. The doctoral program offers classes at night and during the summer to accommodate the part-time student's schedule. However, there are additional benefits to working full time on an advanced degree that include greater access to research and teaching experiences, more one-on-one time with faculty, and involvement in projects with schools. Full-time students have access to competitive graduate assistantships that include a stipend, health insurance, and a tuition waiver. These collaborations between faculty and doctoral students benefit both the program and students and so are given additional consideration.

Some students benefit by beginning the program on a part-time basis with the plan to spend at least one year working full-time in the doctoral program. We encourage students to consider this one-year residency option and may make this a requirement in the future.

Q: Can applicants take any coursework prior to being admitted into the Read/Literacy Doctoral Strand program?

No. Other graduate programs may allow up to 6 hours, but this option but is not available to applicants of the Reading/Literacy doctoral program.

Q. What prerequisites regarding degrees and experience are necessary  for admission to the program?

A master's degree in education or a related field is a requirement for admission. If an applicant does not have a master's degree in reading, our program policy is to require that the student take our 6 master's program reading courses which will be adjusted by the faculty to coordinate with doctoral level rigor and expectations. These 18 hours will extend the completion time of the program.

Our preference is to admit students with 3 years of teaching experience. However, if exceptions are made at the time of admission, students will be required to engage in additional internships in area schools.