Overview: PhD Literacy, Language and Culture

The PhD in Education:  Curriculum and Instruction offers students opportunities to study in three major areas of concentration:  (a) Curriculum Studies; (b) Literacy, Language, and Culture; (c) Mathematics and Science Education.  Students in this PhD program apply to and are admitted to one of these three concentrations.  These concentrations have some common elements but they also differ in a number of important ways.  Therefore, each of these concentrations is described separately.  You should refer to the description of the concentration to which you have been admitted.  You should also refer to later sections of this handbook that provide additional information about conducting dissertation research successfully.

The PhD concentration in Literacy, Language, and Culture prepares students to conduct research on literacy and literacy instruction with children, adolescents, and adults in culturally and linguistically diverse urban settings.  Integral to our research on the processes of reading and writing is inquiry focusing on:

  • the stakeholders of literacy development & instruction (i.e., students, teachers, parents, and policy makers)
  • the technologies of literacy - both conventional (e.g., books) and new (e.g., web-based)
  • the purposes to which literacies are put (e.g., educative, functional, aesthetic, critical)
  • the multiple in- and out-of-school contexts in which various literacies are practiced (e.g., the family, community, workplace).

Students who successfully complete the PhD with a concentration in Literacy, Language, and Culture are prepared to assume research positions in colleges and universities, state and local educational research agencies, and various R & D settings in the private sector.

Progressing Through the Program

Upon admission into the LLC doctoral program you are assigned a temporary advisor who serves in that capacity until you choose a person to chair your program committee by the end of the first year of studies.  You, in concert with this chairperson, will select a minimum of two additional faculty members who together will constitute your doctoral program committee.  Your doctoral program committee serves four major functions:

1.Designs a course of studies compatible with both the LLC program and your specific professional goals.

2.Provides guidance regarding the experiences and deliverables that will best prepare you for entry into the profession.  Your Doctoral Portfolio (detailed below) serves an important function in creating a “roadmap” of both in- and out-of-course activities and products.

3.Writes and evaluates questions comprising the “specialization” component of the qualifying exam taken toward the end of your coursework (See the LLC specialization and qualifying examination information discussed below).

4.Oversees and provides feedback in an annual review of your progress.

Toward the end of formal coursework and upon successful completion of the qualifying examination you will choose a chairperson and committee to direct your preliminary examination (see details below).  The exam consists of both a written component and an oral component.  The written component of the preliminary examination is your dissertation proposal and the oral part is the oral defense of the proposal.  Successful completion of both components of the preliminary examination constitutes formal admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree.  From this point forward in your program the prelim committee members serve as members of your dissertation committee through the final defense of the completed dissertation.

Overview of Requirements (Fall 2013)

The LLC program concentration requires a minimum of 96 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree or, depending on the focus and quality of your master’s degree program, a minimum of 64 semester hours beyond the master’s degree.  Specifically, this includes a 12-hour Doctoral Studies core; a 12-hour methodology requirement; a Literacy, Language, and Culture Concentration Program Core consisting of  8 hours in required courses plus 12 to 44 hours of “selective” and elective courses appropriate to your area of specialization (depending on whether or not you enter the program with an approved master’s degree); a 4-hour research project; and a minimum of 16 hours of dissertation research.  Your doctoral program committee determines final decisions concerning specific courses and the number of semester hours required if entering with a master’s degree.

Doctoral Studies Core (12 hours)

All doctoral degrees in the College of Education require a core of courses that focuses on different types of research in educational settings, research design, and the analysis of educational data.  These core courses will help you develop the minimum skills needed to evaluate research literature and to begin your own independent research.  You are encouraged to take these core courses early in your program; however, you may take other courses in the program before completing this set of courses.

The requirements of the Doctoral Studies Core are:

  • ED 504—Urban Contexts and Educational Research (4 hours)
  • ED 505—Introduction to Educational Research: Paradigms and Processes (4 hours)
  • ED 506—Introduction to Educational Research: Designs and Analyses (4 hours)

Methodology Requirement (12 hours)

In addition to the Doctoral Studies Core above, you must take a minimum of three research methodology courses as described below.  Note also that you may choose or be encouraged by your faculty advisor to take additional courses in research methodology beyond these minimums in order to meet your personal scholarly and professional goals.

The Methodology Requirement includes:

  • ED 502—Essentials of Qualitative Inquiry in Education (4 hours)
  • ED 503/EPSY 503—Essentials of Quantitative Inquiry in Education (4 hours)
  • A third methodology course selected in consultation with your advisor (4 hours)

Literacy, Language, and Culture Concentration Program Core (20 hours minimum) Required First-Year Sequence (8 hours)

When entering the Ph.D. program with a concentration in Literacy, Language, and Culture you are required to take the yearlong sequence of two courses Proseminar in Literacy, Language, and Culture during the first year of your program.

  • CI 556 – Proseminar in Literacy, Language, and Culture I (4)
  • CI 557 — Proseminar in Literacy, Language, and Culture II (4)

Literacy, Language, and Culture Selectives (12 hours minimum)

The LLC concentration requires completion of between 12 and 44 hours of selective and elective courses depending on whether you have completed a masters’ degree approved by the program faculty. Students with a master’s degree that is not approved and students with only a baccalaureate degree are required to take 12 hours of selectives listed below and 32 additional hours of elective courses

Students with approved masters’ degrees are required to take a combination of the selectives listed below.  Selectives are focused seminars taught by LLC faculty in their respective areas of specialization.  Literacy, Language, and Culture selectives include:

  • CI 558 –The Historical and Philosophical Bases of Literacy and Literacy Instruction (4)
  • CI 559 –The Social and Cultural Contexts of Literacy and Literacy Instruction (4)
  • CI 561 — Genre Theory and Practices (4)
  • CI 562 — Design and Conduct of Literacy Research (4)
  • CI 563 — Analysis of Research in Literacy (4)
  • CI 568 — Research in Children’s and Adolescent Literature (4)
  • CI 577 — Literacy In and Out of School (4)
  • CI 579 — Bi-literacy: Theory, Research, and Practice (4)
  • CI 581 — Perspectives on Reading: Theory, Research and Practice (4)
  • CI 582 — Research Perspectives on Literacy in the Disciplines (4)
  • CI 583 — Early Literacy: Theory, Research, and Practice (4)
  • CI 584 — Semiotics, Literacy, and Learning (4)
  • CI 585 — Seminar in Literacy Studies (4)
  • CI 586 — Perspectives on Writing Instruction: Theory, Research, and Practice (4)
  • CI 587 — Literacy Assessment:  Theory, Research, and Practice (4)
  • CI 588 — Design Research in the Study of Literacy (4)
  • CI 589 — Literacy and Learning Technologies: Theory, Research and Practice (4)
  • CI 592 — Apprenticeship in Teacher Education (1 – 4)

Electives (0-32 hours)

Elective courses may be taken university-wide and as part of the Chicago Metropolitan Exchange Program.  More information

Annual Reviews

Graduate College policy requires doctoral programs to conduct an annual assessment of their doctoral students.  To effectively monitor your progress and to provide a vehicle through which you and your faculty advisor can reflect on your progress in a structured way, you are required to prepare and submit a formal review of progress each year.  Your progress is assessed on the basis of two sets of criteria: 1) the quality of performance in coursework and on other LLC benchmarks (see LLC Doctoral Portfolio Activities below), and 2) progress in completing coursework and other program benchmarks (i.e., research project, qualifying exams, dissertation) in a timely manner.  At the end of each academic year you prepare a brief (1-2 pg.) narrative summary of progress for that year.  The LLC faculty review and discuss your summary along with other supporting documentation and then provide feedback regarding your progress in the program.   It is the responsibility of your doctoral program chair (or temporary advisor) to provide a prompt written summary of these proceedings and meet with you to discuss your performance.

LLC Doctoral Portfolio Activities - Research & Inquiry

Core Optional
Publishable** quality critical review of literature Design research of educational environments
Literacy position paper Evaluation of literacy-related program
Publishable** quality critical review of literacy-related book Grant proposal (individual or collaborative)
Review of journal manuscript Fellowship proposal
Doctoral research project / IRB proposal
Publishable** quality paper for a professional journal
Dissertation proposal/IRB
Presentation of research at national conference

LLC Doctoral Portfolio Activities - Teaching

Core Optional*
Lead Literacy Matters discussion of article, chapter, etc. Mentoring beginning level doctoral student
Development & justification of a detailed course syllabus Professional development in educational contexts
(Co)-Teaching (undergraduate and/or masters-level) literacy-related courses

LLC Doctoral Portfolio Activities - Professional Leadership

Core Optional*
Membership in literacy organizations Publishable** quality review of literacy curriculum
Design, implementation and evaluation of curriculum
Participation on school, district, and/or state committees, panels, etc.
Membership on professional committee
Peer review of conference proposals

LLC Doctoral Portfolio Activities - Cross-Cutting Intellectual Activities

Core Optional*
Collection of representative papers Preliminary examination (individualized comopnent)
Preliminary examination Development of personal home page
Annual letter summarizing progress
Development and ongoing revision of curriculum vitae
Statement of teaching philosophy
Statement of five-year research plan
Job talk (LM)

* Note that by definition, “negotiated portfolio activities may be individualized and thus open-ended in nature.

**  “Publishable” in the present context means that your doctoral committee evaluates a text to be of publishable quality.

Teaching Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship in teaching is strongly recommended for those individuals intending to pursue a career in higher education.  The apprenticeship in teaching requires that you register for CI 592—Apprenticeship in Teacher Education and co-teach a university course under the direction of a faculty sponsor.  The course that you teach should be related to your interests and future career objectives.  A faculty member will be the instructor of record and will supervise you closely throughout the internship.  You will assume responsibility for course instruction, student interaction, and evaluation to the extent negotiated with the instructor.  In addition to this apprenticeship in teaching, you are also encouraged to seek opportunities to deliver guest lectures in other classes offered by the Literacy, Language, and Culture faculty.

Ph.D. Research Project (CI 593 - 4 semester hours)

The research project is an important beginning experience in conducting research on actual problems in your chosen area of study.  The research project may also give you an opportunity to explore and pilot ideas for your dissertation research.  All students specializing in Literacy, Language, and Culture conduct a research project in collaboration with an LLC faculty member or a team of faculty members and students. You are required to receive IRB approval of a proposed research project before beginning the data collection process. You will make a formal presentation, oral, and/or written, of the project findings. You are encouraged to use this work as a basis for a manuscript to be submitted for a scholarly conference presentation and/or a publication.

The LLC Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination serves as the first step in determining your readiness to undertake dissertation research.  It is administered at or near the end of the time you have completed most of your course work (but have not yet made a major investment toward your dissertation research).  Only students in good academic standing are permitted to take the examination.

The qualifying exam in Literacy, Language, and Culture is offered semi-annually, once prior to the beginning of the academic year and once during spring semester.  It is designed to be educative as well as evaluative.  The exam consists of two components: a Common Knowledge Component given to all students seeking doctoral candidacy and a Specialization Component focusing on your area of specific inquiry in literacy.  The qualifying exam is taken over a four-day period, with three days devoted to the common component and one day to the specialization component.

The Common Knowledge Component consists of three integrative essay questions that assess the breadth of your knowledge in Literacy, Language, and Culture, knowledge that the LLC faculty believes any doctoral candidate, regardless of area of specialization, should be able to demonstrate. This knowledge is not confined to that acquired through coursework.  Members of the LLC faculty identify major areas as well as seminal texts that delineate the reach of this common knowledge.  The LLC Qualifying Exam Committee, consisting of three LLC faculty members, creates questions that are then reviewed by the entire LLC faculty.  You will receive these questions and have 72 hours to complete your answers.  You will do so with the full benefit of whatever textual resources you have at hand.  Although students are free to work collaboratively in preparation for the qualifying exam, once presented with the actual exam questions, you will answer the questions without the benefit of any human interaction (including face-to-face, electronic, and other forms).  You will sign an honor statement acknowledging your agreement to these terms.

The Specialization Component consists of questions created and graded by your doctoral program committee and is designed to evaluate your knowledge relative to your area of specialization. Your doctoral program committee determines the number of questions comprising the Specialization Component.  To insure equity, the LLC Qualifying Exam Committee reviews these questions.  You have 24 hours to complete the Specialization Component and are to abide by the same honor system described above for the Common Knowledge Component.

Members of the LLC Qualifying Exam Committee assess your answers to the Common Knowledge Component of the exam, and members of your doctoral program committee assess your answer(s) to the Specialization Component.  A grade of “pass” or “fail” Is assigned to each component. Upon unanimous agreement of committee members, you may “pass with distinction.” Both components must be passed in order to pass the qualifying examination.  Each component of your examination cannot be passed with more than one “fail” vote from the committee members.  The committee may require that specific conditions be met before the “pass” recommendation becomes effective.  On the recommendation of the committee, the head or chair may permit a second examination if you do not pass the first exam.  A third examination is not permitted.

The LLC Preliminary Exam (i.e., Defense of Dissertation Proposal)

Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Exam you should ask the Office of Student Services (3145 ETMSW) for a degree checklist.  A list of the courses taken is available through the my.UIC portal. You must return the completed degree checklist with the signed Committee Recommendation Form to the Office of Student Services.  The completed form must be signed by your committee chairperson and submitted to the Office of Student Services at least three weeks before the date of your examination.

Once you have successfully passed your Qualifying Exam you should choose a member of the LLC faculty to chair your preliminary examination committee.  The preliminary exam committee will consist of five members, at least three of whom must be UIC graduate faculty with full membership, two must be tenured, and two (2) must come from the Literacy, Language, and Culture faculty.  Your doctoral program chair may serve as a chair of your preliminary committee, or you may identify another LLC faculty member whose interests and expertise align more closely with your program of study and dissertation research.  The chair of the committee must be both a member of the LLC faculty and a full member of the graduate faculty.  You should work with your chair to identify and recruit the remaining four other members to serve on the examination committee.  The committee for the preliminary exam is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate College upon receipt of the Committee Recommendation Form. This form may be obtained from the Graduate College’s website.

The purpose of the preliminary examination is to determine your readiness to undertake the dissertation; passing it constitutes formal Admission to Candidacy.  The examination serves as the last major step toward the Ph.D. degree except for the completion and defense of the dissertation. The preliminary exam consists of a written and an oral component.  The written component of the preliminary exam is your formal dissertation proposal; the oral component is the oral defense of this written proposal.

Each member of the examining committee assigns a grade of “pass” or “fail” based on your performance on both the written proposal and the oral defense of the proposal.  You cannot be passed with more than one “fail” vote. The committee may require that specific conditions be met before the “pass” recommendation becomes effective. On the recommendation of the committee, the head or chair may permit a second examination.  A third examination is not permitted.  The results of the examination must be submitted to the Graduate College within two (2) weeks of the completion of the exam.  Once you have passed the examination, the dean of the Graduate College will notify you that you have been admitted to candidacy.

Dissertation Research (CI 599, 16 hours minimum)

Successful completion of the dissertation is the penultimate experience in your doctoral program.  The dissertation is based on original research and involves both a formal presentation of the proposed research and a final oral defense of the written dissertation.  You may begin your dissertation research upon successful completion of the oral portion of the preliminary examination and receiving approval from the IRB.  You must register for a minimum of 16 hours of dissertation credit during the time that the study is conducted and written up.  Having registered for the minimum of 16 hours of dissertation credit and passed both written and oral portions of the preliminary examination, you may petition the Graduate College to be permitted to register for 0 (zero) hours of dissertation credit.  If permission is granted, you may continue to register for 0 hours if you continue to make satisfactory progress and are within the time limits for completion of the degree.  Note that even if you are eligible and successfully petition the Graduate College to register for 0 hours, you still must register for 0 hours each semester until you have successfully defended the dissertation (although you do not need to register for 0 credits for the summer session unless the defense will be held during the summer).

The Graduate College makes an exception to the above registration requirement if the defense will occur during the late registration period for a term; in those cases, a doctoral defense will be allowed without student registration in that term.  This is assuming that you were registered the previous term, or the previous spring term in the instance of a fall defense (which should be the case since, as stated above, continuous registration is required).  The late registration period is the official first ten days of any fall or spring semester and the first five days of the summer term.  If you defend after the 10th day (5th in summer) you must be registered.

If you hold a fellowship, assistantship and/or tuition waiver, and do not resign from it, then registration is mandatory for the number of hours required to hold the award or assistantship.  If you hold a student visa, you probably do not have to register if you leave the country by the 10th day (5th in summer), although this should be verified with Office of International Services.

This (late period registration defense) exception does not affect the registration requirement to take the Preliminary Examination, or the general requirement of continuous registration from Preliminary Examination to defense.  Failure to register continuously may result in being administratively dropped from the program.  You should refer to Section IV for important additional information about constituting a dissertation committee and conducting dissertation research.

Dissertation Defense

When nearing the end of dissertation research, you should begin to plan your dissertation defense with your dissertation committee chair.  See Section IV of this handbook for specific information about organizing and scheduling a dissertation defense and filing all the paperwork required before the defense can be conducted.

According to Graduate College regulations, at least one year must pass between completing the oral portion of the preliminary examination and the dissertation defense.  Any student who fails to complete all program requirements, including the dissertation defense, within five years of passing the oral portion of the preliminary examination must retake the preliminary examination.