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Lynch School of Education


curriculum & instruction doctoral program

The program has four components: core courses, a major area of study (selected from four specializations), elective courses, and a research sequence.

Curriculum and Instruction Core: 

  • Research on Teaching
  • Historical and Political Contexts of Curriculum    
  •  Dissertation Seminar   
  •  Readings and Research in Curriculum and Instruction

Research Core:   

  • Interpretation and Evaluation of Research    
  •  Introductory and Intermediate Statistics    
  •  Qualitative Research Methods    
  •  Advanced Research Methods    
  •  Dissertation Direction

The four specializations include:

Language, Literacy and Culture

The “Language, Literacy, and Culture” specialization has as its focus communication, language, and literacy development across a variety of cultural, linguistic, and economic contexts. This specialization fosters an understanding of varied methodological approaches in the study of pre-linguistic communication, language, and literacy development and achievement, with additional attention toward issues of pre- and in-service teacher preparation. At the heart of the Language, Literacy, and Culture specialization is the deep exploration of the intersections of race, class, and culture as they pertain to language and literacy in education and development, as well as asking theoretical and practical research questions that inform instruction and foster student learning.

Critical Perspectives on Schooling: Race, Class Gender, Disabilities

The “Critical Perspectives on Schooling:  Race, Class, Gender, Disabilities” specialization stresses the interpretive, critical, and normative examination of teaching and learning in schools and the historical, philosophical, cultural, and social contexts in which schools are situated. This includes an examination of varied educational practices and how current models of schooling perpetuate historic inequities related to class, race, language background, gender, ethnicity, ability/disability status, and sexual orientation. Particular emphasis is placed on students who have historically not been well-served by the system with the goal of the creation of truly inclusive schools that prepare students to be thoughtful global citizens. 

Leadership, Policy and Educational Change

The “Leadership, Policy and Educational Change” specialization encompasses issues regarding teaching, teacher education, school leadership, policy, new learning technologies, diverse learners, and change in schools, communities and educational systems. Topics are connected by their attention to the nature, causes and consequences of inequities in educational opportunities and outcomes for under-served groups, which are exacerbated by existing policies and structures.  Key areas of this specialization, which focuses on national and international work, include: teacher learning, professional development, community organizing, educational change, teacher and administrator leadership, urban education, and curriculum/policy controversies.

Science, Mathematics, and Technology

The “Science, Mathematics and Technology” specialization is interdisciplinary in nature cutting across formal and informal educational settings with a focus on engaging and supporting all learners, including those alienated by or underrepresented in the STEM disciplines.  Particular consideration is given to research informing theory and practice in collaboration with local practitioners. The Science, Mathematics and Technology specialization encompasses a range of work including: use of innovative technologies, inclusive teaching of students with disabilities, support of teachers’ beliefs and knowledge, design of learning environments, influence of socio-cultural historic contexts, role of academic language, and support of student inquiry and reasoning.


In line with accreditation standards and with our program mission, the following are the expected student learning outcomes upon completion of the program.

Upon graduation, PhD students in our program should be able to:

  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of effective practices regarding college-level teaching and/or professional development with in-service teachers
  • Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct original, empirical and/or conceptual research related to topics in curriculum and instruction
  • Students will participate in regional, national and/or international conferences in the broad areas of curriculum and instruction
  • Students will learn how to create an academic paper at the “publishable” level of quality on a topic related to the student’s area of specialization within the broad field of curriculum and instruction

All doctoral students in the C&I program have opportunities to work closely with faculty on a variety of projects related to teaching, curriculum, and school reform. Recently, doctoral students have participated in: teacher education research and reform projects; collaborated with faculty on in-school research and intervention development in mathematics, science, and literacy;  worked with schools and communities on projects that focus on race, language, and immigration issues; and engaged in school leadership and policy analysis activities. They have also helped to develop integrated methods courses with local after-school programs and acted as managing editors for academic journals. In addition, many doctoral students serve as teaching assistants and instructors for teacher education courses and supervise teacher candidates’ fieldwork experiences.