Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership (TLPL)

Applied Linguistics and Language Education, Ph.D.

Faculty research interests in the Applied Linguistics area of focus include classroom discourse, conversational analysis, dual language learner education, language and literacy teacher development, language assessment policy, language contact and multilingualism, language diversity, language in school contexts, language planning and policy, multilingualism, peer interaction, second language teaching, sociocultural approaches to second language acquisition, teacher collaboration, codeswitching, and translanguaging. The doctoral program is primarily focused on language education in pre-kindergarten through high school settings in the US.

The program provides competitive financial support packages for all admitted students.

Applied Linguistics and Language Education (ALLE) faculty and doctoral students run an important center on campus, called the Multilingual Research Center (MRC). The MRC is committed to promoting research and outreach related to multilingualism, multilingual communities, and the education of multilingual populations.  It aims to increase the quality and number of TESOL, World Language, and dual language programs and teachers in Maryland, the nation, and the world through outreach; to sponsor and conduct research which illuminates our understanding of multilingualism and multilingual communities; and to disseminate research results to teachers, school systems, and national and international research communities.  The MRC uses its financial resources to support faculty and student research, sponsor prominent outside speakers and visitors, and provide faculty and doctoral students with generous support to attend national and international conferences. Learn more about the MRC.

The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, and 49 members of the national academies.  It is a member of the Association of American Universities and competes athletically as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The College of Education at the University of Maryland is consistently ranked as one of the country’s leading education schools by US News. TLPL’s Division of Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry is home to the Multilingual Research Center, which seeks to create an infrastructure for practice and research in the broader community.

UMD is the nation’s premier institution for language-related research.  It is home to over 200 language scientists in 17 different departments and centers. The campus-wide Maryland Language Science Center coordinates and creates opportunities for collaborations across disciplines and perspectives, and sponsors a wide range of talks, mini-conferences, and workshops.  Students in the LLSI program are encouraged to take full advantage of program flexibility to draw on the university’s wide range of intellectual resources in this area.

Primary Program Faculty

Shenika Hankerson (PhD, Michigan State University): African American Language; race, equity, language, and literacy; second language writing; language policies and language rights; critical discourse studies. Email

Jeff MacSwan (PhD, UCLA): Bilingualism; codeswitching; applied linguistics; the role of language in schooling; language assessment policy. Email

Laura Mahalingappa (PhD, The University of Texas at Austin): Teacher preparation and development for marginalized students; linguistically responsive pedagogy; first and additional language acquisition; critical language pedagogies; language awareness for teachers and learners. Email

Melinda Martin-Beltrán (PhD, Stanford University): Sociocultural approaches to second language acquisition focusing on dual language learners (ESOL students); peer interaction; language exchange; and teacher learning to build upon students’ linguistic and cultural diversity. Email

Nihat Polat (PhD, University of Texas at Austin): Applied linguistics; individual differences (e.g., motivation, identity) in additional language acquisition (e.g., writing, syntax) and pedagogy (e.g., SIOP); teacher education (e.g., cognition, dispositions); the education of minoritized multilingual learners (e.g., emergent bilinguals, Muslim students in the U.S.). Email

Megan Madigan Peercy (PhD, University of Utah): Pedagogies of teacher education; preparation and development of teachers throughout their careers and as they work with language learners; theory-practice relationship in language teacher education; teacher collaborative relationships and learning. Email

Kellie Rolstad (PhD, UCLA): Language of schooling; language diversity; second language teaching; unschooling; democratic education. Email

Participating Faculty

Peter Afflerbach (PhD, State University of New York at Albany): Reading comprehension strategies and processes, especially related to new literacies; the verbal reporting methodology; reading in Internet and hypertext environments; reading assessment.

Ayanna Baccus (PhD, University of Maryland): Reading and literacy instruction.

Perla Blejer (EdD, George Washington University): Second language acquisition; foreign language education methodology; language program administration in higher education; issues of equal opportunity for at-risk students and disadvantaged populations.

Drew Fagan (EdD, Teachers College, Columbia University): Influence of teacher talk on language learning opportunities in classroom discourse; conversation analysis and second/foreign language classroom interactions; factors affecting teachers; preparing mainstream teachers for working with English Language Learners.

Loren Jones (PhD, University of Miami): Literacy and language instruction to support culturally and linguistically diverse students; writing development of English learners (ELs); translanguaging to promote literacy development; teacher preparation for working with ELs across content areas. 

Sarah C. K. Moore (PhD, Arizona State University): Language policy; equity and access for minoritized language communities; educator professional development and preparation around language teaching and learning; online and virtual educator preparation.

John O'Flahavan (PhD, University of Illinois; Urbana-Champaign): PK-12 literacy teaching and learning; the discourses involved in teaching and learning in schools; comprehensive school-wide literacy programs; sustainable school improvement.

Olivia Saracho (PhD, University of Illinois; Urbana-Champaign): Emergent literacy; family literacy; cognitive style and play.

Ebony Terrell Shockley (PhD, University of Maryland, College Park): Teacher preparation for culturally and linguistically diverse learners,  primarily in STEM and literacy contexts; written language assessment bias for bidialectal and multilingual learners; preparing teachers for speakers of African American Language; Black English Learners and the achievement gap; English Learners in Special Education.

Wayne Slater (PhD, University of Minnesota): Persuasion in reading comprehension and written communication, with a focus on biased assimilation and stasis theory.

Jennifer Turner (PhD, Michigan State University): Culturally responsive approaches to elementary reading instruction; vision as a conceptual and practical tool for preparing reading teachers for diversity; literacy as an indicator of college and career readiness; diverse students’ multimodal representations of future professional identities and workplace literacies.

Peggy Wilson (PhD, University of Maryland): Secondary literacy, writing, and grammar.


Affiliated Program Faculty

Donna Christian (PhD, Georgetown University): Dual language education; bilingual education; dialects and education; heritage language education; language and public policy; second/foreign language learning; sociolinguistics. Dr. Christian is a Senior Research Fellow and past President/CEO of the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Elisa Gironzetti (PhD, Texas A&M University-Commerce; PhD, Universidad de Alicante): Applied linguistics; second language and heritage language pedagogy; instructional pragmatics; humor; multimodal discourse analysis. An assistant professor in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Dr. Gironzetti is director of the Spanish Language Program at UMD.

Francis M. Hult (PhD, University of Pennsylvania; Docent, University of Jyväskylä): Discourse studies; educational linguistics; ethnography; language policy and planning; linguistic landscapes; multilingual education; nexus analysis; sociolinguistics; sustainability; and transdisciplinarity.  Dr. Hult is Professor of Education at UMBC.

Manel Lacorte (PhD, University of Edinburgh): Applied linguistics; second language and heritage language pedagogy, teacher education, classroom interaction and contexts; sociopolitical issues in second language and heritage language teaching and learning. 

Minglang Zhou (PhD, Michigan State University): Chinese as a second/global language; bilingualism and bilingual education; language identity; language contact; the relationship between language, ethnicity, and nation-state in China. Dr. Zhou is director of the Chinese Language Program and an associate professor in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at UMD.

The PhD focus in Applied Linguistics and Language Education (ALLE) provides competitive funding packages for all admitted full-time students.  As a general rule, the program anticipates that all its students will devote themselves full time to graduate study, and will not have significant employment outside of the university for the duration of the program.  This permits the ALLE community to function as a community of practice in which students not only attend classes but are also socialized into a scholarly community.  While doctoral programs traditionally focus on a domain (the subject matter or body of knowledge), little attention is generally given to the creating of a community permitting routine interaction around the construction of professional practice. ALLE faculty believe that a successful program must substantially focus on building a strong sense of community among students, extending into the larger intellectual community of faculty within the home department and throughout the university, providing ample opportunity for participants to engage in their principal craft in spaces outside of traditional classrooms.  

These are some of the specific resources ALLE provides to its doctoral students to help build a community of practice:

A shared space.  All ALLE doctoral students are assigned a desk space with other area doctoral students.  This shared space gives students an opportunity to interact intellectually around course content, program expectations, and research collaborations.

The Multilingual Research Center.  ALLE is home to the Multilingual Research Center (MRC), which engages in research and outreach activities in support of linguistic diversity. The MRC provides research funding support, generous conference travel support for students and faculty, and hosts exciting speaker and brown bag events on campus. Learn more about the MRC.

The broader intellectual community. ALLE participates in the Maryland Language Science Center (MLSC), a campus-wide consortium of over 200 language scientists and scholars from numerous departments across campus.  The MLSC hosts events, conferences, talks, and research collaboration events throughout the year.  Learn more about the MLSC.

Student-faculty research collaboration. Students and faculty actively collaborate on a wide range of research projects.  Our goal is to involve every student hands-on in research activity, leading to research conference presentations and co-authored publications.  While these publications typically involve faculty participation, students sometimes collaborate with other students as well on collaborative research activity. Review a list of recent coauthored student-faculty publications.

Typical applicants to the Applied Linguistics and Language Education (ALLE) focus in Language Literacy have completed a prior master’s degree and will need to complete an additional 60 credits of coursework at the University of Maryland for the PhD. (In unusual cases, we may admit students who have not yet completed a master’s degree; in that case, an additional 30 credits are required.)Students complete six major components of coursework, as follows:

  1. Students from across all eight specializations of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership come together for the Department Core in the first year, comprised of two courses (6 credits).

    • TLPL794 Foundations of Educational Research I (3 credits).  An introduction to the “contested terrain” of education research. It examines major conceptual, methodological and political issues embedded in efforts to carry out education research and focuses on the development of the analytic dispositions and communication skills required to carry out research that meets the variously defined quality, utility and significance standards of scholarship in the field.
    •  TLPL795 Foundations of Educational Research II (3 credits). Students engage in the process of conceptualizing and completing a rigorous review of a section of literature in their area of specialization.
  2. Students in the specialization in Applied Linguistics and Language Education (ALLE) are required to take at least one course in Literacy or Reading Education (3 credits)  as a Breadth Requirement.
  3. Students take three of these four Doctoral Courses (9 credits):
    • TLPL740 Language and Education (3 Credits). Dialect, language varieties in school settings; historical and current perspectives on the role of language in learning; theories of school achievement and consequences for language assessment.
    • TLPL743 Teaching English Language Learners: Current and Future Research Directions (3 credits). Research on the preparation of generalists and specialists teaching English Language Learners. Current research and future research directions.
    • TLPL744 Research Foundations of Second Language Education: Examining Linguistically Diverse Student Learning (3 credits). Critically examines theories of second language acquisition and research in applied linguistics relevant to linguistically diverse students and learners of English as an additional language. Analysis of research from linguistic, psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic and sociocultural perspectives, with an emphasis on the social contexts of second language learning and teaching. 
    • TLPL788 Foundations of Applied Linguistics Research (3 credits). Explores the interdisciplinary field of Applied Linguistics, drawing upon a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches. 
  4. Students choose four Research Methods courses (12 credits).  Courses may be selected from a wide range of options in qualitative and quantitative research methods and may include TLPL793 Discourse Analysis.
  5. In consultation with the advisor, students choose six courses (18 credits) as Electives.  The elective provision gives students access to the full range of relevant graduate courses throughout the university.
  6. While working on the dissertation, students will enroll in 12 credits of Dissertation Research.



The Comprehensive Exam.  Students write a comprehensive exam after the fourth or fifth semester of their program, often in the intervening summer.  The comprehensive exam provides an opportunity for students to review a body of literature relevant to their developing dissertation project interest. The comprehensive exam is evaluated according to a rubric by at least two program faculty.  View Comprehensive Exam Rubric.

The Dissertation Proposal. Typically done the third year, students work closely with an advisor to develop a detailed research plan for the dissertation, called a Dissertation Proposal. The proposal presents a rationale for the study, prior relevant research, and details about the research plan, and generally builds on the work completed for the Comprehensive Exam.  A dissertation committee meets with the student for a Proposal Defense before moving on to the dissertation research.

The Dissertation.  Students produce a final dissertation based on the research plan developed in the Dissertation Proposal.  The results of the study are presented at a Dissertation Final Defense with the student’s dissertation committee.  Family members and other members of the public are welcome to attend

Typical Course Sequence

By design, students will complete the program in four years.  A typical course sequence is shown in the table below.

Typical Course Sequence ALLE PhD
Year 1
Fall Spring
TLPL794 Foundations of Educational Research I (3)
Two more courses (Doctoral Course, Elective, Breadth Requirement, or Research Methods) (6)
TLPL795 Foundations of Educational Research II (3)
Two more courses (Doctoral Course, Elective, Breadth Requirement, or Research Methods) (6)

Year 2

Fall Spring
Three more courses (Doctoral Course, Elective, Breadth Requirement, or Research Methods) (9) Three more courses (Doctoral Course, Elective, Breadth Requirement, or Research Methods) (9)

Year 3

Fall Spring

TLPL898 Predissertation Research (3)
Three more courses (Doctoral Course, Elective, Breadth Requirement, or Research Methods) (9)

Comprehensive exam

Dissertation Research (6) 

One more course (Doctoral Course, Elective, Breadth Requirement, or Research Methods) (3)

Dissertation proposal defense

Year 4

Fall Spring
Dissertation Research (6)

Dissertation Research (6) 

Dissertation final defense 





For more information about the program, contact any of the primary program faculty.  We welcome campus visits for students considering applying to the program and routinely hold information events where students can learn more in person about the program.

For information about applying, contact Kay Moon, TLPL Graduate Coordinator, at (301) 405-3118 or