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Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership, (Ph.D.) - Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry Specialization

This program leads to a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership with a specialization in Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry (LLSI). Students and faculty in this  Ph.D. specialization investigate issues related to language and literacy education using a wide range of research methodologies. Our work values multiple perspectives that center cultural and linguistic diversity. We analyze classroom and societal conditions of power and privilege that influence literacy and language practices in schools, families and communities. The LLSI Ph.D. includes two areas of focus within the program: Applied Linguistics and Language Education and Literacy Education.

Faculty research interests in the Applied Linguistics and Language Education (ALLE) area of focus include bi/multilingualism, bilingual/dual language education, discourse analysis, second language teaching and teacher learning, teacher collaboration, language policy, language contact, language diversity, peer interaction, sociocultural and critical approaches, codeswitching, and translanguaging.

Faculty research interests in the Literacy Education area of focus include culturally responsive approaches to elementary reading instruction, emergent literacy, family literacy, preparing teachers for diversity, learning with text, literacy teaching and learning, new literacies, reading assessment, reading comprehension strategies, stasis theory, and vocabulary for literacy learning.
The doctoral program is primarily focused on the study of language and literacy learning in pre-kindergarten through high school settings in the US.  It is designed to prepare students as researchers, curriculum specialists, teacher educators, and educational leaders who work effectively with children, families, and communities engaged in diverse language, literacy and social practices. Students take a doctoral core designed to provide an overview of the field and engage in research apprenticeship experiences with faculty, then develop a tailored program of study fitting their specific research interests through a selection of elective courses offered within our department, or from other departments and programs within the University.


For information on graduate admission please see the Graduate School's Admissions page for the Department of Teaching, Learning, Policy and Leadership at https://gradschool.umd.edu/education/tlpl. We accept both full-time and part-time doctoral students.

Select an area of interest from the various offerings in the College of Education to determine the admission requirements and deadlines. If you are unsure of your area of interest you may request information by submitting an Inquiry Form.

Applicants who wish to apply to the Ph.D. program with specialization in Language, Literacy and Social Inquiry should select Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership (TLPL) as their “Intended Program of Study."

Please refer to the Guide to Applying for instructions on how to apply for graduate admission. If you have questions or concerns, we ask you to first review our list of Frequently Asked Questions. International applicants should visit the International admissions webpage for additional information.


INFORMATION SESSION about our Ph.D. and M.A. programs will be held on October 13, 2023, by zoom. 

For questions related to the admissions process, prospective students may contact  Kay Moon, TLPL Graduate Coordinator, at (301) 405-3118 or kmoon@umd.edu

For academic advising on the Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry, please contact Dr. Melinda Martin-Beltran at memb@umd.edu.

Financial assistance for graduate study is generally divided into two categories: 

  • Merit-Based Assistance Need-Based Assistance  
    • Fellowships and Scholarships Loans  
    • Graduate Assistantships 

For more details about the various types of financial assistance offered by the campus please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid 

There are also a number of fellowships and scholarships offered through the College of Education, the University, and through external sources which may provide tuition support and/or living allowance. Students must apply for these awards on their own, but the links that follow provide valuable information on searching for fellowships and scholarships. 

For more information concerning fellowships and scholarships, please visit: 

The College of Education's Scholarship webpage

The University's Scholarships webpage, and  

The Graduate School's Fellowships and Awards webpage

The doctoral curriculum typically requires at least three years of graduate study beyond the master’s degree. Students are expected to integrate into the campus scholarly community and to be available on a full-time basis. The department provides funding for all Ph.D. students admitted into the program. 

Integrated Department Core 

LLSI students join a two-course sequence (6 semester hours) in foundations of inquiry and practice with other department specialization students from Education Policy and Leadership, Mathematics and Science Education, Minority and Urban Education, Teacher Education and Professional Development, and Technology, Learning and Leadership.  

  • TLPL 794: Foundations of Education Inquiry: Core I
  • TLPL 795: Foundations of Education Inquiry: Core II

Specialization Core 

Curriculum for each doctoral student in LLSI is tailored to their own interests, with some requirements for students who specialize in each of the three focus areas: 

  • Applied Linguistics and Language Education (ALLE) - Take three of the four doctoral courses listed below.
    • TLPL 740: Language and Education (3 cr.)
    • TLPL 743: Teaching English Language Learners: Current and Future Research Directions (3 cr.)
    • TLPL 744: Research Foundations of Second Language Education: Examining Linguistically Diverse Student Learning (3 cr.)
    • TLPL 788 K: Special Topics in Education: Learning Within and Without School (3 cr.)
    • See a table of the full course sequence.
  • Literacy - contact advisor for suggested course sequence
  • English Education - contact advisor for suggested course sequence

Students are required to take 30 semester hours of coursework (typically ten courses), selected in consultation with the advisor. These courses generally take the form of doctoral seminars taught by program faculty and may include doctoral level courses from other departments.  

Breadth Requirement

Some focus areas require taking one 700-level Literacy course to fulfill a breadth requirement.

Intermediate and Advanced Research Methods 

Students are required to take at least 12 credit hours of research methods courses, including one qualitative and one quantitative methods course. Students may take research methods courses in TLPL, Human Development and Quantitative Methods (HDQM), or other academic departments. Some suggested research courses include the following:

  • TLPL 788 I: Special Topics in Education: Statistical Literacy for Education Research (3 cr.)
  • TLPL 791: Qualitative Research I: Design and Fieldwork (3 cr.)
  • TLPL 792: Qualitative Research II: Analysis and Interpretation of Data (3 cr.)
  • TLPL 793: Methods of Discourse Analysis (3 cr.)
  • TLPL 860: Seminar on Case Study Methods (3 cr.)

Doctoral Seminars 

Doctoral students in LLSI enroll in a weekly 1-credit seminar with other students in their area of focus to explore opportunities for collaborations with faculty and other students, develop their knowledge of the field and the academic profession, and apprentice into the broader research community. 


All students complete a minimum of 12 credits of dissertation research per University policy. 

Graduate Education Program Requirements

If you have questions about our admissions process, contact TLPL Graduate Coordinator Kay Moon at kmoon@umd.edu

If you have questions about the program specifically, contact Dr. Wayne Slater at wslater@umd.edu

If you have questions about each program, contact:

- Applied Linguistics and Language Education (ALLE), Dr. Melinda Martin-Beltran at memb@umd.edu.

- English Literacy Education, Dr. Wayne Slater at wslater@umd.edu.

-Reading Education, Dr. Jennifer Turner at jdturner@umd.edu.

Deadlines vary by degree and program. Please visit the TLPL Admissions Deadlines page for more information.


Graduate students in the College of Education are responsible for meeting University and the Graduate School policy, and for meeting Program requirements.  See the Graduate Catalog and Graduate Policies governing graduate education at the University of Maryland. The schedule adjustment policy is available from the Office of the Registrar and provides information on adding and dropping courses, penalties, and refund schedules.


Graduate students are required to submit various forms at specific points in the program and as part of the degree clearance process. Please refer to Steps Toward Graduation to determine the steps and forms that are required. To access forms used by graduate students visit Graduate Studies Forms in Student Services.  

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