Literacy Education, Ph.D.

Emphasis in Language, Education, and Society

The Language, Education, and Society doctoral area of emphasis is a research-driven program that focuses students’ studies on how language, culture, and social processes affect educational issues. Students have many ways to customize their doctoral program and many opportunities to work closely with faculty on their research and pursue their own research interests to shape the educational discourse in language, culture, and learning in our nation’s schools and other professional contexts.


Students who pursue the Literacy Education doctoral area of emphasis in Language, Education, and Society learn in a research-intensive environment studying how language and social processes are related to educational issues. Students and faculty are engaged with issues of language, culture, and learning in school and non-school settings and believe that some of the most difficult problems in education and society can be addressed through research and scholarship.

Among the topics researched are:

  • Uses of spoken and written language
  • Language and literacy development
  • Bi-literacy and bilingualism in classrooms, families and communities
  • Language variation and diversity
  • Discourse patterns in classrooms and other educational settings
  • Ethnography of language and literacy
  • Written Communication and Reading education
  • Language, power, and social justice issues, and
  • Theories and methods for researching language in social contexts.

This area of emphasis focuses on working closely with faculty and active engagement in research. Students work with faculty on research projects, and they pursue their own research interests with faculty support. The courses prepare students to be scholars, researchers, teacher educators, and activists who understand the complexities of language, culture, learning, and education. The program is flexible to meet students’ interests and goals and allows doctoral students to specialize their studies.

Area of emphasis sub-areas include

  • Language and Learning in Classroom and Non-Classroom Settings
    • Focuses on the close connection between language and learning across the grade levels from preschool through high school and across classroom, community, family, teacher education, and other contexts.
  • Bilingualism and Bi-literacy
    • Focuses on bilingual and bi-literacy development and education for children and adolescents in primary and secondary schools. Also address the local and global perspectives on bilingual education policy and practices.
  • Language Variation
    • Focuses on how the variation in the dialects and languages students speak might influence their education with particular emphasis on understanding the legitimacy and beauty of all language varieties. 
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
    • Focuses on the relationship of language and power with specific attention to how language reflects and produces power relationships among people and among people and social institutions. 
  • Language Socialization
    • Focuses on how people use language for the purpose of socializing others and themselves to particular communities and cultures while simultaneously focusing on how the activities, events, and practices of a community socialize people to that community’s ways of using language.