This program leads to a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership with a specialization in Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry. The Ph.D. specialization in Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry (LLSI) provides students with a broad conceptual understanding of language and literacy research and offers a choice between 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 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.

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 first take an integrated set of seminars 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 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.

For questions about the application process, or to check on the completion of your application, please contact Kay Moon, TLPL Graduate Coordinator, at (301) 405-3118 or

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

For academic advising on the Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry, please contact Dr. Peter Afflerbach at or call 301-405-3159.

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

For questions related to the admissions process,  students may contact Kay Moon, TLPL Graduate Coordinator, at

For Program-specific information and questions, prospective students may contact:

  • Applied Linguistics and Language Education (ALLE) Dr. Melinda Martin-Beltran at
  • English Literacy Education Dr. Wayne Slater at  
  • Reading Education Dr. Jennifer Turner at