Language, Literacy, & Culture Ph.D.

students smiling in group at workshop

Students in our doctoral program undertake research that transforms schools, communities and the broader society. They study ideologies and power relations, the ways in which language, literacy, and culture impact how individuals negotiate participation in their communities, and how people express and develop social identities. Their coursework includes foundational courses in language, literacy and culture, a specialization in one of these areas, and extensive research methodology.

The LLC Practitioner Program is nationally recognized by National Council for Accreditation in Teacher Educators (NCATE), Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and the International Association of Reading (IRA). 

Note: The education specialist degree (Ed.S.) is an option for students who would like to pursue an advanced degree beyond a master's, without the dissertation component of the doctorate.

Course of Study

Course Description Credits
  Required Courses 12
EDUD 734 Understanding Research in Language, Literacy, and Culture 3
EDUC 792M Seminar in Language 3
EDUC 788 Seminar in Critical Literacies 3
EDUC 892P Seminar in Culture 3
  Specialization Courses (2 courses from specialization, in consultation w/ advisor) 6
Language Specialization    
EDUC 615L Seminar in Cross-Cultural Communication 3
EDUC 615S Language and Literacy Policy and Planning 3
EDUC 749 Seminar in Multilingualism and Society 3
Literacy Specialization    
EDUC 709 Seminar in Reading 3
EDUC 767 Researching New Literacies: Multimodal Media Production & Social Justice 3
EDUC 792P Seminar in Literacy 3
EDUC 797T Seminar in Writing 3
Culture Specialization     
EDUC 791G Seminar in Children's Literature: Critical Multicultural Analysis 3
EDUC 791Z Seminar in Teaching and Learning Across Contexts 3
  Research Methods (5 courses required, * are mandatory, in consultation w/ advisor) 15
EDUC 691D* Writing for Publication: Ethnographically Representing Research 3
EDUC 815* Researching Language, Literacy, and Culture in Education: Ethnographic Perspectives I 3
EDUC 815* Researching Language, Literacy, and Culture in Education: Ethnographic Perspectives II 3
EDUC 671 Survey Research Methods 3
EDUC 652 Mixed Methods Research 3
  Electives (1 course minimum)  3
EDUC 750 Apprenticing to Research in Language, Literacy, and Culture 3
EDUC 794D Discourse Analysis 3
EDUC 795A Critical Review of the Literature(s) 3
  Dissertation Credits 18
  Minimum Total Credits 54

EDUC 734 Understanding Research in Language, Literacy, and Culture

The purpose of this course is to apprentice new doctoral students to the ways in which researchers interested in the intersection between the fields of language, literacy and culture approach the activity of conducting, reading and writing research.  This course is intended for new doctoral students in LLC.

EDUC 792M Seminar in Langauge

Doctoral level seminar is designed to examine a range of sociocultural theoretical perspectives on the study of language.  Goals will be to develop familiarity with several perspectives, to consider their similarities and differences and their usefulness in researching language in educational settings, and to practice applying one or more in the analysis of language data.

EDUC 797L Seminar in Critical Literacies

This seminar explores critical literacies as sociocultural and sociopolitical practices across languages, literacies, and contexts. Participants will investigate how these practices can deconstruct/reconstruct power relations in texts, teaching, and research.

EDUC 892P Seminar in Culture

This course provides a forum for the discussion and analysis of conceptual, theoretical, and practical links between multicultural education and students' primary research interests in other fields of study (language policy, bilingualism, teacher education, the education of bicultural students, curriculum, and pedagogy, among others).

EDUC 815 Researching Language, Literacy, and Culture

Examination of ethnographic theory, methods, and techniques of researching language, literacy, and culture in educational settings.  It involves conceptualizing and conducting a full ethnographic study and learning how to use reflection on the fieldwork experiences to construct (or deconstruct) and articulate the theoretical basis, methods, and findings of your research.  The course is organized to highlight both knowledge acquisition and reflection.  Year-long course.  

Prerequisite: Doctoral status, 9 credits of study in Doctoral program.


Applications to the Language, Literacy, and Culture doctoral program can be submitted online through the Graduate School

Admissions Timeline

Rolling deadlines exist until cohorts are filled. Please submit all required application materials by the preferred deadline which is January 2 for Fall semester admission. Applications will continue to be considered until the cohort is filled.


We require a minimum undergraduate GPA of 2.75 (on a 4.0 scale). The program admissions committee may consider applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 only if their personal statement clearly describes how they overcame obstacles and how they will be able to handle rigorous academic work. Applicants must have a master’s degree.

Required Materials 

  • Online Graduate Admissions Application.

  • A minimum of two letters of recommendation

  • Official transcript(s) from all colleges/universities you’ve attended.

  • A personal statement that articulates your interest in our program, your prior credentials and professional experiences, your professional or research interests, and your future career goals

  • If English is not your first language, evidence of your ability to speak and understand English: TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) with a minimum score of 80 or IELTS Academic (International English Language Testing System) with a minimum score of 6.5

  • The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) are not required.


This program leads to initial teacher licensure in Massachusetts. Because of reciprocity agreements between states, you may be able to transfer your license to another state. However, the College of Education at UMass Amherst makes no guarantees that this program meets teacher licensure requirements in any state other than Massachusetts. If you are seeking licensure in another state, you should contact Beverley Bell, Assistant Dean of Educator Preparation,, (413)545-2701 for more information about how to determine whether this program will be appropriate for you. Access to your state’s licensing agency is available on the Teacher Licensure Agency Directory


For more information about the Education Specialist Degree in Language, Literacy, & Culture, please contact Dr. Thersa Austin, the Language, Literacy, & Culture Concentration Coordinator, at