Doctorate in language, literacy and culture

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Introduction to language, literacy and culture

A Ph.D. in language, literacy, and culture is designed to encourage students to investigate the intricacies of both teaching and learning. It includes psychological, historical, linguistic, critical, and sociocultural components with a strong emphasis on research. Ideally, graduates of this program go on to make important, original contributions to education.

If you are fascinated by the relationship that exists between language and foreign cultures, or if you would like to learn more about the evolution of linguistics and the development of literacy, this degree may appeal to you.

Graduates of this program go on to specialize in early literacy development, literacy assessment, English education, diversity, and critical literacy, and much more.


A Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy degree, is the most well-known of all doctoral degrees. It represents the highest level of academic achievement available in the United States and can prepare you to become a teacher of other teachers. This is a research degree, which means it is awarded to students based upon original, independent research in the field of study that interests them. Often part of the curriculum and instruction program at universities, this is a specialization degree that guides students to explore and improve modern literacy methods like those used in the contemporary education system.

About the Ph.D. in language, literacy, and culture

Generally, it takes an additional 4 years of college to earn a doctorate degree. This is after you’ve earned your bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees. If you’ve moving straight from an undergraduate program into a doctoral program, it may take up to 8 years to complete. Check with your school of choice for more information.

Learning more about how societies have developed and continue to develop languages and forms of communication is a fascinating topic.


Many students decide to pursue their doctoral degree in this field when they find themselves drawn to linguistics and languages. Learning more about how societies have developed and continue to develop languages and forms of communication is a fascinating topic. By pursuing a doctoral degree in language, literacy, and culture, you may develop a deep understanding of how literacy and languages are taught in your neighborhood, in your school system, or even in your country. Graduates at this level have the tools and the skills needed to effect real change in how information is presented, to improve educational curricula, and to provide audiences around the globe with better teaching methods and materials.


Requirements to earn a doctoral degree

As part of your coursework, you’ll attend classes, take seminars, perform independent research, compose your thesis paper, complete and defend your dissertation. It takes dedication and genuine interest in your subject to earn these coveted letters after your name. From the perspective of a career pathway, having a doctorate degree can open a whole world of opportunity.


Prerequisites Needed

To apply to a doctoral program, you need to meet the program requirements which typically include:

  • a bachelor’s or master’s degree in an accredited program within a related field such as multicultural education; English, bilingual and dual language education; and reading and writing
  • applying for admission to the LLC Practitioner Program
  • transferring transcripts and credits
  • supplying additional information such as letters of recommendation, college test scores, personal interviews

As a student in a doctoral program, you must complete the required coursework, a large part of which consists of performing independent, original research within your areas of specialization.

Once you’ve completed the academic requirements, you write your dissertation and defend it in front of a special committee.


Degree Flexibility

It is possible to earn your doctorate degree online or mostly online, using a schedule that suits your busy life. Online opportunities for doctorate work include both synchronous and asynchronous online classes. Increasingly students are choosing online options. There are currently several hundred colleges and universities that offer online coursework for doctorate degrees. However, even with an online program students need to complete the requirements of the program —which means a heavy emphasis on research— and then meet with the dissertation committee upon completion.

Once you’ve completed your dissertation and earned your doctorate degree, you can be well prepared to enter several careers, including:

  • researcher
  • teacher educator
  • college professor
  • literacy leader
  • educational administrator


The coursework required to earn a doctoral degree in language, literacy, and culture generally incorporates the following classes:

Literacy, learning and development across the lifespan

This course explores the ways in which literacy and learning evolve throughout the course of a lifetime. It pays attention to literacy methods passed down from generation to generation, and how each new generation finds benefit from previous methods, while adopting their own contributions.

Language foundations for learning

This course explores how language influences our ability to learn and communicate. It reiterates the importance of language as a tool for the development of literacy.

Multicultural issues in education

Multicultural issues in education explores variances in culture and how these differences affect such factors as learning, language, and education.

Theories of literacy and reading

This course helps students better understand the role of literacy from birth onward. It emphasizes how humans learn to speak and read and follows the development of these skills as people age.

Courses in research statistics

Research statistics help students better understand how to draw conclusions from segments of a population. It reinforces the scientific method and prepares students to conduct more accurate research.


Accreditation is an important factor to keep in mind if you’re planning to pursue your doctorate degree in language, literacy, and culture. Schools and programs that are not accredited, or that feature only limited accreditation, may have restrictions on the credit transfers.

For this specific program, accreditation should come from the National Council for Accreditation in Teacher Educators.

Types of accreditations include program, national, or regional. If your school is not accredited, your degree may be worth less to your future employer. You can conduct a search at the website of the U.S. Department of Education to learn whether a school is accredited.

Career possibilities with a doctorate degree in language, literacy, and culture

A doctoral degree is a terminal degree: it is as high as you can go on the academic ladder. The careers open to you will depend on the type of doctorate degree you’ve earned. For instance, if with an Ed.D., you are typically well-suited to enter educational administration. A Ph.D. graduate may be better prepared to teach at the college level or to conduct research. The most common jobs pursued by doctorate-degree holders in reading and literacy include:

Instructional coordinator

Instructional coordinators examine, design, and tweak school curricula to meet ever-increasing educational standards. They may evaluate the way teachers teach, the way students learn, and assess the overall success or weaknesses in the curriculum being used. They commonly work in a school administrative capacity or as a curriculum consultant.

Total employment


Projected growth (2018-2028)


Degree required


Postsecondary teacher

Many postsecondary educators have tenure at a college or university or are working towards this. They tend to have the title of professor and teach subjects such as literacy, reading, writing, English, or literacy theory.

Total employment


Projected growth (2018-2028)


Degree required


  • Reading specialist

    Median salary: $54K

    A reading specialist helps students who struggle with reading and literacy. They are employed at the elementary, secondary, or post-secondary level. They may also oversee specialized curricula, designed to overcome barriers to literacy. To become a reading specialist within the public school system, you need to take a state-issued certification test after earning your degree.

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National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

Established over 100 years ago, the NCTE is committed to quality in teaching English and other language arts subjects at all education levels.

National Education Association (NEA)

With over 3million members across the U.S., the NEA is driven to support educators as they strive to implement quality education for all students in the public education system.

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