English Education PhD

Doctor of Philosophy (75 Points)

The primary purpose of the doctoral programs in English Education at Teachers College is to advance knowledge relevant to the teaching and learning of English and to prepare expert teachers of English for careers as scholars, researchers, and teacher educators in the field of English education. ​​The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in English Education is open to a wide array of scholarly interests and thrives on the diversity of backgrounds and experiences students bring with them. As a Ph.D. student, you will become conversant with the principal theories, research methods, and pedagogical traditions of the field of English education. The degree program leads to an original research project culminating in the development of a scholarly dissertation that contributes to knowledge in the field. Graduates often take up research careers in universities or other educational institutions upon completion of their Ph.D. 

Experiences and Exposures: 

  • World-class faculty come together with a collaborative group of students from around the world to critically engage with theoretical and pedagogical stances that underpin English Education. 
  • Engagement in the scholarly community via coursework, research experiences, and opportunities to write and present at scholarly conferences. 
  • Supported by faculty mentors, students take on individual exploration of enquiries and conduct original research into issues of critical importance to the field of English Education.


Final Admissions Deadline: January 15th

The final deadline for doctoral program applications is January 15th (with a December 1st as a priority deadline).

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to a faculty member regarding the admissions process for this program.

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Admissions Information

Displaying requirements for the Spring 2024, Summer 2024, and Fall 2024 terms.

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Points/Credits: 75
  • Entry Terms: Fall

Application Deadlines

Entry Term AvailablePriority DeadlinesFinal DeadlinesExtended Deadlines
FallDecember 1, 2023January 15, 2024N/A

Select programs remain open beyond our standard application deadlines, such as those with an extended deadline or those that are rolling (open until June or July). If your program is rolling or has an extended deadline indicated above, applications are reviewed as they are received and on a space-available basis. We recommend you complete your application as soon as possible as these programs can close earlier if full capacity has been met.

Application Requirements

 Online Degree Application, including Statement of Purpose and Resume
 Transcripts and/or Course-by-Course Evaluations for all Undergraduate/Graduate Coursework Completed
 Results from an accepted English Proficiency Exam (if applicable)
 $75 Application Fee
 Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
 Academic Writing Sample
 Three (3) Letters of Recommendation, one (1) of which must be academic
 3-5 years full-time teaching experience is expected

Requirements from the TC Catalog (AY 2023-2024)

Displaying catalog information for the Fall 2023, Spring 2024 and Summer 2024 terms.

View Full Catalog Listing

Doctor of Philosophy in English Ed

The Doctor of Philosophy (75 credits) degree is designed to prepare candidates for positions in higher education as teachers and researchers whose scholarly activity is focused on the theoretical, philosophical, and pedagogical questions that define English education as a discipline for teaching and inquiry.

Required courses for ALL English Education/Teaching of English doctoral candidates:

  • A&HE 5510 Seminar in Foundational Texts 1 

  • A&HE 5504 Research Paper: Teaching of English (co-requisite with A&HE 5149)A&HE 5149 Writing Research: Methods and Assumptions (co-requisite with A&HE 5504)

  • A&HE 6504 Doctoral Seminar: Teaching of English

  • A&HE 7504 Dissertation Seminar: Teaching of English

  • A&HE 8904 Dissertation Advisement in the Teaching of English

  • A range of electives in literary and rhetorical studies

  • Four research methods courses for a total of at least 12 credits. It is recommended that candidates include at least two of the following:

  • A&HE 5150 Research in Practice

  • A&HE 5160 Qualitative Methodologies & Theoretical Frameworks

  • A&HE 6151 Narrative Research in English Education

  • A&HE 6152 Advanced Narrative Research in English Education

Students may also satisfy the requirement for research methods courses by completing approved courses in other programs and departments across the College.

Credit Requirements and Transfer Credits for the Ph.D. in English Education

The number of courses students take depends in part on the number of credits students transfer from previous graduate work at Teachers College. Students working toward the Ph.D. degree (75 credits) may transfer a maximum of 30 credits and will thus complete at least 45 credits while in the Ph.D. program. Approval of transfer of credits is always at the discretion of the advisor.

Coursework Restrictions

An academic advisor must approve all coursework in a student’s program plan, especially to ensure enforcement of the following College and Departmental policies:

  • No course that is “R” (attendance) credit or that is “P” (pass/fail) may be counted toward the Ph.D. aside from A&HE 6504 and A&HE 7504.

  • Students must consult their academic advisors when they undertake an independent study, an internship, fieldwork courses, or graduate courses in other colleges (usually GSAS) of Columbia University or at other universities within the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium.

  • Doctoral students are generally discouraged from taking 4000-level courses and must consult with their academic advisors before registering for these courses.

  • Candidates should take a minimum of two courses outside the English Education Program (Courses not designated A&HE).

Doctoral Program Milestones Program Plan

During their first year of study, students in consultation with their advisor should complete, and file with the Office of Doctoral Studies, a program plan (the forms are available in the English education office and in the Office of Doctoral Studies) anticipating all the courses they will need to complete within the scope of their doctoral studies. This program plan should then be reviewed annually with the student’s advisor (and revised as necessary) giving student and advisor an annual measure of the student’s progress through the program

A&HE 5504: Research Paper in the Teaching of English

Before enrolling in A&HE 5504, students must have completed at least two research methods courses, have successfully completed the Certification 1 Examination, have discovered an area or problem of interest that they wish to study for their 5504 project, and have familiarized themselves with some of the available research literature on the topic or problem they propose to investigate. The research paper completed in A&HE 5504 allows a doctoral student to demonstrate the capacity to complete independent research and produce a research paper at a level of sophistication that promises success in undertaking a doctoral research project and doctoral dissertation. The completed A&HE 5504 research paper must be approved by faculty as qualifying the student to proceed to the next milestone in the doctoral program, the Certification 2 Examination.

Certification Examinations

Certification examinations certify a student’s expertise in the foundational texts, research traditions, and theoretical perspectives that represent the history of English Education as an academic discipline and that inform research in the more specialized field of study defined by a student’s anticipated dissertation project. Doctoral students in the English Education Program must pass two separate certification examinations. Examination 1 is a take-home examination, seven days in duration, covering the history of English education with a focus on one of the major curricular strands within the discipline. Examination 2, covering a specialized disciplinary area related to the student’s dissertation topic, is a take-home written examination to be completed within a time frame (up to one semester) set by the student’s faculty advisor. The topics and texts to be covered by the two examinations and the examination questions are determined by each student’s advisor in consultation with the student who will be examined.

Foreign Language Requirement

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree in English education must demonstrate reading proficiency in at least one foreign language at a level of competence sufficient to read scholarly or professional work relevant to their own field of study. Students should contact the Office of Doctoral Studies for the current policy regarding satisfying this requirement. Courses in statistics or other past substitutes for a foreign language will not be accepted.

Dissertation Proposal (A&HE 7504)

The doctoral dissertation proposal consolidates the work candidates have done in courses, professional reading, and the two certification examinations. It is usually a 60 to 100-page document, which outlines a coherent account of the work a candidate wants to undertake for dissertation research, usually presenting drafts of early chapters for the dissertation. Typically a proposal includes an introductory chapter describing the origins and aims of the project, a fairly complete review of the literature, a chapter on research methods, and some preliminary data and data analysis. The dissertation proposal must be accepted at a formal or informal hearing where at least two faculty members function as examiners. Students may not undertake the dissertation proposal until both certification exams have been completed successfully.

Award of the Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree

Students become eligible to apply for the Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree upon completing 75 credits of coursework and fulfilling each of the previous doctoral program milestones. Upon being awarded the M.Phil. degree, doctoral students become “candidates” for the Ph.D. degree. Applications for the M.Phil. degree can be filed with the Office of Doctoral Studies.


The doctoral dissertation is the culminating research project of the doctoral program and constitutes a significant contribution to knowledge in the field of English Education. As candidates write their dissertations, they must enroll in A&HE 8904: Dissertation Advisement in Teaching English, which is designed to help them refine their thinking and revise their writing as they complete successive drafts of their dissertation.

The Advanced Seminar

What is known historically as the Advanced Seminar now functions as a pre-defense meeting of a portion (2-3 faculty members) of the Ph.D. candidate’s doctoral dissertation committee, which convenes to interrogate and advise the candidate on the dissertation in progress in order to ensure its successful completion. The committee may be convened at any point in a candidate’s progress toward completing the dissertation research, but is ordinarily convened for English education candidates at a point when the candidate can present a rough draft of the entire dissertation for scrutiny by the dissertation committee members. The committee is convened in response to a formal request filed with the Office of Doctoral Studies (ODS) by the candidate with the approval of the dissertation advisor. Candidates should consult the ODS early in the dissertation project to ensure that all procedural rules for convening the Advanced Seminar and reporting on its deliberations are properly observed.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense offers the opportunity for members of the candidate’s dissertation committee, all of whom have carefully read the dissertation, to interrogate the candidate on any and all dimensions of the candidate’s research and the written dissertation that is the product of that research. In most cases the committee will suggest minor revisions that the candidate is expected to incorporate into the dissertation before filing the final version. A typical defense, however, is less an interrogation than it is a collegial discussion of the candidate’s research project and findings with attention to next steps in the candidate’s research agenda and possibilities for revising and publishing the dissertation or sections of it. A successful dissertation defense marks both a moment of certification and a ritual initiation. At the conclusion of a successful defense, authorized doctoral faculty officially certify a candidate’s accomplishment in completing a major research study that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the field of English education broadly defined, and thereby welcome the doctoral candidate into the community of scholars.

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