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 doctoral programs in English Education are hospitable to a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and professional ambitions in its applicants. However, all students are expected to become conversant with the principal theories, research methods, and pedagogical traditions of the field of English education.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D., 75 credits)
The Doctor of Philosophy (75 credits) 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 5504 Research Paper: Teaching of English
A&HE 5510 Professional Seminar: Foundational Texts 1 (We strongly recommend taking A&HE 5199 Foundational Sociocultural Texts as well)
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 5149 Writing Research: Methods and Assumptions
A&HE 5150 Research in Practice
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. 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.
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 their advisor and 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 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 Examinations.
Certification examinations certify a student’s expertise in the seminal 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 English Education 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. All Certification Examinations are overseen by the Office of Doctoral Studies and are scheduled for administration on specified dates during the year, usually in October, February and June. Students must register for a Certification Exam at least one month before the examination will be administered. Students become eligible to register for Certification Examinations when their signed approval form for the 5504 Research Paper has been filed in the English Education Program office.
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. This requirement may be satisfied through a proficiency examination administered by a foreign language program or department in the Columbia Graduate School of Arts & Sciences or by the satisfactory completion (with a grade of B or above) of a Columbia University course designed to certify language proficiency or by a comparable course (with a grade of B or above) offered by another college or university and approved by the appropriate foreign language department at Columbia. 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.
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.