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Program Contact

Carl Young
Program Leader, Literacy & English Language Arts Education
Associate Professor, English Education
cayoung2@ncsu.edu
919.757.3676
Program Contact

Irene Armstrong
Graduate Student Services Specialist
irene_armstrong@ncsu.edu
919.515.3221

Program Area of Study

Literacy and English Language Arts Education (LELA)


Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences (TELS)

The Literacy and English Language Arts Education doctorate is designed for individuals with interests in literacy, reading, new literacies, and English education research, scholarship, and teacher preparation. The program prepares students for roles as teacher educators and researchers in higher education or instructional leadership roles at school, district, and state levels, or education-related private industry. Individuals seeking admission to this program should have a strong background in this concentration and a desire to conduct original research in these fields.

Please note: If you are interested in applying for this program, please use the Apply Now button. If you have any questions, please contact either Dr. Carl Young, or the Director of Graduate Programs for the Ph.D., Dr. Jessica DeCuir-Gunby.

Important Dates
December 1, 2018
Applications are due December 1. Completed applications for consideration for funding and assistantships are due December 1.


Program Description

Students are expected to take initiative in their studies to read and master material beyond the specific readings and activities required in coursework. Students will work closely with faculty members through a sequence of experiences leading to greater research independence as their roles change from students to colleagues over the course of their graduate programs.

The program is built on foundations of research and application and is composed of three strands:

  • Content area specialization
  • Research
  • Preparation for professional roles

Students must complete specified coursework and experiences in the Literacy and English Language Arts Education program area of study and in research. In addition, the doctoral student must participate in specified common courses and seminars that serve as a core for the doctorate in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences. These activities enable the doctoral student to develop expertise in college teaching, research, supervision and other areas of knowledge and skill deemed appropriate by the student and doctoral advisory committee.

For more detailed information on the program, interested candidates may consult the LELA Doctoral Handbook.

Course of Study

Our doctoral program requires the completion of 72 credit hours with a minimum of 60 new hours required. Please note that the course of study will change in fall, 2016, when upcoming revisions to both our PAS PhD and also to the college-wide PhD take effect.

Full Curriculum

Our LELA PAS Faculty


Dennis Davis
Associate Professor, Literacy Education
ddavis6@ncsu.edu

Michelle Falter
Assistant Professor, English Language Arts Education
mfalter@ncsu.edu

Jill Grifenhagen
Assistant Professor, Literacy Education
jfgrifen@ncsu.edu

Crystal Chen Lee
Assistant Professor, English Language Arts Education
cchen32@ncsu.edu

Carol Pope
Professor Emeritus, English Language Arts Education
carol_pope@ncsu.edu

Ruie Pritchard
Professor Emeritus, English Language Arts Education
ruie_pritchard@ncsu.edu

Hiller Spires
Professor, Senior Research Fellow, Literacy Education
hiller_spires@ncsu.edu

Angela Wiseman
Associate Professor, Literacy Education
angela_wiseman@ncsu.edu

Carl Young
Associate Professor, English Language Arts Education
cayoung2@ncsu.edu

Our Affiliated Faculty


John Nietfeld
Professor, Educational Psychology
john_nietfeld@ncsu.edu

Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education
  • 3.0 grade point average or higher at the Master’s level
  • Completed application to the NC State Graduate School
  • Official GRE scores from within the last 5 years*
  • 3–5 years teaching experience at the K–12 level in literacy, reading, English language arts or related areas (preferred)
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
  • Statement of Purpose, including research interest
  • Writing Sample (Master’s thesis if applicable)

* Preferred scores are at or above the mean for doctoral students in the department within the curriculum and instruction program areas. However, GRE scores provide only one piece of information used by the admissions committee in making its recommendation.

Additional Information

A Unique Research Context

A unique feature of our doctoral focus in literacy is the dynamic context in which we conduct our work. The LELA PAS faculty conducts research in a variety of areas, including: an analysis of teaching English Language Arts in the digital age; digital literacies; professional development of literacy educators; writing and technology; game-based learning as literacy; using children’s literature and media literacy to respond to cyberbullying; innovative vocabulary instruction for preschool-aged children; coaching practices that lead to changes in literacy teacher behavior; research associated with the Disciplinary Literacy MOOC; study abroad; etc.

Our program area of study includes a network of strong relationships with local public schools, such as Elementary Education field partnerships, collaboration with students and teachers at Centennial Campus Middle School, and Wake STEM Early College High School. Connections to the public schools help to foster interdisciplinary field-based research projects, which provide opportunities for our doctoral candidates to work with faculty in mentored research initiatives.

One of our program’s most dynamic assets is the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, a state-of-the-art facility launched by the College of Education in 2005 that is physically connected to Centennial Campus Middle School. Doctoral students in the PhD Literacy and English Language Arts PAS have opportunities to collaborate on projects connected to the Friday Institute. The Friday Institute is located on NC State’s Centennial Campus, an innovative environment where close to 60 corporate and government organizations and business incubators thrive in partnership with faculty and students. The Friday Institute’s location and mission capitalize on NC State’s long history of engagement in university and business partnerships, and its leadership role in economic development. The Institute works with school districts in rural North Carolina to extend access to technology for the development of innovative teaching and learning applications as well as schools internationally. Cross-sector collaboration among education, government and private industry has been a cornerstone of the Friday Institute since its inception.

Please note: If you are currently enrolled in a master’s degree program in our College of Education and are interested in pursuing a Ph.D., you must formally apply to the program through the Graduate School.

Current Doctoral Students

Michael Anderson
From: Raleigh, NC
Research Interests: Literacy, Second Language Literacy, and Curricular Theory
Advisor: Dr. Carl Young

Ashley Atkinson
From: New York
Research Interests: Vocabulary Development, Children’s Literature, Bilingualism, Literacy
Advisors: Dr. Jill Grifenhagen and Dr. Dennis Davis

Rachael Debnam-O’Dea
From: Durham, NC
Research Interests: Text selection in secondary schools, multimodal literacy, social justice education, and teacher education
Advisor: Dr. Carl Young

Nicolette Filson
From: Hendersonville, NC
Research Interests: Language ideologies, dialect awareness, critical language pedagogy, and critical language awareness
Advisor: Dr. Carl Young

Donna Hawkins
From: Raleigh, NC
Research Interests: Adolescent identity and composition, critical literacy, and inquiry-based pedagogy
Advisor: Dr. Angela Wiseman

June Hurt
From:  North Carolina
Research Interests:  The underrepresentation of Latino/a students in gifted education classes
Advisor: Dr. Dennis Davis

Jill S. Jones
From: Apex, NC
Research Interests: Teacher scaffolding and literacy instruction, interventions, and assessment for elementary students
Advisor: Dr. Jill Grifenhagen

Kimberly Kemp
From: Willow Spring, NC
Research Interests: Adolescent struggling readers and student identity
Advisor: Dr. Dennis Davis

Ha Nguyen
From: Vietnam
Research Interests: Professional development, MOOC, assessment and evaluation, technology, and educational policies
Advisor: Dr. Jill Grifenhagen

Casey Medlock Paul
From: Elba, AL
Research Interests: Critical literacy, English as Foreign Language, Disciplinary Literacy, Social Justice Education
Advisor: Dr. Hiller A. Spires

Nina Radakovic
From: Charlottesville, VA
Research Interests: English Education, Identity, Social Justice, Multimodality, Bilingual Education
Advisor: Dr. Michelle Falter

Justin Richards
From: Raleigh, NC
Research Interests: Creativity and Hip-Hop Pedagogy in Secondary English Language Arts
Advisor: Dr. Angela Wiseman

Mark Spring
From: Chapel Hill, NC
Research Interests: Philosophy of Mind, Neuroscience and Education, Psychology and Education, Philosophy of Language, Language Arts, Creative Writing, Consilience, Metacognition
Advisors: Dr. Ruie Pritchard and Dr. Angela Wiseman

Nermin Vehabovic
From: Bosnia-Herzegovina & North Carolina
Research Interests: Literacy/Biliteracy Education and Reading, Community/Family Literacy, Children’s Literature
Advisor: Dr. Angela Wiseman

Lili Wang
From: China
Research Interest: Literacy in China’s ESL Classrooms
Advisor: Dr. Hiller Spires

Chang Yuan
From: Beijing, China
Research Interests: Disciplinary Literacy, Flipped Classroom, EFL, Project-Based Inquiry
Advisor: Dr. Hiller Spires

Recent Graduates:

Dr. Tanesha Faye Hendley Ashe (2017), (Chair, Carl Young).
Dissertation: Practices and beliefs that influence African American students’ success in English language arts classrooms: A qualitative case study.

Dr. Michael Shane Fletcher (2016, December), 6th grade teacher, Lumberton, NC.
AERA Middle Grades SIG Outstanding Dissertation Award, 2017. Shane received the 2017 AERA Middle Grades SIG Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research ($250.00).
Dissertation: Finding their voices: A narrative inquiry of sixth-grade Lumbee males who struggle with reading

Dr. Shea Kerkhoff (2016), Visiting Assistant Professor, College of Education, Purdue University. NC State Graduate Research Symposium, 1st place winner for College of Education; William Friday Research Fellowship recipient, $8000. Shea received the 2016 NC State Graduate Research Symposium Award, First place winner for the College of Education ($500.00); 2015 William Friday Research Fellowship Award ($8000); finalist for the International Literacy Association for the Outstanding Dissertation Award for 2017.
Dissertation: Designing Global Futures: A mixed methods study to develop and validate the teaching for global readiness scale.

Dr. Christine Christianson (2015), (Co-Chairs, Ruie Pritchard and Angela Wiseman), Assistant Professor, Ferrum College.
Dissertation: Adolescent authors: A case study of one urban high school English teacher’s memoir-writing and publishing curriculum.

Dr. Erin Culpepper (2015), (Chair, Hiller Spires; Co-chair, Kristin Conradi), IT Specialist, Franklin County.
Dissertation: Exploring teachers’ beliefs about reading standards: A Q-methodology study.

Dr. Sonya Massengill (2015), (Chair, Carl Young), Department Chair & High School English Teacher, Wake Christian Academy.
Dissertation: High school writing experiences, writing self-efficacy, and composing from multiple sources: A mixed methods study.

Dr. Melissa Pendleton (2015), (Chair, Angela Wiseman), Assistant Professor, Western Kentucky University.
Dissertation: Text-Based Discussions in a Racially Diverse, Lower-Tracked Fifth Grade Classroom.

Dr. Melissa Bartlett (2014), (Chair, Hiller Spires), High School English Teacher, Person County. CED Dissertation Proposal Award, 2013.
Dissertation: High school students reading informational texts: A comparison of written and video response modalities.

Dr. Clarice Moran (2014), (Chair, Carl Young), Assistant Professor, English Education, Kennesaw State University
Dissertation: Changing paradigms: A mixed methods study of flipping the English language arts classroom.

Dr. Meghan Liebfreund (2014), (Chair, Kristin Conradi; Co-chair, Hiller Spires), Assistant Professor, Towson University
Dissertation: Success with information text comprehension: An examination of underlying factors.
2015 IRA Outstanding Dissertation Award

Dr. Naomi Kraut (2013), (Chair, Carl Young), Instructor, NC State University College of Education
Dissertation: What it means to feel prepared to teach: A mixed methods investigation into preservice English language arts teachers’ perceptions of preparedness.

Dr. Meixun Zheng (2012), (Chair, Hiller Spires), Adjunct Faculty, University of the Pacific.
NCSU Graduate School Research Award, 1st Place for College of Education.
2013 Outstanding Dissertation Award for Middle Grades SIG, AERA.
Dissertation: Fifth graders’ flow experience in a game-based science learning environment.

Dr. Lisa Hervey (2011), (Chair, Hiller Spires), Research Associate, Friday Institute for Educational Innovation.
CED Dissertation Proposal First Place Award; NCSU Graduate School Research Award, 2nd Place Finalist for College of Education.
Dissertation: Between the notion and the act: Veteran teachers’ TPACK and practice in 1:1 settings.