Back to top

Adolescent, Post-secondary and Community Literacies

The PhD in Adolescent, Post-secondary and Community Literacies focuses on how people in their everyday lives – whether in classrooms, communities, families, or other educational settings – use written language and other semiotic systems to learn, to communicate, to create knowledge, to provoke their imaginations, to create positive identities for themselves, to enhance their communities, to promote social justice, and to engage in democratic actions and participate in all aspects of our society.


The philosophy underlying the PhD program in Adolescent, Post-secondary and Community Literacies (APCL) is that literacy education involves “reading the word and reading the world.”

Doctoral students join a community of scholars prepared to teach and conduct scholarship in diverse educational contexts. These include schools, universities, communities, families, and other cultural institutions across the nation and around the world.

Students and faculty in the program are interested in teacher education, improving classroom education, English language arts education, bilingual/biliteracy education, service learning, uses of technology to promote literacy learning, after school and other community education programs, and literature and composition education.

Our doctoral program is flexible and suited to the individual interests of each doctoral student.  A key feature is the research apprenticeship. This opportunity provides PhD students with the chance to work with faculty on their current research and scholarship and to engage in their own studies with the support of faculty. In addition, students are encouraged to present scholarly work at state and national conferences and to join faculty in professional writing and publication.

The program provides innovative preparation for educators with a strong theoretical and practical understanding of teaching, learning and educational environments. Students acquire a deep understanding of diverse perspectives in literacy education while also learning how it can transform people’s lives, foster inclusion and address some of the most difficult and intractable problems faced by individuals, families, communities and educational institutions.

Faculty and graduate students do research that values the diversity of experiences, knowledge, and literacies that people bring from their school, homes and communities. Much of this research is explicitly oriented to social action and social justice.

We believe it is important and necessary to understand and study adolescents as they construct new literacy practices across modes (print, digital, graphic) as part of their participation in educational, legal, economic, work and recreational institutions. 

Students are encouraged to combine their interest in Adolescent, Post-secondary and Community Literacies with other relevant interests. This could include second language learning, bilingualism/biliteracy, early and middle childhood education, language education and society, disability studies, multiculturalism and diversity, science and math education, among other pathways.

Career Paths

Our PhD students go on to have diverse careers and professions such as scholars, researchers, teacher educators and educational policymakers.


Deadline to Apply: 
December 1
Program Start: 
Autumn semester
Prerequisites/Pre-major Requirements: 
Master’s degree. For GRE requirements, please contact TLAS at
Minimum Program Hours: 
80 (up to 30 credit hours can transfer)

Coursework: Literacy, teaching and learning theory, diversity in education, educational research
Minimum course requirements: 2 department core courses (8 hours), 8 specialization courses (24 hours), research methods (9 hours), apprenticeship (6 hours), dissertation (6 hours), breadth requirement (3 hours)
Other requirements: Research apprenticeship, candidacy exam, dissertation
Academic opportunities: Graduate associateships, scholarships, university fellowships

View the Curriculum Sheet


Mollie Blackburn, PhD, Professor
Caroline Clark, PhD, Professor
Brian Edmiston, PhD, Professor
Patricia Enciso, PhD, Professor
George Newell, PhD, Professor and APCL Convener
Elaine Richardson, PhD, Professor

Affiliated Faculty
Beverly Moss, PhD, Professor of English
Amy Shuman, PhD, Professor of English