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Language, Education and Society

The PhD in Language, Education and Society is a research-driven program that focuses students’ studies on how language, culture and social processes affect educational issues. Students have many ways to customize their doctoral program and many opportunities to work closely with faculty on their research and pursue their own research interests to shape the educational discourse in language, culture and learning in our nation’s schools and beyond.

  • The Ohio State University’s Ph.D. program in Language, Education and Society is an exceptional program that exceeded my expectations. As a long-time teacher who desired to move into the world of research and higher education, it provided both the academic and conceptual frameworks for progress as well as multiple opportunities to put theory into practice with research that could positively impact learners in schools and communities. The faculty is composed of highly qualified and well-respected scholars who not only taught me content, but mentored me through the processes of presenting research at national and international professional conferences and publishing in peer-reviewed journals. As I interact with graduates of other institutions, I have come to recognize that the mentorship aspect of the program is one of its important strengths that make it stand apart from other doctoral programs.
    Margaret Grigorenko, PhD, 2010
    Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Education, Cedarville University

  • I am very proud to be a Buckeye and grateful to have earned my PhD in Language, Education and Society at The Ohio State University. My experience in this program was just wonderful. I was provided with plenty of opportunities of to be a part of this warm community and work with an amazing group of scholars who I continue to collaborate with today. I truly appreciate how well this program has prepared me as an independent researcher and educator to pass on what I experienced and learned from this program to my current students, our future educators.
    Huili Hong, PhD, 2012
    Assistant Professor, East Tennessee State University

  • The education and training that I have received so far has prepared me as a scholar in a way much better than I could have imagined. Ample resources for research and opportunities as an apprentice for the professors have sharpened my research skills. The breadth and depth of the curriculum that LES provided was very strong both in methodologies and in theories. Above all things, beyond their intellectual rigor in research, the faculty at LES impressed me with their passion and dedication to training doctoral students. I believe LES is the right place for those who seek for these great resources and who love to actively engage in research on language and literacy education taking place in diverse sociocultural contexts.
    Min-Young Kim, 2018 anticipated graduation
    PhD student, Language, Education and Society


Students who pursue a PhD in Language, Education, and Society (LES) learn in a research-intensive environment studying how language and social processes are related to educational issues. Students and faculty are engaged with issues of language, culture and learning in school and non-school settings and believe that some of the most difficult problems in education and society can be addressed through research and scholarship.

Among the topics we study are:

  • Uses of spoken and written language
  • Language and literacy development
  • Biliteracy and bilingualism in classrooms, families and communities
  • Language variation and diversity
  • The discourse patterns in classrooms and other educational settings
  • The ethnography of language and literacy
  • Reading and writing education
  • Issues of language, power, and social justice
  • Education for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, visually impaired or have other sensory disabilities
  • Young children’s uses of language and learning
  • Inclusion of students with special needs in classrooms, communities and social institutions
  • Theories and methods for researching language in social contexts

Our doctoral program emphasizes working closely with faculty and active engagement in research. Students work with faculty on research projects and they pursue their own research interests with faculty support. The courses prepare students to be scholars, researchers, teacher educators and activists who understand the complexities of language, culture, learning and education. The program is flexible to meet students’ interests and goals and allows doctoral students to specialize their studies.

Program Sub-areas

  • Language and Learning in Classroom and Non-Classroom Settings
    Focuses on the close connection between language and learning across the grade levels from preschool through high school and across classroom, community, family, teacher education, and other contexts.
  • Bilingualism and Biliteracy
    Focuses on bilingual and biliteracy development and education for children and adolescents in primary and secondary schools. Also address the local and global perspectives on bilingual education policy and practices.
  • Early Childhood and Elementary Education
    Focuses on the ways education can be conceptualized to best meet the needs of diverse student populations (pre-school to elementary) within a continually shifting cultural and political global context.
  • Language Variation
    Focuses on how the variation in the dialects and languages students speak might influence their education with particular emphasis on understanding the legitimacy and beauty of all language varieties. 
  • Education for Students Who Are Visually Impaired
    Focuses on the education of students with visual impairments. Emphasis is placed on academic learning with special attention to science education, instruction that promotes conceptual understanding of academic domains and teacher education and curriculum development.
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
    Focuses on the relationship of language and power with specific attention to how language reflects and produces power relationships among people and among people and social institutions. 
  • Language Socialization
    Focuses on how people use language for the purpose of socializing others and themselves to particular communities and cultures while simultaneously focusing on how the activities, events, and practices of a community socialize people to that community’s ways of using language. 

Career Paths

Alumni of the Language, Education and Society program have careers in a variety of positions including:

  • University faculty who work in:
    • Teacher education
    • Literacy education
    • Early childhood education
    • K-12 education of emergent bilinguals
    • Writing and composition education
    • Education for students who are visually impaired or who have other sensory disabilities
    • College level ESL education
    • Bilingual and biliteracy education
    • Education for deaf and hard of hearing students
    • Qualitative and discourse analysis
  • K-12 curriculum supervisors, administrators, inclusion specialists and teachers.


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)

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
David Bloome, PhD, Faculty Emeritus
Theodore Chao, PhD, Assistant Professor
Patricia Enciso, PhD, Professor
Danene Fast, Clinical Assistant Professor
Michiko Hikida, PhD, Assistant Professor
Laurie Katz, PhD, Professor
Leslie C. Moore, PhD, Associate Professor
Elaine Richardson, PhD, Professor
Peter Sayer, PhD, Associate Professor
Francis Troyan, PhD, Associate Professor
Tiffany Wild, PhD, Associate Professor
Stephanie Power-Carter, PhD, Professor
Julie Hagge, PhD, Assistant Professor
Sophia Jeong, PhD, Assistant Professor
Dinorah Sánchez-Loza, PhD, Dean's Postdoctoral Fellow