EdD in Language & Literacy Education

The doctoral program in Language & Literacy Education offers candidates the opportunity to develop specialized knowledge in either language or literacy acquisition and development grounded in an understanding of cognitive, linguistic, cultural, social, economic, and affective factors as they relate to language and literacy learning. Doctoral students may specialize in either Language Education, Literacy Education, or American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Studies; and within those specializations, they may choose a particular area of interest (i.e., TESOL, Bilingual Education, Modern Foreign Language). They may focus their study by population (age, grade, or stage of development) or by educational setting (urban, preschool, elementary, middle, or secondary school, college/university, workplace, community, clinic).

Most of the students who enroll in the Language & Literacy Education program at the doctoral level are interested in teaching, research, and policymaking in public or private institutions of higher education or in leadership positions in Pre-K–12 education and policy settings. Those who enter the program are diverse in background experience: some are licensed educators with experience in public school settings; others hold graduate degrees in fields other than education and have had experiences in various educational settings, including private or community education settings or organizations such as Peace Corps and Teach for America. Many are international students whose experiences are in public or private school settings in their own countries.

Program of Study

A program of 60 credits must be completed, and these include seven courses from one or more of the three specializations (Language Education, Literacy Education, ASL and Deaf Studies) and four courses in research. The remaining credits are earned through guided inquiry (independent study, dissertation advisement, and research apprenticeship). In addition, each doctoral student must complete successfully two qualifying tasks that are designed to give students experiences that are common to future academic and professional activities (i.e., publishable literature review and research report). Finally, each doctoral student must propose, conduct, report, and defend an original research study (the dissertation).

Pro-Seminars (8 credits across two semesters; completed in Year 1)

Two-semester pro-seminar designed to develop a common conceptual understanding of Schools, Educational Institutions, Communities, Educational Foundations, and Systems and Theories of Learning and Teaching, with Social Justice being a unifying theme throughout, across all SED EdD students.

Research and Teaching Apprenticeships (minimum: 6 semesters)

  • At least 1 teaching apprenticeship
  • At least 3 research apprenticeships
  • Remaining apprenticeship foci determined in consultation with student’s doctoral advisor

Research (minimum: 16 credits)

  • Qualitative (Required)
  • Quantitative (Required)
  • Mixed methods
  • Advanced research course
  • Additional courses may be required by programs

Specialization Courses (minimum: 28 credits)

Literacy Education Specialization (28 credits)

A minimum of six literacy courses from the following:

  • SED LS 690 Classroom Discourse as a Teaching and Learning Tool in Diverse Classrooms (4 cr)
  • SED LS 725 Discourse, Narrative, and Literacy (4 cr)
  • SED LS 727 Topical Seminar in Literacy and Language (variable cr)
  • SED LS 790 Literacy Assessment to Inform Instruction (4 cr)
  • SED LS 792 Teaching Adolescent Readers and Writers (4 cr)
  • SED LR 780 Processes of Reading (4 cr)
  • SED LW 781 Processes of Writing (4 cr)
  • SED LR 782 History of Reading Research (4 cr)
  • SED LS 902 Seminar in Early Literacy (4 cr)

A minimum of one language course from the following or an elective alternative:

  • SED LS 560 Introduction to Language and Language Acquisition
  • SED LS 658 Second Language Acquisition (4 cr)
  • SED LS 726 Discourse Analysis: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches (4 cr)
  • SED LS 750 Cognitive Development and Language (4 cr)
  • SED BI 620 Educational Issues in Bilingualism
  • SED BI 652 Reading and Writing in a Second Language

Language Education Specialization (28 credits)

Prerequisite: Students must have taken one of the following courses or its equivalent. This course does not count toward degree requirements.

  • SED LS 565 Applied Linguistics: Language & Linguistics Survey
  • CAS LX 250 Foundations of Language (4 cr)

A minimum of one course selected from the following:

  • CAS/GRS LX 631 Semantics & Pragmatics: Introduction to Linguistic Meaning (4 cr)
  • CAS/GRS LX 611 Morphology: Introduction to the Structures and Shapes of Words (4 cr)
  • CAS/GRS LX 621 Syntax: Introduction to Sentential Structure (4 cr)
  • SED LS 567 Structure of English (4 cr)

A minimum of one course selected from the following:

  • CAS/GRS LX 601 Phonetics & Phonology: Introduction to Sound Systems (4 cr)
  • CAS/GRS LX 703 Phonological Analysis (4 cr)

A minimum of two courses selected from the following:

  • SED LS 560 Introduction to Language and Language Acquisition (4 cr)
  • SAR SH 524 Language Acquisition (4 cr)
  • SED LS 658 Second Language Acquisition (4 cr)
  • SED LS 726 Discourse Analysis: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches (4 cr)
  • SED LS 750 Cognitive Development and Language (4 cr)
  • SED SAR CD 708 Language Theories, Acquisition, and Analysis (4 cr)
  • SED SAR CD 735 Child Language Disorders (4 cr)

A minimum of two courses selected from the following or relevant graduate-level electives offered at BU in consultation with the advisor:

  • SED LS 690 Classroom Discourse as a Teaching and Learning Tool in Diverse Classrooms (4 cr)
  • SED LS 626 Intercultural Education: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches (4 cr)
  • SED LS 567 Structure of English (4 cr)
  • SED LS 725 Discourse, Narrative, and Literacy (4 cr)
  • SED LS 790 Literacy Assessment to Inform Instruction (4 cr)
  • SED LR 780 Processes of Reading (4 cr)
  • SED LW 781 Processes of Writing (4 cr)
  • SED TL 835 Advanced Seminar in TESOL Pedagogy (4 cr)
  • SED LR 782 History of Reading Research (4 cr)
  • SED LS 792 Teaching Adolescent Readers and Writers (4 cr)
  • SED LS 902 Seminar in Early Literacy (4 cr)

American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf Studies (28 credits)

Prerequisites: Students must have taken the following courses or the equivalent. These courses do not count toward degree requirements.

  • SED LS 565 Applied Linguistics: Language & Linguistics Survey (4 cr)
  • SED LS 566 Language Acquisition (4 cr)
  • SED DE 590 American Sign Language III (4 cr)
  • SED DE 591 American Sign Language IV (4 cr)

A minimum of five courses selected from the following:

  • SED DE 592 American Sign Language V (2 cr)
  • SED DE 693 American Sign Language VI (2 cr)
  • SED DE 551 Deaf Literature and ASL Folklore (4 cr)
  • SED DE 572 Psychology and the Deaf (4 cr)
  • SED DE 575 Language and the Deaf Child (4 cr)
  • SED DE 576 Advanced Language and the Deaf Child (4 cr)
  • SED DE 672 American Sign Language Structure (4 cr)
  • SED DE 691 Advanced Seminar: Learning and the Deaf (4 cr)

A minimum of two courses selected from the following or elective alternatives:

  • SED BI 620 Educational Issues in Bilingualism (4 cr)
  • SED BI 652 Reading and Writing in a Second Language (4 cr)
  • SED LS 658 Second Language Acquisition (4 cr)
  • SED LS 690 Classroom Discourse as a Teaching and Learning Tool in Diverse Classrooms (4 cr)
  • SED LS 727 Topical Seminar in Literacy, Language & Cultural Studies (4 cr)
  • SED LS 750 Cognitive Development and Language (4 cr)
  • SED LS 902 Seminar in Early Literacy (4 cr)

Qualifying Tasks

  • Participation in a research project culminating in a formal write-up and presentation at a Doctoral Student Research Symposium at the end of the student’s second or third year. The research report will include a statement of the student’s contribution to the research. Work will be evaluated by the student’s Qualifying Committee.
  • Completion of a literature review and an oral defense of that review that examines an area of the student’s field of study in which there is a gap in understanding or in evidence-based approaches to solving a problem. The paper will culminate in identifying or proposing one or more promising practical or theoretical approaches to solving the problem or closing the gap in understanding. Work will be evaluated by the student’s Qualifying Literature Review Committee.

Dissertation Proposal

  • Preparation of a written proposal for original research (dissertation study) that addresses an important, unanswered question or unsolved problem of practice.
  • Oral defense of proposal to Dissertation Committee.

Dissertation Study and Oral Defense (minimum: 12 credits)

  • Dissertation (May take one of two forms: Traditional Comprehensive Report or Alternative format comprising three publishable articles)
  • Oral Defense (to Dissertation Committee) of methods, findings, and implications

Residency Requirement

Every doctoral candidate must spend a minimum of two consecutive semesters in residence at Boston University. Residence is defined as registration for a minimum of 12 credit hours at the University during each of two consecutive semesters. (Summer Terms may be considered one semester.) The residency requirement may be met by holding a research or teaching assistant position or being employed at Boston University 35 hours or more per week and registering for a minimum of 8 credit hours for two consecutive semesters. For additional information, students should contact their academic advisors.