PhD Specialization in Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry – University of Maryland

Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry

 The PhD specialization in Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry (LLSI) in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership (TLPL) at the University of Maryland provides students with a broad conceptual understanding of language and literacy research, and offers a choice between two areas of focus within the program, Applied Linguistics and Literacy Education.

Faculty research interests in the Applied Linguistics area of focus include classroom discourse, conversational analysis, dual language learner education, language and literacy teacher development, language assessment policy, language contact and multilingualism, language diversity, language in school contexts, language planning and policy, multilingualism, peer interaction, second language teaching, sociocultural approaches to second language acquisition, teacher collaboration, and translanguaging.

Faculty research interests in the Literacy Education area of focus include culturally responsive approaches to elementary reading instruction, emergent literacy, family literacy, preparing teachers for diversity, learning with text, literacy teaching and learning, new literacies, reading assessment, reading comprehension strategies, stasis theory, and vocabulary for literacy learning.

The doctoral program is primarily focused on the study of language and literacy learning in pre-kindergarten through high school settings in the US.


The University of Maryland is the state’s flagship university and one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, and 49 members of the national academies.  It is a member of the Association of American Universities and competes athletically as a member of the Big Ten Conference. The College of Education at the University of Maryland is ranked 26th by US News, with department specialty programs ranked at 14th (Curriculum and Instruction), 16th (Elementary Education), and 17th (Educational Policy).  TLPL?s Division of Language, Literacy, and Social Inquiry is home to two centers ? the Multilingual Research Center and the Reading Center ? which seek to create an infrastructure for practice and research in the broader community.

UMD is the nation?s premiere institution for language-related research.  It is home to over 200 language scientists in 17 different departments and centers. The campus-wide Maryland Language Science Center coordinates and creates opportunities for collaborations across disciplines and perspectives, and sponsors a wide range of talks, mini-conferences, and workshops.  Students in the LLSI program are encouraged to take full advantage of program flexibility to draw on the university?s wide range of intellectual resources in this area.


The doctoral curriculum typically requires at least three years of graduate study beyond the master?s degree. Students are expected to integrate into the campus scholarly community, and to be available on a full-time basis. The department provides funding for all PhD students admitted into the program

Integrated Department Core

LLSI students join a two course sequence (6 semester hours) in foundations of inquiry and practice with other department specialization students from Education Policy and Leadership, Mathematics and Science Education, Minority and Urban Education, Teacher Education and Professional Development, and Technology, Learning and Leadership.

Specialization Core

LLSI students take a two course sequence (6 semester hours) as the specialization core in applied linguistics and literacy education.  An additional 24 semester hours (typically eight courses) is selected in consultation with the advisor. These courses generally take the form of doctoral seminars taught by program faculty, and may include doctoral level courses from other departments.

Intermediate and Advanced Methods

Students are required to take at least 12 credit hours of research methods courses, including one qualitative and one quantitative methods course.  Students may take research methods courses in TLPL, Human Development and Quantitative Methods (HDQM), or other academic departments.

Doctoral Seminars

Doctoral students in LLSI enroll in a weekly 1-credit seminar with other students in their area of focus to explore opportunities for collaborations with faculty and other students, develop their knowledge of the field and the academic profession, and apprentice into the broader research community.  This course is graded pass/fail, and may not be used toward the PhD.


All students complete a minimum of 12 credits of dissertation research per University policy.


The priority deadline is December 1.  The department funds all admitted doctoral students with Graduate Assistantships, and is sometimes able to provide additional financial resources in the form of Graduate School fellowships to enhance student recruitment packages. Although it is not required, students are encouraged to visit the campus and program faculty before applying, if possible.


The program description is available online here.  For more information about the application process, see how to apply, contact Joy Jones at or (301) 405-3118 with any questions.  For information about the program details, contact a faculty member from the list below.


Peter Afflerbach (PhD, The University at Albany, State University of New York):  Reading comprehension strategies and processes, especially related to new literacies; the verbal reporting methodology; reading in Internet and hypertext environments; and, reading assessment.

Jean Dreher (PhD, University of California, Riverside):  Reading comprehension, learning with text, and the effects of integrating information texts into literacy instruction on children s comprehension, vocabulary, and motivation.

Jeff MacSwan (PhD, UCLA):  Bilingualism, codeswitching, applied linguistics, the role of language in schooling, language assessment policy.

Melinda Martin-Beltran (PhD, Stanford):  Sociocultural approaches to second language acquisition focusing on dual language learners (ESOL students), peer interaction, language exchange, and teacher learning to build upon students’ linguistic and cultural diversity.

Joseph McCaleb (PhD, University of Texas, Austin):  Digital Media and Learning; Teaching Narrative; Composition; Assessment of Speaking and Listening; Storytelling in oral, written, and media & quantum.

John O’Flahavan (PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign):  PK-12 literacy teaching and learning, the discourses involved in teaching and learning in schools, comprehensive school-wide literacy programs, and sustainable school improvement.

Megan Madigan Peercy (PhD, University of Utah):  Preparation and development of teachers throughout their careers, as they work with language learners. Theory-practice relationship in second language teacher education, teacher collaborative relationships and learning, teachers’ academic language and literacy practices with language learners.

Kellie Rolstad (PhD, UCLA):  Language of schooling, language diversity, second language teaching, unschooling, and democratic education.

Olivia Saracho (PhD, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign):  Emergent literacy, family literacy, cognitive style, and play.

Wayne Slater (PhD, University of Minnesota):  Persuasion in reading comprehension and written communication with a focus on biased assimilation and stasis theory.

Jennifer Turner (PhD, Michigan State University):  Culturally responsive approaches to elementary reading instruction; vision  as a conceptual and practical tool for preparing reading teachers for diversity; literacy as an indicator of college and career readiness; and diverse students? multimodal representations of future professional identities and workplace literacies.


Ayanna Baccus (PhD, University of Maryland):  Reading and literacy instruction.

Perla Blejer (EdD, George Washington University):  Second language acquisition, foreign language education methodology, language program administration in higher education, and issues of equal opportunity for at-risk students and disadvantaged populations

Drew Fagan (EdD, Teachers College, Columbia University):  Influence of teacher talk on language learning opportunities in classroom discourse; conversation analysis (CA) and second/foreign language classroom interactions; factors affecting teachers; preparing mainstream teachers for working with English language learners.

Daisy Fredricks (PhD, Arizona State University):  English Language Learner education, pre-service teacher education, language planning and policy, qualitative research methods.

Melissa Landa (PhD, University of Maryland):  Teaching language arts to English Language Learners; Case Based Pedagogy; writing instruction in elementary school; the representation and development of human identity through schooling, literature, and film.

Kathleen Travers (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison): English Education, teacher education and partnerships and university supervision.

Peggy Wilson (PhD, University of Maryland):  Secondary literacy, writing, and grammar.


Donna Christian (PhD, Georgetown University):  Dual language education, bilingual education, dialects and education, heritage language education, language and public policy, second/foreign language learning, sociolinguistics.  Donna Christian is a Senior Research Fellow and past President/CEO of the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Manel Lacorte (PhD, University of Edinburgh):  Applied linguistics, second language (L2) and heritage language (HL) pedagogy, L2 and HL teacher education, L2 and HL classroom interaction and context(s), sociopolitical issues in L2 and HL teaching and learning.

Roberta Lavine (PhD, Catholic University of America):  Learner variables in language learning, especially learning disabilities, Language for Specific Purposes, and technology.

Rebecca Silverman (EdD, Harvard Graduate School of Education):  Language and literacy; differentiated instruction; English language learners.

Terrence G. Wiley (PhD, University of Southern California): language policy and planning; English as second/foreign/world language; bilingual education; comparative and international education; immigrant and heritage-community language education; societal multilingualism, including language demography and linguistic landscape analysis; and the history of language policies. Terrence G. Wiley is President/CEO of the Center for Applied Linguistics.

Minglang Zhou (PhD, Michigan State University): Chinese as a second/global language, bilingualism and bilingual education, language identity, language contact, and the relationship between language, ethnicity, and nation-state in China.

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