Ph.D. in Education - Curriculum & Instruction

Combining theory with practical application, the Ph.D. in Education Curriculum and Instruction program prepares graduates for a range of careers both in and out of academia. This is a research-based, full-time program that is offered in Charlottesville only.

The Ph.D. in Education – Curriculum and Instruction (C&I Ph.D.) is a terminal graduate degree that prepares graduates for positions in university settings (e.g., in research intensive universities, liberal arts colleges, and other post-secondary institutions), school districts, government agencies, and non-governmental agencies (NGOs).

The C&I Ph.D. program emphasizes development of strong foundational knowledge in theory and the practical application of theory in one’s chosen fields of study. A thorough understanding of all aspects of the research process is key, including: development of research questions and hypotheses, research design, analysis and interpretation, dissemination of results in both oral and written formats, and grant writing to fund research. C&I Ph.D. students take extensive coursework in research methods and many focus on optional areas of emphasis. These optional areas include: Diverse Learners and Learning Contexts and Teacher Education/Teacher Quality.

Program Details

  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    The GRE is required for applicants applying to begin in 2023.

    We recommend that applicants to the Ph.D. in Education – Curriculum and Instruction (C&I Ph.D.) program have an approved master’s degree and three or more years of full-time K-12 teaching experience. Applications must include a professional goal statement (1 to 2 pages) and writing sample (10 to 15 pages) from the applicant’s master's program or equivalent. Applications must also include three recommendation letters, including two that address the applicant’s potential for doctoral study in a research training program. Include unofficial transcripts verifying baccalaureate and master's degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants must include GRE scores that meet the School of Education and Human Development’s minimum entrance requirements for doctoral study: 153 Verbal, 148 Quantitative and 4.5 in Analytic Writing. Unofficial scores are accepted for applying; however, once admitted official scores will be required.

  • Application Due Date

    December 1

  • Degree Requirements

    It is imperative that students be knowledgeable about the School of Education and Human Development requirements for the Ph.D. as specified in the Graduate Record of the University of Virginia. The following guidelines are conceived as detailed extensions of the overall School of Education and Human Development Ph.D. requirements. Ultimately, a student’s doctoral program committee and the C&I doctoral studies coordinator are responsible for program approval. Students must maintain the Ph.D. Record of Progress. Up to 24 credits from a current master’s degree may be applied toward the C&I Ph.D. The decision for transfer approval is made in concert with the program committee and doctoral studies coordinator.

    The Ph.D. in Education – Curriculum and Instruction requires a minimum of 72 hours. There is a 24 semester-hour core requirement. Students can fulfill this by taking 24 hours of C&I core courses or 12 hours of C&I core courses and 12 hours of courses in a C&I optional area of emphasis (e.g., Diverse Learners and Learning Contexts, Teacher Education/Teacher Quality).

    Research Methodology Coursework: C&I Ph.D. students will take a minimum of 24 hours of research coursework, including EDIS 7852 (Reading the Research) and EDLF 7300 (Foundations of Educational Research). Students will also take at least two courses in quantitative methods and one course in qualitative methods.

    Student Annual Report:  Each Ph.D. student will complete an annual report describing his or her growth and accomplishments. The report will guide students in reflecting on their own learning and progress and also allow faculty to assess student progress toward program goals.

    Preliminary Examination: In the second semester of the first year of study, all full-time Ph.D. students will complete a preliminary exam designed to determine the likelihood of the student’s continued success in doctoral studies.  This exam consists of two parts: an in-depth critique of a research report and an oral presentation of the critique and the student’s professional goals statement. In addition, an evaluation of the proposed program will be conducted by the examination committee. The Ph.D. Assessment Rubric for Preliminary Examinations will be used to evaluate both the paper and the presentation.

    Qualifying Paper: All C&I Ph.D. students will complete a pre-dissertation research project that results in a manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or an alternative scholarly publication consistent with the program area's discipline. The manuscript must be submitted before the student undertakes dissertation work. There is no requirement that the paper be accepted for publication, but students are encouraged to make revisions to the manuscript if a resubmission is likely to result in publication. Programs and advisors are encouraged to shape these projects toward eventual publication. Faculty use the Qualifying Paper to assess the student’s progress in academic writing and scholarship.

    Comprehensive Examination: All students will complete a written comprehensive examination to demonstrate understanding of the knowledge base and methodology in an area of curriculum and instruction to demonstrate readiness to undertake doctoral research. The examination will be graded independently by at least two faculty members according to the Ph.D. Assessment Rubric for Comprehensive Examinations.

  • Funding Opportunities

    Most C&I Ph.D. applicants who are admitted to the full-time C&I Ph.D. program will be offered four years of funding. A typical funding package includes (a) a minimum of $18,000 for 9 months in a combination of wages and stipends, (b) tuition and all mandatory fees, and (c) funds to cover student health insurance costs. In exchange for receiving this funding, most C&I Ph.D. students work 20 hours a week as graduate assistants from mid-August through mid-May each year that they receive funding. Graduate assistantships can include, for example, assisting in the instruction of university courses, supervising UVA teaching interns (i.e., student teachers), and/or serving as research assistants on faculty research projects. In addition, there are sometimes opportunities to work as research assistants on faculty projects during the summer. Part-time students are not eligible for graduate assistantships.

    Students may apply for federal financial aid, including work-study. Information about federal aid programs, including applying using the FAFSA, can be found through Student Financial Services. Additional financial aid information can be found on the School of Education and Human Development's Financial Aid webpage.

  • Typical Length of Study

    C&I Ph.D. students must be enrolled full-time throughout their programs. C&I Ph.D. students will ordinarily complete the program in 4 years of full-time study. Some students may take longer to complete requirements, depending on research assistantships and other responsibilities. All course work must be taken at the School of Education and Human Development.

    Continuous Enrollment: Students must be enrolled continuously at the University during the fall and spring semesters while working toward the Ph.D. degree. If students are not taking courses or working with a committee, they may maintain enrollment by paying a University non-resident fee through the Office of Admission in the School of Education and Human Development. Failure to maintain continuous enrollment will require students to reapply for admission. Students must be enrolled for dissertation hours during any semester in which they are working with their committee.

  • Course Overview

    Core Requirements: A minimum of 24 semester hours of core coursework is required for the C&I PhD. This can include 24 hours of C&I core courses or 12 hours of C&I core courses and 12 hours of courses in a C&I optional area of emphasis (see examples of optional areas of emphasis below). Possible core courses include:

    EDIS 8800       Principles of Curriculum Design

    EDIS 5055       Models of Instruction

    EDLF 7390      Differentiated Instruction

    EDIS 5500       Assessment of Curriculum K-12

    EDIS 8855       Education and Diversity

    Research Requirements: A minimum of 24 semester hours of core coursework is required. Required research courses include:

    EDIS 7852       Reading the Research

    EDLF 7300      Foundations of Educational Research

    EDLF 7310      Educational Statistics- Stat I

    EDLF 7404      Qualitative Analysis

    EDLF 8300      Experimental Design-Stat II    

    Optional Area of Emphasis: A minimum of 12 semester hours is required. Coursework is approved by the student’s doctoral program committee and the C&I doctoral studies coordinator. Optional areas of emphasis include:

    Diverse Learners and Learning Contexts

    Teacher Education/Teacher Quality

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at