Ph.D. in Education - Language Education in Multilingual Contexts

Ph.D. students and graduates engage in research that plays a key role in advancing knowledge and serving the needs of multilingual students and their teachers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world.

** Deadline is Dec. 1st.

The Language Education in Multilingual Contexts (LEMC) Ph.D. concentration provides opportunities for students to pursue research interests related to teaching and learning in preK-12 second language, foreign/world language, and bi/multilingual educational settings. LEMC doctoral students attend classes, work on mentored and collaborative research, and engage in a range of teaching and supervisory roles. Students build theoretical, methodological, and empirical expertise through coursework focused on language education as well as hands-on research with faculty researchers in multilingual preK-12 school contexts.

Career Opportunities include:

  • University settings – conducting research in research intensive universities, teaching and/or conducting research in all types of higher ed institutions
  • School districts - directing programs or conducting professional development in preK-12 second language, foreign/world language, and bi/multilingual educational settings
  • Government educational agencies – developing language policies and programs
  • Non-governmental agencies (NGOs) – conducting research and/or professional development

Students in the LEMC Ph.D. concentration have rich research and teaching experiences at UVA and become part of a national network of new-generation researchers. Students become researchers on day one of their program and continue to partner with faculty in research and teaching experiences that prepare them to succeed in their careers as educational scholars.

News Article: New Curry Ph.D. Program To Address Complexities of Language Education In the U.S.

Program Life

Ph.D. students in the Language Education in Multilingual Contexts concentration engage in a range of activities through the program, including working on research with other students and faculty members; taking courses in educational research, language education, and related fields; preparing presentations and papers for conferences; teaching or supervising pre-service teachers; attending talks at the School of Education and Human Development and across UVA; and working alongside practitioners.

Benefits that are unique to the School of Education and Human Development are:

  • Flexibility – students can personalize the program by choosing courses that focus on their future career track and particular interests in language education.
  • Interdisciplinarity – course selection is drawn from a range of programs in order to build comprehensive knowledge.
  • Course selection – students can learn from experts across UVa by taking one or more courses from other schools in the university outside of the School of Education and Human Development.
  • Faculty expertise– the faculty who lead and teach in this program are leaders in the multilingual education field, including Natasha Heny, Natalia Palacios, Judy Paulick, Filip Loncke and April Salerno.
  • Advising is 1:1 - faculty work extensively with students on research and other Ph.D. milestones.

Students will complete all program milestones currently required of Ph.D. students in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education (CISE) Department, such as the preliminary exam, Qualifying Paper, Comprehensive Exams, Dissertation Proposal, and Dissertation Defense, in keeping with current departmental and school guidelines.

Program Details

  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    Information for Prospective Graduate Students

    We recommend – though do not require – that applicants have completed a master’s degree and have three years of preK-12 teaching experience with multilingual students in public or private schools (or other informal schooling contexts). We anticipate admitting 1-2 people per year in this concentration, which allows us to select the highest quality applicants from among those who apply.

    Prospective students often ask what aspects of the application are given the most weight when being considered for acceptance into the program. Each application is looked at as a whole. One factor that is consistently important is the Statement of Professional Goals. This reflection is the best way to communicate who you are and how you would fit into the program.


    Applications must include a professional goal statement (4 double-spaced pages suggested) and writing sample (10 to 15 double-spaced pages suggested) 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. The GRE is required for all applicants applying to begin in 2023.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Application Due Date

    December 1st for admission the following fall semester.

    Applicants are generally informed about admission by mid-March.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Degree Requirements

    It is imperative that students be knowledgeable about School 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 Ph.D. requirements. Ultimately, a student’s doctoral program committee and the LEMC coordinator are responsible for program approval. Students must maintain the Ph.D. Record of Progress.

    The Ph.D. in Education – Language Education in Multilingual Contexts requires a minimum of 72 hours, including at least 54 credits of coursework. The 54 credits include content courses and research methodology courses. In addition, students must complete 6 research apprenticeship credits and 12 dissertation credits. At least 36 course and apprenticeship credits must be completed after admission to the program. (Students entering the doctoral program with a master’s degree can apply up to 24 hours of credit to their doctoral studies, provided that the faculty advisor and program committee members agree that the courses are comparable to specific courses required in the doctoral program.)

    Additional courses will be determined according to student's area of specialization in coordination with the program committee and faculty advisor.

    Research Methodology Coursework: LEMC 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 a report each year 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 LEMC Ph.D. students will complete a pre-dissertation research project that results in a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for possible publication 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.

    Dissertation: All Ph.D. students will complete a dissertation proposal and a dissertation following either the traditional, book-manuscript model or the three-manuscript option. A dissertation is required to demonstrate that the student can carry out important, independent research in his or her field describe the project and its outcomes in lucid writing. The proposal and dissertation, which represent the final assessment points for the Ph.D. candidate, both include a written document and an oral defense.

  • Funding Opportunities

    Most applicants who are admitted to the full-time LEMC Ph.D. program will be offered four years of funding. This includes a combination of assistantship wages and/or stipends, tuition and fee support, and health insurance. In exchange for receiving this funding, most 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's Financial Aid webpage.

  • Typical Length of Study

    LEMC Ph.D. students must be enrolled full-time throughout their programs and will ordinarily complete the program in four 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.

  • Course Overview

    Required core courses include:

    • EDIS 7842: Teaching ELLs: Theory, Policy and Practice  
    • EDIS 7840: Discourse Analysis in Educational Settings
    • EDIS 8855: Education & Diversity
    • At least one 3-credit course taken outside the School of Education to draw upon the interdisciplinary nature of Language Education and expertise across U.Va. grounds.

    Strongly recommended core courses include:

    • EDIS 7886: Comprehension of Texts
    • EDIS 7845: Writing: Research, Teaching & Learning
    • EDIS 8810: Policy Perspectives on Teaching and Teacher Education

    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 5330: Educational Statistics I
    • EDLF 7420: Experimental Design or EDLF 8310: Correlation and Regression Analysis
    • EDLF 7404: Qualitative Analysis  
    • At least 9 hours of additional courses in research design, methods, measurement, and/or statistics. These will be determined in consultation with the faculty advisor and program committee.

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