Ph.D. in Education - Reading Education

Combining theory with practical experience, the reading program at the University of Virginia is nationally recognized for both research and practice. Graduates of the School of Education and Human Development's Ph.D. in Reading Education program are prepared for careers in university settings or research organizations.

This is a research-based, full-time program that is offered in Charlottesville only. The program includes coursework, a research apprenticeship, and practical experiences that prepare graduates to:

  1. Produce original research that contributes to the knowledge base of reading and/or to teacher education in general
  2. Become experts in reading education and in evidence-based practices that inform that area

Program Details

  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

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

    Beyond the requirements for admission to any Ph.D. program, entrance to this program requires a relevant master’s degree. Additionally, applicants must also have a minimum of three years teaching experience and competitive GRE scores.  An interview is required.  Applicants must provide both a goals statement (1-2 pages) and a writing sample (5 pages).

    Applicants may submit unofficial transcripts and test scores with their application. However, official test scores (taken within 5 years) and official transcripts showing degree conferral are required prior to matriculation.

    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 1

    Decisions will be available by February 15th.

    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

    General Coursework
    The Reading Education Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 72 credits. Students must complete 54 hours of coursework. This includes reading program area courses, research methodology courses, and up to 3 credits of research apprenticeship per semester but does not include internship and dissertation credits. At least 36 course and apprenticeship credits must be completed after admission to the program. Students can apply up to 12 credits of dissertation work towards the total of 72.

    Students entering the doctoral program with a master’s degree can apply up to 24 hours of credit to their doctoral program, provided that the program area and Associate Dean agree that the courses are comparable to substitute for specific courses required in the reading doctoral program.

    Students will ordinarily complete the program in 4 years of full-time study, or 3 years of full-time study beyond a master's degree in reading.

    Research Methodology Coursework
    Reading Education Ph.D. students are required to take a minimum of three research courses in quantitative methods (generally Stats I, II, and III) and two courses in qualitative research methodology (generally Qual I and II).  Advisors may require additional research methodology courses, depending on the focus of a student’s individual program and research.

    Students with advanced knowledge in methodology may petition to enroll in courses appropriate to their knowledge.

    Research Apprenticeship
    All Reading Education Ph.D. students will participate in a research apprenticeship with his/her research mentor. A mentor will be assigned based on the student’s research interests. This apprenticeship will occupy approximately 10 hours of each student’s week during the first and second years of study and may increase during the third and fourth years, depending on the student’s specific duties. During this apprenticeship, the student will assist with the mentor’s research and scholarship, which may include data collection, data analysis, library research, presentations, writing for publication, and other related activities.

    Reading Education Ph.D. students are expected to participate in internships that enable them to understand the workings of university-level teacher preparation. These internships consist of, but are not limited to, the following: supervising student teachers, serving as a graduate teaching assistant, serving as the instructor of a preservice or master’s-level course.  All students must serve as a graduate clinician at the McGuffey Reading Center for a total of 6 credits.

    Internships will be determined in consultation with faculty advisors.

    Record of Progress

    Students must complete and keep current their Record of Progress form.  The Record should be started upon initial registration and kept up to date throughout the doctoral program.

    Student Annual Report

    Each Reading Education Ph.D. student will complete an annual report describing his or her growth and accomplishments.

    Preliminary Exam

    At the end of the first semester of the first year of study, all Reading Education Ph.D. students will complete a preliminary exam, which is designed to determine the likelihood of the student’s continued success in Ph.D. studies. This exam consists of two parts. The first is a paper on a topic of significance in the field and of interest to the student. The second is an oral exam in which the student presents the paper and a critique of a research article he/she has been given one week prior to the exam.

    Qualifying Paper

    Reading Education Ph.D. students, prior to their third year of study, will complete a pre-dissertation qualifying paper that results in a manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. There is no requirement that the paper be accepted for publication, but students are strongly encouraged to revise manuscripts where resubmission is likely to result in publication. Research mentors will work with students to shape these papers toward eventual publication; co-authored papers are acceptable.

    Comprehensive Examination

    Reading Education students will complete a two-part, written comprehensive examination to demonstrate (1) understanding of the knowledge base in Reading Education and (2) readiness to undertake doctoral dissertation research. The examination will be graded independently by at least two faculty members. 


    Reading Education students will successfully complete all dissertation requirements including defending a dissertation proposal as determined by the student's doctoral committee; gaining approval from the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the protection of human subjects, planning and conducting a research study (dissertation); and passing an oral final examination (dissertation defense) on the conduct and conclusions of the dissertation.  All other requirements must be completed before this defense.  Guidelines for the dissertation work and the three-paper option alternative are described in the School of Education and Human Development Dissertation Manual. Either option must meet the expectations set forth in the Manual’s dissertation guidelines.

  • Funding Opportunities

    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.

  • Typical Length of Study

    Students will typically complete the program in 4 years of full-time study.  In certain cases, students may be able to complete their work in a shorter time period or may require a longer time period.  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.

    All requirements must be completed within four years after passing the comprehensive exam and within seven years of admission to the Ph.D. program.

    Semester of Entry:


    Full or Part Time:


  • Course Overview
    Year 1 Fall Semester Year 1 Spring Semester Credits & Assessment
    EDLF 8500 Education & Diversity EDLF 7404 Qual I 24 Credits/Preliminary Exam
    EDLF 7300 Fdns of Ed. Research EDLF 8300 Stats II  
    EDLF 7310 Stats I EDIS 7883 Seminar: Rdg Disabilities OR EDIS 8500 Seminar: Early Literacy Acquisition  
    EDIS 7852 Reading/Interpreting Research EDLF 7606 Comparative Ed.  
      Research Assignment (10 hrs)  
    Research Assignment (10 hours) Department Assignment (10 hours)  
    Department Assignment (10 hours)    
    Year 2 Fall Semester Year 2 Spring Semester Credits & Assessment
    EDIS 7851 Seminar: Theoretical Models OR EDIS 7886 Seminar: Rdg Comprehension EDIS 8984 Clinic 24 Credits/Qualifying Manuscript
    EDLF 8440 Qual II EDIS 8500 Seminar: Early Literacy Acquisition OR EDIS 7883 Seminar: Rdg Disabilities  
    EDLF 8310 Stats III EDLF 8350 Stat IV  
    Research Assignment (10 hours) EDIS 8853 Seminar: Grant Writing [IES focus] OR EDIS 8090 - Seminar: Integrative Literature Reviews [meta-analysis focus]  
    Department Assignment (10 hours) Research Assignment (10 hrs)  
      Department Assignment (10 hours)  
    Year 3 Fall Semester Year 3 Spring Semester Credits & Assessment
    EDIS 7886 Seminar: Rdg Comprehension OR EDIS 7851 Seminar: Theoretical Models Dissertation Hours Only 12/6 Credits/Comprehensive Exams
    EDIS 8984 Clinic Research Assignment (10 hours)  
    EDIS 7800 Fundamentals of Curriculum Department Assignment (10 hours)  
    EDLF 7403 Survey Design & Instrument Construction    
    Research Assignment (10 hours)    
    Department Assignment (10 hours)    
    Year 4 Fall Semester Year 4 Spring Semester Credits & Assessment
    Dissertation Hours Only Dissertation Hours Only 12 Credits/Dissertation
    Research Assignment (10 hours) Research Assignment (10 hours)  
    Department Assignment (10 hours) Department Assignment (10 hours)  
  • Sample Jobs After Graduation

    The primary purpose of the Ph.D. degree is to develop educational scholars who wish to conduct original research and interpret and communicate the results of such research as authors, university faculty, and governmental or research agency officials.

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