The UVA Rotunda shot from the Lawn at dusk

Curriculum & Instruction: Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

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.

At a Glance

Program Results

Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Curriculum & Instruction

Career Objective

This program 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.

Best Suited To

Students with an approved master’s degree and three or more years of full-time K-12 teaching experience. 

Program Type

  • Full Time


  • In-Person

Estimated Length

4 years

Application Deadline

December 1



About This Program

The Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction program emphasizes development of strong foundational knowledge in theory and the practical application of theory in one’s chosen fields of study. This is a research-based, full-time program that is offered in Charlottesville only.

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.

Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction 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 Overview

Admission Requirements

This program requires the submission of Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores as part of the application process. GRE scores must be less than 5 years old. Visit our Graduate Admission page for the full graduate admission process.


Additional admission requirements that apply specifically to this program are listed below:

  • We recommend that applicants to the Ph.D. in Education – Curriculum & 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 a writing sample (10 to 15 pages) from the applicant’s master's program or equivalent.

Graduate Admission

Application for admission is made to the School of Education and Human Development Office of Admission & Enrollment. For more information about the graduate admission process, please visit our Graduate Admission page.


To learn more about specific courses taken as part of the completion of this degree, visit the Graduate Record website. These webpages represent the official repository for academic program requirements. A link to these publications can be found in the Curriculum Information section at the bottom of this page.

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).

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.

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 Curriculum & Instruction Ph.D. applicants who are admitted to the full-time 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.


Departmental fellowships and assistantships are provided to a select number of applicants each year. A typical funding package includes funding for nine months in a combination of wages and stipends, tuition and all mandatory fees, and funds to cover student health insurance costs. The University also offers a limited number of competitive fellowships for which students enrolled in Ph.D. programs may apply.

Visit the Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards page for additional funding opportunities.

Ph.D. Students

Aaron N. Blatt

  • Ph.D. Student
Scout Crimmins

Scout Crimmins

  • Ph.D. Student

Helen Min

  • Ph.D. Student
Kristyn Wilson

Kristyn Wilson

  • Ph.D. Student

Contact Us


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