Jul 18, 2024  
2015-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2017 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Reading Education

Department of Reading and Language Arts
490A Pawley Hall  (map)
(248) 370-3054 • Fax (248) 370-4367

Interim coordinator:
Tanya M. Christ
460F Pawley Hall
(248) 370-3091

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Graduate Catalog Addendum  

Program description

Reading and language arts education is predicated upon an understanding of such diverse domains of knowledge as linguistics, psychology, psychometrics and educational psychology, to mention just a few. A well-prepared reading and language arts professional must have a solid foundation in: learning theory, language development, literature, composition, comprehension, word recognition, diagnosis and correction of reading performance, theoretical models of reading, as well as a historical perspective on reading and language arts as it has developed over the past century. Well-versed reading and language arts experts must possess a solid theoretical background, as well as the practical knowledge required to teach reading and the related language arts in classrooms, clinical settings, or in university programs. 

The Reading and Language Arts Department is committed to offering a program of study that prepares students to conduct and evaluate research, to master the art of teaching children and adults to read and write, and to understand and appreciate the wealth of knowledge that related disciplines can contribute to literacy instruction.

Admission terms and application deadlines

Before an applicant’s file can be reviewed for full program admission, all application documents must be received in Graduate Admissions by the semester deadlines listed below.

Current Deadlines

  • March 1 for fall semester
  • October 15 for Winter semester
  • International applicants: March 1 for fall semester and September 1 for winter semester

Beginning FALL 2017 Semester

  • February 15 (early) for fall semester
  • October 1 (early) for winter semester
  • International applicants: March 1 for fall semester and September 1 for winter semester

Application requirements

To be considered for graduate admission, applicants must submit all Graduate Application Requirements and additional department requirements by the published application deadlines:

  2. Additional department application requirements
  • Additional Recommendation for Graduate Admission form
    In addition to the two recommendations listed above, a third recommendation is required by the program.
  • Prior coursework at the undergraduate and graduate levels
  • Writing ability as revealed through a personal essay or academic paper
  • Professional background as indicated in a curriculum vita
  • Official scores for either the Miller Analogy Test (MAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Personal statement describing what motivates the applicant to pursue a doctoral degree

Admission review and assessment

Admission to graduate study at Oakland University is selective. In making admission recommendations to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning, each department assesses the potential of applicants for success in the program by examining their undergraduate records, goal statement, letters of recommendation, prerequisite courses and any other admission requirements established by the academic department.

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in reading education degree program is selective. Final admission recommendations are then made by the Reading and Language Arts faculty working as a committee of the whole.

Program prerequisites

Depending on previous professional experiences and training, doctoral students may be asked to take a limited number of courses prior to the 700-level courses of the core program.

Degree requirements

The Ph.D. in reading education degree program requires a minimum of 68 credits and consists of four parts: the reading and language arts core component, the research core component, the planned sequence component and the dissertation component.

The reading and language arts core and research components consist of 9 or 10 advanced courses taught in seminar fashion. The reading and language arts seminars cover topics such as theoretical models of reading, comprehension, cognitive psychology, children’s literature, advanced diagnosis and correction, and composing processes. The research seminars cover topics such as systematic inquiry, research design, qualitative and quantitative approaches to research, methods and tools of research, applied research, and actively engage students in conducting research.

Course requirements (68 credits)

c. Research electives (at least 4 credits)

Students must select one research elective as part of their research program of study. Students may opt to take two research electives. In this case, their planned sequence coursework will be reduced by 4 credits to 16 and their research component will be increased to 24 credits.

d. Planned sequence requirements (20 credits)

The planned sequence component consists of 16 or 20 semester hours of study selected by the student, with the advice of an adviser, to serve that student’s needs and interests. The planned sequence must be approved and signed by the student’s adviser. The planned sequence may include study in related disciplines such as (but not limited to) linguistics, psychology, English, instructional systems technology, school administration, children’s literature, composition, or guidance and counseling.

e. Dissertation (12 credits)

The dissertation component consists of coursework guided by the student’s dissertation chair and committee members and is designed to assist the student in the research and writing process involved in successful completion of the dissertation. A dissertation proposal (written paper) and oral proposal defense are required, as well as a dissertation and oral defense of the dissertation. Dissertations may investigate any faculty-approved theoretical or practical issue in reading and language arts and literacy related issues in instructional technology.

Satisfactory academic progress

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is the term used to denote a student’s successful completion of coursework toward a certificate or degree. Federal regulations require the Office of Financial Aid to monitor Satisfactory Academic Progress for all financial aid recipients each semester.

Students who fall behind in their coursework, or fail to achieve minimum standards for grade point average and completion of classes, may lose their eligibility for all types of federal, state and university aid. Contact the Office of Financial Aid for additional details.

Good academic standing

All graduate students are expected to remain in good academic standing throughout the entire course of their graduate program. To be in good academic standing, a graduate student must make satisfactory progress toward fulfilling degree requirements, including the completion of critical degree milestones as set forth by the academic program. The student must also maintain a minimum semester and overall GPA of 3.0.

Good academic standing is a requirement for:

  • Holding a Graduate Assistantship
  • Receiving a fellowship or scholarship
  • Advancing to candidacy for a graduate degree
  • Going on a leave of absence
  • Obtaining a graduate certificate or degree from Oakland University.

Additionally, graduate students must meet all department academic standards which may be more stringent than the minimum set forth by the University.

Graduate students who are not in good academic standing for any reason are subject to probation and/or dismissal from further graduate study.

Related program requirements

Academic advising

Upon acceptance into the program, students are advised by the Ph.D. program coordinator. During the first semester of study, students are assigned an initial academic adviser.

The initial academic adviser provides academic counseling early in the course of study and assists the student in developing a preliminary plan of study. Students may later choose a full-time faculty member as their adviser.

Plan of study

All accepted applicants, in consultation with their assigned faculty program adviser, must develop a plan of study that details specific courses the students will use to satisfy their degree requirements. The plan of study must be approved by the faculty program adviser and submitted to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Master’s and graduate certificate students must submit a department-approved plan of study by the end of their first semester of graduate coursework. Doctoral students must submit an approved plan of study prior to completion of the first year of coursework. (See the Graduate Student Responsibility  section of this catalog.)


Doctoral students in the Department of Reading and Language Arts can complete their residency requirement in three ways:

  1. Two consecutive academic year semesters (i.e., fall and winter), or
  2. An academic semester and a contiguous summer semester, or
  3. Three consecutive summer semesters.

During residency, students may be assigned experiences not ordinarily available through coursework. Examples of such experiences may include tutoring children and adults in the reading clinic, assisting faculty in the conduct of research, and teaching undergraduate or graduate courses under departmental supervision. Graduate assistantships, which include a stipend and tuition and fees, are available on a competitive basis to students pursuing full-time study. Assistantships cannot be granted to students who are employed full time.

Qualifying examination

Before admission to candidacy, each student must pass a written and oral qualifying examination. The examination is taken after the bulk of coursework is completed.



  1. To extend and assess a student’s ability to plan, draft, and revise two major research papers.  
  2. To extend and assess a student’s readiness to propose and complete a dissertation.


Students will schedule their Qualifying Examination after completing their doctoral course work. Successful completion of the qualifying examination will result in the student’s admission to doctoral candidacy. As a doctoral candidate, the student will be eligible to assemble a dissertation committee and begin the dissertation.

Students must apply to and receive permission from the Doctoral Coordinator to initiate the process of taking Qualifying Examinations.  The student must choose a faculty advocate once they have obtained permission to take the Qualifying Examinations.  The faculty advocate will serve as Chair of the Student Qualifying Examination Committee (SQEC.) The SQEC Chair and the Doctoral student will then identify two additional faculty members to serve on the SQEC. Normally, the two additional members will be full-time faculty members of the Reading and Language Arts Department. However, in an instance where the student has pursued a minor outside of the RLA the student may select a faculty member from another Oakland University department. The SQEC will counsel, assist, and evaluate doctoral students’ work as they move through the stages of completing Qualifying Examinations. Note: The SQEC and the Dissertation Committee are separate entities. However, SQEC members may serve on the student’s dissertation committee.

Nature of The Doctoral Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination will consist of two papers written, presented, and orally defended in the presence of the Student Qualifying Examination Committee. Although the qualifying examination papers are designed to align with the student’s dissertation, the examination candidate will not be obligated to pursue a dissertation topic that coincides with the two papers required for the Qualifying Examination. The Qualifying exam will consist of two of the following three paper options to be determined by the SQEC in collaboration with the doctoral student.

  • Option One: The candidate will write a review of the research literature on a topic mutually approved by the SQEC and the doctoral student. Ideally, the review topic will align with the student’s intended dissertation topic. In such an instance, the student will have completed a potential draft of Chapter 2 of a dissertation.  Although the SQEC will determine the adequacy of the paper with respect to the Qualifying Examination process, the student’s dissertation committee will make all final decisions regarding the modification of the paper for inclusion in the dissertation. The format of the review must be must be agreed upon by the student and the SQEC.
  • Option Two: The candidate will write a research proposal. Such a paper will follow the general outline appropriate for the third chapter of a typical research dissertation. Ideally, the review topic will align with the student’s intended dissertation topic. In such an instance, the student will have completed a potential draft of Chapter 3 of a dissertation. As indicated in Option One, the student’s dissertation committee will make all final decisions regarding the modification of the paper for inclusion in the dissertation. The format of the research proposal must be must be agreed upon by the student and the SQEC.
  • Option Three: The candidate will write a publishable article connected to literacy.  It should follow the requirements of a journal for literacy educators. A student who publishes a peer-reviewed article in a literacy journal during their doctoral program prior to the Qualifying Examination will have fulfilled this component of the Examination.
  • Qualifying Examination Time Schedules: Students will write, present, and orally defend two papers over the course of no more than 90 calendar days. However, the SQEC may adjust the time schedule to suit the circumstances relevant to the needs and exigencies of individual examination candidates.

The Student Qualifying Examination Committee may permit a student to repeat the qualifying examination. An unacceptable performance on the qualifying examination may result in educational requirements and experiences in addition to those specified in the regular course of study. Passing evaluations on either the written or oral portions of the examination do not preclude the faculty from requiring additional courses or learning experiences if the Student Qualifying Examination Committee deems such actions warranted.


Each candidate must complete a dissertation that makes a contribution to the major field of study. When a student is ready to initiate a dissertation proposal, he or she should nominate a dissertation committee chairperson. The dissertation committee is then formed in consultation with the student’s dissertation chairperson. The dissertation committee consists of four Oakland University faculty members, including at least three members from the Department of Reading and Language Arts, at least one member from outside the Department of Reading and Language Arts, and at least one member from the student’s area of minor concentration. An Oakland faculty member at large or a faculty member from another university may be asked to serve on the committee, if approved by the committee chair and the Ph.D. coordinator. The student’s nominees are subject to availability and other constraints. The coordinator of the doctoral program must approve the selection of the dissertation committee.

The dissertation committee chairperson advises the candidate through the stages of dissertation preparation. When the dissertation committee chairperson and the student have agreed on a dissertation topic, the student must prepare a written dissertation proposal. Requirements of the dissertation proposal shall be specified by the dissertation chairperson in consultation with the dissertation committee. The penultimate dissertation proposal must be made available, and the proposal defense must be announced two weeks prior to the defense. The student shall present and orally defend the proposal before the dissertation committee and other members of the Reading and Language Arts faculty, insuring that all relevant issues pertaining to the dissertation are considered. Once the dissertation committee approves the proposal, the student may initiate the study.

A penultimate draft of the dissertation must be submitted to the committee for modification and approval before the final copy is prepared and approved by the dissertation committee. Eleven bound copies of the dissertation are required and are distributed as follows: three to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning, three to the Ph.D. coordinator of the Department of Reading and Language Arts, and one for each member of the dissertation committee. One copy of the completed dissertation must be submitted to Proquest (formerly University Microfilms International) for publication.

A minimum of 12 credits in RDG 799 are required of all doctoral students. Merely amassing dissertation credits does not indicate satisfactory progress toward, or completion of, the dissertation. The dissertation is deemed completed only after a successful oral defense and after final approval of the completed dissertation by the dissertation committee.

Oral final examination

Each candidate must orally defend the dissertation before the dissertation committee. The examination is scheduled after the dissertation committee has had at least two weeks to review the penultimate dissertation. The oral defense must be announced to the university at least two weeks prior to the defense. While interested faculty and outside observers may make comments and ask questions, only the dissertation committee certifies approval of the dissertation. The dissertation committee may permit re-examination if the initial dissertation defense is deemed inadequate.

Continuous enrollment

The continuous enrollment policy for doctoral students requires continuous registration of graduate students for at least 1 credit each semester in the academic year to maintain an active graduate student status. This includes semesters in which the comprehensive, preliminary or qualifying examination is taken, defense, and each subsequent term (fall and winter) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Oakland University recognizes a variety of circumstances may require a doctoral student to interrupt progress toward a graduate degree. Doctoral students, temporarily unable to continue their programs, may request a “Leave of Absence” for up to two (2) consecutive semesters (Fall/Winter or Winter/Fall). Students should consult the Leave of Absence policy in the Office of Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

Some agency and graduate assistantship eligibility may have course-load requirements that exceed the minimum registration requirements of the Continuous Enrollment Policy (e.g., Veterans Affairs, Immigration and Naturalization for international students, and federal financial aid programs). Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the appropriate number of credits that are required for funding eligibility and/or compliance as outlined by specific agency regulations under which they are governed.

Time limits

All requirements, including the dissertation, must be completed within ten years after admission to the program. The student must achieve candidacy within six years. An extension may be granted with the approval of the Ph.D. coordinator and Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.

If six consecutive semesters elapse where no credits are accumulated toward the degree, the student will be considered inactive and may be dropped from the program. Students who are deemed inactive or dropped from the program may be reinstated upon approval of the Ph.D. coordinator and Graduate Study and Lifelong Learning.