Jul 19, 2024  
2021-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Literacy, Culture, and Language

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

Doctoral Coordinator:
Gwendolyn Thomas McMillon
490G Pawley Hall
(248) 370-4158

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Graduate Catalog Addendum  

Program description

The Ph.D. in Literacy, Culture, and Language (LCL) is a flexible doctoral program for graduate students who want to know more about literacy and apply that knowledge to make an impact in the community, in higher education, and/or in schools. The LCL program, which is tailored towards current educators, provides the flexibility needed to earn a degree while still working full-time.

With a small ratio of doctoral students to department faculty, faculty members can give significant individual attention to the students. Specific examples of this attention may include encouraging and helping students participate in conference presentations, special assignments that involve developing or extending research skills, and working collaboratively with professors and fellow students on projects that may lead to publishable outcomes.

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.

  • February 15

Students are admitted in the fall semester only.

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.
  • An earned Masters Degree in an education-related field from an accredited university is required.
  • Transcripts from undergraduate and graduate programs are required.
  • Writing ability as revealed through a personal essay or academic paper that speaks directly to why the student wants to pursue a degree in literacy in particular.
  • Professional background as indicated in a curriculum vitae.
  • Personal statement describing what motivates the applicant to pursue a doctoral degree.
  • ​Three letters of recommendation in addition to completing the recommender forms.

    Applicants who are not U.S. citizens or have foreign academic credentials may also be required to submit the following:

  • Permanent residency / current visa status
  • English translation of foreign transcripts
  • Foreign transcript evaluation - general report
  • Official TOEFL test scores

Admission review and assessment

Admission to graduate school at Oakland University is selective. In making admission recommendations to Oakland University Graduate School, 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.

Additionally, for the Doctor of Philosophy in Literacy, Culture, and Language degree program, experience teaching or working in a related field is also considered

Program prerequisites

For the Ph.D. in Literacy, Culture, and Language degree program, doctoral students who do not have prior experience teaching literacy will be asked to take foundational courses in this area, such as RDG 5520, RDG 6962, and RDG 6963 or additional classes to prepare them for the doctoral program.

Degree requirements

The Ph.D. in Literacy, Culture, and Language degree program requires a minimum of 60 credits and consists of four parts: the foundation core component, the department core component, the cognate component, and the dissertation component.

The reading and language arts seminars, offered in the department core, cover topics such as theoretical models of reading, children’s literature, and examining culture, race, equity, diversity, inclusion, and power in education.

The research seminars, also offered in the department core, cover topics such as critical inquiry, research in reading, qualitative and quantitative approaches to research, including video analysis tools and methods, survey tools and methods, and discourse analysis.

Course requirements (60 credits)

c. Cognate (16 credits)

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

d. 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.

Graduate students pursuing a Ph.D. in Literacy, Culture, and Language may choose one of two dissertation formats: (1) traditional five-chapter dissertation or (2) five- chapter manuscript-style dissertation. It is the shared responsibility of the student and dissertation advisor to choose the format that best fits the student’s program areas and needs, which must be made by the student’s qualifying exam.

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 will be assigned an initial advisor based on their interests expressed in their application. Upon acceptance to the Ph.D. program in Literacy, Culture, and Language, students will meet with their initial assigned advisor to draft a program plan. Any time after the first semester, a student chooses a major advisor. The student may remain with the initial advisor after having a conversation with said advisor or ask another full-time RLA faculty member to serve as their major advisor.

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 the department’s Doctoral Coordinator and Oakland University Graduate School.

 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.)

Professional Engagement Requirement

Doctoral students in the Department of Reading and Language Arts can complete their professional engagement  requirement in one of five ways:

  1. Co-teach a course with a faculty member,

  2. Engage in a research project with a faculty member,

  3. Involved in planning, preparation and co-presentation at a local, regional, or national conference with a faculty member,

  4. Involved in planning, preparation and co-presentation of a literacy-related workshop with a faculty member, or

  5. Participate on the Doctoral Student Advisory Board or similar ongoing committee work.

A letter from a Reading faculty member stating that any one of the following has been completed shall qualify to fulfill the professional engagement requirement. Students cannot receive course credit and professional engagement credit for the same work. This requirement must be fulfilled before graduation.

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) and must be a full-time non-visiting tenure track member of the Reading and Language Arts Department. The SQEC Chair and the Doctoral student will then identify one additional faculty member to serve on the SQEC who is also  a full-time non-visiting tenure-track member of the Reading and Language Arts Department. 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 two full-time non-visiting tenure track faculty members in the Reading and Language Arts department, and a third member who is a qualified member of the professional community with doctoral level credentials. The student’s nominees are subject to availability and other constraints.The Doctoral Coordinator must approve the selection of the dissertation committee.

Students pursuing a Ph.D. in Literacy, Culture, and Language may choose one of two dissertation formats: (1) traditional five-chapter dissertation or (2) five- chapter manuscript-style dissertation. The traditional dissertation is designed to guide doctoral candidates through one research experience that culminates in a 5-chapter document. By contrast, the manuscript-style dissertation guides students through multiple research experiences that culminate in two different manuscripts each submitted for publication, wherein the dissertation committee provides support in the submission and revision process for one of these manuscripts if the manuscript is not accepted outright. It is the shared responsibility of the student and dissertation chairperson to choose the format that best fits the student’s program areas and needs, which must be made by the student’s qualifying exam.

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. Two bound copies of the dissertation are required and are distributed as follows: one copy of the completed dissertation must be submitted to Proquest, and one copy to Kresge Library. Digital copies of the final dissertation are required to be sent to Graduate School Office and uploaded to the OUR@Oakland database.

A minimum of 12 credits in RDG 7999 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, defended, and each subsequent term (fall and winter) until the degree requirements are met and the dissertation is submitted to Oakland University Graduate School.

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 Oakland University Graduate School.

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 Doctoral Coordinator and Oakland University Graduate School.

If one semester during the academic year (i.e., fall and winter semesters) elapses during which 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 Doctoral Coordinator and Oakland University Graduate School.



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