Jun 20, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Studies Bulletin 
2016-2017 Graduate Studies Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

Literacy Studies, Doctoral Programs (EdD and PhD)

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Associate Professor Henry, Doctoral Programs Director, 516-463-5801

The Literacy Studies Program of the Department of Specialized Programs in Education  offers two doctoral programs: Doctor of Education in Literacy Studies and Doctor of Philosophy in Literacy Studies.

The programs in literacy studies have five components:

  1. The completion of matriculation requirements.
  2. The completion of qualifying requirements.
  3. The satisfaction of course requirements.
  4. A passing candidacy paper, which is the equivalent of a comprehensive examination.
  5. The successful defense of a doctoral dissertation which demonstrates independence, originality, and the ability to contribute to the understandings of language, literacy and learning at an advanced level of conceptualization in investigation in the field of literacy studies.

These programs are designed for literacy researchers and teachers who work in universities, colleges, public schools and community settings. We are looking for applicants who have demonstrated exceptional scholarship and who have a strong commitment to literacy and issues of equity and social justice.

Literacy studies degrees are not pursued in isolation. When students enter the doctoral program they are immediately immersed in research projects that have direct relevance to their professional lives. Students are given every opportunity to develop their own plans of study focusing on their particular research interests.

The doctoral programs focus on five core areas in literacy studies:

  1. Literacy, literature and the imagination.
  2. Sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic perspectives of literacy.
  3. Literacy learning and pedagogical practices.
  4. Sociopolitical perspectives of literacy.
  5. Cultural historical perspectives of literacy.

Students take seminars in these five areas of concentration and are required to pursue at least one, and no more than two, areas to a more advanced level. Within this context students are encouraged to develop their own theoretical frameworks for literacy research.

Literacy Studies faculty work diligently to provide courses and seminars focused on areas of literacy research and pedagogical practices that are directly relevant to the expressed interests of students. Faculty, and visiting scholars from around the world, introduce students to the intellectual discussions, debates and arguments – epistemological, philosophical, theoretical and pedagogical – ­that frame the field. In so doing, faculty encourage students to expand their understandings of literacy so students can participate in conversations about literacy in families, communities and schools – internationally and nationally – as well as at local levels.

Admission Requirements

Students may apply for admission to the doctoral programs at any time throughout the academic year. In addition to University requirements the following criteria are required for admission to the Literacy Studies doctoral programs:

  1. Evidence of three years of full-time teaching experience, or the equivalent.
  2. Master’s degree in education, or a related field, with a minimum GPA of 3.2.
  3. Official copies of transcripts of all post-secondary degrees.
  4. A current resume or curriculum vitae.
  5. Three letters of recommendation, including at least one from a school administrator or former professor. Hofstra graduates may ask for a recommendation from no more than one member of the Hofstra faculty.
  6. Scores from the GRE taken within the last five years.
  7. A carefully written Statement of Purpose (minimum of 500 words in length) indicating the applicant’s reasons for pursuing advanced scholarship in literacy studies at Hofstra. The statement should include the applicant’s academic and professional history and a statement of academic and professional goals.
  8. A writing sample (e.g., a college paper, a published article, or any other example of scholarship). The paper should demonstrate how the applicant works with a body of literature and builds an argument. Typically, the sample paper is from a university course completed within the last five years.
  9. An interview with two members of the literacy studies faculty to discuss the applicant’s academic, professional and research experiences and interests.

Program admissions reflect the belief that no single criterion reliably predicts applicants’ potential for success in the program. Prospective applicants are encouraged to apply if they do not meet one or more criteria but believe that other aspects of their experience might compensate. However, since many factors are considered in the selection process, meeting application criteria does not ensure admission to the program.

International doctoral applicants should consult with the Department of Specialized Programs in Education  when applying. The doctoral program in literacy studies requires an Internet-based TOEFL (IBT) score of 80 or higher, paper-based TOEFL score of 550 or higher, or computerized TOEFL score of 213 or higher. Others with strong academic credentials are encouraged to apply.

Application files are assessed on the basis of the information contained within the file. No decisions can be made until all the required information has been provided by the applicant. Consideration is given to a combination of criteria, including:

  1. Demonstration of academic standing
  2. Professional experience
  3. Potential to pursue and benefit from advanced graduate studies.


Once accepted into the doctoral program, a student will be assigned an adviser who will help to develop a plan of study. The adviser will be available to work with the student until the successful completion of the candidacy paper, after which the student will begin working with the chair of his/her doctoral committee.

Qualifying Requirements

Students are admitted conditionally. Upon completion of no fewer than 9 semester hours and no more than 12 semester hours of doctoral course work (doctoral core seminars and/or research requirements), students are required to demonstrate scholarship through the presentation of a portfolio to a qualifying committee of three literacy studies faculty members: the student’s doctoral adviser, the doctoral director, and one additional faculty member. A successful qualifying hearing and presentation of the portfolio is required to continue doctoral study.

Students should include the following in their portfolios:

  1. A narrative statement on the theoretical and conceptual frameworks for language, literacy and learning that have emerged from their initial course work.
  2. Theoretical papers and accounts of research projects.
  3. A bibliography of texts that focus on: a) language, literacy and learning from multiple theoretical and conceptual frameworks and b) approaches to qualitative and quantitative research.
  4. A transcript with a minimum GPA of 3.5 for the courses taken in the doctoral program.
  5. An updated plan of study.

Matriculation Requirements

Maintaining Matriculation

In order to maintain matriculation, all doctoral students are required to register for a minimum of 3 s.h. during two of the three academic semesters (fall, spring, summer). After the completion of doctoral course work or during a permitted leave from course work, doctoral students are required to maintain matriculation during the fall and spring semesters. Doctoral students are required to complete their degree within 10 years of the date of admission as a matriculated student.

Reinstatement of Matriculation

Any student who fails to maintain continuous matriculation must contact the doctoral director and request reinstatement in writing. Reinstatements are not automatic and may be denied. Students who have no record of attendance for 15 months must reapply for admission to the degree program, and are subject to the requirements of the current degree program. All requests must be approved by the Literacy Studies faculty and are contingent upon satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree.

Non-Matriculated Study

Literacy studies doctoral core and research courses are not open to non-matriculated students.

Residency Requirements

Students in the doctoral sequence in literacy studies may fulfill the residency requirements through attendance in classes, participation in scholar’s forums and attendance at all special doctoral student events sponsored by the department. The residency period comprises the first 30 s.h. of course work.

Ethical Conduct

Students are expected to behave in an ethical and professional manner according to the guidelines for student conduct and academic honesty at Hofstra University and the Statement of Ethics of the Literacy Studies Program in the doctoral handbook. Satisfactory interpersonal behavior and professional performance in classes and meetings, field placements and practica is expected. If a report is received concerning an ethics violation or an incident of inappropriate behavior as defined by the judicial code, established University procedures will be followed to investigate the issue and determine the course of action. For further information about violations of academic honesty, click here .

Graduation Requirements

Graduation requirements are in keeping with the Basic Regulations Governing Doctoral Programs  in this Bulletin. The department requirements are as follows:

  1. Completion of the 60 s.h. program with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better.
  2. Completion of a satisfactory candidacy paper prior to entering the doctoral dissertation sequence (LYST 601 -605 ).
  3. Completion of a satisfactory research dissertation.
  4. Satisfactory performance in an oral examination to be given subsequent to the completion of the dissertation.
  5. Students in the PhD program must fulfill a second language requirement and an additional literacy research requirement.

Dismissal Policy

All decisions regarding dismissal will be made by the faculty members of the Literacy Studies Program. Students will be notified in writing within seven (7) days following the decision to dismiss. Students who wish to appeal their dismissal should refer to the “Policy for Dismissal and Appeal of Dismissal from a Graduate/Post-Graduate Program ” as outlined in this Bulletin. The following guidelines provide reasons for dismissal:

  1. Students have two opportunities to successfully complete the candidacy paper. Failure to do so constitutes grounds for dismissal.
  2. Students are expected to maintain a grade point average of 3.5 to be in good academic standing.
  3. Students may receive no more than one C per semester and no more than three Cs in total toward the doctorate.
  4. Doctoral students who receive a C, or have a grade point average below 3.5, will be notified that they are on academic probation and failure to bring up their grades is cause for dismissal. Students on academic probation are ineligible for program-awarded scholarships.
  5. If a student earns a grade of D in a course, the student will be immediately placed on probation and a remedial plan will be developed by the faculty. In the case of a D, course credit will not count toward the degree being sought but the grade will be included in determining the cumulative grade-point average. The course or its equivalent must be repeated.
  6. A second grade of D received in any course while enrolled in the program is grounds for immediate dismissal.
  7. A grade of F in any class is grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

Program Requirements - Semester Hours: 60

Both the EdD and the PhD programs in Literacy Studies consist of 60 semester hours of post-master’s graduate course work. Students entering the program without a background in literacy studies may be required to complete additional master’s course work in literacy beyond the 60 semester hours. With advisement, and approval of the doctoral director, educationally related, post-master’s course work completed with the last 10 years at an accredited institution may be applied toward the doctoral plan of study. Such course work shall not exceed 12 s.h.

The course work required for the doctorate must be taken at Hofstra during the 10-year period preceding the conferral of the degree. This 10-year period covers the time from admission as a matriculated doctoral student to completion of all degree requirements. After the successful completion of the candidacy paper, doctoral dissertation research must be completed within five years.

Students in the PhD program must fulfill a second language requirement and an additional literacy research requirement.

No doctoral courses may be taken on a Pass/Fail basis except for courses stipulated as Pass/Fail and the dissertation sequence.

Literacy Core Area Seminars (15 s.h. min.)
Students in the EdD and PhD in Literacy Studies programs are required to complete at least one doctoral seminar in each of the five literacy core areas:

Literacy, Literature and the Imagination (LYST 361 A-Z  Series)
Courses in this doctoral core focus on the role of language, literature and the imagination in constructing knowledge of self and of understandings of the world in which we live, teach and learn. Through transactions with socially situated texts and scripts and other semiotic systems such as art, music, and dance, students consider the relationships between language and thought and literacy and the imagination.

Sociolinguistic and Psycholinguistic Perspectives of Literacy (LYST 362 A-Z  A-Z Series)
Courses in this doctoral core draw from the disciplines of sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, developmental psychology and reader response theory. The focus is on understanding reading and writing processes embedded in social practices and the ways in which people construct and transact with written texts. Investigations of oral language, language learning, relationships between oral and written language, and relationships between semiotic systems (literacy, art, music) are integral to understanding literacy as a language process. Historic and current theoretical frameworks and models of reading and writing and related research practices within a variety of social contexts (classrooms, clinics, communities, families) are addressed.

Literacy Learning and Pedagogical Practices (LYST 363 A-Z  Series)
Courses in this doctoral core focus on current trends in literacy learning, literacy teaching, curriculum development, language policies in schools and educational institutions, classroom research, professional development and teacher education in literacy. The history of literacy teaching is highlighted as well as the influence of current and past theoretical perspectives about language, literacy and literacy learning. Also examined are the historic tensions between varied and conflicting theoretical orientations toward literacy learning and teaching. Issues of diversity and inequity in literacy teaching and schooling (particularly in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation and exceptionality) are critical in discussions of literacy learning, teaching and schooling. Research frameworks that address literacy learning and teaching are another focus area, with particular attention to teacher research.

Sociopolitical Perspectives of Literacy (LYST 364 A-Z  Series)
Courses in this doctoral core provide students with the opportunity to investigate the contextualized nature of literacy practices and the ways these practices shape, and are shaped by, historical, cultural, social and political contexts in which they occur. Courses within this core will introduce students to the dialectical relationships that exist between local literacies and larger sociopolitical and ideological frameworks, and students will be invited to question and problematize taken-for-granted assumptions about the educational experiences of students from dominant and parallel cultures.

Cultural Historical Perspectives of Literacy (LYST 365 A-Z  Series)
Courses in this doctoral core area reflect the current trends in cultural and historical theoretical perspectives of literacy and language development and use. The examination of how literacy and literacy learning have been conceptualized historically and culturally provides a broader, more dynamic view of literacy. Focus is placed on the debates surrounding the connections between literacy and cognitive processing, the role of literacy in cultural-historical perspectives of human development, the creation of writing systems, the communicative demands of semiotic systems, and the social practices which help shape the use of language, literacy and other semiotic systems. The relevance of these theoretical perspectives to current educational practices is also addressed.

PhD students are also required to take the following course:


LYST 360 is taken in the first fall semester of attendance. LYST 370 is taken during the spring semester of the second year or at the end of the residency period (30 s.h.). LYST 368 is offered once every two years and is generally taken between the other research courses. LYST 369 is taken concurrently with, or after, LYST 370.

Areas of Advanced Study - Semester Hours: 9 (minimum)

Doctoral students take additional course work extending knowledge and expertise in an area of special interest. This course work may include additional literacy core area seminars or special doctoral courses. Additional course work, which may be selected from any graduate program in the University, and independent studies, are planned with advisement.

With advisement, and approval of the doctoral director, educationally related, post-master’s course work completed with the last 10 years at an accredited institution may be applied toward the area of advanced study or the related course work/community of scholars category. Such course work shall not exceed 12 s.h.

Related Course Work/Community of Scholars - Semester Hours: 5-9* (minimum)

Each student is expected to register for LYST 351  (1 s.h., fall), LYST 352  (1 s.h., spring), and/or LYST 353  (1 s.h., alternate summers) a minimum of four times during the residency period (first 30 s.h.). All students are expected to participate in colloquia and other doctoral events. Additional scholar’s forums or conferences or other course work will be planned with the adviser and/or during the qualifying hearing. For those students who have completed this requirement, these forums and conferences may be taken as not-for-credit paid workshops.

*Students completing LYST 368  take 5 s.h. of related course work/community of scholars.

Transfer Credit

With advisement, and approval of the doctoral director, educationally related, post-master’s course work completed with the last 10 years at an accredited institution may be applied towards the Area of Advanced Study or the Related Coursework/Community of Scholars category. Such course work transfer credit shall not exceed 12 s.h.

Candidacy Paper

The candidacy paper is the comprehensive examination requirement for candidacy in each of the literacy studies doctoral programs. To be eligible to write the candidacy paper, doctoral students must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. All course requirements must be completed.
  2. A grade must be submitted for any course in which the doctoral student has an incomplete.
  3. Students must have maintained a 3.5 GPA.
  4. The candidacy paper must be developed without consultation with faculty. Students will be advised by letter of the status of their paper as Pass or Fail. In the event that the paper is not accepted, a meeting will be convened with representatives of the faculty and a time line for revisions will be agreed upon. A second rejection constitutes failure to pass the comprehensive exam and critically affects continuation in the doctoral program. No student will be permitted to submit a paper more than twice.



  1. Following completion of LYST 601 , students who have successfully completed their proposal may continue in LYST 604 . Those who have not completed their proposal will take LYST 602  and, if needed, LYST 603 . Candidates who do not produce a defensible proposal in LYST 603 must exit the program.
  2. Candidates who have successfully completed their proposal enter LYST 604 , which may be taken up to four times. After four semesters in LYST 604, candidates enter LYST 605  and must complete their dissertation within that semester.
  3. Students receive 3 s.h. for LYST 601  when they pass their dissertation proposal defense. Upon completion of the dissertation, candidates earn a minimum of 6 s.h. for LYST 604 . LYST 602 , 603 , and 605  are non-credit courses for the degree.
  4. Students who have begun the dissertation sequence must register for at least two of the three semesters (fall, spring and summer) of each academic year. Students who must interrupt their work toward the degree must request a waiver in order to do so.

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