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Doctor of Philosophy in English (English Education)

Jessica Early, Director 

The PhD in English (English Education) prepares students to become national leaders in the field of English education as tenure-track faculty at research universities and teaching colleges, as well as secondary English language arts curriculum specialists for school districts, state and federal departments of education, and private education agencies. This concentration emphasizes the relationship between pedagogy and research methodologies used to study the teaching of secondary English (grades 6-12) and prepares students to examine the writing and reading practices of secondary students as well as the instructional practices of secondary English language arts teachers. Possible areas for research focus within this program include young adult literature, secondary reading and writing practices, new literacies, English language learning, and secondary English language arts curriculum and instruction development.

*Note: This degree is not TESOL, ESL, or EFL related. If interested in these fields, check out our PhD Linguistics and Applied Linguistics program.

Program Requirements

The PhD consists of 84 hours of graduate work. A student with a master’s degree must complete a minimum of 54 semester hours of approved graduate work, which includes 12 hours of dissertation. Students will complete all courses on their Program of Study (POS) with a grade of B or better and maintain a GPA of 3.2 or higher. Required coursework for PhD (English Education) must include the following:

  • Approaches to Research (3 hours): Students will complete ENG 501: Approaches to Research in English Education.
  • Foundational Distribution (12 hours): Students must take 12 hours at the 500 level selected from a list of approved courses in education, English, linguistics, and applied linguistics.
  • Advanced Studies Distribution (12 hours): Students must take 12 hours at the 600 level from a list of approved courses in education, English, indigenous studies, linguistics, and applied linguistics.
  • Internships (9 hours): Students will complete three internships (ENG 784). Each internship will focus on either the supervision of secondary English language arts teachers, research in collaboration with her/his advisor in a secondary English language arts classroom setting, or assisting in the teaching of an under-graduate English education methods course (i.e. young adult literature, methods of teaching secondary writing, or teaching the interpretation of texts of various genres in the secondary English language arts classroom).
  • Specialization: Students will complete at least two courses focused on their area of specialization, which will provide them with intensive background in their selected area of expertise in English education.
  • PhD Examinations: The examination includes a portfolio, an oral or written exam, and a colloquy on the dissertation prospectus
  • Dissertation: Students must include 12 hours of 799 on the doctoral plan of study. An oral defense of the dissertation is required.

The Graduate College requires a grade point average of “B” (3.0) or better in the last two years of work leading to the bachelor’s degree. The Admissions Committee will consider applicants with master’s degrees in English education and related fields such as English literature, applied linguistics, education, and rhetoric and composition. A minimum of three years full-time teaching or volunteer work in secondary English language arts classrooms or in literate-rich settings (i.e. Peace Corps, community organizations, and libraries) is preferred. Students seeking advice should consult with the graduate program manager and/or the program director.

The application deadline is January 15 for the following fall semester.

Note: The committee reviews applications shortly after the deadline. The application must be complete with all supporting documents before review. This is the applicant's responsibility. Please plan accordingly when submitting an application.

Candidates must submit the following:

Online application: graduate.asu.edu/admissions.

  • One- to two-page statement of interest explaining the applicant’s interest in the program, and how the applicant’s background and preparation led to his or her specific career and research goals.
  • Academic writing sample that provides strong evidence of academic writing ability.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s promise in English education, including one letter from a school principal and two letters from university professors.
  • Curriculum vitae or resume.
  • GRE general test scores.
  • Official transcripts.

An application fee is required. Official transcripts and test scores must be sent to the ASU Graduate Admissions Office. Institution code for test scores is 4007.

International students must have an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS score report sent to the Graduate College. Please refer to this webpage for the Department's English proficiency requirements.

For more information contact the Graduate Studies Office enggrad@asu.edu or the program director Jessica Early

Detailed information on how to apply. 

How will I support myself?

The English department supports students by awarding them teaching assistantships, mostly teaching one or two sections of freshman composition. Applications to the English department need to be received by Feb. 1. A major benefit is that tuition fees are waived for students holding half-time teaching assistantships. Some of our students are able to obtain assistantships from ASU units that do not have their own graduate students to support. Others obtain faculty associate positions at community colleges or in the English departments of one of the ASU campuses. Additional funding is available, and we will work with you to construct the best package available.

Why must I spend one year in full-time status?

The purpose of this requirement is to allow you to become fully immersed in an academic environment, much as you will be if you take a faculty position. You are allowed to include on-campus teaching (up to six hours), but trying to take a full-time load of graduate classes while also keeping a full-time teaching position in a local high school is not advised. While technically such an arrangement might fill “the letter of the law,” it goes against its spirit.

If I can afford only one year as a full-time student, which is the best year?

Ideally, it makes sense to immerse oneself fully into the program during the first year because this kind of immersion prepares students to make the kinds of decisions that will help them through the rest of the program. However, for many students this is impractical because they begin the program while teaching in a local school district. Some of these districts will give teachers financial support in their seventh year (a sabbatical). In these situations, the students try to begin their course work through evening classes and summer sessions, and then commit themselves to full-time status during their final year of course work and their advancement to candidacy.

Must my three articles be published (or accepted for publication) when I go up for candidacy?

No. The idea is to get you thinking about publication and working toward that goal, but because of time lags in publication and the many variables involved, your supervisory committee will act as reviewers for your articles and will perhaps ask for revisions and improvements in hopes of helping you to place them in respected publications.

Will the person who agrees to mentor me, upon admission, be my dissertation director?

Not necessarily. The policy of having a faculty member serve as a "sponsor" for incoming students was established so that students would not spend two or three years of work and then be unable to find a dissertation chair. However, we expect there to be changes because professors sometimes retire or transfer to other schools. Also, over the course of your study, you may develop new lines of interest that will fit better with a different faculty member. What usually happens in these cases is that your original mentor remains on your committee, but you ask someone else to be your chair. Your chair must be one of the people listed below as approved dissertation chairs.

Who besides my mentor will supervise my dissertation and make judgments on my portfolio?

As you take classes, you should be thinking about which of your professors you would like to have serve on your three to five-member doctoral committee. Your chair must be one of the people listed below as possible dissertation chairs.

What kinds of dissertations do students write?

ASU has a long history of scholarship in adolescent literature. Students have written about specific authors (Karen Hesse), topics (characters' religious development) and genres (the archetypal journey in winners of the Coretta Scott King Award). When Professor Ken Donelson retired in May of 2002, he donated an 800-book collection of historical adolescent literature to Hayden Library. These books, housed in Special Collections, could be a resource for students working in the history of books read by teenagers. The ASU Library also holds a nationally acclaimed collection of materials dealing with the history of children's theater. Qualitative studies have been conducted in relation to questions on gender and literacy (both that of children and of well established women English teachers). A doctoral student from another university came to ASU and wrote her dissertation on the program that Professor Lynn Nelson has developed to work with Native American students, while one of our students followed selected participants for the year after they participated in the Greater Phoenix Area Writing Project. We have had limited success with experimental studies in which a student goes into a classroom and tries out a new model of teaching and expects to find significant differences in before-and-after tests. While such studies may be viable under appropriate circumstances, we have found that neither doctoral candidates nor schools have the time that is needed to bring about measurable changes, and so we now discourage students from attempting these kinds of studies. The most successful dissertations are written on topics that are of interest to students and to their mentor teacher. For ideas, see the interests listed by the names of the faculty mentors listed below.

What careers do previous graduates have?

Typically, our students find rewarding jobs in the geographic region of their choice: State University of New York-Potsdam; Metro State University, Denver; California State University, Fullerton; Minnesota State Department of Education. University of Connecticut; Northern Colorado State University; Kennesaw State University, Georgia (four of our grads are professors at (KSU); Mesa Community College; Chandler Gilbert Community College; Grand Canyon University; Northern Arizona University; Southern Connecticut State University; Vanderbilt University; Louisiana State University at Monroe.

Faculty Mentors

English Education faculty members are active researchers with extensive community involvement and professional leadership experience. Research interests cover a wide range of theoretical orientations and applications. The following faculty members currently serve as teachers and mentors in the PhD program. Those with asterisks are qualified to direct dissertations.

*Dr. James Blasingame, (Ph.D. University of Kansas): Young Adult literature, secondary writing, facilitating pre-service teachers, and cowboy poetry. James.Blasingame@asu.edu

*Dr. Jessica Singer Early, Program Director (Ph.D. University of California Santa Barbara): Specialization is in language, literacy, and composition with an expertise in teacher preparation and curriculum design for ethnically and linguistically diverse secondary schools.Jessica.Early@asu.edu

*Dr. Maureen Daly Goggin (Ph.D. Carnegie Mellon University): History of rhetoric and composition; history of rhetoric; rhetorical theory, research methods; visual rhetoric; material rhetoric. Maureen.Goggin@asu.edu

*Dr. Peter Goggin (Ph.D. Indiana University of Pennsylvania): Theories of literacy, literacy and technology, environmental rhetoric.Petergo@asu.edu

*Dr. Neal Lester (Ph.D. Vanderbilt University): African American literature, black women writers, African American folklore, popular cultural African American studies. Neal.Lester@asu.edu

*Dr. Josephine Marsh (Ph.D. University of Georgia): Literacy gender issues, children's and adolescent literature.Josephine.Marsh@asu.edu

*Dr. Keith Miller (Ph.D. Texas Christian University): Rhetoric and composition; the discourse of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. Keith.Miller@asu.edu

*Dr. Christina Saidy (Ph.D. Purdue University): Teacher preparation focused on the teaching of writing; secondary writing for public and professional participation; adolescent literature; civic rhetorical education; and the rhetoric of educational policy.  Christina.Saidy@asu.edu  

*Dr. Duane Roen (Ph.D. University of Minnesota): Composition theory, research, and pedagogy; discourse analysis; gender and written language; collaborative writing. Duane.Roen@asu.edu

Associated Faculty

Dr. Jean Boreen (Ph.D. University of Iowa): Mentoring, Young Adult Literature, Methods of Teaching English. Northern Arizona University. Jean.Boreen@nau.edu

Dr. Beverly Ann Chin (Ph.D. University of Oregon): Teacher Education; Composition, English language arts. Univeristy of Montana.Beverly.Chin@montana.edu