Faculty and graduate students in the Literacy Studies program study and design literacies in print and multimodal modes and in varied contexts. Literacies are framed as central to envisioning and enacting expansive and justice-centered theories and practices for teaching, learning, imagination, and self-expression in K-12 schools, informal learning spaces, and communities. Grounded in critical, social, and interpretive conceptions of literacy, our program highlights the interrelations among theory, research, practice, policy, and the potential for equitable social change.

Through multiple methodologies, research in the program occurs in partnership with children, youth, families, and teachers in ways that honor and attend to experiences and identities at the intersections of race, language, gender, sexuality, ability, and economic opportunity.  Doctoral students collaborate with faculty on a range of research projects, engage in community outreach, and work in teacher education programs emphasizing social justice and humanizing approaches to curriculum and instruction that center and address the interests and needs of all learners. The program prepares graduate students for careers in research and teaching in university settings, educational leadership in schools and community organizations, and research and development in the private or non-profit sector.

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop an expansive understanding of literacy and its implications for children, youth, and their families and communities.
  • Understand the theoretical perspectives informing literacy research currently and historically.
  • Critically examine and apply research methodologies to questions of significance to them and to the field of literacy studies.
  • Collaborate with faculty, peers, youth, communities, and other educators to pursue research and pedagogical goals.
  • Deepen their understanding of theories and practices that situate literacy as essential for dismantling systems of oppression and building toward anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and affirming futures for children and youth, teachers, teacher educators, schools, and communities.

Financial Support

All of our doctoral students are awarded generous funding packages. Stipends and grants cover tuition costs and provide experiential graduate assistantships that further prepare you for your future as a researcher, educator, and leader in the field. Fellowship and assistantship packages are awarded on a competitive basis and vary for each student, but all funding packages cover five years of full-time study. 

A typical package will include a total of a 50% appointment (~20hr/week) through a Graduate Research Assistantship and/or Teaching Assistantship, full tuition remission and a fellowship to assist with student fees, the majority of the CU Student Health Gold Insurance Plan, and a stipend of approximately $21,400 per academic year. Please note that these figures are subject to change and summer funding is not guaranteed.

Our Miramontes Doctoral Scholars Program provides five years of funding for full-time doctoral study, including one year of support focused solely on the dissertation year. The program offers a dedicated, supportive community for doctoral students with research interests focused on educational equity and cultural diversity, and prospective students from underrepresented groups and those who are first-generation college graduates are encouraged to apply.

Admissions Requirements

  • A Personal Statement
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Unofficial Transcripts (official transcripts are required after admission)
  • Optional GRE test score
  • TOEFL scores for international students
  • Application Fee ($60 domestic application/$80 international) along with the application

Admission to all our graduate programs is competitive and based on multiple criteria, including undergraduate academic record, letters of recommendation, personal statement, evidence of special accomplishments, and relevant past experience. In an effort to safeguard educational equity and access, the CU Boulder School of Education has adopted a test-optional policy for the GRE requirement for prospective doctoral applicants seeking Fall 2022 admission. Students may still submit GRE scores for consideration, which will be reviewed as a part of a holistic process. However, not submitting GRE scores will in no way make your application less competitive for admission to the School of Education. Candidates from historically underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

How to apply FAQ


  • December 1, domestic
  • November 15, international 

For more information about courses and program requirements, visit the CU Boulder Course Catalog