The Literacy Studies emphasis combines rigorous preparation for teaching and research in specific content areas with particular attention devoted to curriculum and instruction, cognitive and social processes, and research methodology. It prepares you for careers in research and teaching in university settings, educational leadership and services to schools, or research and development in the private or non-profit sector.

We offer a welcoming, vibrant, and diverse scholarly community. Building on the School of Education’s foundational courses, we offer seminars focusing on the dynamics of literacy learning from early childhood through adulthood, examining literacy practices both in and out of school, and exploring the literacy demands associated with demographic, technological, and economic change. In our research and classes, we emphasize the centrality of literacy in promoting equitable opportunities to participate in a globalized world as citizens and workers, and to discover reading and writing as sources of personal enrichment, satisfaction, and meaning.

Grounded in sociocultural, sociocognitive, and critical conceptions of teaching and learning, our program highlights the interrelations among theory, research, practice, and policy. Affiliated faculty across our school and campus offer courses that provide interdisciplinary perspectives, advanced methodological preparation, and further grounding in the intellectual traditions that have shaped literacy scholarship over time. Doctoral students enjoy opportunities to collaborate with faculty on a range of research projects, to engage in community outreach activities, and to work in teacher education programs emphasizing social justice and effective instructional strategies for today’s diverse students.

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)
  • GRE test scores (within 5 years)*
  • 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, scores on exams, letters of recommendation, personal statement, evidence of special accomplishments, and relevant past experience. Criteria are considered in the aggregate. 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