Ph.D. in Education: Literacy Studies

In the Literacy strand of the Ph.D. program, students develop a rich foundation of literacy theory and research. Students are prepared to investigate essential and compelling issues in literacy studies. Possible concentrations include close study of multilingual students, early literacy, adolescent and advanced literacy, and intersection of literacy with culture and diversity. Upon completion of the program, students are prepared for both research- and teaching-oriented academic positions, as well as educational leadership positions in fields related to literacy.

Admissions Deadlines
Spring: November 15
Fall: July 15

Apply Today

The Literacy Studies area of emphasis is guided by the general framework found in the Doctoral Program in Education Application Manual. This page will provide you general information for the Ph.D. along with with specifications unique to the Literacy Studies strand.


Our program reviews applications and admits students for both fall (March 1 deadline) and spring (October 1 deadline). Materials and criteria for the Literacy Studies area of emphasis are as follows:

  • Undergraduate and graduate GPA of 3.00 or higher
  • At least three years of teaching experience
  • Graduate Record Exam score (GRE)
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Statement of Intent that includes a Philosophy of Education
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • One sample of scholarly writing
  • Program application, checklist, and signed disposition form (last 5 pages in the Application Manual)

To get started on the application process, please contact Dr. Diane Barone, graduate program director, at Your main program application, checklist, and signed disposition form must be scanned and emailed to with the subject line "Application Materials for Literacy Studies PhD." You may also print and mail them to:

College of Education Doctoral Program Coordinator
Mail Stop 278
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557-0278

All other materials must be sent through the University's application portal. Once you create your account, go back to MyNevada to log in and start your application. You must apply to both the College of Education and to the Graduate School. Please reach out to Dr. Barone if you have any questions.

Program Structure

Ph.D. students in Literacy Studies follow a 96-credit program of study coordinated by the student and his or her advisor. Courses include graduate level courses in a broad range of topics related to literacy, a rich research core, and a cognate (secondary emphasis) of the student's choosing. There are also opportunities for clinical experiences, both online and in our reading clinic. With respect to extracurricular scholarship, our doctoral students regularly participate in regional, national, and international research conferences.

Please see the program manual for a full overview of course requirements. For the Literacy Studies area of emphasis, each student must take a minimum of one course from the following or its equivalent with the approval of the student's committee:

  • EDUC 741A Issues in Teaching in Diverse Educational Settings
  • EDRL 600 Foundations of Literacy
  • EDUC 771H Special Topics in Educational Specialties

Tuition, Cost, and Graduate Assistantships

Please see the University tuition and fee rates for information regarding costs and financial aid.

Graduate assistantships are available through various departments in the College of Education. Prospective students who indicate their interest in a graduate assistantship will be interviewed for one of multiple positions within the department following their application. Several highlights of a graduate assistantship include:

  • 20-hour work week
  • Stipend of approximately $1700/month (before taxes)
  • Tuition fee waiver (does not include fees such as room/board, textbooks, etc.)
  • Health insurance coverage through United Healthcare
  • In-state Nevada resident status
  • Funding to present at conferences through the support of the Graduate Student Association


Below are testimonials provided by a few of our alumni:

Andi Morency, Executive Director/Principal and Co-Founder, The Honors Academy of Literature
Andi Morency

Studying literacy in the PhD program at the University of Nevada allowed me to take what I knew to work as a teacher when teaching literacy, and look deeply at the research behind practice.

Along with learning to be an effective consumer of empirical research in the field of education, I solidified the skills necessary to contribute to the conversations among literacy researchers by conducting my own research. Because of the work I did in the program, with the support of the stellar faculty, I am confident that I have the skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to moving the field's understanding of how literacy develops forward.

Aimee Ellis, Assistant Professor of Reading, Loyola University Chicago
Aimee Ellis

After a nationwide search for a doctoral program, I was drawn to UNR because of the immediate feeling that I was an individual and that I would be supported throughout my program based on my own interests and needs.

My experience in the doc program was of the absolute highest quality. The professors I worked with immediately involved me in research and writing opportunities, challenged me to think about literacy and education in new ways, and helped me to develop my own interests and passions. Because of the tremendous support I had at UNR, I feel confident in my position teaching education courses and conducting my own research at a university today.

Current Students

Below are testimonials provided by some of our current students:

Koala Koenig, Doctoral Candidate, '17
Koala Koenig

I love the doctoral program in Literacy Studies at UNR and am grateful that I had the opportunity to join it. It is well designed to help us learn and practice to become teacher educators and educational researchers.

It provides an invaluable array of research, teaching, and service opportunities from which we can benefit and grow. I especially admire and appreciate all our professors! They all have teaching and research expertise in different areas, are active in their scholarly work and all levels of services, and always find time to advise and support student learning and developing every step along the way. They are the best role models I can have; when I grow up, i.e., when I graduate in May 2017, I want to be just like them, working productively as a faculty member at a university.

Hannah Carter, Candidate, '18
Hannah Carter

My experiences thus far pursuing my PhD in the literacy department have far exceeded my expectations.

The faculty here welcomed me from day one and have provided me with a type of mentorship that is unprecedented, offering me opportunities to collaborate with them that are thoroughly preparing me for my long-term goals in research and teaching. Over the past three years, the support I've received from the faculty in the literacy department has been great, and I can't imagine completing this degree anywhere else.

Program Faculty

Diane Barone, Foundation Professor and Graduate Program Director
Diane Barone
Julie Pennington, Professor
Julie Pennington
Dianna Townsend, Associate Professor
Dianna Townsend
Sara Kersten, Assistant Professor
Sara Kersten
Rachel Salas, Assistant Professor
Rachel Salas

Related Degrees and Programs

Contact College of Education

Phone (775) 784-4298 (Undergraduate Advisement)
(775) 784-4345 (Main)
Fax (775) 784-6298
Location William J. Raggio