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PhD in Education - Literacy Leadership

The Doctor of Philosophy in Education with a concentration in literacy leadership is a degree with unique focus to prepare individuals as literacy professionals for leadership and supervisory roles, teaching literacy curriculum and instruction in higher education, and/or consulting for educational organizations or private industry. With a solid grounding in assessment, evaluation, and quantitative and qualitative research, the rigorous course of study provides an opportunity for students to develop a strong background in literacy with a leadership emphasis while providing the flexibility to pursue individual interests.

Possession of this degree often provides those who have earned it with entry into business, government, research and other leadership positions. The PhD in Education with a concentration in literacy leadership is intended to prepare individuals for these roles and to provide them with the skills to carry out scholarly research and add to the body knowledge in the field. The curriculum described below contains elements that will, if completed successfully, provide research expertise, literacy leadership skills and experience, and the ability to serve the nation's schools, colleges and universities and contribute to global education.

Contact Dr. Charlene Fleener cfleener@odu.edu 757-683-3284


For admission to this program, individuals should have a completed master's degree in an appropriate discipline from a regionally accredited university. Degrees that are equivalent to a master's degree such as L.L.B., J.D., and D.D.S. are acceptable. Prospective students should also have prior course work in statistics, and curriculum and instruction. If this assumption is not met, then additional course work will be added to the candidate's graduate program of study. Please see prerequisites on the curriculum description for specifics.

Application requirements for the PhD in Education Concentration Literacy Leadership are as follows:

  • A completed application form which is available online or from the Office of Graduate Admissions.
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate courses and degrees completed.
  • Official report scores from the Graduate Record Examination (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) taken within the last five years. GRE scores expire after five years; however, candidates who have completed the exam prior to five years before the application deadline may submit those scores for consideration if they are provided from an official source such as transcript or form provided by the Educational Testing Service. Old Dominion University reserves the right to determine what is an "official source."
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must submit a current score for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOFEL) of at least 600 (written) or 250 (computer based).
  • Applicants must submit a 1500 word statement of their academic and professional goals with an emphasis on how the Ph.D. degree in Literacy Leadership will contribute to the achievement of the stated goals.
  • Three letters of reference from sources capable of commenting on the applicant's readiness for advanced graduate study. It is recommended that these letters come from employment supervisors and/or university faculty members.
  • An interview with the Literacy Leadership Program Committee. This committee will also review applications for admission.

Under normal circumstances, admissions will be offered once a year in order to build efficient cohort groups for this type of advanced study. In order to enhance the experience of the students and to increase the efficiency by which courses are offered, a cohort of 10-15 students will be admitted each year. This limited number of students is necessary to assure that there is an adequate number of full-time faculty to serve the students through advising and other duties, particularly when the cohorts reach the dissertation stage of the program.

Applicants must submit completed applications and all related materials no later than March 1 of each year, and students will be admitted for study beginning in June or July of the same year.


The Ph.D. program in Education with a concentration in Literacy Leadership is comprised of courses totaling a minimum of 60 academic credit hours beyond the master's degree. The curriculum includes several parts including an introductory core of 6 credits, a content area with 24 credits, a research component including 15 credit hours, the 3 credit dissertation seminar and the dissertation, which will include a minimum of 12 credit hours. The dissertation will often include more then 12 credit hours depending on the length of time necessary for completion.

To build a cohesive cohort group, the introductory core will be offered on the Old Dominion University campus each summer. It will be expected that all newly admitted students will come to campus for these courses during the summer after which they are admitted to the program. Residency for a second intensive set of courses the following summer is recommended but not required.

A minimum of two semesters of full-time study is required of students in the program to meet University residency requirements. One of the semesters of full-time study (defined as completion of nine credit hours fall and spring or six credits during the summer) must be accomplished by the completion of the intensive summer noted above. The second semester of residency can be accomplished in several ways. Students may complete nine credit hours during any spring or fall semester or may take six credits during the summer.

Program Completion and Exit

In order to complete the program students must fully comply with the curriculum below, all requirements noted elsewhere in the University catalog for graduate students, and within the PhD in Education Handbook..

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Prerequisite Coursework:

All students admitted into the PhD in Education program in Literacy Leadership must complete the following prerequisite courses unless they have previously completed equivalent graduate level coursework or have appropriate educational experience.

  • ELS 660, Coun 635, ECI 635, ECI 619, or OTED 635 Introduction to Research in Education
  • ELS 732 Statistics Applied to Research in Educational Leadership - Data Driven Decision Making I

Introductory Core: (6 hours - Required Courses)

  • ECI 740/840 Critical Issues: Curriculum Research
  • ECI 724/824 Readings in Contemporary Society

Research Core: (15 hours - Required Courses)

  • ELS 832 Statistics Applied to Research in Educational Leadership - Data Driven Decision Making II
  • ELS 833 Advanced Research Design and Analysis
  • ECI 790/890 Qualitative Research Design
  • ECI 791/891 Program Evaluation
  • ECI 748/848 Assessment and Evaluation

Content Area Credits: (24 hours)

  • ECI 722/822 Curriculum Seminar in Content
  • ECI 726/826 Advanced Supervision of Reading Programs
  • ECI 727/827 Advanced Practicum in Reading
  • ECI 728/828 Contemporary Issues in Literacy Research
  • ELS 811 Visionary Leadership for Educational Improvement
  • ELS 887 Leadership for Exceptional Needs
  • ELS 878 Leadership for Teaching and Learning
  • ELS 880 Curriculum Leadership

Additional ECI courses or substitutions as approved by advisor/committee and ECI PhD Graduate Program Director.

With approval of advisor/committee, a student may select up to 4 courses from the other education PhD concentrations with no more than 2 courses from any one of these areas.

  • ECI 881 Dissertation Seminar 3 credits

If seminar is waived by doctoral committee, the hours are added to the content.

  • ECI 899 Dissertation 12 credits minimum