Degrees

Master of Science (M.S.)

The Master's of Science in C&I with an emphasis in Language, Culture, and Society is an academic degree designed to initiate candidates into the theory and research within chosen fields of study. Often students who pursue an M.S. imagine going on to a Ph.D. program. Beyond a shared core of courses with all C&I master's degree candidates, course work is flexible in order to accommodate the student’s interests. The degree requires the completion of a formal thesis and 36 credit hours of course work.

Course of Study for the M.S.

The master's policies and procedures are intended to assure high academic performance while permitting flexibility in what is required of each student to achieve that standard. Advisers are expected to use their professional judgment in setting specific requirements for each student based upon understanding of the student's individual goals and needs. Consequently, master's course work may vary.

Each student will work with an adviser and must complete the following requirements for the M.S. within an eight-year period:

  • A nine-credit core:
    • One three-credit course in curriculum
    • One three-credit course in educational research
    • One three-credit course in philosophical, social, psychological or historical foundations of education
  • Subject-specific "emphasis area" course work (e.g., in Social Studies Education)
  • Six credits of CI 600 - Thesis Research
  • At least 36 credits in the M.S. program, with all credits from graduate courses—400 or above—and at least 18 credits at 500 or 600 levels.
  • A research-oriented thesis passed by a committee made up of the advisor and a second faculty member.

Master of Education (M.Ed.)

The Master's of Education in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis in Language, Culture, and Society is a practitioner's degree for candidates seeking to improve their understandings of and work in classrooms, libraries, and other institutions for children and youth. Programs of study involve a department core of three classes, plus other courses determined by student’s interests and faculty consent, for a total of 30 credit hours. The capstone experience is a research paper or project.

Course of Study for the M.Ed.

  • A nine-credit core:
    • One three-credit course in curriculum
    • One three-credit course in educational research
    • One three-credit course in philosophical, social, psychological or historical foundations of education
  • Subject-specific "emphasis area" course work (e.g., in Social Studies Education)
  • At least 30 credits in the M.Ed. program, with all credits from graduate courses—400 or above—and at least 18 credits at the 500 level.
  • A master's paper or project approved by the adviser.

For more information about program requirements, please consult the Curriculum and Instruction Master's Degree Manual.

Ph.D. Program

Our doctoral program features theoretically rigorous, self-reflective, and contextual work in the broad fields of language, culture, and pedagogy. This work is frequently transdisciplinary in nature and international in scope. Doctoral programs are individually organized around students' interests, making use of our connections with programs throughout the College and University. Research and courses span a range of theoretical and methodological approaches and are often guided by commitments to critical inquiry and educationally and socially transformative practices.

Course of Study

Ph.D. policies and procedures are intended to insure high academic performance while permitting flexibility in what is required of each student to achieve that standard. Advisers and doctoral committee members are expected to use their professional judgment in setting specific requirements for each doctoral student based upon their understanding of the students' individual needs and goals. Consequently, seldom do any two students complete their programs in the same way—even those with the same emphasis area.

The Graduate School has no set minimum number of course credits for completion of the Ph.D. degree. The Curriculum and Instruction (CI) faculty have agreed in principle that a plan of study will include a distribution of courses and experiences among four categories: CI doctoral core (CI 590), depth of knowledge (emphasis area), breadth of study (supporting fields), and research knowledge and capabilities. The candidate, adviser and committee members negotiate the specifics of this plan with each student. Each student will work with an adviser and must complete the Ph.D. within an eight-year period. 

Successful completion of a Ph.D. with an emphasis in Language, Culture, and Society includes completion of several landmark tasks. What it means to complete each of these successfully is negotiated with the adviser and approved by the committee. These landmark tasks include:

  • course work prior to qualifying exam
  • completion of additional course work following admission to qualifying exam, as determined by the committee
  • defense of completed comprehensive examinations
  • committee acceptance of a dissertation proposal
  • defense of a completed dissertation

Prior to Qualifying Exam

Students have no official status as a doctoral student and no assurance of acceptance as a doctoral candidate until the qualifying examination has been passed. In addition to regular, full- or part-time course work, prior-to-candidacy students will take two courses: 

LLED 590 (Fall semester, 3 credits)

This course will support students in beginning what will eventually become the qualifying examination paper. Central assignments will include:

  1. Genre study of scholarship in your field:
    1. In consultation with your adviser, gather at least ten examples of seminal or current high-quality work in you field.
    2. In class, conduct a genre study of those examples and identify features of scholarly work in your field.
  2. Discovery draft for candidacy paper: draft a paper synthesizing and advancing an argument based on those texts, texts from your other courses, and outside readings.

LL ED 590 (Spring semester, 1 credit)

Part of the 590 course will involve support for expanding the discovery draft into a full candidacy paper, through workshops.

Qualifying Exam Process

Students initiate the qualifying exam process. Students’ responsibilities in the qualifying exam process are as follows:

  1. Form the committee. This committee consists of the adviser along with two other LCS faculty members mutually agreed upon by the student and the adviser. The student must contact the two additional faculty members to secure their consent. This committee is for candidacy purposes only; students may change committee members for later milestones such as comprehensive exams and the dissertation. At this point, the adviser and/or committee members may provide a short list of additional recommended readings in preparation for the candidacy meeting.
  2. No later than finals week of the end of the first year of full-time study or its equivalent for part-time students, students will schedule and hold a candidacy meeting in consultation with the committee. Under exceptional circumstances and with the recommendation of the adviser, the qualifying exam can be scheduled as late as the end of the third semester of full-time study or its equivalent for part-time students.
  3. Submit the qualifying exam paper (see below for details) to committee members no later than two weeks before the qualifying exam meeting is to occur.
  4. Participate in a qualifying exam meeting, in which the committee members and student will discuss the candidacy paper. At this meeting, the committee will determine the student's eligibility to advance to doctoral candidate and continue in the doctoral program. The committee will also determine additional course work or other conditions that students will have to complete prior to moving to comprehensive exams.

Students who are not advanced to doctoral status or who do not meet the qualifying exam deadline will not be allowed to continue in the doctoral program and funding will not be renewed. In such cases, students may work out a plan of additional study to complete a master’s degree.

Details of the qualifying exam paper: In a successful qualifying exam paper, the student will articulate a research agenda in its initial state, understanding that the research will continue to develop and change over the course of his/her program.  With reference to course work, reading and research already completed, and personal/professional experiences, the student will position her/himself as a researcher working within a field and its traditions. The student will demonstrate analytical writing skills appropriate to doctoral level work; such writing skills include the ability to synthesize materials from a variety of sources, to make reasoned arguments, and to observe the conventions of academic writing in the student’s field.  Finally, the student will include a clear plan for how s/he will proceed through the rest of the doctoral program. 

To summarize, the candidacy examination paper addresses these questions:

  • What are your research interests?
  • Why is this work important to you?
  • How do you situate your work within the literature, theory, and history that define the field?
  • What additional work (e.g., course work, readings, research, professional experiences) are required for you to successfully complete your doctoral work?

Comprehensive Exams

Pre-comprehensive exam meeting 

All LCS students will participate in a pre-comprehensive exam meeting with their committee. Prior to the pre-comps meeting, the student and advisor will have worked on a general idea about the three general areas of the comps papers. After that and also prior to the pre-comps meeting, the student will have written a brief memo (roughly 5 pages) in which the student will have laid out what they propose to do and why, as well as a reference list of major sources. The student should consult with the advisor about this memo then send it to the committee at least two weeks prior to the meeting. 

During the pre-comps meeting, the committee, in consultation with the student, will use the memo to begin the conversation about a plan for the exam, and during the course of the meeting the committee and student will agree upon three papers or products that will constitute the comprehensive exams. During the meeting, the student and committee will determine the timeframe for completion of the comps and which faculty member will supervise each paper. After the pre-comps meeting, the advisor will send an email to the student and other committee members describing what the committee and student agreed upon.

Exams may include but are not limited to:

  • A paper the student intends to convert into a publishable article reflecting research conducted independently by the student. This paper may begin as a pilot study for the dissertation or an extension of inquiry begun in a course paper, but this is not required. 
  • A piece of writing that demonstrates expertise in a chosen area of specialty. 
  • A third product in a form to be mutually agreed upon by the student and the committee. Examples include but are not limited to literature reviews, a course syllabus in an area of specialty, or media compositions appropriate to the student’s specialty. 

After a completion date is agreed upon, the student should work with the committee to schedule a defense date and consult with the graduate administrative assistant to secure a room. 

Completing the exam

Students will complete the exam during the period agreed upon by the committee. During the completion of each paper or product, the student has the option to confer with the faculty member designated to provide supervision.  

What we mean by supervision: The student is allowed one round of feedback only by the committee member designated to supervise that paper.

The student will provide copies of the complete exam electronically or on paper to members of the committee at least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense meeting. 

For more on the comprehensive exam, including information about the defense, see here:  https://ed.psu.edu/c-and-i/graduate/manuals/doctoral-manual/comprehensive-examination

Dissertation Proposal

  1. Students will write a dissertation proposal in consultation with the adviser.
  2. Students will submit the proposal to members of the doctoral committee at least two weeks in advance of the proposal hearing.
  3. Students will schedule a proposal hearing with the committee. At this meeting, students will discuss the presentation with the doctoral committee and receive recommendations for the dissertation. Students may be asked to make revisions to the proposal or may be allowed to continue to dissertation.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

  1. Students will provide the completed dissertation to all members of the doctoral committee at least two weeks in advance of the dissertation defense. Students should consult the Graduate College to determine required dates of deposit for graduation deadlines.
  2. Students will schedule a dissertation defense with the committee. At this meeting, students will defend the dissertation. The doctoral committee will determine whether the dissertation is passed, passed with required revisions, or failed. Note for scheduling:  Faculty are often not available to participate in qualifying exam or doctoral committee work in the summer months.

For more information about program requirements, please consult the Curriculum and Instruction Ph.D. manual.