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Developmental Education (Doctoral)

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As the first doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) and one of three doctorates of education (Ed.D.) programs in developmental education in the country, the program fills a crucial need for innovative research in a field that serves students underprepared for postsecondary education by valuing social, cultural, and critical perspectives.

Through research, scholarship, and professional experiences, the program effects change in the areas of developmental literacy, developmental mathematics, and learning support.

 Contact The Graduate College for general questions about getting started with your application, funding your degree, and more.
If you have program-specific questions after reviewing the program details, we encourage you to contact the following:

Doctoral Program Director
Dr. Taylor Acee
Academic Services Building North (ASBN), Room 401C

Advisor Support
Dena Guerrero
Academic Services Building North (ASBN), Room 401

“The program provides the portal into the field of postsecondary student success. It provided me the knowledge and tools to make a difference for students who are underprepared. The transition from theory and research to practice was seamless. I live out my course work every day! ˮ

– Mary Helen Martinez, Ed.D. ᾿20

Course Work

The Ph.D. and the Ed.D. program requires 66 total credit hours consisting of:

  • core courses grounded in developmental education theory and research
  • research methodology courses
  • specialization courses in the student’s preferred concentration: developmental literacy, developmental mathematics, or learning support
  • dissertation courses

Students enter in cohorts each fall term. Full-time students typically take 9-10 hours each semester, and part-time students (with the exception of a one-year residency requirement) take 6-7 hours until they advance to candidacy.

Degree Concentration Course Work Dissertation Total Hours
Ed.D. Developmental Literacy 54 hours 12 hours 66 hours
Ph.D. Developmental Literacy 54 hours 12 hours 66 hours
Ed.D. Developmental Mathematics 54 hours 12 hours 66 hours
Ph.D. Developmental Mathematics 54 hours 12 hours 66 hours
Ed.D. Learning Support 54 hours 12 hours 66 hours
Ph.D. Learning Support 54 hours 12 hours 66 hours
Education building

Doctoral students are frequently recognized for their research and scholarship. They win awards, fellowships and scholarships and present papers at regional and national conferences.

Program Mission

The doctoral program in developmental education prepares future scholars, researchers, leaders, administrators, instructors, and practitioners in the field of developmental education. Both rigorous and supportive, the program aims to advance theory, research, and practice in multiple areas of developmental education — including developmental literacy, developmental mathematics, and learning support — by actively engaging students in teaching, scholarship, and professional service. In this multidisciplinary program, the faculty, staff, and students work collaboratively across various academic disciplines, diverse communities, and geographic boundaries.

Visit program website ›

Program Faculty

Faculty research interests include:

  • theoretical and applied issues of student motivation, emotion, learning strategies, and self-regulation
  • strategic college reading and the role of technology in supporting strategic reading
  • postsecondary student success courses
  • demographic changes in higher education and effective instruction with culturally and linguistically diverse learners
  • college transitional readers’ deliberate and non-deliberate responses to texts and conceptualizations of literacy
  • the impact of professional development on instruction in the adult student transition to postsecondary literacy
  • educational equity for youth and the intersections of formal and informal cultures in education

Meet our faculty ›

Career Options

The doctoral program prepares graduates for a wide variety of careers. The Ph.D. is designed for students planning careers as researchers, faculty, and scholars who will build a strong research and theoretical base for developmental education.

The Ed.D. is designed for students planning careers as highly qualified program leaders, policymakers, researchers, and practitioners who will advance developmental education in a variety of contexts.

Application Process

Step 1

Review Requirements

Application Deadlines

Deadlines U.S. Citizen International
Fall - Priority January 15 January 15
Fall - Standard March 31 March 31
Spring No Admission No Admission
Summer I No Admission No Admission
Summer II No Admission No Admission

Application Deadline
This program has a firm deadline.

Funding Information
Applications must be complete by the priority deadline to be considered for certain types of funding.

Decision Timeline
This program reviews applications on a firm basis.

Application Requirements

The items required for admission consideration are listed below. Additional information for applicants with international credentials can be found on our international web pages.


  Review important information about the online application.

Application Fee

  • $55 nonrefundable application fee
  • $90 nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials

  Review important information about application fees.

Transcripts & GPA

  • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • master's degree from a regionally accredited university or demonstrated success in graduate-level studies or professional experience in a field relevant to developmental education*
  • a copy of an official transcript from each institution where course credit was granted
  • minimum 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) in all completed graduate course work

*The developmental education doctorate (both Ph.D. and Ed.D. tracks) requires 96 semester credit hours for students admitted with a bachelor's degree. Students admitted with a bachelor’s degree will follow the same program of study as students admitted with a master’s degree (66 semester credit hours) but with an additional 30 semester credit hours of open electives.

  Review important information about transcripts.

GRE Scores

  • GRE not required

Documents & Other Requirements

  • resume/CV
  • statement of purpose (approximately 500-1000 words) demonstrating your research interest and goals as a developmental education professional and your potential to contribute to the advancement of scholarly work in the field of developmental education. A discussion of your relevant teaching, research, and/or policy experience should be included as well as clear evidence of your commitment to research and scholarship.
  • three letters of recommendation addressing your professional and academic background
  • interviews with the admissions committee will be arranged (following the initial screening using the admissions criteria) for qualified applicants

  Review important information about documents.


Applicants are required to submit TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores that meet the minimum program requirements below unless they have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent from a country on our exempt countries list.

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official PTE scores required with a 52 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

  This program does not offer admission if the scores above are not met.

  Review important information about official test scores.