Oct 19, 2021  
Graduate Catalog | 2020-2021 
Graduate Catalog | 2020-2021 Previous Edition

Curriculum and Instruction, Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction is designed to prepare teacher education faculty and other educational professionals for work in various agency and educational settings. The program is interdisciplinary and involves faculty from across the University campus, and primarily the Departments of English; Mathematics and Statistics; Middle, Secondary, & K-12 Education; and Reading and Elementary Education.  The program focuses on urban issues and perspectives related to curriculum and instruction with concentrations in (1) Urban Education, (2) Literacy Education (oriented toward Reading Education, English Education, or Teaching English as a Second Language), (3) Mathematics Education, and (4) Elementary Education.  Studies include a substantive core in urban education and educational research.  Students may focus their study on education for learners at elementary, middle grades, secondary, K-12, or post-secondary/adult levels.

Curriculum Objectives

  1. Lead inquiry into the nature of curriculum theory and the relationship that theory has upon the major sources, components, and processes required in curriculum development, particularly within expanding urban-regional environments.
  2. Demonstrate relationships among curriculum theory and design, models of and research about teaching and learning, variations among learners, and the ideological, social, and disciplinary contexts of teaching and learning, including the influence on urban-regional schools, state and national policies, curriculum philosophy, and political pressures.
  3. Guide curriculum development and evaluation in its pragmatic context by applying curriculum theory, policy, and practice for diverse learners within a variety of educational settings.

Research and Evaluation Objectives

  1. Use appropriate quantitative and qualitative research methods to solve problems in urban education and related disciplines, detect new patterns, and assess the effectiveness of instructional programs and teaching methodologies for all learners.
  2. Communicate research and evaluation findings in a variety of written and electronic formats, such as evaluation reports, professional articles, grant proposals, conference presentations, and technical reports, with the consistent underlying purpose of supporting educational effectiveness and reform in urban-regional environments.

Specialty Objectives

  1. Apply theory and research in one’s area of specialization to detecting new patterns, identifying problems, and solving urban-regional problems of curriculum, teaching, learning, and assessment through collaborative problem identification, research projects, policy formation, and professional development.
  2. Exhibit sustained intellectual curiosity, broad understandings, specialized knowledge, and professional commitments pertaining to one’s selected area of specialization within the context of urban-regional schools.

Additional Admission Requirements

Applicants should submit a current vitae and a professional writing sample. A review committee will conduct an initial review of application materials and recommend selected applicants for on-campus interviews. The selection committee will then make final recommendations to the Graduate School relative to acceptance into the program based on the merits of the application materials and the interview process.

Prerequisite Requirements

The intended audience for the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction includes education professionals who hold the master’s degree. It is anticipated that most applicants will be experienced teachers or school leaders with the North Carolina “G” or “M” license or equivalent licenses from other states. However, the program will welcome and accommodate non-licensed candidates with appropriate professional experiences who have been involved in teaching or educational program development and evaluation.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction requires a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework, including the dissertation.  Students must maintain a cumulative average of 3.0 in all coursework taken.  An accumulation of more than two C grades will result in termination of enrollment in the graduate program.  If students make a grade of U in any course, enrollment in the program will be terminated. 

The program will consider the transfer of a limited number of courses from a college or university accredited by an accepted accrediting body (typically no more than six credit hours), providing the Curriculum and Instruction Committee determines that the course or courses to be transferred are appropriate for the program of study and are graduate-level courses beyond the master’s degree.  Grades for these transfer courses must be an A or B.  All dissertation work must be completed at UNC Charlotte. 

Students must successfully complete requirements for the comprehensive examination and dissertation.  All students must complete a residency requirement of at least 18 credit hours over three successive terms of enrollment.  Students must complete their degree, including dissertation, within nine years.  The Ph.D. website contains additional information, including updated planning sheets for each concentration. 


There are four concentrations available within the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction program. 

  1. Urban Education
  2. Literacy Education (oriented toward Reading Education, English Education, or Teaching English as a Second Language)
  3. Mathematics Education
  4. Elementary Education

Each of the available concentrations offers a variety of required and concentration-specific course offerings at the doctoral level.

Core Courses (12-15 credit hours)

Each concentration requires core coursework in Urban Foundations.  The Urban concentration requires 15 credit hours.  Mathematics, Literacy, and Elementary Education concentrations require 12 credit hours.

Research Methodology Courses (15 credit hours)

Each concentration must also complete at least 15 credit hours of research coursework, which also count toward dissertation preparation hours.  Please note that five courses are required but not necessarily sufficient.  Additional courses not listed require Graduate Program Director approval.

Concentration Courses (21-24 credit hours)

Each concentration must also complete specialization coursework specific to the concentration as follows (21 credit hours for the Urban Education concentration; 24 credit hours for Mathematics, Literacy, and Elementary Education concentrations).

Mathematics Education Concentration (24 credit hours)

Literacy Education Concentration (24 credit hours)

Select from the following.  Concentration Coordinator consultation is required to enroll in the below courses.  Students may enroll in graduate-level credit outside of the below list with approval of the Program Advisor.

Elementary Education Concentration (24 credit hours)

Dissertation Courses (9 credit hours)

All concentrations must complete 9 credit hours of dissertation coursework.

Total = 60 Credit Hours


An Advisor is assigned to each student within the first year of study.  The Advisor and the Concentration Coordinator provide initial advising until the end of the first year (12 credit hours) when the Advisor assumes responsibility.  By the beginning of the second year, the student is required to submit a Program of Study which is approved by the Advisor and the Concentration and Program Coordinators.  Advisors also support the student in identifying faculty whose research interests and expertise are congruent with the student’s probable area of dissertation inquiry.  The assistance of the Advisor does not relieve the student of responsibility for completing required work and for following departmental or University procedures.  In the semester in which the student takes the Comprehensive Examination, the student reaches agreement with a faculty member to serve as dissertation chair.  The chair must be a member of the Curriculum & Instruction faculty.

Admission to Candidacy

Students are considered candidates for the doctoral degree upon: (a) successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination and (b) approval of the Dissertation Proposal.  Candidacy must be achieved at least six months before the degree is conferred.

Application for Degree

Students must submit an Application for Degree in the semester in which they successfully defend their dissertation proposal.  Adherence to Graduate School deadlines and requirements is expected.  Degree requirements are completed with the successful defense of the dissertation and when the final copy of the dissertation has been filed in the Graduate School.