The Literacy, Culture, and Language Education PhD program brings together scholarly traditions and contemporary theory in Multilingual Education and Applied Linguistics, Literacy and Cultural Studies, and Social Studies Education.

Program Overview

In the LCLE program, you are part of an engaging and thoughtful academic community, with small classes that encourage meaningful dialogue and faculty-student interactions.

This flexible, interdisciplinary program will prepare you with the knowledge and research skills necessary for faculty positions, independent research, program administration, and varied leadership positions.

Your program advisor will help guide you through the requirements for degree completion.

Program Requirements

For a complete list of courses and requirements:

As a student in the Literacy, Culture, and Language Education program, you choose a disciplinary foundation in Literacy Education, Multilingual Education, or Social Studies Education. You will also choose from a variety of courses outside of your disciplinary foundation to fit your academic and career goals.

Literacy Education

Literacy Education coursework provides both a broad background in relevant theoretical and research literature and opportunities to conduct original studies that explore the nature of literacy practices both in and out of school. Students share a commitment to explore and investigate contemporary issues in literacy practices. Literacy education has a rich legacy of placing graduates in careers as tenure track professors, as well as curriculum leaders and administrators of literacy programs.

Multilingual Education

Faculty members and students in Multilingual Education specialize in Foreign Language Education, TESOL, Educational Linguistics, Language Assessment, Second Language Literacy, Sociolinguistics, Language Policy and Planning, and Second Language Acquisition. Students and faculty conduct research in different educational contexts, including Foreign/World language classrooms, English as a Second Language Classrooms, Bilingual Education classrooms, as well as families and communities.

Social Studies Education

Faculty members and students in Social Studies Education examine the role of the social and behavioral sciences and history in a diverse society. The Social Studies program emphasizes interdisciplinary explorations of the social studies. Course offerings engage students in global perspectives, multicultural education, education for democratic citizenship, and social justice issues.

Funding Opportunities

Literacy, Language, and Culture Education students have access to a variety of internal and external funding opportunities.

Nearly all full-time LCLE are placed in graduate assistantships. Additionally, there are multiple internal and external fellowships and grants to supplement your education and support your research interests.

Cost and Aid

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International Students

Students from all around the world come to the University of Iowa for the Literacy, Culture, and Language Education program. More than half of our students are international. Students come from a variety of countries including (among others):

  • China
  • Saint Lucia
  • Brazil
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Indonesia
  • Morocco
  • Turkey
  • Japan

Faculty and Research

As part of this multi-disciplinary program, you will work with experienced faculty across the College of Education.

Areas of expertise include:

  • Applied and Educational Linguistics
  • Literacy
  • Social Studies Education
  • Foreign and World Language Education
  • English Education
  • Cultural Studies
  • History Education
  • ESL/Bilingual Education
  • Children and Adolescent Literature
  • Global Education

Admissions and Application

Application deadlines:

  • January 17 (Fall semester)
  • October 1 (Spring semester)

  • A bachelor’s degree from a Regionally Accredited American College or University, or an equivalent degree from another country as determined by the Office of Admissions
  • Master’s degree or significant graduate coursework
  • Undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 or better on a four-point scale
  • The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General test – verbal and quantitative - is not required.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for international applicants who do not meet the waiver requirements – minimum score of 90 (internet-based) with a speaking score of 24 and a writing score of 25 (see the University of Iowa’s English proficiency requirements)
  • Recommended: Two years of experience teaching or tutoring within or outside of the United States

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities
  • Statement of purpose explaining related experiences, reasons for pursuing graduate study, and future goals
  • A sample of academic writing
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Three letters of recommendation*

* You will be asked to give the contact information of your recommenders, including their email, on your Admissions Profile. The recommender will then get an email with instructions on how to upload the recommendation letter and/or form.

Apply Now

Please review the required supplemental documents above before starting the general graduate application. To begin the application process, set up an account with an existing email address and password


Dare to Discover banners hanging in Iowa City

Five UI College of Education students selected for OVPR’s 'Dare to Discover' campaign

Tuesday, January 16, 2024
The Office of the Vice President for Research’s annual Dare to Discover banner campaign highlights 80 researchers and scholars from across the university.
pride tiger hawk logo painted on the street

Coleman selected as national fellow to study book-banning practices and LGBTQ+ activism

Wednesday, May 31, 2023
James Joshua (Josh) Coleman, assistant professor of English education, is the recipient of a National Academy of Education (NAEd)/Spencer postdoctoral fellowship to research book-banning practices and LGBTQ+ educational activism in the Midwest.
Picture of UI research facility, with blue sky above.

Eight faculty-led projects funded by Seeding Excellence Initiative

UI's Office of the Vice President for Research has selected the winners of eight pilot grants--several of which are led by College of Education faculty--intended to sustain the continued growth of the campus research enterprise by providing competitive seed funding in strategic areas.

Contact Us

Program Coordinator

David Cassels Johnson
N244 Lindquist Center

Application questions can be directed to: Anne Sparks, 319-335-2146,

We look forward to receiving your application!