A pioneering doctoral program with an enduring legacy of research in applied linguistics, language learning, and teaching.

The Educational Linguistics Ph.D. program focuses on language learning and teaching as well as the role of language in education. Our questions and concerns are situated squarely in educational policy and practice, informing and informed by interdisciplinary theory and research in linguistics, anthropology, psychology, sociology, history, and other fields.

What Sets Us Apart

4 Years Full funding for up to 4 years
  Penn proudly houses the IES Predoctoral Training Program, a multi-year opportunity for current Ph.D. students offering both financial and skill-building support
 Penn GSE is a top-ranked Graduate School of Education by U.S. News & World Report

About the Program

Our program promotes the view that language must be examined within the cultural contexts and social situations in which it occurs.

Application deadline
Closed for Fall 2024. The application for Fall 2025 will be available September 1, 2024.
Entry term(s)
Course requirements
20 courses (11 required, 9 electives)
Typical course load

3–4 courses per semester (fall/spring semesters only)

Transfer courses8 (electives only)

Duration of program5–7 years

Culminating experienceCandidacy examination, and dissertation

  • Full-Time

Our faculty and students are involved in generating research on language and learning in areas such as:

  • Linguistic, cognitive, and sociocultural aspects of (additional) language development
  • Local and global perspectives on world language teaching policy and practice in K-12 and higher education
  • The intersections of disability, language, school–parent partnerships, and education policy
  • The historical and contemporary manifestation of raciolinguistic ideologies that frame the language practices of racialized communities
  • How multilingual speakers use milimodal communication practices – such as gestures, laughter, actions, and learning materials – to resolve miscommunication
  • How language, social interaction, institutions, and the Internet influence what students learn in schools
  • The role of lanugage in all forms of learning


Our curriculum is designed to provide a solid foundation in linguistics and research methodology. Students customize their education by working with their advisor to choose electives from a wide range of course offerings from across the Penn campus. Introductory courses in language pedagogy and sociolinguistics are strongly encouraged for students with no background in these areas. 

For course descriptions and requirements, visit the Educational Linguistics Ph.D. program in the University Catalog.

For a full list of courses offered at GSE, visit Penn’s University Course Catalog.

Sample courses

  • Linguistics in Education                                                                              
  • Sociolinguistics in Education                                                                      
  • Language Diversity and Education                                                             
  • Second Language Development    
  • Genealogies of Race and Language in Educational Research 
  • Issues in Second Language Acquisition                                        
  • Phonology I
  • Syntax I
  • Citizen Sociolinguistics
  • Classroom Discourse and Interaction
  • Approaches to Teaching English and Other Modern Languages
  • Anthropology & Education
  • Theories of Reading
  • Language in Culture & Society

Our Faculty

Penn GSE Faculty Asif Agha
Professor of Anthropology, Penn Arts & Sciences
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Penn GSE Faculty Catherine DiFelice Box
Lecturer of Educational Practice
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Penn GSE Faculty Yuko Goto Butler
Ph.D., Stanford University
Penn GSE Faculty María Cioè-Peña
Assistant Professor
Ph.D., The Graduate Center-CUNY
Penn GSE Faculty Nelson Flores
Associate Professor
Ph.D., The Graduate Center of the City of New York
Penn GSE Faculty Christina Frei
Executive Director, Language Instruction, Penn Arts & Sciences
Ph.D., University of California at Davis
Penn GSE Faculty Nancy H. Hornberger
Professor Emerita of Education
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Penn GSE Faculty Iryna Kozlova
Lecturer of Educational Practice
Ph.D., Georgia State University
Penn GSE Faculty Yumi Matsumoto
Associate Professor
Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
Penn GSE Faculty Robert Moore
Senior Lecturer
Ph.D., University of Chicago
Penn GSE Faculty Anne Pomerantz
Professor of Practice
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Penn GSE Faculty Betsy R. Rymes
Penn GSE Faculty Santoi Wagner
Senior Lecturer
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Holly Link

"I got to work with inspiring scholars doing cutting-edge work. I saw firsthand the process of writing, submitting, and publishing a journal article. I had so many experiences that shaped me as a scholar and that I continue to draw on in my research and academic writing."

Holly Link

Educational Linguistics Ph.D., 2016

Our Graduates

The Educational Linguistics Ph.D. program prepares candidates for teaching and research careers in colleges and universities worldwide, as well as careers in government, community, and private organizations.

Alumni Careers

  • Associate Professor, Columbia Teachers College
  • Assistant Professor, Indiana University
  • Associate Professor, Malmö University
  • Associate Professor, University of Iowa
  • Associate Professor and Chair, Adelphi University
  • Director of Educational Programming and Research, Center for Cultural, Art, Training and Education (CCATE)
  • Senior International Baccalaureate World Schools Manager
  • Assistant Professor of TESOL and Applied Linguistics in the English Department, Illinois State University
  • Research and Evaluation Supervisor, William Penn School District
  • Lecturer in Language Studies, Brown University
  • Founder/CEO, Brilliant Bilingual
  • Associate Professor of Language Education and Urban Social Justice Learning & Teaching, Rutgers University
  • Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning, The Ohio State University
  • Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne
  • Assistant Professor of International Students, College of Charleston
  • Assistant Professor of Linguistics, University of Louisville
  • Assistant Professor, Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Education, University of Colorado, Denver
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow

Admissions & Financial Aid

Please visit our Admissions and Financial Aid pages for specific information on the application requirements, as well as information on tuition, fees, financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships.

Contact Information

Contact us if you have any questions about the program.

Office of Admissions and
Financial Aid

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-6415

Program Contact

Erica Poinsett
Program Assistant

Please view information from our Admissions and Financial Aid Office for specific information on the cost of this program.

All Ph.D. students are guaranteed a full scholarship for their first four years of study, as well as a stipend and student health insurance. Penn GSE is committed to making your graduate education affordable, and we offer generous scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships.