Ph.D. in Educational Linguistics

Part of the Educational Linguistics Division

The Educational Linguistics Ph.D. specialization focuses on language learning and teaching, and the role of language in learning and teaching. 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.


Fast Facts


  • Transfer Courses Accepted: 8 (as electives only)
  • Entry term: Fall
  • Course Requirements: 5 required courses, 3 research courses, 3 linguistics courses, 9 electives
  • Typical Course Load: 3-4 courses per semester (Fall/Spring semesters only)
  • Culminating Experience: Students must complete 20 course units, the candidacy examination, a language examination to show knowledge of a second language other than English, and the dissertation. A minimum of 12 courses must be taken at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Admissions Requirements: A master's degree is not required for admission.

View Admissions Requirements



A pioneer in the field since its founding in 1976, the Educational Linguistics Ph.D. specialization, housed within the Educational Linguistics Division, enables students to pursue research on language learning and teaching and the role of language in learning and teaching. Its questions and concerns are situated squarely in educational policy and practice, informing and informed by interdisciplinary theory and research in linguistics, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and other fields.


This Ph.D. specialization promotes the view that language must be examined within the cultural contexts and social situations in which it occurs. Faculty and students are involved in generating research on language and learning in areas such as:

  • Bilingualism, biliteracy, and bilingual education;
  • Multilingual language planning and policy;
  • Linguistic, cognitive, and sociocultural aspects of (language) learning, both inside and outside of the classroom;
  • Adult and child (second) language acquisition/socialization;
  • Educational and social consequences of ethnic and linguistic diversity and superdiversity at community, national, and international levels;
  • Local and global perspectives on English-language teaching policy and practice in K-12 and higher education;
  • Multimodal discourse in social and institutional settings;
  • Indigenous education and language revitalization

Educational Linguistics Ph.D. graduates pursue teaching and research careers in colleges and universities worldwide, as well as in government, community, and private organizations.

All students are expected to gain a solid foundation in linguistics and research methodology. Introductory courses in language pedagogy and sociolinguistics are strongly encouraged for students with no background in these areas.

Program of Study

Core Courses


EDUC 537 Educational Linguistics 
EDUC 546 Sociolinguistics in Education
EDUC 661 Language Diversity and Education
EDUC 670 Second Language Development
One 900-Level Doctoral Seminar EDUC 911 Issues in Second Language Acquisition OR EDUC 927 Language Policy and Planning
Three Research Courses (1 quantitative methods, 1 qualitative methods, 1 advanced quantitative or qualitative methods)
Three Linguistics Courses (2 courses from the Linguistics Dept. in the following core areas: Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics or Pragmatics; 2 additional courses, which may be from the Linguistics Dept., Anthropology Dept., GSE or other relevant linguistics course)
9 Elective Courses

Examples include:

  • EDUC 502 Citizen Sociolinguistics
  • EDUC 516 Teaching Second Language Writing
  • EDUC 517 Classroom Discourse and Interaction
  • EDUC 527 Approaches to Teaching English and Other Modern Languages
  • EDUC 547 Anthropology & Education
  • EDUC 572 Language & Gender
  • EDUC 577 Selected Topics in Educational Linguistics: Indigenous Education and Language Revitalization
  • EDUC 597 Policy Planning in International Education Development: Theory & Practice
  • EDUC 634 Language Assessment
  • EDUC 650 Communication & Culture in Context
  • EDUC 674 Curriculum & Materials Development for English Language Teaching
  • EDUC 700 Craft of Ethnography
  • EDUC 719 Research on Teacher Education & Learning to Teach
  • EDUC 737 Research in Teaching Writing
  • EDUC 806 Narrating the Self
  • EDUC 834 Theories of Reading
  • ANTH 603 Language in Culture & Society



Betsy Rymes, Ph.D. Professor; Division Chair & ICC Director

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Catherine Box, Ed.D. Lecturer

Columbia University

Yuko Butler, Ph.D. Professor; TESOL Director

Stanford University

Nelson Flores, Ph.D. Associate Professor

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Nancy H. Hornberger, Ph.D. Professor; Educational Linguistics PhD Director

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Diane Larsen-Freeman, Ph.D. Senior Fellow

University of Michigan

Iryna Kozlova, Ph.D. Lecturer

Georgia State University

Yumi Matsumoto, Ph.D. Assistant Professor

The Pennsylvania State University

Robert Moore, Ph.D. Senior Lecturer

University of Chicago

Anne Pomerantz, Ph.D. Practice Professor of Education; Educational Linguistics EdD Director

University of Pennsylvania

Santoi Wagner, Ed.D. Senior Lecturer; TESOL Associate Director

Columbia University


Affiliated Faculty

Asif Agha, Ph.D. Penn Arts & Sciences, Department of Anthropology

University of Chicago

Christina Frei, Ph.D. Penn Arts & Sciences, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

University of California, Davis



Educational Linguistics Division

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Sarah Peyton Kaufman
Program Manager
(215) 898-5212

Suzanne Oh
Program Assistant
(215) 898-6998


Katherine O'Morchoe
Program Assistant
(215) 898-7912