Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education

Part of the Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division

The Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education focuses on the preparation of researchers and teacher educators in universities and colleges. The program is designed to draw together course work, research apprenticeship, and other professional academic activities to build a complete professional program that is tailored to students' interests and needs.


Fast Facts


  • Prerequisites: Master’s degree and experience in educational practice
  • Entry Terms: Fall only
  • Course Requirements: 12 (Organized around three strands)
  • Typical Course Load: Fall: 3; Spring: 3
  • Culminating Experience: Dissertation


View Admissions Requirements



The Ph.D. and Ed.D. programs in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education prepare graduates to serve as researchers and teacher educators in universities and colleges, curriculum developers and evaluators in educational agencies, curriculum specialists in school districts and state departments of education, and instructional leaders and classroom teachers in K-12 schools.


Coursework and research experiences address a range of practice-based and theoretical problems in schools and community settings from sociopolitical, cultural, philosophical, psychological, and historical perspectives. Taking an interdisciplinary stance, faculty and students explore issues of equity, social justice and educational change in a range of formal and informal educational settings. Through their programs of study, students select focal areas such as teaching and learning, research and practice in teacher education, mathematics or science education, and the study of urban education and urban contexts. Applicants interested in the focal area of literacy are encouraged to consider the doctoral program in Reading/Writing/Literacy.

Because of the significance we attach to the building of knowledge from experiences as educators, we expect most students to have, on admission to the program, teaching or relevant educational experiences in or outside of school settings. Students will build a program of study that includes courses in teaching and learning, social foundations, and research methods. Field-based research and collaborative projects with practitioners in schools or other educational settings are key components of the TLTE program. Students learn not only from a rigorous program of study, but also from active participation in a community of learners including practicing and prospective teachers.

Doctor of Philosophy in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education (Ph.D.)

The Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education focuses on the preparation of researchers in education. The program includes formal courses, mentored research, and informal seminars. Ph.D. students are required to hold a master’s degree prior to beginning the Ph.D. program, and are expected to have experience in educational practice.  They must be enrolled full-time, and take a minimum of 12 courses.

Students organize their coursework and experiences around three areas or strands--Content and Conceptualization; Inquiry and Investigation; and Professional Experiences--and, within this, take a minimum of 12 courses. These include a set of core courses, research methods courses, specialization courses, and electives. Students devise an individualized program of study based on their research interests and in consultation with their advisor. The program is designed to draw together course work, research apprenticeship, and other professional academic activities to build a complete professional program that is tailored to students' interests and needs. 

Program of Study

Core Requirements

Course descriptions for TLL are available here.


Full-time students enroll in 3 course units (CUs) each semester for the first two years. Full-time Ph.D. students are expected to be in residence and participate in practicum activities, courses, and other academic experiences throughout the first two years. The Ph.D. program does not accommodate part-time studies.


Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC)

The RAC is part of the Professional Experiences strand and is designed to assist doctoral students in developing, conducting, and presenting on their own original research. The course focuses on the research interests of the students and requires participation in the scheduling of activities, presentations, and directing part of the RAC agenda as it pertains to the collective needs of the group. Students from the different stages of the doctoral program will serve as mentors to one another, with faculty oversight. Students participate in the RAC beginning in the spring of their first year and continue participation until completion of their dissertation.

Prerequisites/Requirements for Admission

Master’s degree and experience in educational practice

Course Requirements

Content and Conceptualization strand:

  • Three core courses in Content/Conceptualization:
    • EDUC 726 (Foundations of Teaching and Learning); EDUC 727 (Education, Culture, and Society); and one course in Teaching/Learning
  • A minimum of three electives in Content/Conceptualization

Inquiry and Investigation strand:

  • Three core courses in Inquiry/Investigation:
    • EDUC 667 (Introductory Statistics for Educational Research); EDUC 682 (Qualitative Modes of Inquiry); 1 advanced methods course

 Professional Experiences strand:

  • EDUC 621 (Doctoral Proseminar)
  • Research Apprenticeship Course (RAC) - On-gonig professional experience from second semester of first year until graduation



Annual Self-Evaluation: Each year, doctoral students complete a Professional Self-evaluation that is used as part of the ongoing evaluation and planning process. Students are introduced to the evaluation form in the proseminar and will work on it in the spring RAC. The deadline for the Professional Self-evaluation deadline falls in mid-autumn or mid-spring.  Students should submit their Professional Self-evaluation to the Division Manager and to their advisor.

Qualifying Examination: The Qualifying Examination is taken by all doctoral students, most often at the end of the first year. Passing this exam is an important step in being admitted to program candidacy. In order to take the qualifying exam, students need to have completed EDUC 621 (Doctoral Proseminar); EDUC 726 (formerly EDUC 664) (Doctoral Foundations of Teaching and Learning); EDUC 727 (formerly EDUC 646) (Education, Culture, and Society); 1 RAC; and 1 research methods course.

Program Candidacy: Students are assessed for program candidacy after successfully completing EDUC 621, EDUC 726 (formerly EDUC 664), EDUC 727 (formerly EDUC 646), 1 RAC, and 1 research methods course, and passing the Qualifying Examination. Students must be in good academic standing to receive program candidacy.

Preliminary Examination: The Preliminary Examination is taken after students have completed all courses and before they begin work on their dissertation. Passing the Preliminary Exam allows students to be admitted to doctoral candidacy. Students may submit a Preliminary Exam from the start of the fall semester through April 1. A description of the Preliminary Exam is available from from the Division Coordinator. 

Dissertation: To complete the Ph.D., students must design and undertake an original research study under the direction of a student-selected dissertation committee. Students should see GSE and Penn-wide policies, listed on the website, and speak witih their advisor about the requirements of the dissertation.


Program Faculty

Ryan Baker, Ph.D.

Carnegie Mellon University

Ed Brockenbrough, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Yasmin Kafai, Ed.D.

Harvard University

Rand Quinn, Ph.D.

Stanford University

Sharon Ravitch, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania

Abby Reisman, Ph.D.

Stanford University

Janine Remillard, Ph.D.

Michigan State University

Susan Yoon, Ph.D.

University of Toronto

Meet Our Students

Current students in the TLTE program are researching a range of topics including mathematical practices, teacher education, maker-based project education, culturally responsive pedagogy, science education, and media making. 


Read more about the work of our current students


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Division

University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education

3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Veronica E. Aplenc, Ph.D.
Program Manager/Adjunct Assistant Professor
(215) 746-2566


Sharon Lipscomb

Educational Leadership and TLTE Program Assistant

(215) 898-9372