Jul 14, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 
Graduate Catalog | 2015-2016 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 specializations 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. A student 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 the student’s enrollment in the graduate program. If a student makes 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 an accredited institution (typically no more than six 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. The grade in 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 eight years. The Ph.D. website contains additional information, including updated planning sheets for each strand.


An advisor is assigned to each student within the first year of study. The advisor and the strand coordinator provide initial advising until the end of the first year (12 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 strand 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 Requirements

Students are considered candidates for the doctoral degree upon: (a) successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination, (b) approval of the Dissertation Proposal, and (c) submission of the Application for Candidacy form. Both the Petition for Topic Approval and the Application for Candidacy should be submitted together. 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.


Each of the available strands offers a variety of courses at the doctoral level. See the Ph.D. website for the program’s Student Handbook and program planning sheets. These documents include a complete list of courses and requirements by program and strand.