PhD in Second Language Education

The PhD program in second language education offers students the opportunity to research language use, teaching, learning, and policy. The ideal candidates for the program have a master’s degree in a related field and at least three years of teaching experience, with interests in furthering education and research in second language education.

Graduates leave the program prepared for research and teaching careers in higher education, and as policy leaders and language specialists in a variety of settings.


Priority deadline: December 1
Admissions decisions: January

See detailed admissions, tuition and funding information on the MA and PhD admissions page.

PhD Curriculum

Your PhD coursework will center on your research interests. The program consists of 51 course credits and 24 doctoral thesis credits for a total of 78 credits.

Students take classes in research methodology, second language education and acquisition, and a supporting academic area.

You will plan your PhD curriculum based upon your research interests with your faculty adviser. To see the curriculum requirements in detail visit the course catalog under second language education.

Research opportunities

Students can engage in research that advances the field of second language education and ties into their area of interest. Faculty advisers work closely with each student to achieve research and educational goals and improve educational opportunities for students. Learn more about the student research experience in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Examples of recent student dissertations:

  • Revitalizing language, reframing expertise: An ecological study of language in one teacher-learner’s Ojibwe classroom
  • Migrant adult learners and digital literacy: A collaborative study for sustainable change
  • Recuperating heritage languages, becoming transformative educators: Multilingual teachers and students of color transforming schools
  • Student Oral Proficiency in Grade Three Spanish Immersion: Linguistic Diversity, Student Interaction, and Differentiated Scaffolding
  • Language instructors learning together: Lesson study in higher education

View faculty areas of research expertise.

Career outlook

Graduates of the program have assumed positions as university faculty, instructional leaders in the public schools, curriculum development specialists, and assessment specialists. Recent graduates have found employment in the following positions:

  • Augsburg College
  • Colby College
  • Hamline University
  • Indiana University
  • Minnesota State Universities
  • Monterey Institute of International Studies
  • New York University
  • Osaka University Japan
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Iowa
  • Warsaw University

Second Language Education faculty


What our students have to say

Zhongkui Ju
The program has helped me construct knowledge about language education from very different perspectives—as both a researcher and an advocate for bilingual and minority language education.

Zhongkui Ju, PhD 2019