Doctor of Philosophy in Language & Literacies Education

A group of students in an elevator at the OISE building.
Doctor of Philosophy in Language & Literacies Education

Doctor of Philosophy in Language & Literacies Education Overview

The Language & Literacies Education program investigates questions about the relationships of literacies in language and language in literacies across communities, societies, instructional environments, and informal learning settings.

Language & Literacies Education courses address current issues in the study of applied linguistics and literacies, such as:

  • The learning, teaching, and use of Indigenous, official, international/heritage, and sign languages and literacies;
  • Curriculum, instruction, and assessment related to the development of first and additional language and K-12 literacy skills;
  • The development of bilingual, multilingual, and translinguistic abilities;
  • Language and literacy education policies and planning;
  • Pedagogy oriented on multiliteracies development, including early literacy and adolescent reading, writing and oral language development, and children’s literature across the curriculum;
  • Social justice issues related to plurilingualism and cultural and linguistic diversity; and
  • Pedagogical implications of the fact that language and literacy are infused into all aspects of learning in contexts characterized by linguistic diversity.

Students enrolled in the PhD in Language & Literacies Education program are required to complete:

  • Six to eight half-courses, depending on previous experience and academic qualifications, plus the Proseminar in Language & Literacies in Education course which will orient you to the life of a thesis track student in the program 
  • A comprehensive examination (Download the LLE comprehensive exam guidelines)
  • A thesis embodying the results of an original investigation 
  • A final oral examination on the content and implications of the thesis

For the full-time student, a minimum of two consecutive years of full-time study are required at the beginning of the program. During this time, students usually complete their coursework and comprehensive examination requirements, prepare a thesis proposal, and form a thesis committee. 

At a Glance

Study Options
Full-time (6 years - maximum)
Flexible-time (8 years - maximum)
Requires: 7 half courses, comprehensive examination, thesis

Funding and Tuition
For current information about tuition fees, funding, and financial support, visit Tuition & Financial Support.  

Applications to the Doctor of Philosophy in Language & Literacies Education for the 2024-2025 admissions cycle is open.

To view updated program deadlines, visit the OISE application deadlines and closing dates page.

Open House promotion image with the OISE logo and the title





Ready to join one of the world’s top universities? Take the next step in your academic journey and start your application to graduate studies at OISE.

Speak with our Team

Have questions about our program, admissions, financial support or career options after graduation? Our team has the answer you’re looking for. Contact us for one-on-one support.

Attend an Info Session

We host information sessions, open houses and tours throughout the year. Come discover what it's like to study at OISE. Explore campus and meet our community.

LLE Admissions Drop-In

Have a question about admissions requirements?  Drop-in (online) and speak to program staff. 

Every Wednesday from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. (EST) 

Why I Chose Curriculum, Teaching & Learning

Yecid Ortega
Yecid Ortega (Master of Arts 2015, Doctor of Philosophy 2021)

Lecturer and Research Assistant
Language, Literacies and Comparative International and Development Education

"My journey has taken me from teaching English as a Foreign Language in Colombia to the USA where I worked as a Spanish teacher, teacher educator and curriculum developer for various schools and now to Canada – where I have found my home in research and education in teacher education programs and TESOL. At OISE, I explore issues of social justice in language teacher education and culture, race, linguistics, human rights, and gender equality around the world."

Doctor of Philosophy in Language & Literacies Education Admission Requirements

General Admission Requirements

Please visit the OISE Admissions website for detailed information about the application process, including general minimum admission requirements and supporting documents. 


Program-Specific Information (Minimum Admission Requirements)

Minimum admission requirements for this program are:

We encourage equity-seeking groups to identify themselves in their application.


Required Supporting Documents

All applicants must submit: 

  • Online Application
  • Transcript(s) from each post-secondary institution attended
  • Two letters of reference from two separate people (one academic and one professional)
  • A résumé that provides clear and complete information about the applicant's work or field experience related to their proposed studies
  • An academic writing sample
  • Completion of program application questions (called "Faculty Questions: CTL")
    1. In 1,000-1,5000 words, describe why you wish to undertake a research-oriented program of study. Discuss your academic interests, experience and professional concerns. We ask each applicant to:
      • Highlight research activities in which you’ve engaged (e.g., action research in your classroom, work as a research assistant on a funded research project). Discuss how you will build on these experiences or what you have learned that will inform your graduate work.
      • Write about professional experiences (teaching and those related to education), as well as contributions to education (e.g., involvement on curriculum-writing teams, mentoring new teachers), and discuss how you will build on these experiences in your graduate work.
      • Discuss any relevant publications you have.
      • Identify potential research topics for your thesis or dissertation, providing background information on why these topics are important to you. You may want to sketch out a potential research project to give reviewers a sense of your command of a particular topic, relevant literature, and how you would design a study of it.
    2. Please review the CTL faculty research information. If you identify Language & Literacies Education faculty members whose research interests align with yours, you will be asked to list only their first names and last names. 
    3. Based on your described program of study, list 3-5 keywords to let us know your research interests.
    4. If you will have funding from your home government, international organizations or funding agencies, please provide details (Name of funding agency, value and duration). If this does not apply, leave this section blank.
    5. Is there any additional information you want to share with the Admissions Committee that will inform their review of your application? 
  • View FAQ for other important application notes.

Tip: Don’t leave reviewers guessing. If there is something about your previous studies or your professional background that might stand out, address it in the statement of intent. One common example of this is a master’s degree that is in a field quite different from LLE research. In this case, you might tell us about professional experiences that prepare you for doctoral studies if your masters degree did not. Another common example is not having a full master’s thesis. In a few words, explain to us how the writing sample you’re including in your application provides evidence of your readiness to pursue doctoral studies. 

Additional Degree Information

We are looking for applicants who have a sound academic background and a deep interest in education. The degree is designed to provide opportunities for advanced study, original research, and theoretical analysis. 

Applicants should have demonstrated commitment to education prior to applying. Please note, the LLE program is not a teacher certification program. For more information on our teacher certification programs please visit: OISE Teacher Education Degrees.

The Language & Literacies Education program is designed for flexibility. Choose courses that best meet your needs. The program details are as follows:

  • The LLE Ph.D. degree normally requires seven completed courses (depending on previous experience and academic qualifications), a completed Comprehensives exam and a Doctoral thesis.
  • Students are required to successfully complete CTL3001H – Research Colloquium in Language & Literacies Education as well as CTL3899H Proseminar in Language &​​​​​​​ Literacies Education, if not previously taken at the Masters level, and a course in research methods from the LLE approved research methods course list. 
  • At least four of the courses must be Language & Literacies Education courses. LLE courses are identified with CTL3000-level course codes (i.e CTL3000H to CTL3999H) and Special Topics courses in LLE are identified as CTL5300H to CTL5699H (Masters Level) and CTL6300H to CTL6999H (Doctoral Level). The remaining courses are electives.
  • Non-LLE courses (if you choose to take them) can include Masters or Doctoral level courses from the Curriculum & Pedagogy program or courses from any other OISE departments: Social Justice EducationApplied Psychology & Human Development, and Leadership, Higher, and Adult Education

Note: For the flexible-time PhD program option, a minimum residency of four years of full-time registration is required at the beginning of the program. Candidates may apply for part-time status after this four year-residency.

The LLE PhD Program offers a wide variety of courses. Our classes typically consist of 15 to 25 students. 

The PhD program can be taken on a full-time or flex-time basis. Full-time PhD students must complete their degree within six years. Flexible-time PhD students must complete their degree within eight years. Degree requirements for both programs are the same. Doctoral students usually take two or three courses per term. A typical course involves 12 classes. During the fall and winter terms, a class will meet once each week for twelve weeks. During the spring and summer terms, a class meets twice a week for six weeks. Classes are scheduled for the early evening (e.g., 5pm to 8pm) or the early afternoon (e.g., 1pm to 4pm), Monday through Thursday. We also offer a large selection of online courses, which allow you to participate from home.

Thesis-track students routinely meet with their supervisor and thesis committee to discuss their progress in the program. Once a year, this progress is documented in an annual review meeting. 

At this meeting, students report on their progress, and their committee provides guidance, advice, and recommendations. The committee also determines whether the student's progress is satisfactory or requiring additional support. 

Students are required to bring an annual review form, with pages 1-2 completed, to the annual review meeting. Supervisors will complete relevant sections of the form, documenting what was discussed at the meeting, and evaluating progress.  

Both the student and the thesis supervisor must sign the form. The signed form must be submitted to the graduate studies program administrator.

Interested in interdisciplinary study?

UofT offers collaborative specializations which involve the cooperation of two or more graduate units (i.e. departments, programs, or centres). Students admitted to LLE have the opportunity to discover the research possibilities available with the following collaborative programs: 

Full-time doctoral students (but not Flex-time doctoral students) receive a graduate funding package equal to the cost of academic tuition and fees, plus support as a Graduate Assistant or Teaching Assistant, in each of the first four years of their program. Some limited funding may also be available in year 5. The average time to completion is 5.70 years. 

There are admission awards available for International applicants who are applying to doctoral programs. Visit the SGS International Awards webpage and the OISE internal awards for those currently enrolled. 

International applicants are students who are neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident of Canada.  Admission to the PhD full-time funded program is highly competitive. We recommend that applicants make contact with a faculty member whose research interests coincide with their own, before applying to the program. For more on international student admissions please review International Applicants on the OISE Registrar's office website.

At this time, the Department of Curriculum, Teaching & Learning admits one (1) funded international applicant to its full-time Ph.D. programs each year - alternate years for the Language & Literacies Education (LLE) program and the Curriculum & Pedagogy (C&P) program. In doing so, C&P will admit one international student in odd years (i.e. 2021, 2023, etc.) and LLE will admit one international Ph.D. student in even years (i.e. 2022, 2024, etc.).

In any given year, the Department may also consider applications to either program from international applicants where home governments, international organizations or funding agencies can provide them with funding. The funding must minimally have the value and duration of the graduate funding package that is offered and should be indicated on the application. Please review the Graduate Funding Package website

The following is the result of a question and answer (Q&A) discussion which took place following a LLE Open House presentation.

Can I switch from the full-time option to the flexible-time option for this program?
No, students may not transfer from the full-time to the flexible-time PhD or vice versa.

How do students find a thesis supervisor?
At the point of admission successful applicants to the LLE PhD are assigned a Faculty Advisor whom you can speak with if you have questions regarding program requirements, course selection etc.  Your Faculty Advisor will often become your Thesis Supervisor, however if you find that your academic interests necessitate that you work with a different faculty member as thesis supervisor, your faculty advisor will help you to find an appropriate faculty member to take on that role.

If unable to provide an academic reference, would two professional ones work instead? 
While a minimum of two letters of reference – one academic and one professional – should be included in your application, sometimes applicants experience difficulty obtaining a letter of reference. For example, if you graduated many years ago and have since not been active in an academic setting you may be unable to call upon a university instructor with whom you studied. You're strongly encouraged to obtain one academic and one professional letter of reference, but you may submit an alternative combination such as two reference letters from a professional source. Tip: for two professional letters direct the most suitable referee to include comments pertaining to your intellectual abilities and potential. 

What is an Academic Writing Sample?
A typical sample is about 5,000 words (for example, an excerpt from a master's thesis). Acceptable formats are MA Word (.docx) and PDF (.pdf) files.

Criteria for the writing sample:

  • It must be single-authored
  • It must demonstrate quality writing - i.e., logical, clear and well-written
  • It must be academically rigorous
  • It must be a theoretical or empirical study
  • It must demonstrate the ability to analyze and synthesize concepts, ideads and/or data
  • It must contact a solid bibliography

The following samples are acceptable:

  • Master's thesis
  • Major paper
  • Refereed article
  • Refereed conference paper
  • Conference proceedings publication
  • Book chapter
  • Research paper

What are collaborative specializations?
Collaborative Specialization programs are created by participating graduate units to explore a novel interdisciplinary area or special development that crosses a number of disciplines.  If you are admitted into a graduate program that participates in a collaborative specialization; many of which are actually University of Toronto wide specializations to which CTL is very closely connected; you can apply to a collaborative specialization, but you need to apply to them directly.  If you review our website, and websites of affiliated collaborative specializations, you’ll see LLE participates in a number of collaborative specializations. 

I have a question about language proficiency.  I’ve been working as an occasional teacher for four years here, but finished education outside of Canada.  Do I still need to prove language proficiency?
As English is the primary language of instruction and communication at the University of Toronto, applicants must demonstrate an adequate level of proficiency in English, regardless of their citizenship status or country of origin. It is important that these students follow School of Graduate Studies (SGS) policies on English Language Proficiency (ELP) testing requirements and take one of the required tests for admission to a graduate program.  Applicants from universities outside Canada where English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of their application.

The determination of whether an English language proficiency test is required is determined by the admissions division of the OISE Registrar's Office & Student Experience (ROSE), but only after the application has been submitted. Visit the SGS webpage on English language proficiency for more information.

What happens after I submit my applications?
Once you've completed your application, understand what happens next by visiting After Submitting Your Application

I was offered admission, what are my next steps?
Applicants who receive an official "Offer of Admission" result letter can view the Newly Admitted Students webpage for information on next steps.

Ready to join one of the world’s top universities?

Take the next step in your academic journey and start your application to graduate studies at OISE.