Admission Criteria

The following admission criteria have been established by the School of Graduate Studies and Research:

  1. An applicant must have a bachelor's degree from a college or university accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools or an equivalent regional accrediting agency. Official transcripts of all work must be sent school-to-school.

  2. The applicant's undergraduate transcript must show a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.6 on a 4.0 maximum scale.

  3. Test of English as a Foreign Language scores are required for international students who do not speak English as their first language unless the student has earned a master's degree in the United States. Scores should come from a TOEFL taken no more than one year prior to the expected date of enrollment. We look for a minimum TOEFL score of 600 paper-based (PBT), or 100 Internet-based (iBT), and a minimum TWE (Test of Written English) score of 5.5. Due to federal regulations, international students studying in the US with a visa must enroll in the main campus cohort and are not eligible for the online program.

  4. Two letters of professional reference are required from individuals qualified to assess the applicant's potential for doctoral-level work.

  5. Applicants are required to write a Professional Goals Statement that describes what they hope to achieve through doctoral study.

All of these materials are submitted to the Admissions Office, not to the Professional Studies in Education Department.

Departmental Requirements

In addition to the School of Graduate Studies and Research's criteria, applicants to the Doctoral Program in Curriculum and Instruction must also meet the following departmental program admission requirements:

  1. The applicant's graduate transcripts will show a minimum cumulative quality-point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Applicants will complete an online writing task that is individually scheduled and evaluated by members of the Doctoral Screening Committee.

Admission to the Program: Departmental Review Process

Applicants submit their materials during the school year before a cohort is assembled. Students considered for admission begin the program as part of a group, or cohort, that begins the program together and progresses through the required courses together. 

If the cohort in which a student wishes to enroll will not be starting immediately, it is possible for the student to enroll prior to the fall cohort to complete the six credits of electives; please contact the program coordinator for advice on how to accomplish this task. 

The following steps will guide applicants through the admission process in the Professional Studies in Education Department.

Application Process

Analyze the match between your professional goals and the program's mission. The Doctoral Program in Curriculum and Instruction began in the 1960s as a doctorate in elementary education. It continues to place an emphasis on education, particularly the preparation of future teachers. Most graduates of the program become professors in colleges of education or supervisors of curriculum and instruction in public and private schools. Our Frequently Asked Questions assist prospective students in defining the program's suitability for them.

Note: The Professional Studies in Education Department also offers a doctoral degree in Administration and Leadership Studies. Students who seek to become school superintendents will find that this program is better suited to pursuing their careers.

Consider the timeline. The program enrolls a cohort of approximately 20 students each year. All students in the cohort begin their classes together and follow the same sequence of required courses.

Check on the status of your application to the School of Graduate Studies and Research. Apply online. As part of the application process, applicants must write a goals statement that describes their reasons for pursuing the doctorate in curriculum and instruction. This statement should focus on what you envision for yourself professionally if you are accepted into the program and earn the DEd in Curriculum and Instruction. Applicants also need two letters of professional reference from individuals qualified to assess their potential for doctoral study. Usually, these references are former professors and current supervisors in school settings. Transcripts must be submitted for all undergraduate and graduate work, even if the studies did not lead to a degree.

Complete the application process with the IUP Admissions office. If you have not done so already, apply to the School of Graduate Studies and Research. You may apply online.

IUP Admissions Contact Information

IUP Admissions Office
Sutton Hall, Suite 120
1011 South Hall
Indiana, PA 15705

Phone: 724-357-7730
Fax: 724-357-2715


Office Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Consider a graduate assistantship. Many students have found that, if they can manage to devote 10 hours per week to working with a faculty mentor, the graduate assistant program offers a unique form of support. Individuals who wish to be considered for an assistantship should indicate their interest on the graduate school application.

Additional Department Requirements

Two actions must occur prior to an admissions decision. First, your complete application packet has to be received by IUP's School of Graduate Studies and Research. Second, you complete an online writing sample as explained below.

Online Writing Task

All applicants complete a writing task online. Each applicant will be provided with a copy of a professional journal article and respond to it in three sections:

Describe the thesis or main point of the article and analyze the points or issues identified in the article.

  1. Evaluate and critique the article.

  2. Apply the content of the article to your professional experiences and state your position on the topic or issue.

Note: Please do not merely summarize the article.

Instructions for the Online Writing Task

After you have completed your application to the IUP School of Graduate Studies and Research, please contact the doctoral program coordinator to arrange a time when you can complete the online writing task from your home. The online writing task is a required component for admission. Please do not submit a writing sample that was completed previously with your application. This writing task is completed electronically using email.

Decision-Making Process

The applicant needs an average score of 2.6 or above on a three-point scale on the writing sample and credentials to be recommended for admission to the program. Applicants will be notified officially about the admissions decision in an email from the School of Graduate Studies and Research. If a student's application is rejected, this decision is binding. If an applicant is accepted, but space is no longer available in the cohort, the applicant will be placed on a waiting list and contacted as soon as a seat in the class becomes available or when the next cohort assembles.

Application Checklist

Submit the following items to the IUP Admissions Office, 120 Sutton Hall, IUP, Indiana, PA 15705.

_____1. Complete the application form and pay the application fee.

_____2. Submit official transcripts for all college-level study. Grade point average on a 4-point scale, where 4 = A must be 2.6 or higher for undergraduate and 3.5 or higher for graduate study.

_____3. Submit TOEFL scores for international students without a master's degree from the United States.

_____4. Send two letters of professional/academic reference written by those qualified to assess the applicant's potential for doctoral study.

_____5. Write a goals statement that explains reasons for pursuing the doctorate and professional plans.

Additional Departmental Requirements

Note: This item is evaluated after the application packet described in items 1–5 has been received.

_____6. Complete the online writing task requiring reading a professional journal article, analyzing and critiquing it, and stating a position on the issue within a 1.5-hour time period. Email the response by the end of the time allotted for completion in order that members of the Doctoral Committee can review the submission.

Note: It is only after (1) a completed application is received by the School of Graduate Studies and Research, and (2) the online writing task has been evaluated that an admissions decision can be made. Those seeking a graduate assistantship need to complete all tasks in order to receive consideration.

Admissions and Eligibility

When should I begin the application process?

We recommend that applicants begin the process at least one academic year in advance and no later than January 1 of the year in which they hope to begin their studies. Applications are accepted until the start of the semester or until the cohort is full, whichever occurs first. Admission to a doctoral program is much more involved than admission to most master's degree programs for several reasons. First, the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction requires all applicants to make a five-minute, research-based, recorded presentation and submit it to the program coordinator. This requires applicants to review the literature and prepare carefully for a formal presentation.

A second reason is so that doctoral students can take advantage of the full range of support mechanisms in place at IUP. Some students apply for graduate assistantships, and a student must be officially accepted into the program before any offer of an assistantship is made. The deadline for graduate assistant applications is March 15; therefore, a student would need to be admitted to the program prior to that date. Also, for K-12 teachers, there are many school and district policies that impinge upon doctoral studies. Applicants need to consider their district policies on such issues as tuition remission, sabbaticals, and requirements concerning full-time status. The timing of such long-range plans has implications for the start date.

Finally, a third reason to apply at least one year in advance is to reserve a place in the cohort. Cohort sizes are limited and a waiting list will be established once the cohort cap is met.

Do I need a degree in education to be considered for admission to the program?

The doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction is housed in the College of Education and Communications in the Department of Professional Studies in Education. Virtually all of the students in the program have extensive backgrounds in education and classroom teaching experience at some level in the educational system, ranging from early childhood/elementary to postsecondary education to higher education. An education degree is not required, but applicants are most successful with a strong background in education or an education-related field.

Additionally, the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction includes the option of earning the Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction Certificate from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the six-credit Supervised Doctoral Internship. This is an "add on" certificate. In other words, in order for a student to earn the Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction Certificate, she or he must already have a valid Instructional II Certificate in Pennsylvania and five years of successful teaching experience.

Earning this Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction Certificate requires the student to design, implement, and assess an interdisciplinary curriculum project in the public schools as well as produce a professional portfolio that documents the project. It also requires that applicants pass the Praxis test that is required of those seeking to become a principal in the State of Pennsylvania. The portfolio must comply with detailed guidelines set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Of course, students may elect not to pursue this certificate. International students, for example, cannot choose this option because they do not hold a teaching certificate from Pennsylvania. Other internships (for example, in higher education) are possible; however, all supervised doctoral internships must have a clear connection to education and result in a professional development project that is "above and beyond" any normal work duties of the candidate.

How broad is the mission and scope of the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction?

The stated mission of the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction is to prepare teacher educators and curriculum specialists. Typically, teacher educators are future college and university faculty with a commitment to the undergraduate preparation of teachers. Teacher educators may also be public school personnel who have responsibility for curriculum and the professional development of practicing teachers. Curriculum specialists may work in many capacities in public, private, parochial, and alternative schools. It is not the case that "curriculum and instruction" is a catch-all for any program in any field with any type of educational function. Rather, the doctorate in education (DEd) earned through the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction is the highest degree in education and, consistent with its mission, is most appropriate for teacher educators and curriculum specialists.

At times, the path of an applicant's career may have brought him or her into undergraduate teacher preparation, such as a person with a degree in mathematics who is teaching at a community college or a person with a degree in music who is working with future teachers. Under such conditions, it is the applicant's responsibility to clearly demonstrate how the mission of the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction is consistent with her or his professional goals. One mechanism for doing this is the goals statement that applicants are required to write as part of the process of applying to the School of Graduate Studies and Research. An applicant's goals statement should reflect consistency between the mission of the doctoral program and the prospective student's professional goals.

Prospective doctoral students' backgrounds and goals must clearly match the mission of the program. If a student is attempting to make a career change, he or she may need to acquire a background in education (e.g., enroll in masters-level courses in education) before applying to the program.

When are international students admitted?

It is a federal policy that international students on a student visa must be enrolled on the main campus. Usually, international students are required to be full-time. The main campus cohorts begin in the fall of even years. International students on visas cannot begin in the fall of odd-numbered years, as these cohorts must complete the online program.

How are admissions decisions made?

The admission process includes two components: (1) a review of the applicant's credentials, and (2) an assessment of the online writing task that is produced in response to a professional journal article.

It typically takes several weeks for applicants to be notified of the admission decision. 

What types of financial support are available to doctoral students?

Each year, the School of Graduate Studies and Research awards graduate assistantships to qualified students. These awards are based on scholarship rather than financial need. Graduate assistants must be available to work with a faculty mentor on a research project or departmental project. A graduate assistant earns a modest stipend and receives a tuition waiver. Prospective students who are interested in a graduate assistantship can visit the School of Graduate Studies and Research website to learn more about this program and other forms of financial assistance.

When will I be notified of about an assistantship?

It is not possible to offer a graduate assistantship to an applicant until after the person has been officially admitted to the program. For the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction, this means that the student would have a complete application packet, a positive departmental review, and an official admission letter from the School of Graduate Studies and Research. The Professional Studies in Education Department is obligated to make the decisions about graduate assistant assignments by the end of June.


What is the difference between a DEd, EdD, and PhD?

Traditionally, the PhD was considered more theoretical, while the other education doctorates, such as the DEd and EdD, were considered to have a more applied emphasis. Over the years, the differences that once existed in the DEd, EdD, and PhD have virtually disappeared. Recent comparisons of the curricula in doctoral programs in the field of education suggest that program requirements are equally demanding. The PhD is often more familiar to the general public, however, because it is used in a variety of fields and has been in existence longer. The doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction at IUP results in a DEd, a doctorate in education.

What is the difference between part-time and full-time study?

Students, other than those who are 20-hour graduate assistants, usually enroll in the program for part-time study. Part-time students enroll in six credits in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Full-time students enroll in nine credits every fall and spring and at least six credits in the summer sessions.

How do I earn the advanced certificate for a Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction?

Eligibility for the certificate requires five years of professional experience in an instructional area, a valid Pennsylvania Instructional II teaching certificate, and a passing score on the relevant Praxis test (this is the same test that principal candidates have to pass). The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires a person wishing to obtain a certificate in curriculum and instruction be able to design and assess innovative educational programs. IUP requires its candidates to demonstrate competency in this area by completing an interdisciplinary curriculum project in a Pennsylvania public school and a portfolio that documents all of the work. Information is available on the PDE website.

How long does it typically take to complete the degree program, including the dissertation?

Based on national statistics, education majors have the longest time-to-degree average among the disciplines. One explanation for this is that most educators pursue their doctoral degrees on a part-time basis while continuing in their full-time jobs as teachers. At IUP, the great majority of candidates in the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction follow the part-time cohort program sequence, which means that they will be finished with coursework and will have registered for all 60 credits within four years. The amount of time it takes to write the dissertation varies considerably from one doctoral candidate to the next, depending on motivation, persistence, and a host of other influences. Some doctoral candidates finish in as little as four years while others take considerably longer to write their dissertations.

What is the time limit for degree completion?

The School of Graduate Studies and Research sets a seven-year time limit on program completion for doctoral candidates. The seven-year timeline commences when the student enrolls in the program at IUP and begins taking classes. A seven-year limit means that it is not possible to begin coursework, sit out for seven years, and simply resume studies at a later date; your timeline would have expired, along with the credits already completed. Under extreme circumstances, some extensions are granted, but only with the endorsement of the program coordinator, the student's dissertation committee, and the School of Graduate Studies and Research. Students who are granted extensions must make progress and meet deadlines established by the School of Graduate Studies and Research. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

What about the six credits of electives?

The course sequence in the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction is in the brochure and on the website. It is a listing of the classes that all doctoral students in the program are required to take. Six credits of electives are also required, but those electives are restricted to graduate-level courses in education or a related field. Any course selected to meet the six-credit elective requirement must be approved, in advance, by the coordinator of the doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction.

How are transfer credits handled?

A maximum of six credits (two courses) may be considered for transfer. However, in order to be considered for transfer, certain criteria must be met. First, the graduate credits must have been earned after the master's degree was awarded. Second, the credits must have been earned within the past five years from a regionally accredited graduate institution with a grade of A or B or its equivalent (no pass/fail grades can be considered for transfer). Finally, the doctoral program coordinator and the School of Graduate Studies and Research must approve the particular courses based on the relevance of the course content for the Curriculum and Instruction doctoral program. Transfer credit is not posted on the transcript until after the student has successfully completed the candidacy examination. The credits transfer but the grades do not. In other words, transfer credit grades are not calculated in with the doctoral candidate's grade point average at IUP. A student must maintain a 3.5 overall grade point average in IUP classes in order to continue in the program. For more information on transfer credit, please consult the School of Graduate Studies and Research Catalog or website.

How is a dissertation committee formed?

Dissertation committees are not assigned. Students invite faculty from the Professional Studies in Education Department to serve on their committee based on the faculty member's eligibility to chair or serve on doctoral committees, specialized expertise, interest in the dissertation topic, and willingness to serve. Usually, all three members of the committee are from the PSE Department. The committee chairperson must be from the PSE Department. However, when appropriate and feasible, other faculty at IUP may become dissertation committee members. It is not advisable to invite individuals outside of IUP to serve as one of the three members of the dissertation committee as this action requires special permission from the faculty union and management.

Policies and Procedures

What is a cohort program?

In a cohort program, all students begin the same semester and follow the same sequence of courses until they graduate. If, for some unforeseen reason, a student cannot take a particular class with the cohort or needs to drop out of the program entirely, he or she would need to confer with the program coordinator about a completion plan. Remember that there is a seven-year time limit on program completion.

Is it necessary to attend every Saturday class?

Absolutely. Courses are highly condensed, and every Saturday class is critical. Individual faculty members set their policies concerning class absence in their syllabi. It is possible in extenuating circumstances for a student to consult with a course instructor if a class must be missed.

Will the program require on-campus events other than regularly scheduled classes?

Online students are not expected to come to main campus, but many students do choose to come to main campus for important events such as dissertation defenses.