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, it 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 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.