PhD Program in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education

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Curriculum, Instruction, & Teacher Education Ph. D.
Application Process


Summary of Application Process

We invite applications from persons interested in a wide variety of issues, perspectives, and research methodologies pertaining to (and across) education, curriculum, instruction, schooling, teaching, teacher education, and educational policy.

While applications may be considered throughout the year in special circumstances, most applications are processed to begin in the Fall semester.Students wishing to be considered for university and college multiyear fellowships must have their applications completed no later than December 1. All other applications should be complete by February 1 if possible.

On this page you will find:

Review Process

Required Application Materials
Application and Admissions Checklist

Additional Required Application Materials for International Students


Review Process

A committee of faculty members from the Department of Teacher Education reviews each application. The review committee considers the following factors in assessing applicants:

  • Strength of academic and professional education record.
  • Potential for intellectual, educational, professional, or civic leadership.
  • Fluency in oral and written expression.
  • Compatibility of applicant’s stated goals with those of the program.
  • Conformity with university and college admission requirements.

The recommended dates for completion of applications are December 1 and February 1. The committee reviews applications on a regular basis throughout the year. The committee may recommend acceptance or denial of admission to the program, or it may recommend holding an application and requesting more information. If the recommendation is to admit the applicant, a temporary advisor will be assigned to the applicant. Applicants are notified of the department’s decision by mail and e-mail as soon as possible after the review.

Students are admitted to the program in the Fall. Although applications for Fall admission can be reviewed at any time during the year, it is in the best interest of students to complete their applications as early as possible in the academic year (September through January). Anyone wishing to qualify for one of the competitive fellowship awards must have a complete application on file by December 1. Moreover, assistantships and departmental fellowship monies are awarded in early spring. It is easier to match students’ interests with available opportunities if the Department knows earlier rather than later who is in the new entering cohort.

The Department reserves the right to make a provisional recommendation to the program when the review committee identifies a particular area of weakness in the student's application that could be resolved within a year of the provisional admission to the program. How the student can meet the required provisions will be spelled out in detail in the letter of provisional acceptance, including specification of date when failure to meet those requirements will mean that the student cannot continue in the program.

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Required Application Materials

Note: All forms needed for application are linked in this document.

University Application and Fee
Those seeking admission to an MSU graduate program must complete a university application to graduate school. The Graduate application is completed online, and the payment (payable in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank or with credit card) is $50 for both domestic applicants and international applicants. The MSU Office of Admissions website also includes considerable information about related issues at the university. As part of the university application, international students are required to submit a statement of financial proof. Completed forms should be uploaded to the graduate application portal..


Materials to be sent by (or on behalf of) the applicant
Most of the following materials should be uploaded to the application portal. Please contact the Doctoral Program Secretary if you encounter any difficulties with uploading.


Current Curriculum Vitae
Applicants may choose their own format of a curriculum vitae. A copy of the CV should be uploaded to the application portal.


Statement of Professional Goals
Applicants also submit a statement of their professional and personal goals. The statement should discuss reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree. In the statement, applicants should respond to the following questions: How have your experiences and intellectual growth shaped questions that an advanced graduate program might help you to explore? What sorts of academic and professional leadership roles would the program and degree help you to assume? This statement is a very important part of the file for the review committee. Candidates should present a thoughtful and extended verbal portrait (2-3 pages long single-spaced) of their reasons for pursuing advanced graduate study, the match between their goals and the program’s characteristics, and the major issues of scholarly and professional interest that they wish to explore during their graduate career. Statements should also include a discussion of any leadership roles the applicant has held as well as any professional/personal obstacles the applicant has overcome. This statement should be uploaded as a separate document to the graduate education application portal.

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Writing Sample
Applicants upload to the application portal one or more examples of their academic writing (e.g., something that they have published, a master’s thesis, or a paper submitted to fulfill graduate course requirements). The sample must have been authored exclusively by the applicant. The purpose is to demonstrate the candidate’s ability to write academic English in order to give the review committee a clear idea of how well the candidate will be able to carry out the kind of analytical writing that is such a central component of advanced graduate study. The paper should be at least 10 pages long (double spaced). International students in particular need to see this sample as a way to demonstrate their command of English. Toward this end, a translated abstract of a master’s thesis is of no help. (If a student does not have an appropriate extended piece of academic work in English that can be submitted along with the application, please contact the PhD Program Coordinator.) The writing sample should be uploaded to the application portal.

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Letters of Reference
Applicants should submit three letters written by those who can attest to their academic ability or their professional qualifications (e.g., professors with whom courses were taken, a master’s degree advisor, or a professional supervisor). In the application portal, click-the "Letters of Recommendation" tab to add your recommenders' information. You will be asked to waive or not waive your right of access to these letters of recommendation. The purpose of these letters is to elaborate the qualities the applicant brings to the program that are likely to make him or her successful in advanced graduate study. As a result, it is most helpful to solicit letters from individuals who know the candidate’s academic and professional skills. Letters from instructors who taught the candidate at the master’s or undergraduate level are particularly effective for this purpose. Recommenders will upload letters and forms to the portal after the applicant submits the recommender contact information into the portal.


Applicants must have one copy of their official transcripts sealed in the university envelope sent from all degree granting institutions attended, except MSU. Transcripts should be sent directly to the Doctoral Program Secretary.


Graduate Record Examination
Applicants must take the GRE General Test as part of their application. If you have taken the test in the past, test results are valid for five years and must be valid on the first day of the first course the applicant intends to enroll in. The GRE is administered on computer at a number of centers across the United States (including on campus at MSU), and scheduling is quite convenient. When registering to take the GRE test, please make sure you provide them with the following code: The MSU institution code is 1465. The department code is not needed. GRE scores should be sent electronically from the testing institution to MSU. It generally will take 6 to 8 weeks from the date of your test for your test scores to be received, so please allow for that time in considering the timeline for your application. To expedite the review process, applicants may wish to upload a copy of their unofficial scores to the application portal.

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