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Ph.D. Program in Culture, Literacy, and Language



WELCOME to the Ph.D. Program in Culture, Literacy, and Language at The University of Texas at San Antonio! Please review our site to learn more about our program, faculty, current students, and alumni. Thank you for visiting, and remember, we are only one click away should you have any questions: so please contact us.

The Ph.D. program in Culture, Literacy and Language (CLL) was established in 2001 and is housed in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies in the College of Education and Human Development. CLL focuses on the interrelatedness of culture, literacy, and language and is designed to provide a firm foundation in the fields of cultural studies, literacy development, and language learning and use.

Doctoral students often pursue research topics within or across the following three major focal areas: 1) applied linguistics; 2) biliteracy and bilingual education; 3) Mexican-American, Chicana/o, Latina/o cultures. Faculty and students work in a vibrant interdisciplinary atmosphere with applied linguists, anthropologists, educational researchers, psychologists, and sociologists on topics related to language and literacy socialization, the empowerment of marginalized communities, educational language policy and planning, language and identity, bilingual teacher preparation, TESOL and globalization, cultural validation and community change, second language acquisition, heritage language education, computer assisted language learning, multiliteracies, immigration and transnationalism, among others.

The cross-disciplinary work within our academic community is somewhat limitless. We, therefore, provide the following list of topics as a helpful guide; it further elaborates the nuanced research and teaching interests of CLL faculty and students:

  • The social, linguistic, and cultural factors affecting language and literacy development
  • Language development in a bilingual and multicultural context and its consequences for literacy 
  • The consequences of cultural and linguistic contact for literacy 
  • Cultural adaptation, Mexican-American culture, and Latina/o biculturalism
  • Factors affecting academic language proficiency; language policies needed to promote the improvement of preparing teachers for linguistically and culturally diverse schools; and policies needed to address the systemic severe shortage of such teachers 
  • The creation of educational environments that minimize the alienation of traditionally marginalized groups and enhance language and literacy development
  • Ethnographic and qualitative research methods, including discourse and narrative analysis 
  • The relationship of attitudinal factors to the development of language in support of the development of proficiency in language and literacy
  • The impact of technological change on the development of language and literacy
  • The shifting context of global migration and its impact on cultural change and maintenance 
  • Language and literacy problems in the workforce, organizations, communities and nations 
  • Immigrant student adaptation and ways to bridge family-school relationships
  • Afro-Mexicanidad and transculturation 
  • Community political empowerment and its relationship to schooling and cultural production
  • Cultural, literacy, and language practices among communities in diaspora and other transnational settings 
  • The design and implementation of effective literacy programs for adult learners
  • CLL Graduates will be well-grounded in the theoretical, conceptual, and research methodology used to study many of the above-mentioned issues. Alumni often pursue work in academia, school districts, research organizations, or non-profits, both in the US and overseas.

CLL Program faculty members demonstrate range in both professional and personal experiences; they are highly regarded in the United States and abroad, with an expansive network of colleagues, practitioners, former students, and policymakers. Faculty publications include numerous articles in top research journals and books with publishers such as Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Routledge, John Benjamins, the University of Texas Press, the University of Pittsburgh Press, the Urban Institute Press, Duke University Press, among others. Research by program faculty members has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Kellogg Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the US Department of Education. Several doctoral faculty members are former National Academy of Education Spencer Fellows; others have been awarded Outstanding Dissertation Awards by the National Association of Bilingual Education. Countries where doctoral program faculty members have taught or conducted research include Bolivia, Cambodia, China, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and The Netherlands.

Please click here to see the profiles of individual faculty members.


How to Apply:
The following guideline should help you in submitting your application to the Ph.D. program in Culture, Literacy and Language.

Steps in Application Process
1. Complete an online application form at http://graduateschool.utsa.edu/graduate-admissions/graduate-application/
2. Submit the following application materials to:

The University of Texas at San Antonio
Attention: The Graduate School
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, TX 78249-0603

  • GRE scores (no older than five years). Use UTSA's University Code: 6919. No departmental code is required. 
  • For International students whose master's degree is from a university outside the US, TOEFL scores of 550 if the test is paper-based. (79 or higher if internet-based). Use UTSA's University Code: 6919. No departmental code is required.
  • Proficiency or experience learning, using, studying, or speaking a language other than English.
  • A master's degree official transcript, documenting a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.
  • Official transcripts from every institution of higher education ever attended, foreign and domestic, including community colleges, colleges and universities where degrees where not granted. 
  • A statement of purpose that describes research interests, reasons for seeking doctoral study, and connections between the applicant's interests/professional goals and the program in Culture, Literacy and Language; please also discuss your proficiency or experience learning, using, studying, or speaking a language other than English.  (Limit of five double-spaced pages).
  • A resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Sample of academic writing in the form of papers or a thesis written as part of master's degree requirements.
  • Three letters of recommendation attesting to the student's academic and personal attributes for success in the program and potential for contributing substantially to a field of study related to the degree.

For more details on requirements, please visit the Graduate School website.

The deadline for submitting all application materials is the proceeding February 1st.

Preference will be given to those with a master's degree in an area such as the following: anthropology, applied linguistics, bicultural-bilingual studies, communication, cultural studies, ethnic studies, education (general, bilingual, foreign language, multicultural), history, international studies, linguistics, psychology, sociology, and teaching English as a Second Language. Master's degrees in other fields may be accepted, subject to the approval of the Doctoral Studies Committee.

All application materials will be evaluated by the Doctoral Program Committee, comprised of members selected from the graduate faculty of the Division of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies. All applicants are notified of admission or denial through The Graduate School. It is the intention of the Doctoral Program Committee to make admissions and stipend offers by April 1.

Fellowships and assistantships are available. The amount and type of support will depend on the university budget, faculty research grants, and the need for teaching and graduate assistants.


The Culture, Literacy, and Language program offers stipends and assistantships. The purpose of these awards is to enable students to devote their full time attention to studies for the degree. All students who apply and are accepted into the Ph.D. program will be considered for these awards using the same application that was filed for admission. Students who receive an award will be required to work as either a TA (teaching assistant) or RA (research assistant) at UTSA. Moreover, it is the expectation of the Department that those accepted full awards will not engage in employment outside of the university while pursuing their degree. Doctoral students, who are employed by the University in positions other than those reserved for students (e.g. grant coordinators, lecturers), shall be eligible for full stipend support as long as they are employed no more than half-time during the 9-month academic year. Doctoral students who receive support must be registered for 9 semester credit hours during fall and spring, and 3 semester credit hours during the summer.

Additional Funding
Students are encouraged to seek outside sources of funding. The Department and the University provide a number of grant-seeking and writing activities during the academic year to support students in this endeavor.

The College of Education and Human Development has limited funding for supporting a graduate student's research development. These funds are available on a competitive basis for many activities related to planning, carrying out, or presenting results of research at academic conferences. The student needs her/his advisor's support when applying for this funding. The student will fill out the form, including a budget and supporting documents, and submit it to the Student Development Specialist (education@utsa.edu). The student development specialist will route the form to the Office of the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the College of Education and Human Development.


 The Ph.D. in CLL is a full-time doctoral program, with the expectation that students will complete 18 semester hours annually, work toward completing Qualifying Exams during their third year, and complete their dissertation within 6 years. Both full-time students and working professionals are encouraged to consider the Ph.D. in CLL.

In order to accommodate working professionals who wish to pursue full-time work, the CLL program offers coursework in the evenings, on weekends, and during the summer. Unfortunately, working professionals are not eligible for fellowship funds because their full-time jobs prohibit them from working on the UTSA campus under an assistantship.

CLL Program Worksheet



When is the application deadline?
Each year, students must apply by February 1st.

When will I know if I have been admitted into the CLL Ph.D. program?
It is our hope to notify students of admission by April 1st each year, and notification will be no later than May 1st each year.

Can I start the program in the spring semester?
No, all admitted students begin coursework during the fall semester.

Do I have to submit GRE scores?
Yes, this is a requirement by the UTSA Graduate School.

I am an international applicant who completed an undergraduate (BA, BS) or a graduate (MA, MS, MEd, PhD) degree in an English-speaking country. Do I have to submit TOEFL scores?
International Students with degrees from approved English language MA programs are exempt from submitting TOEFL scores. Further information on approved programs can be requested from the UTSA Graduate School. Please email GraduateStudies@utsa.edu or call (210) 458-4330.

Will IELTs scores be accepted?
IELTS (International English Language Testing System) scores are accepted in lieu of TOEFL scores. A score of 6.5 or higher on the IELTS is required for doctoral admission.

Can I be admitted to the CLL program conditionally and then take the GRE and/or the TOEFL?
No, your test scores must be a part of your complete application to be considered for admission.

What are the minimum GRE scores required for admission?
We consider all applicants holistically, carefully examining all application materials. A student's GRE score is interpreted in light of these other materials. There is no specific minimum score.

What are the minimum TOEFL or IELTs scores required for admission?
A 550 or higher on the paper TOEFL, a 79 on the Internet TOEFL, or a 6.5 on the IELTS.

Can I apply directly to the Ph.D. program, if I do not have an MA?
Unfortunately, no. An MA must be earned prior to starting coursework in the CLL Ph.D. program.

Will I receive financial aid?
All full-time students will be considered for teaching or research assistantships during the admission process. Awards will be contingent upon funding. However, you are also eligible to apply for financial assistance (in the form of subsidized and unsubsidized loans; grants; and other forms of aid) via the University's financial aid office.

What does the admissions committee look for in a Ph.D. applicant?

Faculty in our department review all applicants. In many cases, they are seeking to admit students who share similar research interests. In addition, faculty expect to read strong statements of purpose and pay close attention to professional experiences that enhance past (and future) coursework.

How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. program?
Most of our students are completing their Ph.D.'s within 4-6 years.

How many credits do students typically take each semester?
Full-time students take 9 hours per semester (or 3 classes) during Fall and Spring, and 3 hours during summer, while working professionals take 6 hours per semester (2 classes) during the fall, spring, and summer semesters.

Can I work full-time and complete the program in the evenings?
Yes, many of our students are working professionals who seek advanced degrees. Because of this, all of our Ph.D. courses are offered in the evenings and occasionally on the weekends.

What is San Antonio, Texas, like?
The multilingual city of San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the United States, provides an exciting backdrop for the study of issues related to linguistic and cultural diversity. San Antonio is located in central/south Texas, about 3 hours west of Houston and 4 hours south of Dallas and has a population of nearly 1.4 million people. The weather is often warm, humid, with mild winters and plenty of lush vegetation. Because this part of the US once belonged to Mexico, there is a large Latino community. Please click HERE for more information about San Antonio.

I would like to meet or talk to by telephone with the Graduate Advisor in the CLL program before submitting my application. Who should I contact?
Please contact the Graduate Advisor of Record for the program, through our Student Development Specialist, to set up an appointment.


 While not exhaustive, the following is a list of alumni from our program who have pursued work in numerous settings.

Belinda Schouten, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Bilingual Education
Our Lady of the Lake University
San Antonio, Texas

Carol Brochin-Ceballos, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in English
University of Texas at El Paso

Carlos Martín Vélez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Spanish and ESL
Brescia University
Owensboro, Kentucky

Carmen Cáceda, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in TESOL/Bilingual Teacher Preparation
Western Oregon University
Monmouth, Oregon

Chang Pu, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Teacher Education (ESOL)
Charter School of Education and Human Science
Berry College
Mount Berry, Georgia

Esther Garza, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor
Division of Education & Kinesiology
Texas A&M University, San Antonio

Gatis Dilan, Ph.D.

The University College of Economics and Culture,
Department of Foreign Language, Riga (Latvia) Partner with
Lionbridge in Natural Language Processing, Tampere (Finland)

Henrietta Lynn Muñoz, Ph.D.
Senior Management Analyst for the City of San Antonio

Holly Harbour Hansen-Thomas, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in Bilingual & ESL Education
College of Professional Education
Texas Woman's University
Dallas, Texas

Ko-yin Sung, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Chinese
Utah State University
Logan, Utah

Laura Roy-Carlson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Curriculum, Instruction and Literacy
Pennsylvania State University at Great Valley

Li Jia, Ph.D.
Dean and Professor
School of International Education
Sias International University
Xinzheng, Henan, China

Lisa Walden Cortez, Ph.D.
Luminaria Manager for the City of San Antonio

Luis Rangel, Ph.D.
Humanities Instructor
Northwest Vista Community College
San Antonio, Texas

Mary Esther Huerta, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Curriculum and Instruction
Texas State University
San Marco, Texas

Michael W. Campbell, Ph.D.
Language Instructor,
Defense Language Institute
San Antonio, Texas

Minda López, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Literacy
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Texas State University
San Marcos, Texas

Norma Cardenas, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in Ethnic Studies
Oregon State University
Corvallis, Oregon

Norma Guzman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor &
Bilingual Education Teacher Program Coordinator
Texas A&M University, Kingsville

Santos "Sandy" Gutiérrez, Ph.D.
Lecturer II
Department of Bicultural and Bilingual Studies
The University of Texas at San Antonio

Virginia Mika, Ph.D.
Assistant Director for South Texas Health Research
The University of Texas at San Antonio Health Science Center

Xiaoshi Li, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan

Xingsong Shi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor in English
University of International Business and Economics
Beijing, China



Boun, S. (2014). A Critical Examination of Language Ideologies and Identities of Cambodian Foreign-trained University Lecturers of English.
Chair: Wayne Wright

Fitzgerald, D. R. (2014). A Busker's World: Performance Space and Cinematic Representation.
Chair: Howard Smith

Allison, D. N. (2013). Mexican Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Culture, Gender, and Language Ideologies: Pláticas de HIV/AIDS.
Chair: Josephine Mendez-Negrete

De La Miyar, D. (2013). A Descriptive Analysis of the Representation of Social Status through Spanish Print Media.
Chair: Howard Smith

Aburumuh, H. (2012). Enrolling Arabic Heritage Language Learners in Texas Community-Based Schools: Examining the Attitudinal and Motivational Factors Impacting Parental Choice.
Co-Chairs: Amaury Nora and Howard Smith

Bhalla, S. (2012). Experiencing Globalization as South Asian Teaching Assistants: Navigating Tensions in Professional and Social Identities.
Chair:  Francis Hult

Castillo, V.A. (2012). Pathfinders: A Life History Study of Ten Academically Successful Latinos from San Antonio.
Chair:  Wayne Wright

De Rezende, S. (2012). Developing Communicative Competence through participation in an international teaching assistant Program.
Chair: Peter Sayer

Escalante, L. B. (2012). Luz, Cámara, Acción: A Classroom Teacher Research Analysis of Students Translanguaging through One-act Plays.
Chair: Patricia Sanchez

Galindo, S. (2012). Media Representation of Immigration in a Migrant Provider and Migrant Receptor Country: A Critical Discourse Analysis.
Chair: Ellen Riojas Clark

Hsu, H. (2012). Planning and Second Language Development in Task-Based Synchronous Computer-Mediated Communication.
Chair: Shannon Sauro

Liu, I. (2012). The Relationship between Pedagogical Beliefs and Teacher Efficacy: A Case Study of Chinese Foreign Language Teachers in Texas.
Chair: Peter Sayer

Xu, H. (2012). English in China's Language Policies for Higher Education.
Chair: Francis Hult



Research Honors
Minda López. 2009. NABE 2nd Place Outstanding Dissertation Award. (National Association for Bilingual Education.) En los Estados Unidos hablamos inglés. oh, y español también: Emerging language ideologies in a dual language primary school.

Minda López. 2009. AERA Bilingual Research Special Interest Group Dissertation Award, Third Place. (American Educational Research Association.) En los Estados Unidos hablamos inglés. oh, y español también: Emerging language ideologies in a dual language primary school.

Laura Roy-Carlson. 2007-08. AERA-IES Dissertation Grant Award. (American Educational Research Association-Institute Education Sciences.) Language and Literary Practices: Somali Bantu Refugees in Predominantly Latino Schools and Community.

Holly H. Hansen-Thomas. 2006. NABE 3rd Place Outstanding Dissertation Award. (National Association for Bilingual Education.) Learning to use math discourse in a reform-based middle school classroom: How Latina/o ELLS become socialized into the math community of practice.

Teaching Honors
Carol Brochin-Ceballos. 2010. TCTELA Outstanding English Language Arts Educator at the University Level. (Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts.)

A Selection of Student Publications
Aburumuh, H., Smith, H, Ratcliffe, L. (2009). Educators' cultural awareness and perceptions of Arab-American students: Breaking the cycle of ignorance. The Journal of Multiculturalism in Education.

Cuero, K. K., & Aburumuh, H. (2007). Concurrent Translation Method. In J. M. Gonzalez (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Bilingual Education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Ek, L.D., Cavazos, L., & Salazar, M. (2009). Bilingual Latina/o teacher candidates' use of
WebQuests to tap into community resources for math and science. TABE Journal, 11(1), 162-184.



The CLL RSO is the registered student organization for the CLL Ph.D. Program. The CLL RSO organizes regular meetings to support students in their program, develop collaborations, and mentoring. This includes organizing brown-bag workshops or guest speakers on topics related to publishing, grant-writing, and seeking academic employment. Officers for the CLL RSO are elected each academic year, and the CLL RSO maintains a bulletin board as well as a discussion list in which students can participate.



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