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Doctoral Program in Developmental Education

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Texas State University offers two doctoral degrees in developmental education: a PhD that will produce researchers, university faculty, and scholars who will build a strong research and theoretical base for developmental education and an EdD that will produce highly qualified program leaders and practitioners in developmental education programs. As the first PhD and one of the only EdDs in developmental education in the country, the program will fill an urgent need for advanced research in a rapidly expanding field that serves those students who are underprepared for postsecondary education.

Spring 2021 Doctoral Graduate - Michael McConnell
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  • Photo of Dr. Armstrong
    Dr. Sonya L. Armstrong
    Doctoral Program Director

    Greetings members of the DE community,

    Welcome to the 2020-2021 academic year! This is an exciting time to be in Developmental Education with much work to be done!

    We in the Doctoral Program are proud to be preparing tomorrow's leaders within the fields associated with Developmental Education and  Learning Assistance.  This year we enter the tenth year of the Doctoral Program in Developmental Education at Texas State University, and we are proud to announce that our 22nd graduate was hooded in August, 2020.

    We are happy to unveil our new website, which is intended for three key audiences:  prospective students considering taking the next step in their professional development, current students already in the Doctoral Program, and professionals and scholars within the field who are seeking to connect or learn about the work we are doing.

    We're excited about the work we already do and the work that lies ahead of us.  Please reach out and connect by contacting me directly with any questions or comments about the Doctoral Program.   


    Sonya L. Armstrong, Ed.D.

    Professor and Director of the Doctoral Program in Developmental Education


    Phone: 512.245.7789


  • Developmental Education is a field of research, policy, and practice focused on student success at the postsecondary level. Attuned especially to those students who struggle, due to a variety of factors, in their first year (and beyond) of a 2- or 4-year college, the field seeks to understand the reasons for those struggles, support those students who struggle, and define the role of higher education as a place where all learners can succeed. Traditional areas of the field have included course-based aspects of support, such as developmental reading, basic writing, developmental math, study skills, and learning frameworks courses, as well as non-course-based aspects of support like tutoring, supplemental instruction, and mentoring. Developmental Education has a multi-dimensional focus and is concerned with student issues of cognition, affect, identity, and other aspects of the college context. In short, Developmental Education is about student success for college students, especially those underprepared or misprepared for the postsecondary educational context.

    Below is a list of a few key professional organizations related to the fields in and around Developmental Education:

    Also, below are a few other professional organizations related to educational research that have connections to postsecondary teaching and learning that may be of interest:


  • Applicants for the doctoral program are interested in the field of developmental education, and are focused on issues related to postsecondary learners. Many applicants are current and future developmental education instructors, coordinators, and administrators. Each student's degree plan will be designed by the student in consultation with the doctoral program director and program faculty, during the first year of study. Degree plans depend on each student's academic preparation, scholarly accomplishments, experience, and professional goals. This process creates a highly flexible and personalized degree that also ensures strong preparation for graduates to address pressing needs of this important field.

  • The graduate program in developmental education within the Department of Curriculum and Instruction prepares future scholars, researchers, leaders, administrators, instructors, and practitioners in the field of developmental education. Both rigorous and supportive, our program aims to advance theory, research, and practice in multiple areas of developmental education—including developmental literacy, learning support, and developmental mathematics—by actively engaging students in teaching, scholarship and professional service. As a multidisciplinary program, the faculty, staff, and students work collaboratively across various academic disciplines, diverse communities and geographic boundaries.

  • Two degree tracks:  PhD and EdD.

    Three concentration areas:  Developmental Literacy, Developmental Mathematics, and Learning Support.

    Core coursework and degree requirements focused on Developmental Education theory and research, research methods, and professional development.

  • Preparing developmental education professionals who engage in divergent and critical thinking, are culturally competent, and are skilled in maximizing technology applications for learning.

    Preparing developmental education professionals who understand and can respond to the nature and need of students enrolled in developmental education programs; the complexities of motivation, teaching, learning, and assessment in developmental education settings; and the political, cultural and social systems that create inequities in educational settings.