Doctoral Degree & Certification

Cognitive Studies in Literacy (EdD)

Prepare for a fulfilling career as an instructional leader in schools, higher education, and private practice, tackling challenges and rewards of literacy education at all levels.

Cognitive Studies Hero

Program Overview

Offered 100% online, our cognitive studies in literacy doctoral program is grounded in research and theory that supports models of reading instruction and remediation of reading difficulties. We also emphasize issues in special education and language development related to literacy. As a result, you will gain knowledge and understanding that will deepen your connections with your special education colleagues who regularly assess students’ language and reading difficulties.

Program Options

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The dissertation problem you address will pertain to literacy and contribute to improved practice within the field.

By participating in dissertation research, you will develop problem-solving skills and a connection to the pedagogical world. Your valuable research experience could lead to publications and presentations at local, national, and international conferences.

Recent doctoral dissertations examined brain injury and inferences in reading, visualization as an aid to vocabulary acquisition, and using technology to enhance writing by resistant high school students. 

You must complete your doctoral dissertation within four years of doctoral candidacy. 

Build your professional reputation and skills while earning your doctoral degree at your own pace. Our flexible, part-time program fits your needs as a busy professional through online courses. 

The Center for Education offers certified reading specialists a Pre-K-12 Instructional Coach endorsement certificate through a peer coaching framework in Pre-K–12 classrooms, with the option for students to become an Instructional Coach or choose to specialize in Literacy (Instructional Coaching-Literacy Emphasis Endorsement).

The Instructional Coaching Endorsement is available for reading specialists who desire to further strengthen their professional knowledge and skills in instructional coaching. Widener University’s Instructional Coaching Program will be based on current Pennsylvania Standards Aligned Curriculum and address the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Instructional Coach Endorsement Competencies as well asThe International Literacy Association’s (ILA) Standards for Reading Professionals—Revised 2010.

The 12-credit Instructional Coaching Endorsement Program will consist of a sequence of four graduate courses with a minimum of 45 hours of field experiences. It will be possible for candidates to meet this requirement within one year.

This program is recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).

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Widener's dissertation completion option is for students who have completed—or nearly completed—their doctoral coursework in Reading with only the dissertation remaining. 

Our faculty mentors will personally review your transcript to determine any doctoral requirements needed to put you on track for successful completion of the dissertation and success after graduation. For some, this will mean their 12 dissertation credits, which can be completed in as little as 4 semesters, while others will be guided to take additional coursework or research classes. 

  • Application Deadline: June 15 
  • Semester Start: Cohort begins fall semester
  • Tuition: 12-credit minimum at the graduate tuition rate

Admissions Requirements

  • Complete online application
  • Resume or CV
  • Two letters of reference
    • At least one letter must be from a faculty member in the student's former program, preferably from the dissertation chair or academic advisor. Letter must indicate that the student was in good academic standing when they left the program.
    • Letters must address the student's writing ability, academic ability, and work ethic
  • Official transcripts, including transcripts with master's degree conferral
  • Students must have earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their former doctoral programs
  • Academic writing sample, such as a current draft of the student's dissertation or a paper
    • Writing sample must be at least 10 pages long
  • Personal statement indicating the following:
    • The student's research interests
    • The current status of the student's dissertation
    • Widener faculty the student is interested in working with as Dissertation Chair

View the Loading... for more information. All questions can be directed to the graduate program director.

Admissions Information

  • Complete the application form.
  • Have an official transcript sent from all previous graduate and undergraduate programs.
  • Submit two letters of recommendation from colleagues, supervisors, or college professors.

We review applications on a rolling basis.

Program Highlights

Gain the skills and preparation for a fulfilling career tackling the challenges and rewards of building literacy education at all levels.

A Professional Learning Community

Take courses as part of a professional learning community, where your knowledge and work experience are integrated with others. You'll have the fast-track to developing leadership, consultative, and collaborative skills.

Mentoring Relationships & Individualized Attention

Choosing Widener’s doctorate in cognitive studies in reading is an investment in you—your education, your career, and your future. Our cognitive studies in reading doctoral program provides you with a rich mentoring environment. You’ll learn from respected faculty who work closely with you to help you become a strong and effective leader.

Customized Approach

At Widener, you have the advantage of a customized approach to earning your degree, tailoring your graduate study to support your particular area of focus and desired career goals. Collaborating with your professors and advisor, you'll develop an individualized academic plan tailored to balance your professional and personal lifestyle with your education goals.


Our professors' leadership and research are shaping the education field.

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

With a doctorate in cognitive studies in reading, you'll have the inside track to a noble career at the helm of educational institutions helping children and adults to read. You will lead the way for the education and growth of future generations.

Outlook & Outcomes

Industry Growth

Employment of instructional coordinators is projected to grow 7% by 2030, as fast as the average for all occupations. As emphasis on student achievement data grows, schools may look to instructional coordinators to develop more successful practices.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Recent Employers

  • West Chester University
  • Lower Marion School District
  • Kutztown University
  • Tredyffrin/Easttown School District
  • Chester County Intermediate Unit

Take the Next Steps


We’re glad you made the decision to apply. All applications and supplemental materials are submitted through the online application system. There is a $35 application fee to apply to Widener.

Center for Education