The Department of Curriculum and Instruction offers graduate studies that lead to the Master of Science (M.S.) in Curriculum and Instruction and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Curriculum and Instruction. Each graduate student must concentrate in one of the department's areas of study, listed in the next section.


In accord with interests and professional goals, each admitted graduate student is assigned to an area of study and to an initial faculty advisor in that area. Areas of study are bilingual education, curriculum studies, digital media, early childhood studies, English as a second language, global studies, literacy studies, mathematics education, multicultural education, music education, science education, social studies education, teacher education, and world language education.

The goals of doctoral study in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are to help students develop abilities for research in the field of curriculum and instruction, imbuing them with a distinctive theoretical and critical edge; develop expertise in one of the department's areas of study, listed previously; acquire greater competence in curriculum evaluation and development; improve understanding of the teaching–learning process; gain depth and breadth of knowledge in related academic fields; and build a broadened professional background in areas related to curriculum and instruction, such as anthropology, history, philosophy, sociology of education, administration, counseling, educational psychology, and supervision.

Ph.D. study in the department is research-oriented. It prepares students for different forms of intellectual leadership in education including research, curriculum analysis and development, teacher education, and other teaching in higher education, and leadership positions in educational agencies. These different forms of leadership are not mutually exclusive, but the relative emphasis given to each varies among students and areas of study.

Details of requirements and procedures pertaining to Ph.D. study in the department are described in the department's Ph.D. Degree Program Handbook. Doctoral students are responsible for learning about and following department requirements and procedures; they should therefore familiarize themselves with this document, a printed copy of which can be picked up at the curriculum and instruction graduate program office. Ph.D. students are also responsible for learning about and following Graduate School policies. The curriculum and instruction graduate program office offers an informational meeting for new graduate students at the beginning of each semester.

Admission to the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program is highly competitive. The Department of Counseling Psychology accepts applications for fall enrollment between early September and December 1 for the Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology. There is no option for spring or summer initial enrollment in the department. The applicant is responsible for collecting, assembling, and submitting all the pieces of the application by the December 1 deadline.  Applicants should submit their materials in electronic form.

Post-BA And Post-MA Tracks

Most students who apply to and are enrolled in the Ph.D. program have earned a master's degree (post-M.A. in counseling or a related field).  However, in fall 2010, we began offering a “post-B.A.” track within our Ph.D. program for highly qualified students who have not yet earned a master's degree in a counseling-related field and wish to apply directly to a Ph.D. program. Having a post-BA track allows us to accept qualified applicants to the Ph.D. program who may have work, volunteer, or research experience in counseling or a related profession, have exhibited a passion for helping others, and/or possess a master's degree in a non-counseling field. If you are unsure which option is right for you, review the information in the "Ph.D. Information and Instructions for Fall Applicants" link, found on our website at Information for Prospective Ph.D. Applicants.

Unlike students in our regular “post-M.A.” track (i.e., those who enter with a Master's degree), post-B.A. track students start the program alongside the incoming Master's student cohort. In their first academic year, post-B.A. track students will complete a course load similar to their Master's student counterparts. In their second academic year, post-B.A. track students will complete their "first Year Experience" while beginning their Ph.D. coursework. Post-B.A. track students are not currently required to complete a Master's thesis or the Professional Integration Exercise, but will also not receive a Master's degree unless they choose to meet all requirement's for our masters program.

Informational Meetings

A number of informational meetings are held each fall by our department.  A list of these meetings can be found on our Information for Prospective Ph.D. Applicants page.

Application Procedure

Up-to-date information and requirements regarding applying to our Ph.D. program can be found on our Information for Prospective Ph.D. Applicants page

Questions can be directed to the Student Services Coordinator, Andrea Guptill (

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources


The department nominates eligible incoming M.S. and Ph.D. students for an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (AOF). Eligibility criteria for these fellowships can be found at the Graduate School's Funding Information  page. The department nominates its most academically competitive Ph.D. candidates for the Social Studies Division Fellowships. Nominees are considered in January by a committee of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.  For an applicant to be considered in this competition, the graduate-application file should be complete by December 1.

University-wide information about financial aid for graduate students is available through the Office of Student Financial Aid. Additional information about financing graduate education is available from the Graduate School's Types of Funding Available page.

The department itself does not award fellowships or scholarships; however, a limited number of teaching assistantships, project assistantships, research assistantships, and program assistantships are available either in the department or through faculty research projects in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. These assistantships are awarded to qualified, full-time graduate students and typically involve 10–20 hours of professional work each week, usually in close collaboration with one or more professors. Assistantships provide a stipend and may include the cost of tuition (excluding segregated fees). Applications for assistantships in the department can be downloaded here or requested from the Academic Department Manager, 210A Teacher Education Building, 608-263-4602. Students should also check with individual faculty members about opportunities for assistantships in the department. Any teaching, project, or program assistant in the department must carry a full course load of 8–15 graduate-level credits and make satisfactory progress toward the graduate degree.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 36 credits beyond the master’s before taking the preliminary examination
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 36 credits out of 51 total credits must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.25 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Ph.D. students must earn a B average or above in all coursework.
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students must pass the preliminary examination within five years of starting the program.
Language Requirements No language requirements other than the English proficiency required for admission.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor. Students completing an external minor must take at least 9 credits. Students completing a distributed minor must take 12 credits from two or more programs forming a coherent topic, and can include coursework from Curriculum & Instruction if the minor is Qualitative Research Methods.

Required Courses

There are two primary curriculum domains of the doctoral program. Required coursework and practicum experiences contribute to each student’s competency in these areas. The core curriculum areas are:

  1. Discipline-Specific Knowledge

    1. History and Systems of Psychology

    2. Basic Psychology Content Areas (i.e., Affective Aspects of Behavior, Biological Aspects of Behavior, Cognitive Aspects of Behavior, Developmental Aspects of Behavior, and Social Aspects of Behavior)

    3. Research, Quantitative Methods, and Psychometrics

    4. Advanced Integrative Knowledge in Scientific Psychology

  2. Profession-Wide Competencies

    1. Integration of Science and Practice

    2. Ethical and Legal Standards

    3. Individual and Cultural Diversity

    4. Professional Values and Attitudes

    5. Communication and Interpersonal Skills

    6. Assessment

    7. Intervention

    8. Supervision

    9. Consultation and Interprofessional/Interdisciplinary Skills Required coursework (i.e., major core coursework) includes courses in each of these areas.

In accordance with the Standards of Accreditation (SoA) for Health Service Psychology, all students are required to document mastery of broad and general content knowledge in each of these psychological foundations areas during their doctoral studies.

Post–M.A. track1:

Discipline-Specific Knowledge Courses
History and Systems3
Seminar in History and Systems of Psychology
Basic Psychology12
Advanced Social Psychology
The Biological Basis of Behavior
Theory and Issues in Human Development
Thinking, Feeling, & Learning
Advanced Integrative Knowledge6-9
Seminar in Psychology of Individual Differences
Abnormal Behavior and Psychopathology (if not taken in previous coursework)
Seminar in Ethical and Professional Issues in Counseling Psychology
Research, Quantitative Methods, and Psychometrics12
Research Practicum in Counseling Psychology (2 semesters)
Research Methods in Counseling Psychology
Research Methods in Counseling Psychology, II
Profession-Wide Competencies-Related Required Coursework
Core Courses9
Counseling Psychology Research in Individual Intervention
Seminar: Research in Vocational Psychology and Career Development
Mental Health Consultation in Health Service Psychology
Clinical Training Sequence
COUN PSY 810 Professional Development and Clinical Practice (2 semesters)2-12
COUN PSY 900 Counseling Psychology Practicum--Foundational (2 semesters)6
COUN PSY 903 Counseling Psychology Practicum--Advanced (2 semesters)6
COUN PSY 902 Counseling Psychology Practicum in Supervision3
COUN PSY 890 Advanced Assessment Techniques in Counseling Psychology3
Other Courses
COUN PSY 990 Research or Thesis3-12
COUN PSY 904 Counseling Psychology Externship (optional - 2 semesters)2-6
COUN PSY 908 Pre-Doctoral Internship in Health Service Psychology Preparation Seminar2
Data Analytic Methods - 2 additional courses; at least one must address quantitative data analysis. Examples could include:6
Seminar on Meta-Analysis
Cognitive Assessment of Children in the Schools
Structural Equation Modeling
Hierarchical Linear Modeling
Design & Analysis of Quasi-Experiments for Causal Inference

Post–B.A. track1:

Must complete all courses listed for the Post–MA track and

COUN PSY 800 Theories of Counseling3
COUN PSY 802 Group Dynamics Processing and Counseling3
COUN PSY 805 Helping Relationships and Techniques3
COUN PSY 806 Supervised Practicum in Counseling3

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.


Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

No prior coursework from other institutions can be counted in the 36 credits required before taking the preliminary examination in Curriculum and Instruction.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW undergraduate or Master's degree are allowed to count toward the Ph.D. degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The status of a student can be one of two options:

  1. Satisfactory progress (progressing according to standards)
  2. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; permitted to enroll with specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of unsatisfactory progress to avoid dismissal from the program).


All students are required to have an advisor. An advisor is assigned to all incoming students. To ensure they are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, students should meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

The advisor serves as the dissertator advisor. Students can be suspended from the program, if they do not have an advisor.


15 credits

Time Constraints

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within 5 years after passing the preliminary examination may by required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.


There are a limited number of assistantships in the department for students in M.S. and Ph.D. programs.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

1. (Breadth of Knowledge) Examples of competence may include demonstrating awareness of historical and intellectual context, educational practices, critical research paradigms within the broader field of Curriculum and Instruction, and theories and approaches from other fields as appropriate for their research.

2. (Depth of Knowledge) Examples of competence may include demonstrating mastery of concepts, theories, and research, and understanding of relevant educational practices and contexts, sufficient to pose questions that extend the current boundaries of knowledge within their chosen subfield of Curriculum and Instruction.

3. (Research Approaches and Epistemological Foundations) Examples of competence may include articulating research problems that build on history, theory, research, and practice within their subfield of Curriculum and Instruction; choosing research methods appropriate to those problems and demonstrating understanding of epistemological foundations underlying those methods.

Faculty: Professors Rudolph (chair), Baker (graduate program chair), Gomez, Grant, Graue, E. Halverson, Hawkins, Hess, Koza, Lockwood, Popkewitz, Schweber,Tochon; Associate Professors L. Berland, M. Berland, Feinstein, Ghousseini, Hassett, Ho, Pacheco; Assistant Professors Bullock, Louie, McKinney de Royston, Prasad, Russ, Wardrip, Wright; Affiliate Professors L. Bartlett, T. Dobbs, R. Halverson, P. Matthews, Nathan, H. Zhang. For more information about respective members of the faculty, see People on the department website.