Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

The Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction received the 2023 Charlotte Excellence in Planning and Assessment from the Office of Assessment and Accreditation

The Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction is an interdisciplinary degree program involving faculty from across the UNC Charlotte campus, and primarily the Departments of English; Mathematics and Statistics; Middle, Secondary, and K-12 Education; Reading and Elementary Education; Educational Leadership; and many others across the UNC Charlotte campus. The Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction is designed to prepare teacher education faculty and other educational professionals for work in various agency, policy, non-profit, and educational settings.

The program offers the following five areas of concentration, all of which emphasize the context of urban education issues and perspectives related to curriculum and instruction. Click here to learn more about each concentration

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Please help us in congratulating our 2024 Doctoral Fellows Grant recipients!

Joy Davis

J. Joy Davis, MBA is a multidisciplinary academician whose scholarship intersects women’s studies, urban education, and business. Davis, a distinguished Holmes Scholar, is obtaining a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction (Urban Education) with a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a 7-year adjunct faculty in the Department of Communications Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at UNC Charlotte. Additionally, Davis teaches a course in Women’s and Gender Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University. Her research centers on how race and gender impact high-achieving African-American undergraduate women in their academic experiences. Davis’ two most recent research contributions were published in Films as Rhetorical Texts: Cultivating discussion about race, racism, and race relations” by Lexington Books (2020)and an upcoming anthology, Mamas, Martyrs and Jezebels published by Black Lawrence Press (2024). Congratulations, Joy!

Jessica Hawkins

Jessica Hawkins (she/her) is a first-year student in the Curriculum and Instruction PhD program, specializing in Urban Education. Prior to committing to full-time doctoral studies, Jessica spent 13 years as an elementary educator in her hometown of St. Louis. Her research interests include liberatory school design and non-traditional instructional methods aimed at disrupting curriculum standardization. She is particularly interested in promoting the inclusion of nature-based learning in predominantly Black urban schools. Congratulations, Jessica!

Tasha Allen

As a student in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Curriculum and Instruction doctoral program with a concentration in Urban Education, Tasha Allen aspires to become a professor at a 4 year university.  She plans to teach courses in teacher education and development, but also wants to commit to teaching developmental courses in mathematics.  Her current research interests are STEM education, Teacher education, and Social Justice in Mathematics. In her twenty years of K-12 education, teaching elementary, middle school mathematics, and currently high school mathematics, she has learned that students should be treated as individuals and be taught according to their needs, not a one size fits all curriculum. She spends her free time with her family and traveling. Congratulations, Tasha!

Erica Neal

Erica Neal is a first year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction Program, Urban Literacy. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio in 2010. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Reading Education from University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2022. Erica’s research interests include adolescent reading engagement, adolescent literature, reading instruction, and book banning and censorship. Erica has fourteen years of teaching experience at the middle and elementary school level, teaching both English Language Arts and math. Outside of school, Erica enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and reading. Congratulations, Erica!

Lachen Qasserras

Lahcen Qasserras is a Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum and Instruction program at UNC Charlotte, specializing in Learning, Design, and Technology with an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence in education. He earned his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Queens University of Charlotte and also holds a graduate certificate in Learning, Design, and Technology from UNC Charlotte.

With extensive teaching experience in both Morocco and the U.S. Lahcen is a certified K-12 TESOL educator and a school administrator in North Carolina. Additionally, he works as a Generative AI Model Training Expert at Scale AI and is a research assistant at UNC Charlotte.

His academic journey includes a Fulbright Scholarship at Lees-McRae College, NC, where he taught Arabic language and culture. Lahcen’s scholarly work, which is set to be published in journals such as Springer Communications in Computer and Information Science (CCIS), the University of Toronto Press, the UNC System Learning and Technology Journal, and The Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, covers a range of critical issues including AI ethics in education, anti-colonial approaches in ESL education, equitable technology integration in schools, and assessment literacy among pre-service teachers. Congratulations, Lachen!

Karen Kopitsky

Karen Kopitsky is a first-year doctoral student in the Curriculum and Instruction program with a concentration in Curriculum and Educator Development. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Rhodes College. She received a Master’s degree in Teaching from Pittsburg State University and her Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law. She has over 15 years of teaching experience at the middle and high school level. Karen’s research interests include potential solutions to the critical shortage of world language teachers through teacher recruitment, preparation, and retention, teacher preparation pathways, culturally sustaining pedagogies, and linguistic diversity. Congratulations, Karen!


Congratulations to Michael Hayes, the recipient of the 2024 Cato College of Education Clinical Educator Award!

Current student Nicholas Gathings’ book review on How Schools Meet Students’ Needs — Inequality, School Reform, and Caring Labor by Katie Kerstetter was published in the February issue of the American School Board Journal.

American School Board Journal February 2024 Issue

On October 26th, current doctoral student Brandon Johnson and the Lake Norman Charter’s administrative team engaged in meaningful dialogue with future teacher candidates. LNCharter wrote in their Facebook post: “We welcome future opportunities to learn, lead and serve in this capacity and applaud Professor Johnson for his innovative approach to teacher preparation.”

Lake Norman Charter Facebook posting


Contact the Office of Middle, Secondary, K-12 Education

Email: ci-phd@charlotte.edu (preferred)

Phone: 704-687-8875 or 704-687-8878

Fax: 704-687-1630