Getting Started with the LDL Program

If you are a new student, welcome! We look forward to having you join our Certificate of Specialization, Graduate Certificate, EdM, EdD, or PhD program and want to help you start out in a way that sets you up to be successful. Note: students in a non-degree certificate of specialization may not have full access to some of the items referenced below.

New to taking an LDL Course, but not an LDL Student? Check out our LDL Course Participant Onboarding Series

Complete the items found on the Course Preparation page. View the Happening Now page for the upcoming onboarding dates.

Please take a moment to review the items below as soon as possible BEFORE the start of your first term. See also our Checklists page.

Accept your Offer

Admissions Letters

Applicants who have been offered admission to one of our programs should have received the following:

A Program Offer Letter: This indicates that we have referred you to the Graduate College for admission as a degree-seeking student.

An Official Notice of Admission from Illinois Graduate Admissions: This will be delivered as an email with the subject line “Illinois Admission Decision.”

Make your Decision

Once you have received these items, it is time to decide if you’ll join us as a degree-seeking student through the Graduate College Application Portal. You will make one of three choices:

  • Accept Your Offer: This will secure your spot in your program. No enrollment deposit is required!
  • Defer Your Acceptance: You have the option to defer your admission for up to 1 calendar year. No deposit is required. 
  • Decline Your Offer: If you no longer want to join our program, please let us know by declining your offer.

Key Online Resources


Become familiar with our LDL web site (this site), even menus that you feel may not be relevant now. And check back often, as we are regularly enhancing our web site to meet your needs and address your questions.

Online Spaces
  • Join the LDL Student-Alumni online community in CGScholar and actively participate by asking and/or responding to questions, sharing tips or resources, read LDL-related news, and more.
  • Join our LDL Slack space where you can engage in real-time collaboration with peers and the LDL program advisor. Contact the LDL program advisor for the invitation link.
  • If you are coded as an online student, you will receive an invitation to an online community hosted by the College of Education Online Programs office
Library Resources

Visit our Library Resources page that links you to several library-related resources

See the Accounts and Technology sections below regarding your account and other information.


In addition to this checklist, our onboarding program includes a hybrid/flipped classroom model – our website, an online community with videos and links to online resources, and a live office hours session. The Office of Online Programs also coordinates period onboarding sessions that address non-program-specific information and to build connections across programs.

Visit the Happening Now page for the current live session schedule.

All LDL Program Students

Attend a New LDL Student Onboarding session for your certificate or degree program If you are a non-degree seeking student with the goal of transferring to a degree-seeking program, you are encouraged to attend the degree-specific onboarding session. Also, if you did not attend an Information Session prior to applying, you are encouraged to attend one of those, as not all information is repeated.

All New LDL Course Participants (new to LDL program or from another concentration new to our courses)

1 – Join the New LDL Course Participant Onboarding community on CGScholar and view the series of “admin updates“. Add a comment to ask questions.

2 – Attend the live New LDL Course Participant Onboarding session, usually held the first week of each term during the Office Hours timeslot. Visit the Happening Now page for the current live session schedule.

LDL Doctoral Students

Academic Writing and the Literature Review Genre: Required for LDL doctoral students, encouraged for all others.


CGScholar, Social Learning Platform used in LDL Courses

Learn about and set up your CGScholar account. This does not require a University of Illinois account. Note that courses taught by faculty outside of our concentration use different technology platforms, such as Canvas. To see a list of courses taught by LDL Faculty, click here.

Attend the next CGScholar Bootcamp


Your UIN is a 9-digit number that serves to uniquely identify your University account. It usually starts with a 6. If you were last affiliated with the University of Illinois before 1996, your account may not have a UIN assigned to it. If you don’t know your UIN, there are a number of places you can look.

Enterprise-wide System Login Account – Net ID and Two-Factor Authentication

Claim your NetID. You will need your University Identification Number, which is provided with your admission letter.

Set up Two-Factor authentication on your device using the Duo Mobile app. This app makes it very easy to access a variety of applications and web pages throughout the University of Illinois system. You must first have a Net ID in order to access the Knowledgebase and/or set up two-factor authentication. Set this up and learn more on the NetID Center page.

Email Account

Set up your @Illinois email address on your device(s), including your smartphone. We encourage you to regularly check your school e-mail. We discourage you from forwarding your school address to another account, because not all messages can be forwarded and sometimes other email providers mark the messages as Spam, so you may miss out on important information.

Please take the time to set up your email and two-factor authentication on your devices to make it easy to check your Illinois email address often.

Library Account

Set up your University Library account and start exploring the Library resources! You do NOT need your own account to access subscription e-resources (i.e. journals) from Library webpages. This can be done using your NetID and Password. Visit this Library FAQ page for more login details.

Box File Storage and Google Apps Accounts

Link your email account to Illinois’ Google apps system. We use Google apps for several things including a roster and Google chat. (Be sure to always check which Google account you are on, it may say that you don’t have access to something, but that may be because you are on your personal gmail or other Google Workspaces account.)

Set up access to the University of Illinois’ Box files sharing app. Similar to Google apps, be sure that you are logged in to the correct account when trying to access files shared with you.


Platforms Used for LDL Courses

We use CGScholar, our LDL website, and Zoom to administer our courses.

Learn about and set up your CGScholar account. This does not require a University of Illinois account. Note that courses taught by faculty outside of our concentration use different technology platforms, such as Canvas. To see a list of courses taught by LDL Faculty, click here.

Attend the next CGScholar Bootcamp

Online Library Search and Bibliographical Databases

Check out these videos produced by your Education library, Nancy O’Brien on how to navigate the library search databases.

Begin considering how you will build and organize your Research Library. This is something that you will want to start early and maintain throughout your graduate education experience. Keep your sources organized by using free tools, such as Mendeley or Zotero.

Free or Discounted Software

Review software (University of Illinois Webstore) and hardware (University of Illinois Tech Zone) discounts that may be available to you.

Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Qualtrics are free while you are a student.

General Technology Support

For all general technology support needs, refer to the University’s Technology Services Help Desk.

Program Requirements, Registration, and Advising

Review Program Requirements

Review both your degree-specific requirements as well as the College of Education Graduate Student Handbook and the Graduate College Handbook.

Program Planning

Use Course Explorer to view the current and upcoming course schedules. Course Explorer provides the schedule of classes by term and serves to help students when planning their course schedules (search for courses by term, part of term, mode of instruction, and/or department).

Fill out a program plan (you must have a NetID to access this. See the Technology section above.)

EdD/PhD suggestion if starting in Fall: Fall A: EPOL 481 and Fall B: ERAM 550 or non-LDL elective or Research Methods elective

Doctoral Students: From Coursework to the Dissertation

Doctoral students take between 10 and 13 regular courses before beginning the Exam-Dissertation Sequence (EDS). The EDS is a six-step sequence helping you to prepare for your qualifying exam, preliminary exam, and ultimately your final defense and dissertation deposit.

We ask that you not think about your actual dissertation too early. It can be overwhelming to feel like you have to make such a big decision so early. The good news is, you don’t need to! If you feel you have a dissertation idea in mind already, it is still good to not set limits too early. Also, a certain level of rigor is expected during the EDS.

The “From Coursework to the Dissertation” page provides you with time-based action items on how you can leverage your coursework to help you be better-prepared for your qualifying exams and your dissertation – whether you have a dissertation topic in mind or not.

Check out what you can do before you take your first class.

Optional Advising Appointment

You have multiple advisors to assist you with beginning and ultimately completing your degree. See LDL Program Team for more information.

  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Mary Kalantzis or Dr. Bill Cope
    • If you were formerly a University of Illinois student, your advisor may have defaulted to your previous advisor. It will be important to check this and also fill out an advisor change form, if necessary.
  • LDL Program and Dissertation Advisor (Co-Advisor): Dr. Kara Francis
  • Online Programs Advisor: Brianna Davis

After filling in your program plan (as best you can), you may schedule an optional advising session with the LDL Program Advisor (Dr. Kara Francis; to discuss your tentative program plan and degree goals.

You may also meet with Brianna Davis, Online Programs Advisor through her Online Student Advising Appointment Calendy link or email her at

Register for Classes
  • Register on self service (available after you receive your official acceptance from the Graduate College)
  • Confirm that you are looking for the correct online section (e.g., “ONLif you are coded as an online students. On-campus students should look for section A or B, typically.)
  • Reference the Office of the Registrar’s Academic Calendar for registration dates and deadlines

See also the University’s Registration FAQ

Note that if you are a non-degree student or want to enroll in courses before your official start term, your registration is coordinated through Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL)

Upcoming Courses Taught by LDL Faculty
Who to Call?

As you progress through your program, you will work with both your Faculty Advisor, Co-Advisor, and/or the Online Student Advisor. Here are some of the circumstances in which each of your advisors can assist you. LDL-specific questions should be directed to Dr. Kara Francis.

LDL Program Advisor (Your Co-Advisor)Online Programs Advisor
Course content for courses taught by LDL facultyCourse mapping
Independent Study optionsQuestions about student support services
EdD and PhD Course Requests for EPOL 586/587/591/599Assistance with course registration
(except for the Doctoral courses mentioned above)
Signing Petitions, forms, and proceduresQuestions about which petitions or forms to fill out
Taking a semester off (Academic leave of absence)Degree audits
Research topicsAdding a concentration or Certificate of Specialization
Qualifying exam inquiriesImportant dates and deadlines
Preliminary exam or Dissertation inquiries
Graduation information
  • CoE Graduate Student Services Office:
  • Office of Online Programs:
  • Office of the Registrar:
  • IT Partners at Education:
  • Financial Aid:


Email Listservs
  • MASSMAIL: MASSMAIL emails are sent to all UIUC students, faculty, and staff. These emails will typically include important University wide announcements and updates.
  • EPOL Newsletter: This is a weekly newsletter that is sent out by Laura Ketchum, the Assistant to the Head of the EPOL Department. This will contain information that specifically applies to EPOL students, such as information about upcoming events, course offerings, important dates, job postings, etc.
  • College of Education at Illinois Weekly Announcements: This is an email of weekly announcements for all College of Education students. You can typically find exciting COE news, announcements, and featured events in this email.
  • Degree Specific Listserv: As a student, you may also receive information via your degree specific listserv. Emails sent via your respective listserv will include important information pertaining to your specific program (i.e., EdD, EdM /CERT, IDMTC, or non degree)
Course Logistics

Before classes begin, learn about course logistics for our regular LDL courses. Note that courses taught by faculty outside of our concentration follow a different approach and use a different learning management system.

Getting Started in one of our courses – even before you officially begin the program

We invite you to consider getting a headstart on your first course, if taught by one of our LDL faculty.

Refer to this page for some suggestions on how to get started.

Disability Resources

If you are a student with a disability, please contact Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) to request and obtain disability-related assistance.

Code of Conduct

The Student Code is a collection of rules, regulations, policies, and procedures that apply to, or otherwise directly impact, students at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

Resources and Tips from CITL

The following resources from the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning are available to help you to be successful as an online student: