Jennifer Kaplan, Program Director
The Mathematics and Science Education (MSE) Ph.D. program is an interdisciplinary program designed to train academic researchers and educational professionals to carry out, evaluate, and integrate research in mathematics or science education. The interdisciplinary nature of the program is manifested in two ways. First, similar to other STEM education Ph.D. programs, the MSE program requires students to develop content mastery of mathematics or science and demonstrate an understanding of educational theories, research methodologies, and best practices in mathematics or science education. Thus, graduates are scholars who work at the intersection of a mathematical or scientific domain and education. Second, and unique to the MTSU MSE program is the requirement that students can compare and contrast the nature of knowledge and how knowledge is created and taught or learned across mathematics and scientific disciplines, creating scholars who can work collaboratively with other mathematical and/or science education researchers. We offer preparation for students to serve in faculty positions or leadership roles in mathematics and science education at the undergraduate level or in K-12 settings, including work with in-service and pre-service teachers.
Depending on research and professional interests, graduates of the program may choose to
- conduct research about how people learn the concepts, practices, and ways of thinking in mathematics or science;
- conduct research about the nature and development of expertise in mathematics or a scientific discipline;
- identify approaches to make mathematics or science education broad and inclusive;
- identify and measure appropriate learning objectives and instructional approaches in mathematics or science that advance students toward those objectives;
- conduct or use research to support the professional development of K-16 mathematics or science teachers or instructors;
- conduct or use research or enact policy to improve K-16 mathematics or science education;
- teach disciplinary content or methods courses for pre-service teachers.
All students in the Mathematics and Science Education Ph.D. program will be expected to complete the residency requirement during the first year of enrollment in the program. Please see Residency Requirement (below) for more information.
Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.
Admission is based on a comprehensive assessment of a candidate’s qualifications including Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, undergraduate and graduate grade point average, and letters of recommendation.
- an earned bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited university or college. Applicants holding only a bachelor’s degree will be expected to have earned that degree in an area of mathematics or science and will be expected to earn a master’s degree in science, mathematics, or education as they complete the requirements of the Ph.D. All applicants to this program will either possess a mathematics or science degree upon admission or will be required to earn a content master’s as a part of their program of study.
- an acceptable grade point average (GPA). Successful applicants typically have a minimum 3.25 GPA in their most recent graduate work or a minimum 3.00 GPA when entering with a bachelor’s degree. Applicants holding a master’s degree should have earned at least 24 semester hours of graduate mathematics, science, and/or education credit.
Applicants must submit all application materials to the College of Graduate Studies.
Application deadline: January 15 for full consideration for graduate assistantships in the following Fall semester. Assistantships may be awarded, but are not guaranteed, for applications that are completed after January 15.
- submit application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php). Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
- submit official transcripts showing a grade point average (GPA) in previous academic work that indicates potential for success in advanced study;
- submit official scores for the verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing measures of the GRE that indicate potential for success in the Mathematics and Science Education program. Although specific minimum scores are not set, evaluation of scores is an important factor in admission decisions.
- submit supplemental application;
- provide letters of recommendation from at least three professors or professionals that address the applicant’s potential to successfully complete a Ph.D. in Mathematics and Science Education.
NOTE: International students must also meet the College of Graduate Studies requirement for proof of English language proficiency. This may be accomplished by submission of TOEFL, UMELI test, or IELTS scores that meet the college’s requirements or by successful completion of level 112 of ELS coursework.
Applicants who do not meet these minimums but whose application materials indicate high potential for success may be admitted conditionally. Such students must meet the conditions of their admission in the time stated to remain in the program of study.
The Ph.D. in Mathematics and Science Education with a concentration in Biological Education requires completion of a minimum of 77 semester hours.
Once admitted to the program, each candidate must
- complete at least 77 post-baccalaureate semester hours as described in the Curriculum section below. (Students entering with a master’s degree in mathematics, education, or a science discipline may have up to 15 graduate hours of previous coursework applied after determination that the content of the courses is directly equivalent to existing courses in the Mathematics and Science Education curriculum.)
- make at least two research presentations at regional, national, or international meetings as the lead or coauthor;
- be lead author or make significant contribution as coauthor of two articles published, in press, or under review in high quality, peer-reviewed journals;
- in collaboration with an MTSU faculty member serving as principal investigator, make a significant contribution to the development of at least one external grant proposal;
- complete the MSE 7800 - Teaching Internship . Those who lack teaching experience in the K-12 setting are required to complete MSE 7800 in a K-12 teaching experience;
- complete a dissertation and successfully defend it in the final oral examination.
During the residency year, students are expected to complete at least 18 hours of coursework that apply directly to the degree. Of these 18 hours, 14 hours of coursework are prescribed.
Fall Semester (5 hours)
Spring Semester (6 hours)
Summer (3 hours)
In addition, during the residency year, students are expected to complete each of the following:
- Attend at least one conference: The conference should be directly related to the student’s concentration (i.e,. biology education, chemistry education, science education, mathematics education) and should be at the regional, national, or international level. The advisor must approve the selected conference.
- Make significant progress* toward the submission of a manuscript on which the student is a co-author. The manuscript will be prepared under the guidance of or in conjunction with MSE faculty. Residency seminars will support this process.
- Attend at least five (5) program activities not associated with course credit: The MSE program has numerous activities that occur during the academic year (i.e., fall and spring semesters). These include seminars, book club meetings, reading/writing groups, journal clubs, etc. Some of these are intended for all MSE students while others are specific to concentrations.
*NOTE: Significant progress toward the submission of a manuscript is defined as legitimate peripheral participation of the student within one or more of the following components of a manuscript:
- Research rationale/study introduction
- Literature review
- Research design and methodology
- Data analysis data presentation
Curriculum: Mathematics and Science Education, Biological Education
The following illustrates the minimum coursework requirements. In addition, a maximum of 36 hours of dissertation research may be required to fulfill degree requirements.
Concentration Core (18 hours)
Electives (12-36 hours)
In consultation with his or her major advisor and dissertation committee, each student will choose 12-36 credit hours from courses in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, and the College of Education at the 6000 or 7000 level.
Students in the Biological Education concentration should select their electives to ensure that they have completed at least 21 hours of coursework with a BIOL rubric, or the equivalent as determined by the student’s advisor.
Dissertation (12-36 hours)