STEM Education

Doctoral Program

STEM Education Programs

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in STEM Education examines how people learn STEM subjects and how teachers, schools, and communities can inspire learners of all ages in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

  • The program is designed for students who are preparing for research careers.
  • 63 hours of coursework (including dissertation) are required for the degree, 12 of which are graduate coursework in a discipline area (science, mathematics, engineering).
  • The discipline content hours may be waived for students who have a master’s degree in a content area (e.g., mathematics, not mathematics education).
  • The typical timeframe for completing the degree is 4-6 years.
  • The Ph.D. degree requires active engagement with faculty and a research group on campus, and therefore it is not usually recommended for students who are working full time or not in residence at UT Austin.
  • Although some GRA positions are available, they are typically reserved for students who have already participated in pilot studies or faculty research support.

Students in the Ph.D. STEM program will learn about and participate in cutting-edge research that explores ways in which to make STEM education more effective, inclusive, and transformative. The overall focus of the program is to ensure that all learners have an equitable opportunity to learn. Our faculty are involved in research across a range of topics, including how people learn core ideas and practices in STEM, how the nature of learning environments affects STEM student access, opportunity, and identity, the preparation and professional development of STEM teachers, and the role of STEM learning in informal spaces.

Please note: Required STEM Ed Core and Advanced Topics courses must be taken for a letter grade. Other coursework (including content courses, research methods, and supporting coursework) may be taken as credit/no credit with instructor permission. However, no more than 20% of a student’s program of work (no more than 9 credit hours for Ph.D. students; no more than 6 credit hours for master’s students) can be taken as credit/no credit.

Program Details

Semester Start: Fall

Deadline to Apply: December 1

GRE Required? No

Location: On Campus

Schedule: Flexible

Length of Program: 60 months, 63 hours 

Photo of faculty member Flávio S Azevedo
Associate Professor

Investigates the nature of STEM interests and interest-driven participation and learning, foundations of cognition in STEM disciplines, and learning out of schools.

Photo of faculty member Maura  Borrego
Professor, Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering

Studies engineering and STEM higher education, including faculty, graduate students and undergraduates.

Photo of faculty member Emma  Gargroetzi
Assistant Professor

Explores the intersection of the sociopolitical and mathematical lives of children with a focus on identity and learning.

Photo of faculty member Carlos Nicolas  Gómez Marchant
Assistant Professor

Investigates intersections of race, language, and mathematics through the experiences of Latinx students learning and doing mathematics.

Photo of faculty member María González-Howard
Associate Professor

Research explores the intersections of multilingualism, scientific sensemaking, and teacher education, with a specific focus on the ways multilingual students engage in science practices through translanguaging.

Photo of faculty member Kemper Lipscomb
Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Communication Studies, Moody College of Communication

Focuses on the ways students learn in science courses using computational modeling.

Photo of faculty member Tia  Madkins
Assistant Professor

Engages humanizing research approaches to examine equity-focused PK-16 STEM teaching and learning across urban contexts with a focus on Black girls.

Photo of faculty member Jill A Marshall
Associate Professor

Teaches courses for pre-service in STEM subjects and explores student understanding of mathematical and physical models.

Photo of faculty member Catherine  Riegle-Crumb

Focuses on the social construction of gender and racial/ethnic inequality in educational opportunities and experiences in STEM fields from a sociological perspective. Methodological expertise in quantitative research methods and analyses of large sca...

Photo of faculty member Victor  Sampson
Associate Professor

Studies the ways culturally and linguistically diverse groups of people use disciplinary the core ideas and practices of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to explain phenomena or to solve problems that are meaningful and consequ...

Photo of faculty member Jennifer C Smith
Assistant Professor of Instruction-CURR

Teaches preservice K-12 teachers how to teach meaningful STEM content in innovative, student- and community-centered ways.

Photo of faculty member Cathery  Yeh
Assistant Professor

Dr. Yeh's research examines the role race, class, gender, and language plays in the constructions of ability in mathematics classrooms.

Prerequisites for admission to the doctoral degree program are a baccalaureate or master’s degree and prior coursework in one or more STEM fields. The amount of prior coursework expected depends upon the student’s grades and area of interest. Teaching experience is highly desired.

Admission into the doctoral program is not automatic for STEM Masters graduates. A STEM Master’s student applies to the doctoral program by completing the full application process. This requires submission of three letters of recommendation (as many as possible from professors on our faculty attesting to your ability to fulfill the requirements for a Ph.D.), transcripts, and a personal statement. The personal statement should address why you want to pursue a Ph.D., what you plan to research, which faculty members you wish to work with on research and why, and what you anticipate doing with a Ph.D.

Graduate students wanting to pursue a degree in STEM Education will matriculate once a year, during the fall semester. Graduate students may transfer from other programs within the Graduate School to a degree plan in STEM Education. In order to transfer, students must apply to and be recommended for admission into the GPSME. Transfer student applications from other programs in the Graduate School will be handled in a manner consistent with the policies established above for regular applicants. In addition, students should follow current Graduate School policies regarding transferring to UT.

NOTE: Those of you applying to the STEM Education program should select STEM Education (32800) for your major. 

As a prospective student, you are required to apply first using the state application system, ApplyTexas. Here, you will input your biographical information, resume/CV, statement of purpose, transcripts and letters of recommendation. We strongly encourage you to start this process well in advance of the deadline to allow us enough time to process your information.

NOTE: Those applying to the STEM Education program should select STEM Education (32800) for your major.

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in the U.S.; or proof of equivalent training at a foreign institution.

A minimum GPA of 3.0, particularly during the last two years of college and in any previous graduate study. The department will consider applications with lower GPAs. If you feel that your grade point averages or test scores are not valid indicators of your ability, please wait till you have submitted your application and upload a miscellaneous document explaining your concerns.

We also consider teaching experience as a criterion during the admission process. EC-16 teaching experience, especially among underserved populations, is preferred by most program areas. 

Deadlines to apply for

Harrington Fellowships and fall admissions (doctoral applicants only): November 1

College and department fellowships, fall admissions – doctoral and master’s applicants: December 1 

Please contact Stephen Flynn if you have any questions about these deadlines. 

Once all application materials are uploaded and completed, the Graduate School will refer your application to the department. This initial review process by the grad school will take about 1 – 2 weeks, so be sure to have everything turned in well in advance of the deadlines. 

Applicants may be admitted, admitted with conditions, or denied admission. Learn more on the Graduate School website.

Contact Stephen Flynn, our departmental Graduate Admissions Coordinator, with any questions regarding C&I or STEM Education admissions. 

Please also see General Guidelines from the Graduate School.

  • Core courses: 12 hours
  • STEM content courses: 12 hours
  • Research Methodology courses: 12 hours
  • Research Practicum: 9 hours
  • Advanced Topics courses: 6 hours
  • Supporting course work: 6 hours
  • Dissertation: 6 hours
  • Total: 63 hours

All doctoral students are required to take four core courses:

  • STM 385 Knowing & Learning in STEM Education
  • STM 386 Curriculum History and Development in STEM Education
  • STM 390-1 Equity in STEM Education
  • STM 390-2 Research on Teaching and Teacher Development in STEM Education

Students must take a minimum of 12 hours of courses in one or more STEM content areas. This requirement is waived for students who have a master’s degree in Science, Math, Engineering, or Computer Science. Other kinds of degrees or course work are considered on a case-by-case basis.

If students are preparing to teach at the post-secondary level, they will be advised to study one particular discipline in depth. If they are preparing to work at the elementary or secondary level, a broader program of study is recommended.

A minimum of 12 hours of courses in research methodology is required. All students must enroll in a qualitative and a quantitative course or courses sufficient for competent technical review of manuscript articles and proposals.

In addition, students must have a methodology specialty that will be used in dissertation research. A course in program evaluation can also be used to satisfy this requirement.

Students who enter the program with a Master’s degree in Education will have one, 3-hour Research Methodology Course waived.

STEP 1: 6 hours

  • EDC 385R  Introduction to Quantitative Research Design
    Other course choices for this requirement must be approved by the Graduate Advisor
  • AND EDC 386R  Introduction to Qualitative Research; other course choices for this requirement must be approved by the Graduate Advisor.

STEP 2: 6 Hours

Two Advanced Research Courses—either Quantitative, Qualitative or Mixed-Methods. Courses that meet this requirement are at the consent of the student’s Faculty Advisor and the Graduate Advisor.

Examples of Advanced Quantitative Research Choices

  • EDC 387R  3-Survey Research Methods
  • EDC 387R  4-Mixed Methods Design-Based Research
  • ELP 392P   Advanced Quantitative Research Design

Examples of Advanced Qualitative Research Choices

  • EDC 388R  1-Narrative and Oral Tradition
  • EDC 388R  2-Discourse Analysis
  • EDC 388R  3-Ethnographic and Qualitative Research methods
  • STM 396 T* Directed Research in STEM Education (9 hours)

Note: These 9 credit hours are to be completed over the course of at least three different semesters.

One course (3 hrs) is a content- Specific Education Course; students choose a content area in which they want to focus in terms of education research (e.g. math education, science education, physics education, engineering education) and sign up for an independent study to work with a faculty member to read key research in the field. Recommended that students do this the summer of their first year or beginning of the second year. For the remaining two courses (6 hours total, but to be taken in separate semesters), students join and actively participate in a faculty member’s research working group. Recommended that students enroll in these courses during the second year of coursework.

Faculty will provide regular advanced topic courses on special areas of interest or on emerging areas of research. These courses appear under the STM 390T heading in the online course schedule.

Students who enter the program with a Master’s degree in Education will have one 3-hour Advanced Topics Course waived.

Students are expected to broaden and deepen their program of work through taking a variety of related course work consonant with their scholarly interests, in consultation with a graduate adviser. 

Students who enter the program with a Master’s degree in Education will have one 3-hour Supporting Course waived.

Students are required to continuously register for at least three credits of dissertation once they have advanced to candidacy

You must register in X99W (399, 699, or 999W) in each semester of candidacy until you graduate.

Please Note: Students receiving fellowships, assistantships, or other financial aid, may be required to take 9 hours of dissertation credit each semester.

STEP 1 (6 hours)

  • EDC 385R  Introduction to Quantitative Research Design
    Other course choices for this requirement must be approved by the Graduate Advisor
  • AND EDC 386R  Introduction to Qualitative Research; other course choices for this requirement must be approved by the Graduate Advisor.

STEP 2 (6 Hours)

Two Advanced Research Courses—either Quantitative, Qualitative or Mixed-Methods. Other courses may meet this requirement with the consent of the Graduate Advisor.

Advanced Quantitative Research Choices

  • EDC 387R  1-Advanced Quantitative Analysis
  • EDC 387R  2-Statistical Inference
  • EDC 387R  3-Survey Research Methods
  • EDC 387R  4-Mixed Methods Design Based Research
  • EDP 380P  1-Measurement and Evaluation
  • EDP 380P 4-Evaluation Models and Techniques
  • EDP 382K  2-Correlation and Regression Methods
  • EDP 382K  3-Factor Analysis
  • EDP 382K  4-Survey of Multivariate Methods
  • EDP 382K  6-Structural Equation Modeling
  • EDP 384  4-Introduction to Survey Research
  • EDP 384  16-Hierarchical Linear Modeling

Advanced Qualitative Research Choices

  • EDC 388R  1-Narrative and Oral Tradition
  • EDC 388R  2-Discourse Analysis
  • EDC 388R  3-Ethnographic and Qualitative Research methods
  • EDC 388R  4-Postmodern Analytical Methods
  • EDC 388R  5-Life History
  • EDC 388R  6-Naturalistic Inquiry
  • EDC 388R  7-Feminist Participator Action Research
  • EDC 388R  8-Qualitative Research: Mixed-methods Investigation
  • EDC 388R  9-Case Study
  • EDA 381S  Advanced Qualitative Research
  • EDP 382L  5-Psycholinguistics
Photo of Catherine Riegle-Crumb

Program Area Coordinator, Advisor
Catherine Riegle-Crumb

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