Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in STEM Education is a degree program that 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.

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 ensuring that all learners have an equitable opportunity to learn. Our faculty are involved in research across a range of topics, including the how people learn core ideas and practices in STEM, how the nature of learning environments affect 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.

Minimum Requirements

  • Core courses  (15 hours)
  • STEM content courses  (15 hours)
  • Research Methodology courses  (12 hours)
  • Advanced Topics course  (6 hours)
  • Supporting course work  (6 hours)
  • Dissertation  (18 hours)
  • Total 72 hours

Core Courses (15 hours)

All doctoral students are required to take five 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
  • STM 390-3 Systemic Reform in STEM Education.

STEM Content Courses (15 hours)

Students must take a minimum of 15 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 Comptuer 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.

Research Methodology Courses (12 hours)

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.

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.

Examples of 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

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
  • 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

Advanced Topics Course (6 hours)

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.

Supporting Courses (6 hours)

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.


STEM Ph.D. students must complete a dissertation to earn their doctoral degree. Before registering for dissertation, students are required to advance to candidacy and pass their qualifying exam.

Prerequisites for Admission

Prerequisites for admission to the doctoral degree program are a baccalaureate or master’s degree and prior course work in one or more STEM fields. The amount of prior course work expected depends upon the student's grade-band 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, 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.

Additional Information

Additional Information is available on the STEM Education Wiki.