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Ph.D. in Education—Mathematics

This program of study is designed to prepare graduates for college or university positions in mathematics or science education or for positions within research organizations with specific areas of curricular expertise. The program includes coursework, a research apprenticeship, and practical experiences to prepare graduates to: (1) produce original research that contributes to the knowledge base in mathematics or science education or to teacher education in general; 2) educate teachers in the area of mathematics or science and evidence-based practice; and 3) provide effective leadership in the field of mathematics or science education.

Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

The student desiring to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy degree with emphasis in Mathematics should submit an online application and supporting materials to the Curry School of Education. The applicant must:

  • possess a relevant master's degree that includes at least 12 graduate credits in mathematics or science,
  • have at least 2 years of teaching experience in the field of math or science education,
  • upload unofficial transcripts to the online application (official transcripts will be required prior to matriculation),
  • submit a goal statement (1-2 pages), a writing sample is not required,
  • submit via the online application two (2) references strongly endorsing him/her for doctoral work, and
  • submit official Graduate Record Examination scores to the University of Virginia. (official scores should be sent to the University of Virginia; the institutional code is 5820)

Applicants may submit unofficial test scores with their application. However, official scores are required prior to matriculation.

Application Due Date

December 15

Degree Requirements

General Coursework Guidelines

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 72 credits, at least 54 of which must be coursework.  This coursework requirement includes concentration area courses and research methodology courses, and up to 3 credits of research apprenticeship per semester, but does not include internship and dissertation credits. At least 36 course and apprenticeship credits must be completed after admission to the program. Students can apply up to 12 credits of dissertation work towards the total of 72.

Research Methodology Coursework:

Ph.D. students will take Research Foundations, an introductory course in educational research common to all Curry doctoral students. Additionally, students are required to take a minimum of three courses in quantitative methods (generally Stats I, II, and III) and two courses in qualitative research methodology (e.g., Qualitative Analysis I and II). Advisors may suggest additional methodology courses, depending on the focus of a student’s individual program and research.

Research Apprenticeship:

All Mathematics/Science/STEM Ph.D. students will participate in a research apprenticeship with their research mentors. This apprenticeship will occupy approximately 10 hours of each student’s week during the first and second years of study and may increase during the third and fourth years, depending on the student’s specific duties. During this apprenticeship, the student will assist with the mentor’s research and scholarship, which may include data collection, data analysis, library research, presentations, writing for publication, and other related activities.

Education of Teachers Internships/Apprenticeships:

Mathematics/Science/STEM Ed Ph.D. students are expected to participate in internships that enable them to understand the workings of university level teacher preparation. These internships consist of, but are not limited to, the following: supervision of student teachers, serving as a graduate teaching assistant, serving as the instructor for a pre-service or master’s level course, assisting the Director of Teacher Education, working with the novice teachers network, designing and evaluating curriculum for P-12 programs, working with clinical instructors and cooperating teachers, supervising early field experiences, serving as a connection between the schools and university in developing early field experiences, etc.


Assessment of student progress through the Ph.D. program will be multifaceted and includes components conducted by faculty and by students themselves.

Student Annual Report

Annually, each Ph.D. student will complete an annual report describing their growth and accomplishments.

Preliminary Exam

In the second semester of the first year of study, all Ph.D. students will complete a preliminary exam, which is designed to determine the likelihood of the student’s continued success in Ph.D. studies. This exam consists of two parts. The first is a paper on a topic of significance in the field. The second is an oral exam in which students present the paper and a critique of a research article they have been given one week previously.

Pre-dissertation research manuscript

All Ph.D. students, prior to their third year of study, will complete a pre-dissertation research project that results in a manuscript submitted for review in a peer-reviewed journal. There is no requirement that the paper be accepted for publication, but students are strongly encouraged to revise manuscripts if resubmission is likely to result in publication. Research mentors will work with students to shape these papers toward eventual publication; co-authored papers are acceptable.

Qualifying Examination

All students will complete a written comprehensive examination to demonstrate understanding of the knowledge base and methodology in a concentration area of teacher education and demonstrate readiness to undertake doctoral dissertation research. The examination will be graded independently by at least two faculty members. With approval of the Teacher Education graduate program, a research manuscript accepted for publication may be used to satisfy part of the qualifying examination


All Ph.D. students will complete a dissertation proposal and a dissertation following either the traditional model or the three-paper option described in the Curry Dissertation Manual.

Typical Length of Study

Students will ordinarily complete the program in 4 years of full-time study.  In certain cases, students may be able to complete their work in a shorter period.

Semester of Entry:

Fall semester

Full or Part Time:


Course Overview

Sample Course Overview is shown below.

Mathematics Education seminars offered in recent years include: Research on the Teaching and Learning of Geometry; Problem-solving and Cognition; Mathematics K-3; The Teaching and Learning of Functions; Classics in Mathematics Education; The Teaching and Learning of Statistics. Science Education seminars offered include: Conceptual change; Science and Mathematics Education Policy; Inquiry and the Nature of Science. STEM Education seminars include: Issues in STEM Education and Expertise in STEM fields.

Year 1 Fall Year 1 Spring Credits and Assessment
Mathematics/Science Education topical seminar Mathematics/Science Education topical seminar 13/12 , Preliminary Exam
Research methods course EDIS 8090 Integrative Literature Reviews
EDIS 8500 Issues in STEM Education Research methods course
EDIS 7300 Research Foundations Research methods course
EDIS 8821 CISE Pro-seminar
Research Assignment (10-20 hours) Research Assignment (10-20 hours)
TED Assignment (0-10 hours) TED Assignment (0-10 hours)
Year 2 Fall Year 2 Spring Credits and Assessment
Mathematics/Science Education topical seminar Mathematics/Science Education topical seminar 12/12 , Pre-Dissertation Manuscript
STEM content, or STEM Education course STEM content, or STEM Education course
Research methods course Research methods course
EDIS 8850 Diversity in Teaching & Learning EDIS 8822 Seminar: Grant Writing
Research Assignment (10-20 hours) Research Assignment (10-20 hours)
TED Assignment (0-10 hours) TED Assignment (0-10 hours)
Year 3 Fall Year 3 Spring Credits and Assessment
STEM content or STEM Education seminar Dissertation hours only 12/12 , Comprehensive Exam
Research methods course, or Mathematics/Science Education topical seminar Research Assignment (10-20 hours)
Elective or Dissertation hours TED Assignment (0-10 hours)
Research Assignment (10-20 hours)
TED Assignment (0-10 hours)
Year 4 Fall Year 4 Spring Credits and Assessment
Dissertation hours only Dissertation hours only 12/12 , Dissertation
Research Assignment (10-20 hours) Research Assignment (10-20 hours)
TED Assignment (0-10 hours) TED Assignment (0-10 hours)
The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at

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