STEM Education Ph.D.

NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have suspended the GRE requirement for applications to the STEM Education Ph.D. program.

The STEM Education Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary degree program for those who have an interest in improving the quality of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics education through research. The concentration is housed in the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) and governed by an interdisciplinary committee consisting of STEM education faculty associated with COEHD and the Maine Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center). The program prepares people for faculty positions in STEM education research.

The PhD requires a minimum of  45 credits of coursework and a research dissertation. Students in the PhD:

  • Are eligible for financial support
  • Carry out STEM education research studies broadly, and in their discipline(s)
  • Build robust research skills while strengthening their knowledge of the discipline(s)
  • Join a vibrant interdisciplinary community of STEM education researchers and students associated with the Maine RiSE center
  • Are full-time students

This program is designed so graduates can pursue careers:

  • As faculty in science or mathematics education research, in discipline departments or colleges of education
  • As education researchers in museums, research centers and think tanks

The program consists of coursework as well as mentored and independent research, culminating in a dissertation research study. Students complete a common core of required courses, as well as courses specific to their focus within STEM education research. In the program’s initial years, all students will be full-time graduate students funded by assistantships from within participating colleges and departments. In future years the core program of full-time students may be augmented by exceptionally qualified part-time students.

Program details
There are two pathways through the PhD program. In both pathways, a bachelor’s degree in a STEM or STEM education is a prerequisite for admission.

Pathway 1 is for students who do not already have graduate level experience in STEM education research. Pathway 2 is for students who have both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in STEM or STEM education and whose master’s program included a STEM education research thesis.

Details About Pathway 1

Pathway 1 is for students who are not graduates of the University of Maine’s Master of Science in Teaching (MST) Program or a similar program which includes a thesis in STEM education research. In this pathway, students enroll concurrently in one of several of UMaine’s master’s degree programs and the STEM Education PhD program. The following are some of the options for the master’s degree component of the program:

  • The MST program
  • A master’s degree in the Department of Physics & Astronomy with a research thesis in STEM education
  • A master’s degree in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics with a research thesis in STEM education
  • A master’s degree from another STEM department at the University of Maine that includes a research thesis in STEM education

By design, there is substantial overlap between the course requirements of the MST program and the first two years of requirements for the STEM PhD program. In consultation with their advisors, students in other master’s programs will plan their program of study so it fulfills requirements for the PhD as well as the master’s degree.

Completing the thesis of whichever master’s program the student is enrolled in and its oral defense will be a necessary step for advancing to candidacy.

Application Information for Pathway 1:

Prospective students for Pathway 1 select master’s degree program options as part of the application process. Follow the links below for prerequisite requirements for each of these degrees. To be admitted to the STEM Education PhD program, students pursuing Pathway 1 must also be admitted to a UMaine master’s degree program. Some possibilities are below.

Details About Pathway 2

Pathway 2 is for students who are graduates of the MST or a similar program that includes a STEM education research thesis. After applying for and being accepted into the PhD program, and upon successful review by the admissions committee, students in this pathway will normally receive credit for coursework required in the MST and for having met master’s thesis and oral defense requirements. Decisions about credit for prior courses may be influenced by the recency of graduate work.

Tuition and fees
For current information about tuition and fees, please visit the Bursar’s office.

To apply

Use the Graduate School application. Your application packet should include the following:

  • Graduate School application with essay (see note below about content of the essay)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • TOEFL scores (if required)
  • A sample of scholarly writing.  For Pathway 1, the sample can be from any field. For Pathway 2, it should be your education research thesis. If your thesis is not yet finished, provide an excerpt from your thesis.

Your application essay should be 900 to 1200 words, not 300-500 words as stated in the Graduate School application.  This essay should be a statement of purpose that addresses the following:

Describe your career goals and how pursuing graduate study in STEM education contributes to those goals. Discuss your particular interests in STEM education research.  Also, describe any research experience you have STEM education, including any teaching experiences. Include any other information that will help us get to know your qualifications and interests better. If, as part of Pathway 1, you wish to also pursue teacher certification while in the program, let us know the Subject Concentration Area(s) in which you are most interested in concentrating.

Application deadline: Completed applications that are received by Jan. 6 will receive full consideration for admissions and assistantship funding. Normally, admissions decisions are made and notifications given by mid April.

Program faculty

Justin Dimmel, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education and Instructional Technology
Elizabeth Hufnagel, Associate Professor of Science Education
Asli Sezen-Barrie, Associate Professor of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction
Natasha M. Speer, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Michael C. Wittmann, Professor of Physics

Professional Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Plan information