The PhD in STEM Education is designed for those who seek to increase their competence in a selected area of STEM education (e.g., science education, mathematics education, educational technology), including competence in a particular STEM field (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Recipients gain appropriate knowledge and skills for teaching, supervisory, research, and administrative positions in higher education, including college and university STEM Education programs, and programs in STEM fields in community and state colleges, liberal arts colleges, and universities.
There are three primary specializations within the PhD in STEM Education program: Science Education, Mathematics Education, and Educational Technology.
Admission to this PhD program requires completion of a Master’s degree. Program requirements include completion of:
In addition, Master’s graduates who have a strong background in their content field because of their Bachelor’s degree and graduate coursework have been admitted into this PhD program. For example, doctoral students with a background and interest in Environmental Education have pursued their PhD studies in Science Education.
Although it is advisable that Master’s students seeking to pursue a PhD complete a research experience, students with non-thesis research experience have been allowed to pursue PhD study in STEM Education.
There are three phases of study in this PhD program:
Typically, Phases 1–3 require at least four years of full-time effort, but can require more time.
The knowledge and experience gained in this program are useful to graduates as teachers, consumers of research, researchers, and research advisors.
The PhD program in STEM Education is designed to emphasize coursework and research; unlike Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, it does not include an internship opportunity. However, courses in educational theories, research, and statistics engage students in projects, and these can be as real-world as students wish. MTA coursework often includes lab and fieldwork.
In addition, although dissertation studies usually emphasize theory and research, many PhD students also design their study to address needs within a particular area of educational practice.
The PhD in STEM Education program is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC).
Among the faculty who teach in this program, Dr. Thomas Marcinkowski has received the Walter E. Jeske Award (2010) and the award for Outstanding Contributions to Research in Environmental Education (1994), both from the North American Association for Environmental Education. His emphasis is on assessment, evaluation, and research studies in the areas of environmental literacy, responsible environmental behavior, and environmental quality. He has been involved in the development of assessment tools in these areas and, more generally, in program evaluation studies.
Samantha Fowler has received the Outstanding Position Paper Award (2013) from Southeastern Association for Science Teacher Education. She focuses on socio-scientific reasoning—how the general public uses scientific information in their day-to-day lives and how policy-makers use scientific evidence in their decisions. She is currently researching how social media effects socio-scientific reasoning, particularly regarding controversial issues. She also explores the effectiveness of new pedagogy styles in lecture and laboratory classes.
This PhD degree is not designed to help doctoral students satisfy credentialing requirements—that is undertaken at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels. However, from both an occupational and a professional perspective, one of the benefits of completing a PhD is to become more competitive career-wise, which is vital in today’s challenging job environment. The research background and experience students gain in this PhD program adds depth to their teaching, and provides them with insights that aid them in their future research and research advisory work.