Mathematics and Science Education, Interdisciplinary Science Education Concentration, Ph.D.
Jennifer Kaplan, Program Director
The Mathematics and Science Education (MSE) Ph.D. program is an interdisciplinary program designed to train academic researchers and educational professionals to carry out, evaluate, and integrate research in mathematics or science education. The interdisciplinary nature of the program is manifested in two ways. First, similar to other STEM education Ph.D. programs, the MSE program requires students to develop content mastery of mathematics or science and demonstrate an understanding of educational theories, research methodologies, and best practices in mathematics or science education. Thus, graduates are scholars who work at the intersection of a mathematical or scientific domain and education. Second, and unique to the MTSU MSE program is the requirement that students can compare and contrast the nature of knowledge and how knowledge is created and taught or learned across mathematics and scientific disciplines, creating scholars who can work collaboratively with other mathematical and/or science education researchers. We offer preparation for students to serve in faculty positions or leadership roles in mathematics and science education at the undergraduate level or in K-12 settings, including work with in-service and pre-service teachers.
Depending on research and professional interests, graduates of the program may choose to
- conduct research about how people learn the concepts, practices, and ways of thinking in mathematics or science;
- conduct research about the nature and development of expertise in mathematics or a scientific discipline;
- identify approaches to make mathematics or science education broad and inclusive;
- identify and measure appropriate learning objectives and instructional approaches in mathematics or science that advance students toward those objectives;
- conduct or use research to support the professional development of K-16 mathematics or science teachers or instructors;
- conduct or use research or enact policy to improve K-16 mathematics or science education;
- teach disciplinary content or methods courses for pre-service teachers.
All students in the Mathematics and Science Education Ph.D. program will be expected to complete the residency requirement during the first year of enrollment in the program. Please see Residency Requirement (below) for more information.
Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.
Admission is based on a comprehensive assessment of a candidate's qualifications including Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, undergraduate and graduate grade point average, and letters of recommendation.
- an earned bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited university or college. Applicants holding only a bachelor's degree will be expected to have earned that degree in an area of mathematics or science and will be expected to earn a master's degree in science, mathematics, or education as they complete the requirements of the Ph.D. All applicants to this program will either possess a mathematics or science degree upon admission or will be required to earn a content master's as a part of their program of study.
- an acceptable grade point average (GPA). Successful applicants typically have a minimum 3.25 GPA in their most recent graduate work or a minimum 3.00 GPA when entering with a bachelor's degree. Applicants holding a master's degree should have earned at least 24 semester hours of graduate mathematics, science, and/or education credit.
Applicants must submit all application materials to the College of Graduate Studies.
Application deadline: January 15 for full consideration for graduate assistantships in the following Fall semester. Assistantships may be limited for applications that are completed after January 15.
- submit application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php). Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
- submit official transcripts showing a grade point average (GPA) in previous academic work that indicates potential for success in advanced study;
- submit official scores for the verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing measures of the GRE that indicate potential for success in the Mathematics and Science Education program. Although specific minimum scores are not set, evaluation of scores is an important factor in admission decisions.
- submit supplemental application;
- provide letters of recommendation from at least three professors or professionals that address the applicant's potential to successfully complete a Ph.D. in Mathematics and Science Education.
NOTE: International students must also meet the College of Graduate Studies requirement for proof of English language proficiency. This may be accomplished by submission of TOEFL, UMELI test, or IELTS scores that meet the college's requirements or by successful completion of level 112 of ELS coursework.
Applicants who do not meet these minimums but whose application materials indicate high potential for success may be admitted as non-degree seeking. Such students must meet the conditions of their admission in the time stated to be fully admitted to the program of study.
The Ph.D. in Mathematics and Science Education with a concentration in Interdisciplinary Science Education requires completion of a minimum of 60 semester hours.
Once admitted to the program, each candidate must
- complete at least 60 post-baccalaureate semester hours as described in the Curriculum section below. (Students entering with a master's degree in mathematics, education, or a science discipline may have up to 15 graduate hours of previous coursework applied after determination that the content of the courses is directly equivalent to existing courses in the Mathematics and Science Education curriculum.)
- make at least two research presentations at regional, national, or international meetings as the lead or coauthor;
- be lead author or make significant contribution as coauthor of two articles published, in press, or under review in high quality, peer-reviewed journals;
- in collaboration with an MTSU faculty member serving as principal investigator, make a significant contribution to the development of at least one external grant proposal;
- complete the MSE 7800 - Teaching Internship;
- complete a dissertation and successfully defend it in the final oral examination.
During the residency year, students are expected to complete at least 16 hours of coursework that apply directly to the degree. Of these 16 hours, 13 hours of coursework are prescribed.
Fall Semester(5 hours)
Spring Semester(5 hours)
Summer (3 hours)
In addition, during the residency year, students are expected to complete each of the following:
- Attend at least one conference: The conference should be directly related to the student's concentration (i.e,. biology education, chemistry education, science education, mathematics education) and should be at the regional, national, or international level. The advisor must approve the selected conference.
- Make significant progress* toward the submission of a manuscript on which the student is a co-author. The manuscript will be prepared under the guidance of or in conjunction with MSE faculty. Residency seminars will support this process.
- Attend at least five (5) program activities not associated with course credit: The MSE program has numerous activities that occur during the academic year (i.e., fall and spring semesters). These include seminars, book club meetings, reading/writing groups, journal clubs, etc. Some of these are intended for all MSE students while others are specific to concentrations.
*NOTE: Significant progress toward the submission of a manuscript is defined as legitimate peripheral participation of the student within one or more of the following components of a manuscript:
- Research rationale/study introduction
- Literature review
- Research design and methodology
- Data analysis data presentation
Curriculum: Mathematics and Science Education, Interdisciplinary Science Education
The following illustrates the minimum coursework requirements. In addition, a maximum of 36 hours of dissertation research may be required to fulfill degree requirements.
Core Courses (27 hours)
MSE 7001 - Residency Seminar in Mathematics and Science Education I
1 to 2credit hours
Focuses on the transition of a student into a scholar. Attention is given to scholarly reading, scholarly discourse, and scholarly writing. Students will build these skills by engaging in regularly scheduled research seminars covering topics of interest in mathematics and science education and through completion of residency requirement activities.
MSE 7002 - Residency Seminar in Mathematics and Science Education II
1 to 2credit hours
Focuses on the expectations placed on university faculty. Attention given to demands regarding teaching, research, and service. Students will continue building scholarship skills by engaging in regularly scheduled research seminars covering topics of interest in mathematics and science education and through completion of residency requirement activities.
MSE 7310 - Theoretical Frameworks in Mathematics and Science Education
Focuses on how researchers utilize theoretical frameworks while conducting and reporting research in mathematics and science education. Attention given to prominent theoretical frameworks in mathematics and science education and the role of frameworks in connecting methodology and the reporting of findings in mathematics education research.
MSE 7800 - Teaching Internship
Prerequisite: Permission of department. Admission based on recommendations and performance in teaching. Offered every term.
MSE 7820 - Research Seminar in Mathematics and Science Education
Prerequisite: Must be currently enrolled in the Mathematics and Science Education Ph.D. program. Required of graduate students specializing in mathematics and science education. Involves presentations on current issues, related research, and policy developments in mathematics and science education. May be repeated.
NOTE: Students are required to take MSE 7820 at least twice before candidacy.
MSE 7900 - The Nature of Mathematics, Science, and STEM
Focus on the Nature of Mathematics (NOM), the Nature of Science (NOS), and the nature of integrated STEM. Attention will be given to how the fields practiced; conceptions of NOS, NOM, and STEM; pedagogical considerations; and the education research related to these topics.
SPSE 7010 - Educational Research Methodology
Designing research studies, including development of understandings, as well as skills and techniques needed in gathering, structuring, interpreting and presenting data required for educational research. SPSE 7010 is a prerequisite for enrollment in FOED 7610, which is recommended to be taken the following semester.
SPSE 7180 - Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods
Theoretical factors, methodological approaches, and frameworks related to evaluating and conducting qualitative research. Students required to identify specific problems and apply qualitative concepts and procedures related to classroom practice.
SPSE 7270 - Learning Theories in Mathematics and Science Education
Exposes Ph.D. students to different theoretical perspectives on learning used in mathematics and science education research. A core program requirement for students in the Mathematics and Science Ph.D. program; helps students develop an understanding of diverse theoretical perspectives on learning and the ability to select, create, and/or justify theoretical frameworks in their research related to mathematics and science education.
Choose one of the following:
ALSI 7600 - Educational Statistics
Prerequisite: One undergraduate statistics course or permission of instructor. Provides students with knowledge and skills needed to understand, interpret, and apply appropriate statistical methodologies and concepts to the educational settings. A survey course for basic statistical methods, including descriptive statistics, confidence intervals, sampling, distribution, Central Limit Theorem, logic and procedure of hypothesis testing, z-tests and t-tests of means and proportions, chi-square tests, correlation and simple regression, and one-way ANOVA. Statistical software packages such as SPSS and SAS will be utilized for data analysis. Prerequisite for ALSI 7620 and ALSI 7630.
ALSI 7620 - Advanced Quantitative Research Methodologies
Prerequisites: ALSI 7600 and ALSI 7610. Provides students with advanced quantitative research methodologies that can be applied in an educational setting. Topics include power and effect size, ANOVA (One-Way Analysis of variance, Two-Way Analysis of Variance), MANOVA (Multivariate Analysis of Variance), ANCOVA (Analysis of Covariance), Factor Analysis, Multiple Regression, Logistic Regression, and ranking or Non-Parametric tests. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) will be used. The course will include the study of the methodologies used in growth models.
PSY 7280 - Psychological Statistics: Regression
Prerequisite: PSY 3020 or equivalent or admission to Psychology graduate program. Corequisite: PSY 7281. Survey of theoretical and practical aspects of multiple regression as typically used by psychologists. Simple and multiple regression through model comparison approach in the general linear model paradigm. Laboratory included.
PSY 7460 - Factor Analysis and Related Methods
Prerequisites: PSY 6280, HHP 6700, or equivalent. Surveys each of the major factor analysis techniques and related latent theories with main focus on application. Nature, power, procedure, computer programming, interpretation, and limitations of each technique.
PSY 7550 - Structural Equation Modeling
Prerequisites: PSY 6280, HHP 6700, or equivalent. Structural equation modeling. Review of correlation, multiple regression, and path analysis. Conceptual review of measurement and structural (latent) models. Model specification, estimation, goodness of fit, and power of structural equation models. Relevant computer programs.
PSY 7565 - Behavioral Statistics Using R
Prerequisite: PSY 4070 or PSY 6280/PSY 7280. Use of the R programming language to solve data management issues and to conduct basic and advanced statistical analyses.
Concentration Core (18 hours)
Students who choose this concentration must select at least 18 hours (in consultation with their major advisors and dissertation committee) from the courses listed in the Biological Education, Chemical Education, and Mathematics Education concentrations in Mathematics and Science Education or from the courses listed below:
BIOL 7850 - Intermediate Life Science
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor and one undergraduate biology course. Uses a process-oriented approach to the study of life science with emphasis on execution and analysis of content-based activities and experiments suited to actual classroom situations. (May not be used for biology majors or minors.)
MATH 6100 - Mathematics for Teachers
Mathematics as problem solving, communication, and reasoning. Connecting different fields of mathematics. Topics include number and number relationships, number systems and number theory, computation and estimation, patterns and functions, statistics and probability, algebra, geometry, measurement.
MATH 6330 - Algebra from an Advanced Perspective
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Review and extension of algebraic skills and concepts as they relate to the teaching and learning of algebra. Focus on algebraic thinking and problem solving, algebraic systems, functions, graphing, and linear algebra.
MATH 6340 - Geometry from an Advanced Perspective
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Investigations into the foundations of plane, solid, and coordinate geometry, motion geometry, similarities and congruencies, measurement and the application of geometry. Instruction will model the suggested pedagogy appropriate for school mathematics.
MATH 6350 - Probability and Statistics from an Advanced Perspective
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Relation to school mathematics. Development of central tendency and variation, concepts of chance including sample space, randomness, conditional probability, and independence.
PSCI 6020 - Investigations in Physical Science
1 to 3credit hours
Prerequisite: Graduate standing or consent of instructor. Topics from astronomy to chemistry and physics, with special emphasis on the development of hands-on activities, determination of content cognitive demand, development of appropriate assessment instruments/implementation plans, and implementation of these across the pre-college curriculum. For practicing pre-college science teachers and school administrators. Consult the listed instructor for costs and specific credits. Does not apply toward chemistry graduate degrees. Offered on sufficient demand. May be repeated for a total of six credits with departmental approval. Repeatable for up to six credit hours.
PSY 6480 - Advanced Topics in Quantitative Psychology
Prerequisite: PSY 6280 or equivalent. Advanced topics in quantitative psychology. Focus on current topics, recent issues, and less traditional areas of quantitative psychology. Relevant computer programs. May be repeated for a total of six credits.
PSY 6550 - Structural Equation Modeling
Prerequisites: PSY 6280, HHP 6700, or equivalent. Structural equation modeling. Review of correlation, multiple regression and path analysis. Conceptual review of measurement models. Model specification, estimation, goodness of fit, and power of structural equation models. Relevant computer programs.
PSY 7210 - Advanced Psychometrics
Prerequisites: PSY 6280, HHP 6700, or equivalent. Classical test theory and item response theory. Model, assumptions, and problems of classical test theory. Mathematical modeling, parameter estimating, and adaptive testing procedures using item response theory. Both theories utilized for test construction.
PSY 7580 - Multivariate Data Analysis
Prerequisites: PSY 6280, HHP 6700, or equivalent. Surveys each of the major multivariate data analysis techniques, with main focus on their application. Nature, power, procedure, computer programming, interpretation, and limitations of each.
PSCI 7800 - Intermediate Physical Science
Selected concepts and theories within the physical sciences of astronomy, chemistry, geology, and physics such as the solar system and the Earth, physical and chemical changes, chemical bonding, acids and bases, rocks and minerals, density, kinematics, electricity, and magnetism. Particular emphasis placed on developing strong content and pedagogical content knowledge in these areas.
Students must take one of the following courses:
BIOL 7900 - Teaching and Learning Biology
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Overview of biology education with an emphasis on how students learn biology and current best practices for teaching biological concepts. Primary literature of the field featured as course emerges through lectures, discussion, small group activities, and group/individual presentations. Capstone experience will be student's development of an instructional unit of study including the formal teaching of selected biological concepts. Three hours lecture/discussion.
CHEM 7900 - Teaching and Learning in Chemistry
Areas and ideas associated with chemical education. Readings from the current literature or seminal texts on misconceptions in chemistry, theories of learning, and theories of teaching. Offered summer only.
NOTE: Graduate standing is the prerequisite for graduate courses in chemistry. The 5000-level courses also have the same prerequisites as listed for the corresponding 4000-level courses in the undergraduate catalog.
MATH 7900 - Teaching and Learning Mathematics
Focus on theoretical and practical issues regarding how students learn mathematics, best practices for teaching mathematics, and issues from current literature on the teaching and learning of mathematics.
Electives (3-36 hours)
In consultation with his or her major advisor and dissertation committee, each student will choose 3-36 credit hours from courses in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, and the College of Education at the 6000 or 7000 level.
Dissertation (12-36 hours)
MSE 7640 - Dissertation Research in Mathematics and Science Education
1 to 6credit hours
Selection of a research problem, review of pertinent literature, collection and analysis of data, and composition of the dissertation. Once enrolled, students must register for at least one credit hour of dissertation research each semester until completion. S/U grading.