Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education
Doctor of Philosophy
The Doctor of Philosophy program in STEM Education prepares educators,
researchers, and university faculty in the areas of Mathematics Education,
Science Education, or Engineering Education. Doctoral recipients will contribute
to PreK-16 STEM Education for all students, through a deep understanding of:
- Theory and research on learning and
development, cognitive science, and the socio-cultural foundations of
- The developmental, pedagogical, and
content specific challenges inherent to the teaching and learning in the
- Research results and research methods
appropriate for the development of studies that will contribute to new
theoretical insights and practical approaches to STEM Education.
The PhD program enrolls a maximum of five full-time students per year
through new applicants and
MS applicants from within the program. Part-time students
may be admitted based on recommendations from faculty in the program, with the
approval of the STEM Education Program Committee.
The program admits candidates with backgrounds in Mathematics, Biology,
Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Education, Learning Sciences, Psychology, Child
Development, or other related areas. Candidates without a baccalaureate in
Mathematics, the Sciences, or Engineering will be required to take
additional graduate level courses in their focal content area in order to reach
a level of expertise that at a minimum is equivalent to that of a Tufts BA/BS
major in that content area.
Students with strong backgrounds in physics may also consider the
Physics Education track, which we offer in collaboration with the
Department of Physics &
Appropriate coursework paths are designed to ensure that all students
develop an advanced level of competency, as determined by the advisors and by
the STEM Education Program Committee. Students work in partnership with
educational researchers, mathematicians, natural scientists, engineers, and
experienced teachers. Throughout the program they experience a balanced
combination of discussions of educational theory, analysis, and development of
research studies, participation in practical experiences in schools and other
educational settings, and advanced work in their given focus.
The maximum time limit for full-time students to complete the PhD
program is six years.
Overview of Program
Students typically complete the program in 5-6 years. This page
provides details about the program regarding Advising and
Evaluations, course requirements,
qualifying papers, and the
Advising and Evaluations
PhD students work under the guidance of advisors and mentors in the
Education department, related departments at Tufts, and from the broader STEM
education research community.
Upon entry into the program, each student is assigned two program
advisors, one from the Departments of Education or Child Development and another
from the Mathematics, Sciences, or Engineering Departments. The program advisors
assist in making choices regarding courses, area of research, internships,
possible qualifying paper topics, and the early planning of dissertation
research. These advisors can be changed at any time within the program.
At the end of each academic year, PhD students will submit to the STEM
Education Program Committee a report on academic activities developed while in
the program and a statement of goals for the following years. The Program
Director will distribute a form that students complete to report on their
progress. Each student's report and goals are evaluated by at least three
faculty members, including the student's advisors or, if already selected, the
Chair of the Dissertation Committee. The Program Committee meets once a year to
discuss the reports and the faculty's evaluations and recommendations. The
Program Director then prepares a written report to each student that reflects
the Committee's deliberations and recommendations and that serves as guidance
towards future progress. Students should make sure that they meet with their
advisor on a regular basis. In addition, whenever possible, students should also
touch base with their committee members at least twice during the academic year.
Evaluation of student's progress will be based upon:
- Course choices and grades obtained in
- Progress towards the development of
- Progress towards the development of the
dissertation proposal, data collection, and final dissertation;
- Conference presentations and manuscript
submissions for publication.
Each student is required to complete 18 courses to fulfill the
PhD in STEM Education degree requirements. These include:
- 12 courses from Groups A, B, C, D, and E
(at least one course from each group is required);
- 2 courses from Group F (Program Seminar);
- 2 graduate courses in the Mathematics,
Sciences or Engineering Departments;
- 2 courses for dissertation work.
Depending on their level of competence and backgrounds, as evaluated by
their advisors and by the STEM Education Program Committee, students who have
completed advanced work in a group should further develop their expertise taking
courses in other groups.
Students with a master's degree may be granted waivers for up to eight
courses. Transfer of credits depends on the content of the course, the
student's performance in the course, and the relevance of the course to the
student's plan of study, as judged by the student's advisors or the Chair of the
Dissertation Committee, and by the STEM Education Program Committee.
No undergraduate courses will count towards the PhD degree.
Two qualifying papers are judged by the student's program advisor and
by at least two other readers, faculty members or researchers in the community
with expertise related to the subject area of the papers. Readers from the
disciplinary departments should be included when appropriate. The qualifying
papers should preferably be completed and approved prior to the full development
of the dissertation proposal, although it is not required that they be on the
same topic as the dissertation.
This form should be submitted to the program
director once the qualifying paper has been approved by all committee members.
Once this form has been submitted, approved qualifying papers should be
and uploaded here to the Tisch Library digital archives.
The page limit for qualifying papers is 30 pages excluding references (using 12
point font and double spacing).
Students should consult with their advisors about productive and
appropriate topics for their qualifying papers. At least one qualifying paper
must report on empirical work. In general, it is recommended that the first
qualifying paper would be a discussion of the current research literature
pertinent to the student's research and the second qualifying paper would be a
relevant empirical study that could help refine methods to be later used in the
development of the dissertation research. However, in consultation with their
advisor, students may use both qualifying papers to report on empirical studies.
Standards for Acceptance
Ideally, a qualifying paper would lead to a professional publication or
presentation. Toward this end, the standard for acceptance of a qualifying paper
is that it reflects novel thinking by the student and writing quality at the
level of a reasonable submission for a national peer-reviewed conference (e.g., the
International Conference of the Learning Sciences,
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Research Presession,
National Association for Research in Science Teaching, the
American Educational Research Association,
American Society for Engineering Education,
Jean Piaget Society). Each member of a qualifying paper committee can
request revisions to a paper until they determine it to be satisfactory. Once
all committee members have deemed the paper suitable, final acceptance is under
purview of the committee chair (or the student's advisor, if a committee chair
has not yet been determined).
Students may have coauthors for one of the two qualifying papers,
including advisors, other faculty, outside collaborators, or peers. Students who
have coauthors on a qualifying paper must also give an independent presentation
of that paper (either final paper or paper in progress) at the STEM Education
Annual Student Presentation Series or other suitable venue.
Once per year, there will be a STEM Education Annual Student
Presentation Series. Students can opt to present their qualifying paperwork at
this series. Those who submit a coauthored qualifying paper are required to
present that paper at the series.
The dissertation is developed under the guidance of an
inter-departmental Dissertation Committee. The dissertation proposal and the
final dissertation are to be submitted to the student's Dissertation Committee.
Students cannot begin data collection and work on the final dissertation until
they have approval of their committee on their dissertation proposal and have
received IRB approval for work with human subjects. The Dissertation Committee's
final recommendation on the Dissertation will be submitted to the STEM Education
Program Committee and, after deliberation, provided that all other requirements
have been fulfilled, a recommendation for degree awarding will be made to the
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
The Dissertation Committee, chosen in accordance with the STEM
Education Program Committee guidelines, will be constituted by:
- Two faculty from the Department of
Education, or one from the Department of Education and one from the
Department of Child Development;
- One faculty from Tufts Departments of
Mathematics, Sciences, or Engineering;
- One outside reviewer.
Chairs of Dissertation Committees should preferably be faculty from the
Department of Education or from the Department of Child Development. The
committee chair is normally a full-time, tenure-track faculty member.
Students are required to select the Chairperson of their Dissertation
Committee before beginning the third year of studies or, if they have entered
the program with a Master's degree in hand, before beginning the second year of
Submission of Dissertation
Once your dissertation has been approved, you will need to fill out and
submit these two forms:
Certificate of Fitness and
Approval of Thesis/Dissertation for Submission.
After you have submitted these forms, you should upload your dissertation
to ProQuest/UMI and you should make sure to apply for graduation on