Mathematics Education PhD

The Doctor of Philosophy program in mathematics education is located in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at Arizona State University. This program is unique because it provides students with stronger mathematical training than PhD programs that are traditionally located in education colleges. Our faculty are national leaders in mathematics education with outstanding interdisciplinary research programs and strong external funding.

Reforming mathematics education requires understanding of the interplay amongst cognitive, social, cultural, and institutional forces. As such, mathematics education research is inherently interdisciplinary, drawing from mathematics, education, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and sociology. While mathematics is at the program’s core, students in the program develop expertise in multi-theoretical perspectives on the dynamics of mathematics teaching and learning and develop skills in multi-method approaches to empirical inquiry in these same areas. 

The mathematics education group at Arizona State University is particularly interested in mathematics learning and pedagogy at the high-school and early college levels and on the learning process in traditional, flipped class models and online settings. Content areas include precalculus, calculus, and the transition to advanced theoretical courses.

The school has more than 50 full-time faculty members and 13 postdoctoral faculty and is housed largely in Charles Wexler Hall, near the center of campus. Of the approximately 150 doctoral students, more than half are fully supported as teaching or research assistants. Our graduate students enjoy a collaborative atmosphere and a full schedule of research seminars and colloquiums each week. About 40% of our PhD students are women, and we support an active chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM), as well as a student chapter of American Mathematics Society (AMS), and the Graduate Statistics Club. The school hosts an annual Math and Stats Career Day and graduate students explore multiple career paths in science and industry, as well as academia.

Graduates of the mathematics education PhD program have opportunities in Arizona, the US and internationally. Typical careers are as professors at research universities and liberal arts colleges, mathematics teachers in community colleges, and as researchers for education consultant firms.

5 years to degree
> 70 TAs
50 full-time facullty

Degree Overview

The PhD in mathematics education accommodates students from a variety of academic backgrounds. It provides students with a solid foundation in graduate-level mathematics as well as research skills and perspectives that will allow them to deal broadly with problems of mathematics teaching, learning, curriculum, and technology. Conducting individual and collaborative research in the teaching and learning of mathematics is an integral part of the program.

The 84-credit program includes four required courses which act as qualifier exams, a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus, and a written dissertation. The program encourages interdisciplinary study and has a strong research focus.

How to apply

The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences offers about 20 new teaching assistantships each year.

PhD application deadline is July 1, if you are applying for admission only and are not competing for TA support.

PhD application deadline is December 10, if you want to compete for a teaching assistant position.

Applications are accepted for fall admission only. We do not accept applications for spring admission. The graduate review committee will begin reviewing completed applications for admission and teaching assistantship positions after December 10 for fall admission. The first round of offers for TA support will be made by late January.

Applications still considered incomplete by the School of Mathematical & Statistical Sciences after July 1 will likely not be evaluated by the graduate review committee in time to be considered for admission for that current year. International applicants may want to allow an additional 4-6 weeks for I-20 and visa processing and should pay careful attention to the I-20/DS-2019 important deadlines.

See Graduate Admissions for additional information on non-refundable application fees and the late processing fee.

Application Evaluation

Each applicant is evaluated not only on their GRE scores and grades, but also on their personal statement and letters of recommendation. Only completed applications submitted through the on-line process will be reviewed.

We receive many inquiries asking for a pre-evaluation to see if an applicant would be eligible to apply or make suggestions on their credentials. Unfortunately we are not able to review any application information sent to us.

More specifics can be found on the How To Apply page.

Erika David (Math Ed PhD)I really enjoy studying Math Education because of its interdisciplinary nature — it brings in philosophy, psychology, learning theory and ideas from other fields to better understand how humans learn mathematics.

Erika David
Mathematics Education doctoral student - Arizona State University
2018 Graduate Student Research Award

Curriculum

The curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in graduate-level mathematics as well as research skills and perspectives that will allow them to deal broadly with problems of mathematics teaching, learning, curriculum, and technology. Conducting individual and collaborative research in the teaching and learning of mathematics is an integral part of the program. Current members of the graduate faculty in mathematics education come from the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, mathematics, education, engineering, and statistics.

Students must pass:

  • required courses in Mathematics Education, which serve in place of qualifying examinations (details below)
  • graduate level mathematics courses
  • a written comprehensive exam
  • written and oral components of a dissertation prospectus
  • dissertation defense
Requirements and electivesHours
Required courses (RUME 1 - 4)12
Graduate level mathematics courses12
Electives from mathematics, cognitive science, psychology, educational technology, philosophy, research, etc.12-15
Colloquiums/Seminars3
Research30-33
Dissertation12
Total hours required84

Courses and electives

There are six essential components to a Ph.D. in mathematics education: Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (RUME) coursework and graduate level mathematics coursework, a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus, research, and a dissertation.

 

Coursework

Year 1:  Students must take a  year-long sequence in mathematics education: Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (RUME) I and II. They also start to take four graduate level courses from mathematics, applied mathematics, or statistics. Acceptable graduate level mathematics courses are listed in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Year 2:  Students must take RUME III and IV in year 2 and must complete the four graduate level mathematics courses. Students are encouraged to submit a research proposal to a regional or national mathematics education research conference. This may be done collaboratively with other graduate students or with an advisor. Students must select a dissertation advisor by the end of the third semester and, in consultation with the advisor, submit a plan of study (iPOS) by the end of semester three.

Year 3:  Students take research hours or electives,

Year 4:  Students will defend a dissertation prospectus, and submit a research manuscript to a mathematics education research journal. Typically this will be done collaboratively with other graduate students or with an advisor.

Year 5:  Students will continue doing research in mathematics education and finish and defend their dissertation. 

 

Exams

The finals in RUME I and RUME II serve as Qualifying ExamsThey should be attempted in year 1 and must be passed in semester 5. Attaining at least a B in each of four graduate level mathematics courses is also part of the qualifier exam. 

Comprehensive Exams taken in year 4:  The student will  demonstrate mastery of Math. Ed literature related to the students research interests. A written take home part will be discussed in an oral exam meeting with the student’s dissertation committee. 

 

Prospectus

Taking between 30 - 33 research hours in years 3 - 5 will culminate in a research proposal and oral presentation to the dissertation committee. This serves as the prospectus exam. 

While the comprehensive exam shows that the student has the necessary knowledge to conduct research in a specialization area, the dissertation prospectus demonstrates mastery of the methods needed to identify, formulate, and plan research. Students must pass the dissertation prospectus exam by the end of the 8th semester.

Mathematics Education PhD students are required to take four courses from mathematics, applied mathematics, or statistics.

Details of acceptable courses are specified in the Graduate Student Handbook. 

Students take electives from mathematics, cognitive science, psychology, educational technology, philosophy, research, etc. as approved by their advisor.

All PhD graduate students should sign up for 3 hours of seminars.

MAT 591 Seminar (3)

Years 3 - 5:

Collect and analyze data for the dissertation study. Acquire in-depth knowledge of the research literature related to the dissertation topics. 

MAT 792 Research

Year 5:

  • Finish research and write dissertation.
  • Defend dissertation by end of semester 10.

The dissertation is the culmination of the doctoral program. By writing and defending a dissertation the student demonstrates readiness to conduct independent research in a specialization area.

There will be a public oral defense following the completion of the dissertation. An external reviewer, approved by the dissertation committee, will write a write a review evaluating the novelty and scholarship of the dissertation. 

MAT 799 Dissertation

Students may transfer up to 30 credit hours from a masters in mathematics, or similar degree, into our PhD programs.

Up to 12 additional credit hours may transfer into a Plan of Study (iPOS). Courses applied to a previously awarded degree cannot be included on an iPOS. Details can be found in the graduate college policies.

Masters in Passing

If you satisfy certain master's requirements, you can acquire a master's degree on your way to a PhD. More information can be found in the graduate college policies.

Request for information

I'm Interested In...
About me...

USA Format: xxx-xxx-xxxx

Format: mm/dd/yyyy

Please also send me information to the following address