College of Education and Human Development

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

STEM education

The PhD in STEM education is interdisciplinary across STEM fields. Students pursuing this degree will choose an area of emphasis in one of four specializations—science, mathematics, engineering, or agriculture—while simultaneously participating in scholarly work that spans all areas of STEM education. This integrated style of study is one of the first in the nation, and is designed to prepare scholars to conduct thoughtful disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in STEM education in order to assume roles as university faculty members, educational leaders, policymakers, and researchers.

This program emphasizes: 

  • K-12 STEM integration 
  • Teacher preparation and professional development 
  • Equity and social justice 
  • Research on K-12 and higher education teaching and learning

Quote from Felicia Leammukda

I chose the University of Minnesota because I wanted to work with a diverse population of students and develop a curriculum that would fit the needs of a differentiated classroom. The grant I was first assigned to allowed me to do both those things.

Felicia Leammukda PhD candidate 2019


Mathematics specialization

Mathematics education faculty spend significant time in K-12 schools, collaborating with teachers, and conducting research to improve mathematics curricula and pedagogy. Coursework and research in this field emphasizes both: 

  • Mathematics teacher preparation 
  • Mathematical knowledge for teaching 
  • Practice-based teacher education 
  • Teaching and learning rational numbers and fractions in grades 4-8 
  • Identifying strategies to increase underrepresented student achievement 
  • Math in urban classrooms 

Agricultural specialization

This is a research-oriented program that will prepare students for university faculty positions, public and corporate leadership roles in education, natural resource management, extension education, international development, and many other professional careers in agriculture and life sciences. 

Career outlook

Graduates of the program have assumed positions as university faculty, instructional leaders in the public schools, curriculum developmental specialists, and assessment specialists. 

Some recent graduates have gone on to the following positions: 

  • Assistant Professor, Teacher Education, St. Thomas University 
  • Assistant Professor, University of Idaho
  • Visiting Assistant Professor at Carleton College 
  • Assistant Professor of Science Education at Iowa State University 
  • Assistant Professor, Purdue University 
  • Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences at Metropolitan State University 
  • Coordinator of Science and Mathematics, St. Cloud Public Schools 
  • STEM Coordinator, Owatonna Public Schools 

Science specialization

This includes both science and environmental education in PK-12 settings, at the college level, and in informal and adult settings. Focus areas of research include: 

  • Pre-service and in-service science teacher education and induction and mentoring of beginning science teachers
  • Design and implementation of K-16 curricula 
  • Environmental education 
  • Equity and social justice 
  • Integrated STEM education 

Engineering specialization

Engineering education is an emerging research discipline that spans pioneering work in how engineering concepts are introduced, learned and effectively taught at the K-12 level. Connect with students and faculty in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering. Be challenged by the rigors of the engineering field and the complexities of integrating and evaluating engineering curricula in both formal and informal settings. 

PhD curriculum

The PhD in STEM includes a core curriculum and four specializations to choose from depending on your research interests. Students will complete 48 course credits and 24 thesis credits for 72 in total. To view the curriculum requirements in detail visit the Education, Curriculum, and Instruction PhD page in the course catalog,  go to Requirements, go to program subplan, scroll down to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education.

Research opportunities

Students can engage in research that advances the field of STEM education and ties into their area of interest. Faculty work closely with each student to achieve research and educational goals and improve educational opportunities for students. Learn more about the student research experience in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. 

    Gillian Roehrig Gillian Roehrig

    My research and teaching interests are centered on understanding how teachers translate national and state standards into their classrooms.

    Gillian Roehrig
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    How to apply

      Application deadline and instructions

      Priority deadline: December 1 for admission to the fall of the following year
      Admissions decisions: January

      Applications submitted after this date are considered on a case-by-case basis and may not be reviewed until the following year. Faculty review applications in mid-late December, and the Graduate School will notify applicants about admission decisions shortly thereafter. Final admission decisions are based on complete applications. All application materials must be included for the application to be released for review.

      Before applying online, go through the application checklist to ensure you have all the required materials. We are here to help! If you have questions, please contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator. If you are a returning Graduate School student, follow the Readmission guidelines. If you are a current Graduate School student and need to change your program, follow the Change of Status guidelines.

      Tuition and funding

      We have several funding options to support students full-time through program completion. Support is available in the form of:

      • Teaching Assistantships. The majority work as student teaching supervisors for MEd initial licensure students. Daytime availability, a teaching license, and teaching experience are required
      • Research Assistantships
      • Fellowships. Based on a departmental nomination process. You will be notified by the Director of Graduate Studies if you are being considered for a fellowship. Decisions are made by April 15.
      • Graduate students are also eligible to apply for fellowships and graduate assistantships through other University departments. Visit the University's employment page or fellowships through the Graduate School's Graduate Fellowship Office.
      • Find more detailed federal financial aid and graduate tuition information.
      • Financial support through Teaching Assistantships in MELP, the Writing Center, or the undergraduate TESL program.
      • Fellowships such as FLAS

      Application requirements

      What we look for

      Admission to our master's of arts and doctoral programs are competitive and we look for candidates whose goals and interests align with the program’s research and scholarship. Program faculty make admissions decisions based on the candidate’s experience and research competencies, along with compatibility of research goals.

      Please look at our current faculty members’ research interests.

      Our masters and doctoral candidates display

      • Evidence of strong interest in research and in the development of research competencies
      • Evidence of substantial experience in the discipline
      • Strong writing skills
      • Bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. institution or foreign equivalent

      Required application documents

      1. Unofficial transcripts.Upload your transcripts into the application system. Please include all transcripts from any institution you have attended, even if you did not earn a degree or certificate. Please do not mail your transcripts. Official transcripts are required only after you are admitted. Tips for uploading your transcript(s).
      2. Resume.
      3. CI Application Form. Upload in the graduate program additional materials section.
      4. Three letters of recommendation. Ask professors, employers, or supervisors to speak to your potential for successfully completing your degree; they will upload their letters directly into the online application.

      The GRE is being waived for those applicants applying for Fall 2025.

      Required written statements

      1. Personal statement.Upload to the Applicant Statements section of the online application. (Most statements are 1.5-3 pages, single spaced). Please trace how you became interested in research in this discipline, as well as what problems interest you the most and why. Be sure to speak to:
        1. Why you want to study in our department
        2. What strengths, expertise, and research experience would contribute to your success in our program
        3. Your professional goals for pursuing a research-focused degree
      2. Diversity statement.Upload to the Applicant Statements section of the online application. Identify the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would contribute to our community. You may wish to include examples that address your contribution to the diversity of the student body and illustrate your motivation to succeed by setting high standards for accomplishing intellectual and other goals, overcoming obstacles to achievement, and/or helping others to gain access to the resources necessary for success. (please do not exceed one page in length)
      3. Short writing sample.(Optional except for Literacy Education applicants). For example, an excerpt from a term paper or research paper for publication. No longer than five pages in English.
      4. Common Ground Consortium Fellowship. (Optional) The primary purpose of the CGC is to assist graduate programs in the College of Education and Human Development to recruit exceptional students with the distinct experience provided by HBCUs or similarly distinguishing contexts, provide these students with financial assistance support during their graduate studies, and assistance with career development and job placement afterwards. It offers a pipeline to excellence and an opportunity to diversify perspectives in the academy. If you wish to apply, submit a statement that describes how your participation as a CGC scholar would a) enhance your graduate student experience, b) prepare you for your chosen career, and c) benefit the public. Upload to graduate program additional materials section.

      Additional admissions information

      Application checklist

      Before applying online, go through the application checklist to ensure you have all the required materials. We are here to help! If you have questions, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

      If you are a returning Graduate School student, follow the Readmission guidelines. If you are a current Graduate School student and need to change your program, follow the Change of Status guidelines.

      Transfer credits

      MA students must complete at least 60 percent of their coursework (not including thesis credits) within our program. PhD students may transfer no more than 15 credits from an outside institution.

      A maximum of 12 graduate course credits taken as non-degree seeking or non-admitted status at the University of Minnesota can be transferred; this is counted separately from the maximum 60 percent or 15 non-UMN credits. For example, a PhD student could transfer a maximum of 27 credits (15 non-UMN and 12 non-degree from UMN).

      If you earned a MA at the UMN, please contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator to discuss transfer procedures. Thesis credits cannot be transferred.

      After you are admitted, you will work with your adviser to determine which credits may transfer.

      International applicants

      International applicants may also need:

      • An English translation of your transcripts, if the transcript is not in English. Please note: the Graduate School Admissions Office will not accept an evaluation of your international coursework by an outside agency such as ECE or WES; they only accept the original transcripts.
      • TOEFL/IELTS or MELAB. You may qualify for an exception if you have completed 16 semester or 24 quarter credits within the past 24 months in residence as a full-time student at an accredited institution of higher learning in the United States or other country where English is the official language (i.e. U.K, Canada). Score requirements and submission guidelines

      Request Information

      We’re here to help. Simply complete one of these forms and a member of our department will be in touch