School of Education - George Mason University
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The Science Education Research specialization prepares students to conduct research about the learning and teaching of science within different scientific disciplines. Such research involves a deep understanding of the discipline-specific content knowledge as well as the discipline-specific methodologies through which this knowledge is developed.

The PhD specialization in Science Education Research supports the in depth study of students interested in research in science education. Such a comprehensive and systematic concentration designed around doctoral level courses supports the science education program's ability to offer more robust and rigorous courses of study at the doctoral level. The major thrust of the science education research specialization is to prepare students for 21st century classrooms, to be collaborative, to produce and enhance critical thinking skills, and to embrace and foster creativity.

Course Work

General Culture (3 credits)

Research Methods (15 credits)

In addition to the doctoral program core requirements shown above, students must complete the following curriculum to earn the specialization:

Specialization Required Courses, Electives, and Secondary Specialization (36 credits)

Dissertation (12 credits)

Total: 66 credits


Students complete an educational portfolio as part of the requirement of the PhD in Education and Human Development program. The portfolio is an organized, selective collection of documents designed to facilitate a student's academic and professional development and to provide a basis for evaluation degree progress. The portfolio represents the scope and depth of a student's goals, plans, and accomplishments in coursework, independent study, research, internships, and other advanced learning activities. The portfolio thus provides both a vehicle for self-reflection and a comprehensive record of a doctoral student's experiences and ongoing progress toward academic and professional goals.

Time to Degree

For both full-time and part-time students enrolled in doctoral programs, whether entry is post-baccalaureate or post-master's, the total time to degree will not exceed nine (9) calendar years from the time of first enrollment in the program as a doctoral student. Doctoral students are expected to progress steadily toward their degree and to advance to candidacy within no more than six (6) years.

Students who do not meet published time limits because of compelling circumstances beyond their control may request an exception to this policy by petitioning their dean for a single extension of one calendar year prior to the expiration of the time limit.

What Will You Learn?More Less

All doctoral students are required to complete courses in educational research (15 credits) and four required program courses (12 credits) in foundational and contemporary science education research, STEM education research and policy, and critical issues in science education research. The science education research program features coursework and applied internships that enable students to learn:

  • Theory and research in learning about science in formal and non-formal settings
  • Foundational knowledge about science teaching and learning at all levels
  • Research methodologies to address a variety of science education topics
  • Specialized knowledge in science education related to your area of interest

Elective courses draw upon and expand your selected research focus. Courses are developed around a wide range of research interests, including:

  • Achievement Gap
  • Learning Theories for Science Education
  • Critical Pedagogy and Theory
  • Design of Learning Environments
  • Affect and Emotion in Science Education
  • Diversity
  • Motivation and Interest in Science
  • Scientific Literacy
  • Curriculum Studies
  • Science and STEM Education Policy
  • STEM Pipeline Issues

How Will You Learn?More Less

Choosing Science Education Research as your primary or secondary specialization gives you access to program faculty who work closely with you to define your research interests and tailor coursework accordingly. Your advisor guides your doctoral experience by supplementing coursework with professional experiences, including:

  • Attending and/or Presenting at Professional Conferences
  • Graduate Research Assistantships or Internships
  • Independent Study
  • Professional Learning in Online Teaching
  • Teaching and/or Co-Teaching
  • Writing, Editing, and/or Reviewing for Scholarly Journals
  • Building a Professional Portfolio (see College Portfolio Guidelines)

Careers in the FieldMore Less

A PhD in Education specializing in Science Education Research prepares you for careers in research and teaching at a college or university, leading roles in public policy, or consulting for professional organizations. Program graduates hold professional positions such as:

  • Academic faculty at postsecondary institutions
  • Consultants with private companies, education and research think tanks, and NGOs
  • Curriculum leaders in major K-12 school districts
  • Research analysts at the National Science Foundation
  • Assessment and evaluation specialists at national research institutes
  • Senior researchers at the American Institutes for Research

Licensure Disclosure

This program has been identified by George Mason University as one that may lead to a career requiring professional licensure/certification. Federal regulations require Mason to disclose information as to whether this program meets/does not meet the educational requirements for licensure/certification in your state, or whether such a determination has not been made. Please consult our Licensure Disclosure Tool for the disclosure statement specific to your desired state/program combination.

George Mason University will verify completion of the requirements of a Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) state-approved preparation program at the graduate or undergraduate level. Such verification does not guarantee the issuance of a Virginia Collegiate Professional, Postgraduate Professional, or Pupil Personnel license from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is solely the student's responsibility to comply with all requirements for licensure by the Commonwealth. Under Virginia law, a social security number is required for licensure.

Contact the PhD Program for additional information.