Program Description

Learning Objectives

The doctoral program will provide students with the knowledge and skills to re-construct, appropriate, and develop mathematical knowledge; explore different approaches that emerge from the study of the research literature in the field of mathematics education and related disciplines; and write original research that represents their own contribution to knowledge.

The PhD program is designed to build the intellectual skills that our graduates will need in order to utilize new and future technologies and communication infrastructures. It will provide students with multiple opportunities to enhance traditional scholarly training through participation in such practical academic endeavors as publishing and organizing lectures and colloquia. It will prepare students to use critical thinking skills to deal with the adaptation, adoption, and transformation of knowledge and information and to formulate and design solutions to complex educational problems.

The program is designed to create a focused track of study over 4 years to build skills in the following critical areas:

  1. the nature of scientific inquiry in mathematics education and related disciplines, including the cognitive sciences and the learning sciences, 
  2. appropriate methods of research design regarding data collection and analysis, particularly focused on contemporary qualitative and quantitative methods, 
  3. the production of new researchable questions, especially on the boundaries of particular disciplines (e.g., learning sciences), and
  4. the ability to design and conduct a research study with unique findings to advance the field of mathematics education. 

Program Structure

Course Categories and SequencingThe table below offers a schematic outline of how the program is designed for a full-time student to complete the program in 4 years. While the specific sequencing of coursework may vary across semesters within a particular year, the proposed coursework for a particular year is intended to be invariant. For each element, we describe the individual components and rationale. In summary, students will complete 72 credits that include:

  • 18 credits of introductory coursework to develop students' knowledge of research tools, methodologies and theories, 
  • 18 credits of preparatory coursework to refine and focus students' understanding of the research process, and 
  • 36 hours of doctoral work—12 hours of doctoral coursework and 24 hours of dissertation research to support and guide the production of the final dissertation.

The program incorporates specific elements such as the formation of an identified cohort, intensive advising of students as learning partners, the use of e-portfolios, and other community-emphasizing features, to encourage students to progress in a regular manner and make that achievable. Part-time students or ABDs starting full-time jobs in their fourth year would be permitted to complete their requirements up to but in no more than six years. Requests for extensions will be considered on a case-by-case basis in line with the rules and regulations for graduate study at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Mathematics Education Course list in table form

Year 1 requires core courses to be successfully completed. Year 2 allows some choice of topics within the courses outlined below. Upon completing the 36 credits in Years 1 and 2, students are eligible to take the qualifying exams to enter the advanced doctoral program. Following the successful completion of the qualifying exams for the Preparation phase, the candidates will start their advanced doctoral coursework and dissertation. Qualifying examinations that are not passed initially may be repeated once.