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Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership, (Ph.D.) - Mathematics and Science Education Specialization

This program leads to a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership with a specialization in Mathematics and Science Education. The Mathematics and Science Education specialization prepares researchers and transformative practitioners in K-16 mathematics and science education. Students in this program gain a deep understanding of classic and current research in mathematics and science education, theories of individual and social cognition, teacher education and professional development, and research methods commonly used by mathematics and science education researchers, all with an emphasis on the connections among theory, research, and practice. Students also develop their own abilities as mathematical and scientific thinkers. All students take a set of common courses addressing teaching, learning, policy, and teacher preparation in mathematics and science, as well as more specialized courses addressing mathematics or science education separately. Students also have opportunities to take science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) policy and leadership courses. The specialization takes advantage of the University of Maryland’s location in a high-needs urban school district near Washington, DC. Faculty in this program have connections to local schools that enable students to get involved with research and teacher professional development focused on the needs of urban schools.

For information on graduate admission please see the Graduate School's Admissions page for the Department of Teaching, Learning, Policy and Leadership at https://gradschool.umd.edu/education/tlpl. We accept both full-time and part-time doctoral students.

Select an area of interest from the various offerings in the College of Education to determine the admission requirements and deadlines.  If you are unsure of your area of interest you may request information by submitting an Inquiry Form.

Applicants who wish to apply to the Ph.D. program with specialization in Mathematics and Science Education should select Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership (TLPL) as their “Intended Program of Study.” 

Please refer to the Guide to Applying  for instructions on how to apply for graduate admission. If you have questions or concerns, we ask you to first review our list of  Frequently Asked Questions. International applicants should visit the International admissions webpage for additional information.


INFORMATION SESSION about our Ph.D. and M.A. programs will be held on October 13, 2023, by zoom.

Financial assistance for graduate study is generally divided into two categories: 

  • Merit-Based Assistance Need-Based Assistance  
    • Fellowships and Scholarships Loans  
    • Graduate Assistantships 

For more details about the various types of financial assistance offered by the campus please visit the Office of Student Financial Aid 

There are also a number of fellowships and scholarships offered through the College of Education, the University, and through external sources which may provide tuition support and/or living allowance. Students must apply for these awards on their own, but the links that follow provide valuable information on searching for fellowships and scholarships. 

For more information concerning fellowships and scholarships, please visit: 

The College of Education Financial Aid & Scholarship webpage

The University's Scholarships webpage, and 

The Graduate School Student Fellowships & Awards webpage

The doctoral curriculum typically requires at least three years of graduate study beyond the Master’s degree. Many students admitted to the doctoral program already have a Master’s degree. If a student does not have a Master’s degree, an advisor develops an individualized plan that aligns Master’s level and Doctoral level coursework for the student. Students are expected to integrate into the campus scholarly community and to be available on a full-time basis.   

Integrated Department Core: All new TLPL PhD students join a two-course sequence (6 semester hours) in foundations of inquiry and practice with other department specialization students from Education Policy and Leadership, Language, Literacy and Social Inquiry, Mathematics and Science Education, Minority and Urban Education, Teacher Education and Professional Development, and Technology, Learning and Leadership.  

Specialization Core: MSED students take a two-course sequence (6 semester hours) as the specialization core in (i) learning and reasoning in mathematics and science, and (ii) mathematics and science teacher education and policy. An additional 6 semester hours (two courses) of courses allow students to specialize in mathematics education or science education. Students also take two disciplinary courses of their choice in mathematics or science.

Intermediate and Advanced Methods: Students are required to take at least 12 credit hours of research methods courses, including one qualitative and one quantitative methods course. Students may take research methods courses in TLPL, Human Development and Quantitative Methods (HDQM), or other academic departments. 

Doctoral Seminars: For at least three semesters, doctoral students in MSED enroll in a bi-weekly 1-credit seminar that is run by and for graduate students. Students typically share and get feedback on work-in-progress.  

TLPL Ph.D. Specialization in Mathematics & Science Education (MSED)  

Integrative Departmental Core (6 cr)

Introduction to core issues in educational policy, practice, and research, is taken by all 1st-year doctoral students in TLPL.

  • TLPL 794: Foundations of Educational Inquiry I ("Core I")
  • TLPL 795: Foundations of Educational Inquiry II ("Core II")
Intermediate & Advanced Methods (12 cr)
  • 1 “Initial” Qualitative Methods (Example:  TLPL 791: Qualitative Research I: Design and Fieldwork) 

  • 1 “Initial” Quantitative Methods (at the level of EDMS 646  or EDMS 651, depending on your Advisor and specific plans).  Note: EDMS 645 doesn’t count for this requirement. 

  • 2 Advanced Methods courses chosen in consultation with Advisor.  Note:  An apprenticeship-like practical experience, with deep immersion in learning and using advanced methods, can substitute for one of the courses. 

Specialization Core (9 CR) 
  • TLPL 710: Theory and Research on Mathematical and Scientific Thinking and Learning. 

  • TLPL 713: Mathematics and Science Education Policy, Professional Development and Teacher Preparation  (Note: Students focused on higher ed. may petition to replace this with a similarly themed course focused on higher ed.) 

  • TLPL 728: Research Seminar in Mathematics and Science Education. (1-credit seminar, 3 semesters worth).  

Math and/or Science Education Field Courses (6 cr)
  • TLPL 620: Trends in School Curriculum: Science
    Recent Developments In Educational Thinking And Practice On Curriculum In Science Education. 
  • TLPL 720: Foundations of Science Education 
    Development of science education, pre-kindergarten through college; the influences on current and future practices; and the identification and critical analysis of topics in science education; equity and identity in science education. 
  • TLPL  711: Foundations of Mathematics Education II: Theory and Research on Mathematics Teaching 
    Knowledge of and insights into how mathematics has been and is being taught; theories about how it might be taught. Familiarity with the methods used to do research on teaching and to improve teaching. 
  • TLPL 712: Foundations of Mathematics Education III: Curriculum 
    The study of curriculum in mathematics and research on curriculum. The relationship of mathematics and school mathematics; the forms, purposes, development, and evaluation of mathematics curricula. 

Note: Mathematics education concentrators take TLPL 711 and 712.  Science education concentrators take TLPL 620 and 720. Students with a “STEM” focus, working with their advisor, can work out a “mix and match” plan, also including TLPL core courses (Proseminar on Theories of Learning, and Proseminar on Research). 

Disciplinary courses in math, statistics (from STAT department), and/or science, graduate level or advisor-approved 400 level. Note: With advisor approval, students may “mix and match” mathematics and science courses. (6 credits)

Electives (9 cr)

Note:  Up to an additional 3 credits of TLPL 728: Research Seminar in Mathematics Education, beyond the required 3 credits, can count toward electives. 

Master’s Coursework (30 cr)

Students who enter without a master's degree in math or science use some of these credits for additional disciplinary courses in math or science.   

Dissertation Research (12 cr)

TLPL 899: Doctoral Dissertation Research (6 credits per semester once advanced to candidacy) 

Minimum Total Credits:  

60 if student has a Master's degree 
90 if student does not have a Master's degree 

Graduate Education Program Requirements

If you have questions about our admission process, contact TLPL Graduate Coordinator Kay Moon at kmoon@umd.edu

For Math-specific questions, students may contact Dr. Andrew Brantlinger at amb@umd.edu.

For science-specific questions, students may contact Dr. Andrew Elby at elby@umd.edu.

Deadlines vary by degree and program.  Please refer to the Graduate School's application information.


Graduate students in the College of Education are responsible for meeting University and the Graduate School policy, and for meeting Program requirements.  See the Graduate Catalog and Graduate Policies governing graduate education at the University of Maryland. The schedule adjustment policy is available from the Office of the Registrar and provides information on adding and dropping courses, penalties, and refund schedules.


Graduate students are required to submit various forms at specific points in the program and as part of the degree clearance process. Please refer to Steps Toward Graduation to determine the steps and forms that are required. To access forms used by graduate students visit the Graduate Studies Forms page in Student Services.