STEM Education, Ph.D. – School of Education & Human Development

STEM Education, Ph.D.

Teaching & Learning

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Ph.D.

Teaching and Learning Ph.D.
Specialization in
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Situated in South Florida, home to one of the highest numbers of foreign-born residents in the world, TAL’s doctoral degree (Ph.D.) program specializing in STEM education at the University of Miami features a diverse group of core and affiliated faculty whose research advances scientific knowledge about STEM teaching and learning where issues of language, culture, and poverty are paramount. In our efforts to understand how issues of equity and diversity play out across preK-through post-secondary STEM education, our work includes attention to race and ethnicity, gender, student exceptionality and social class.

To conduct our research we collaborate with schools and districts across South Florida and we work closely with a variety of Schools and Departments across the UM campuses, including the College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, and Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Our Students’ Career Objectives

  • We prepare our doctoral students to become academic researchers and university faculty who will assume professional and leadership roles in organizations focused on some combination of science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics education in the United States and around the world
  • Our doctoral students have assumed post-Ph.D. positions as faculty at research-intensive institutions of higher education, as research scientists or professional development specialists at non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or think tanks, and as specialists in some combination of STEM curriculum, teaching or testing

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  • In addition to the irreplaceable campus aesthetics, the University of Miami provided me with opportunities that prepared me for the next step in my career. Earning my Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning was a challenging journey that was nurtured by my fabulous peer cohort, generous Department faculty, expert faculty across campus, and an advisor whose knowledge and guidance ensured my success.
    Dr. Chelsea T. Morris
  • The critical and often intersectional lens through which we learned to read, analyze, and conduct research [in the Teaching and Learning Department] broadened my intellectual capacity and allowed me to examine and challenge my own beliefs about teaching and learning. This process, alongside strong mentoring and support from faculty, shaped what I like to call my “transition” from a teacher to a teacher educator.
    Dr. Lindsey A. Chapman


The STEM faculty combine practical classroom expertise and scholarly attainments. We see these two aspects of our work as a natural and necessary combination: either would be diminished by the absence of the other. Through research, we seek to advance knowledge in our respective fields to inform policy and improve practice. As teachers, scholars, and learners, we engage in collaborative school and community improvement efforts locally, nationally, and internationally.

Walter G. Secada

Senior Associate Dean, Professor


Office: Max Orovitz Building, 333A

Ji Shen

Associate Professor


Office: Merrick Building 324-B

Nam Ju Kim

Assistant Professor


Office: Merrick Building 324-C

Jennifer Kahn

Assistant Professor


Office: Merrick Building 222-D
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September 4, 2016

Walter G. Secada’s Research

Walter G. Secada’s scholarly interests include issues of student diversity and equity in education, how people learn across the various STEM fields, curriculum reform, school restructuring, bilingualism and the education of non-dominant-language learners and assessment.  At present, he is working with colleagues from Florida State University and the University of Central Florida on a large scale, randomized-control-trials study of a professional development program that is known as Cognitively Guided Instruction; his specific […]
September 4, 2016

Ji Shen’s Research

Ji Shen is working on technology-enhanced STEM learning environments, interdisciplinary and integrated learning, modeling-based instruction, and alternative assessments in STEM education. As a native Chinese speaker, he is also interested in issues related to international STEM education. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Shen holds a doctorate in Physics from Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining University of Miami, Dr. Shen was a postdoctoral researcher […]


More Info

The following is a summary of coursework. Please reference the Doctoral Student Handbook and Course Bulletin for specific program of study.

Core STEM Courses

TAL 774: Research on Learning in STEM
Overview of research on student learning, reasoning, problem solving, and sense making; the study of learning in STEM classrooms.

TAL 773: Teaching and Teacher Education in STEM
More advanced and specialized topics in research on the teaching and learning of STEM, including the development of teachers across their careers, professional development, learning in and out of school.

TAL 776: Assessment in STEM Education
Classroom based assessment, testing for high stakes and other purposes, national and international comparisons in mathematics and science.

TAL 775: STEM Curriculum
Study of STEM curricula and the competing forces that shape them, including standards documents, state and national policy, conceptions of the disciplines, modern and postmodern analyses of curriculum theory.

Coursework in Diversity

TAL 703: Issues and Trends in Multicultural Education
The study and critical examination of the theory and practice of multicultural education. Development of a personal theory of effective education for pluralism.

In addition to TAL 703, students will take at least two graduate-level courses organized around thematic topics involving diversity in its various manifestations. The courses may be taken from different departments (e.g., psychology, sociology, modern languages, law) or may be part of a master's degree program; nonetheless, they should form a coherent whole. The student and advisor shall determine which courses from across the University of Miami campus can be used to meet this requirement. Topics in diversity that are considered acceptable for thematic study include: (a) poverty and social class, (b) gender, (c) race and ethnicity, (d) exceptionality, (e) culture, (f) urban issues, (g) rural issues, (h) emigration, and (i) international issues.

General Teaching and Learning Requirements

TAL 702: The Social and Cultural Foundations of Education
This course is an interdisciplinary seminar reviewing the major literature in the Social and Cultural Foundation of Education. Classic, Modern and Post-Modern texts will be read with an emphasis on the literature written after 1980 (Post-Modern). Emphasis will be placed on the exploration of key policy questions, as well as the analysis of key sociological concepts related to the field such as hegemony, cultural reproduction, social capital and privilege. The course is intended to provide a "baseline" for understanding the field.

TAL 704: Introduction To Learning Theories/ Learning Sciences
This course explores perspectives and research on domain-specific and domain-general learning in and out of schools. It examines various perspectives researchers use to inform their work and how these perspectives provide insight into what it means to learn and know.

TAL 700: Proseminar
Consists of a series of interactive sessions at which faculty, doctoral students, and guest speakers have the opportunity to discuss current topics in education research. Its purpose is to enhance the culture of scholarship and collegiality within the Department and to provide informal guidance to doctoral students on research and career directions in education. All students are required to take the proseminar, which will be offered once per year, for a total of 3 credits (1 credit per seminar).

Research Methods Competencies

TAL 710: Introduction To Research In Education
This course focuses on diverse philosophies and epistemologies of research and the scientific enterprise, and the various methodologies that arise from these to conduct research in education. Students will develop an understanding of and appreciation for complementary yet unique educational research traditions brought to bear on substantive local, national, and international educational issues to be able to participate meaningfully and critically in multiple discourse communities that employ and/or produce educational research.

Research courses offered by Department of Education and Psychological Studies (EPS). Course Bulletin for course descriptions.

  • EPS 553: Introduction to Statistics
  • EPS 650: Meta-analysis
  • EPS 660: Generalized Linear Model (every other year if this new course is approved)
  • EPS 661: Measurement and Psychometric Theory
  • EPS 662: Item Response Theory
  • EPS 670: Introduction to Research Methods
  • EPS 671: General Linear Modeling
  • EPS 672: Applied Multivariate Statistics (every other year)
  • EPS 673: Introduction to Structural Equation Models
  • EPS 674: An Introduction to Multilevel Modeling (every other year)
  • EPS 675: Qualitative Research Methods I 
  • EPS 676: Qualitative Research Methods II
  • EPS 690: Advanced Topics in RME

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The following factors are considered when selecting doctoral students for admission:

  • At a minimum, completion of a bachelor’s degree with an outstanding record from an accredited institution.
  • Acceptable and recent (within 5 years) Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. The target minimum is a score of 1100 combined on verbal and quantitative (or 302 on new GRE scoring system) and at least a 4.0 on writing.
  • International applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Graduate Record Examination. TOEFL scores are valid for two years after test date.
  • Professional experience relevant to degree program.
  • Undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 (4.0 scale).
  • Graduate grade point average of at least 3.5 (4.0 scale).
  • Three letters of recommendation. At least two of the three letters of recommendation should include specific evaluation of the candidate’s potential to engage in scholarly research required for this program.
  • The written statement of intent (in the UM online application) should describe how the candidate’s specific interests and obtaining a Ph.D. in this area of study fits into his/her career goals.
  • Available student space in the program and someone willing to advise the student. Applicants are encouraged to contact faculty in the STEM area to inquire about the match between the applicant’s interests and the faculty’s areas of scholarly research.
  • A personal or phone interview may be required. Applicants will be notified as appropriate.
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Does this program prepare students to be research professors?
Yes, this program is designed to prepare candidates to do research in a variety of educational contexts, such as schools. However, our program graduates have taken different kinds of positions that are not research-focused.
When is the application due?
The deadline to submit applications for fall admissions is June 30. However, review of applications will begin in January. Applicants are therefore advised to submit their applications as early as possible.
Where can I find information about assistantships?
This information can be found here.
What are the GPA and GRE scores required to be accepted?
- Acceptable and recent (within 5 years) Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores. The target minimum is a score of 1100 combined on verbal and quantitative (or 302 on new GRE scoring system) and at least a 4.0 on writing
- Undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 (4.0 scale) and graduate grade point average of at least 3.5 (4.0 scale)
I’m an international student. Do I need to submit TOEFL scores?
If you are an international student who completed a graduate program in an English-speaking country (e.g. United States, Canada, Australia), you do not need to submit TOEFL scores. If you are new to a graduate program in the U.S., then you need to submit TOEFL scores. The minimum TOEFL score is …
How many hours are required to earn a Ph.D.?
The program requires 60 semester hours of study beyond the undergraduate degree.
Do I need to have earned a Master’s degree prior to entering the program?
A Master’s degree is not required for admission.
How many graduate level semester hours can I transfer from my Master’s degree?
With approval of the Program of Study Committee, a student may transfer a maximum of 24 graduate level semester hours to a Program of Study.
What is a Program of Study and when should it be submitted?
- A Program of Study for the Ph.D. degree in the Department of Teaching and Learning are individualized based on the student’s career goals, previous academic and professional background, and faculty recommendations.
- Students are required to file a Program of Study and a Course Sequence Plan prior to the end of the second semester of study, which are developed in collaboration with a faculty advisor and a supervisory committee.
Do I have to be a full-time student?
All students entering the Ph.D. program are intended to be full-time students.
How do I choose which courses to take?
Courses in the major field of study are selected in consultation with a faculty advisory committee.
Can I take courses in other program areas as part of my doctoral degree?
Yes, this is negotiated with your advisor and supervisory committee. Students create a plan of study that includes program requirements and students’ interests.
How long does it usually take to complete the program?
The time to complete the doctoral program for full-time students may range from 3 to 5 years, with most finish in 4 years. It is almost always much longer for part-time doctoral students.
What are admission decisions based on?
We base our admissions decisions on an applicant’s total application folio; so please be sure to submit everything in a timely manner. We suggest the following:
- Your letters of recommendation should speak directly to your academic potential as a student in a demanding doctoral program who will be expected, over time, to assume increased responsibility for independent learning.
- Your statement of purpose should address how your career aspirations match our goals for program graduates.
- If you have any extraordinary accomplishments that we should know about, please submit them with your applications materials.
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Start the application process by clicking on the icon on the left.

Program Contact

Dr. Batya Elbaum

Acting Chair and Professor,
Department of Teaching and Learning

305 284 4218

Room: Max Orovitz Building, 308A