Jun 17, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin 
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

STEM Education PhD


The Center for STEM Education offers programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy in STEM Education. Graduates of the program are prepared as STEM Education candidates for university tenure track professor positions, teaching positions in colleges and community or junior colleges or informal STEM educator positions, earning credit hours in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) content field and STEM education. Students are also immersed in STEM education research methods, measuring and investigating teaching and learning of STEM in an array of formal and informal learning environments. They develop and exhibit a deep understanding of theory and research on teaching, learning, and human development. Students learn to integrate and analyze sound pedagogical practices with an eye to sociological challenges and perspectives in various teaching settings, curricular supports, and tools. Students in the program work closely with faculty on a variety of research and outreach projects. Graduates conduct an original research project for their dissertation.     


Campus: Hattiesburg, Online 100%

Admission Requirements

Regular admission to the doctoral program in STEM education requires a previous degree in STEM-content area, education, or related field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 for all previous postsecondary coursework and at least a 2.75 grade point average on the last 60 hours. Prospective students should submit the following materials:

  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • All transcripts from prior degree programs and institutions
  • A statement of purpose that expresses their academic, professional, and research goals
  • Three letters of recommendation from people who are qualified to assess the applicant’s readiness for rigorous graduate study

The Center for STEM Education honors a rolling admission deadline. Applicants must complete the online application through the Graduate School and supply all necessary documentation. Graduate applicants must complete the review process before the semester begins or be admitted the following term. Please review the academic calendar for term start dates. 

Initial admission to the program may be conditional. Students are expected to possess proficiency at the undergraduate level in the chosen STEM content area for advanced study. Students who are not proficient may be required to take additional undergraduate courses to be prepared for graduate-level mathematics or science coursework. Regular status will be granted with the successful completion of 9 semester hours of Southern Miss graduate courses with a 3.5 GPA, a positive recommendation from the Center Director, and the removal of any deficiencies. 

These admission requirements are in addition to the general Academic Requirements and Procedures  set forth in this Bulletin.

Program Requirements and Academic Policies

The doctoral degree in STEM education requires a minimum of sixty-six (66) semester hours of graduate work beyond the master’s degree, including the hours for the dissertation and research tool requirements, and two examinations specified below.

  1. Qualifying exam
  2. Twenty-four (24) semester hours are earned in graduate content coursework, with a   suggested minimum of 15 hours in a STEM content field. Additional coursework options may include courses from relevant interdisciplinary programs. These courses should be planned in coordination with their academic advisor.
  3. Twenty-four (24) semester hours are earned in STEM education
  4. Research tools in both Quantitative and Qualitative methods (9 hours minimum)
  5. Comprehensive examinations
  6. Dissertation Proposal and Oral Defense
  7. Dissertation Proposal and Oral Defense of Dissertation (9 hours of SME 898  required at minimum)

Exams and Graduate Committee: The Center requires a written qualifying examination. This examination is based on the completion of SME 701, SME 703, SME 700 or SME 720, and SME 725 or SME 791 and is designed to assess the student’s fitness to pursue doctoral work. The student’s program will be directed by a graduate committee consisting of four or five faculty members affiliated with the Center for STEM Education. The committee will approve the student’s program plan and dissertation prospectus and conduct the comprehensive examinations, which are administered at the completion of the student’s coursework. Upon approval of the dissertation proposal by the student’s committee, IRB Approval (if needed), and completion of dissertation requirements, the candidate will defend their dissertation in a final oral presentation. All of these doctoral program requirements should be completed in alignment with the USM Graduate School deadlines and requirements for degree completion.

Research and Scholarly Integrity Education: All faculty holding Regular or Associate graduate faculty status must complete CITI training modules required by the Graduate School and their respective schools. All graduate students must complete the CITI training modules required by the Graduate School and their schools the first semester they are enrolled in graduate school. The RSIE policy and training information are found on the Graduate School web page –www.usm.edu/graduate-school. Contact the Dean of the Graduate School if you have any questions regarding the policy of training information.

See General Degree Requirements  and General Academic Information  for other requirements and expectations.

Course Requirements (66 hours)

Content Area Graduate Coursework (24 hours)

  • Content hours in STEM emphasis area from BSC, BEE, CHE, PSY, COS, CS, CSC, CSS, ESC, GHY, GLY, COA, HYD, MAR, MAT, PHY, PSE, and/or DPH.
  • Related interdisciplinary content from SME, CIE, SOC, ANT, HE, PHI, and/or WGS

STEM Education Coursework (24 hours)

  • SME 701  - Issues in Science and Mathematics Education 3 hrs.
  • SME 703  - Foundations of Science and Mathematics Education 3 hrs.
  • SME 789  - Seminar 3 hrs. (1 hour/semester)
  • Select one of the following courses:
    • SME 700  - Science Curriculum in the Public Schools 3 hrs. 
    • SME 720  – Mathematics Curriculum 3 hrs.
  • Select one of the following courses:
    • SME 725  – Research in Mathematics Education 3 hrs.
    • SME 791  - Research in Science Education 3 hrs.
  • Select three courses (9 hrs.) from the following two areas of STEM Education listed below
    • Curriculum Studies
      • SME 532  – Science Methods for Elementary Teachers
      • SME 602  – Teaching & Learning STEM in Higher Education
      • SME 650  – Informal STEM Education
      • SME 695  – Applications of Basic Concepts in Biology for Secondary School
      • SME 695L  – Applications of Basic Concepts in Biology for Secondary School
      • SME 756  – Techniques in Marine Science Education
      • SME 757  – Marine Science for Teachers
      • SME 792  - Special Problems 
    • Critical & Current Issues
      • SME 600  – Dimensions of Science Communication
      • SME 622  – International Studies: History of STEM Education
      • SME 652  – Critical Histories of US STEM Education
      • SME 653  – Culture and Equity of STEM Learning
      • SME 792  - Special Problems

Research Methods Coursework - Select 1 concentration

  • Qualitative Research Concentration (minimum of 9 credit hours)
    • SME 761  - Qualitative Educational Research Design 
    • SME 762  - Qualitative Educational Research Practicum
    • REF 761  (or equivalent) - Quantitative Analysis I or SME 763   - Quantitative Research Methods I
  • Quantitative Research Concentration (minimum of 9 credit hours)
    • SME 761  - Qualitative Educational Research Design
    • REF 761  (or equivalent) - Quantitative Analysis I or SME 763  - Quantitative Research Methods I
    • REF 762   (or equivalent) - Quantitative Analysis II or SME 764   - Quantitative Research Methods II

Dissertation Research