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Ph.D. Mathematics, Education Option

Program Description

The Mathematics Doctoral Program:  Education Option is a multidisciplinary doctoral degree through the Department of Mathematics.  The Education Option differs from a traditional Mathematics Ph.D. with its focus on mathematics education research.  It differs from the School of Education's Mathematics Education Program with its advanced mathematics fluency requirements.    

In the Department of Mathematics, we consider math education as another research field within mathematics. As such, the program requirements are the same as those for all other Mathematics Ph.D. students at Virginia Tech. The following guidelines illustrate how mathematics education fits into that program.

Hour Requirement: 90 hours

Mathematics Education Courses (12 credit hours)

All Mathematics Education PhD students at Virginia Tech take the following four seminars (3 credit hours each):

  • Modeling Mathematical Knowledge & Learning (MATH 5624)
  • Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education (MATH 5634)
  • Critical Analysis of Mathematics Education Research (EDCI 5784)
  • Advanced Topics in Mathematics Education (EDCI 5784)

Additional Mathematics Courses (at least 21 credit hours)

  • MATH 4225, 4226, 4124, and 4445 (or their equivalents) should be taken if not in the student's background.
  • At least 21 hours of MATH courses numbered 5000 or above must be completed (courses taken for a M.S. in Mathematics may count toward this total).

Mathematics Education Related Courses

  • Quantitative and Qualitative Methods courses should be taken if not in the student's background. We expect all students to develop proficiency in both qualitative and quantitative methods, regardless of which methods they plan to use in their dissertation studies.
    • Qualitative Research 1 & II (EDRE 6504 & EDRE 6524)
    • Quantitative Research Methods I & II (EDRE 6605 & EDRE 6606)
    • Other methods courses potentially relevant to students' programs:
      • Advanced Issues in Qualitative Research (EDRE 6784)
      • Advanced Statistics in Education (EDRE 6634)
      • Hierarchical Linear Modeling (EDRE 6694) 
      • Mixed Method Research Design (EDRE 6744)
  • Additional courses (e.g., Methods, Psychology, Philosophy, Education) should be taken as they relate to and support the student's dissertation research. Such courses would be determined by the student and her/his program committee and might include the following:
    • Cognitive Processes & Educational Practice (EDEP 6114)
    • Sociocultural Influences on Learning & Instruction (EDEP 5784)
    • Constructivism in Education (EDEP 6224)
    • Motivation & Cognition (EDEP 6444)
    • STEM Education Research (EDCI 5834)
    • Education & Anthropology (EDCI 6034)
    • Cognitive Development (PSYC 5544)
    • History of the Philosophy of Science (PHIL 6314)

Research/Dissertation Hours (30 - 60 credit hours)

  •  30-60 hours of MATH 7994, research and dissertation hours


Other Requirements

Preliminary Written Examinations  (3)

  • at least one Preliminary Examination in traditional Mathematics 
  • one Preliminary Examination in Mathematics Education
  • up to one Preliminary Examination requirement can be filled by completion of a Master's Thesis in Mathematics at Virginia Tech

Committee-determined Requirements

  • foreign language requirement
  • comprehensive oral examination of dissertation topic


  • final written thesis
  • final oral examination (defense)

How to Apply

  • Submit an online application to the Graduate School
  • Note that a complete application includes 3 letters of recommendation, GRE scores (only the General score is required), complete official transcripts of all colleges and universities attended, a non-refundable application fee, and TOEFL scores for international students.
  • Contact Andy Norton for additional information