Jan 22, 2019  
2009-2010 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog 
2009-2010 UMass Dartmouth Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Mathematics Education PhD

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The program is designed as an iterative research process beginning in the first year of study and culminating in a PhD dissertation at the end of 4 years.

The program requires a minimum of 48 graduate course credits and 24 dissertation credits. The graduate coursework includes 18 credits of introductory coursework to develop students’ knowledge of research tools, methodologies and theories in mathematics education research, 18 credits of preparatory coursework to refine and focus students’ understanding of the research process and theory building, and 12 hours of advanced doctoral coursework.

Students will receive an MS in Mathematics Education upon successful completion of the qualifying examination and coursework for Years 1 and 2 as a credential towards the doctorate.

Students who enter with a bachelor’s degree will complete the entire sequence. “Advanced Standing” can be given to applicants who enter with an advanced degree in an appropriate background (e.g., MS/MA in Mathematics Education, Mathematics, a related science, or an MAT with mathematics specialization); Advanced Standing permits the waiver of up to 24 credits within first and second year courses. A decision to offer Advanced Standing is made along with other admissions decisions; thus, in the admissions approval process for each individual applicant, decisions regarding advanced standing will be determined by the Program Director, the Graduate Committee, the Dean, and the Associate Provost for Graduate Studies.

Students who have no K-16 teaching experience will be advised to complete a teaching internship prior to qualifying for and entering the Advanced Doctoral Phase of the program.

Program Outline

The PhD in Mathematics Education falls into three distinct phases:

  • Introduction to mathematics education research
  • Preparation Phase for advancement to advanced doctoral status
  • Production Phase of advanced courses and final dissertation

At an appropriate level, all courses feature authentic learning experiences in research institutions and projects, and an interactive thinking/writing process to develop cutting-edge research and discovery as part of the student’s experience. Research scholarship thus pervades the curriculum, uniting theory and practice. Technology is also embedded throughout: wherever possible, courses will be blended with a variety of delivery methods, including on-line video seminars, iTunesU/Podcasting, and active use of Blogs and Wikis, as part of the regular mode of sharing and learning content and expressing evolving ideas in and around coursework. A central Blog/Wiki will be available for students to interact and share their ongoing work outside of classes.

Systematic use of electronic learning support technologies will form the basis for cumulative evaluation of students’ learning and program success. Thus, while it falls into distinct phases, the program will offer a single coherent experience for students, bringing their learning in courses and interaction outside courses into the development of a community of scholars who work together to develop their own skills and become innovative and creative thinkers.

Because of the program’s central focus on the development of research scholarship, specific attention will be given to the development of research ethics, including appropriate acknowledgement of sources, proper protocols for conducting research on human subjects, the process of institutional IRB approval, and institutional certification for conducting research (i.e., CITI certification). While research ethics will be addressed specifically in a Year 1 course (MAE 654), it will also be threaded implicitly throughout the program as students participate in authentic learning experiences and, through this, are mentored in the practice of ethical policies for conducting research.

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
  •  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.

Successful completion of the program of study will be to achieve a GPA of 3.0 or higher, pass the qualifying exam, successfully defend a dissertation proposal, and successfully defend a final dissertation.


First Year: 18 credits

Second Year

First Semester: 9 credits

Second Semester: 9 credits

Third Year: 18 credits

During the Production Phase (Years 3 and 4), students will continue their doctoral training through advanced course work. In addition, they will conduct Dissertation Research with a faculty member. During Year 3, dissertation research is expected to focus on conducting a full literature review, framing the main issues and guiding points of the study, and collecting research data. It is expected that the student will complete the preliminary writing phase of the dissertation in preparation for the proposal defense at the end of Year 3. It is also expected that the student will keep the selected faculty advisor through the completion of the dissertation during Years 3 & 4. During Year 3, the student will identify a Dissertation Defense Committee and chair (assumed to be their main faculty advisor). The student is expected to defend the dissertation proposal at the end of Year 3 when all coursework has been completed.


During Year 3, students will complete 4 advanced doctoral courses from the following list:



Dissertation Research

While many students’ dissertation research will be supervised by a member of the core Mathematics Education faculty, faculty from other departments or institutions can co-supervise dissertations alongside a member of the core Math Ed faculty (if approved by the Program Director in consultation with the Graduate Committee and the Dean of the School). The use of an adjunct supervisor can provide an authentic learning experience that converges lines of research and coursework to enrich the project and experience of the student.

Fourth Year: 18 credits

Students will be expected to work primarily on their dissertation, through registration in MAE774 and MAE775. These two courses permit a student to receive 18 credits of instruction to assist in the completion of the research study and the writing of the final dissertation. The final oral defense examination will be completed at the end of Year 4 on submission of the final dissertation. Successful completion of the dissertation, including the oral defense, final approval by the student’s doctoral committee, and approval for library submission as well as successful completion of all course work, will serve as the exit criteria for the doctorate.

Total Credits: 72

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