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Program Area of Study: Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Program: Teacher Education and Learning Sciences
Delivery Method: On Campus

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Prepare to be a scholar leader in Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science through this Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences program area of study designed to help you improve learning opportunities for all elementary ages children through researching, designing and enhancing the learning environments in which they interact.

Receive More Info on Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science

Complete this form to have the program coordinator contact you about the Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences program area of study in Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science.

Why Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science at NC State:

Quality instruction that incorporates research and best practices you can immediately apply to your classroom

Study with leading researchers and scholars in elementary mathematics and science education

Earn your affordable degree from a public university recognized by U.S. News & World Report and Money as the best value

“I’ve already had experience learning how to write grant proposals….I’ve worked with students that are going into teaching…This program is preparing me for my future in academia.”

— Teresa Leavens, Ph.D. Candidate in Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science

Teresa Leavens

Program Details

The doctoral program area of study focused on the Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science aims to prepare scholars with expertise in elementary mathematics education OR elementary science education.  Students in the elementary learning sciences program engage in coursework, research studies and practical experiences that deepen their knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning, specifically focusing on children’s and teachers’ learning in mathematics or science.

While students in the elementary learning sciences program primarily focus on one discipline (mathematics or science) throughout their doctoral studies, coursework and other opportunities are structured such that students explore and analyze the cross-disciplinary connections among all the core content areas. By nature, elementary schools are interdisciplinary, and teachers typically are responsible for teaching all subjects. The cross-disciplinary nature of the elementary learning sciences program allows faculty and students to leverage the natural setting of elementary schools. Additionally, research and experiences in the elementary learning sciences program are not limited to formal “brick-and-mortar” learning environments but also include informal learning environments (e.g., home, museums, outdoor education).

Our elementary learning sciences program builds on the successful work of NC State’s STEM-focused undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program and the elementary education master’s program for advanced science or mathematics teacher preparation and research. Together, the programs form a cohesive line of research, development, and instruction across all university-level degrees. Our elementary learning sciences program provides opportunities for highly qualified individuals interested in researching, designing, and improving elementary-level learning environments. Simultaneously, it strengthens faculty research in elementary mathematics education and elementary science education, feeding directly into the quality of the undergraduate and Master of Education program.

All doctoral degrees in the College of Education require a minimum of 72 graduate credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Most doctoral programs in the College of Education require a minimum of 60 graduate credit hours beyond an approved master’s degree.

Master Level Courses (Transfer or Complete as part of PhD)         

  • Courses to transfer must be equivalent to the six courses required for the K-6 Mathematics or Science Specialist graduate level add-on courses.

College of Education Required Core Courses                             

  • Scholar Leader 1: Diversity and Equity in Schools and Communities                   
  • Scholar Leader 2: Systemic Change in Education and Society          

College of Education Required Research Methods Courses      

  • ED 710: Applied Quantitative Methods in Education (or its equivalent)
  • ED 711: Applied Quantitative Methods in Education II                              
  • ED 730: Introduction to Qualitative Research in Education (or its equivalent) 

Two or more advanced research methods courses taken from the following

  • ED 712: Survey Methods in Educational Research                                                 
  • ED 731 Advanced Qualitative Research and Data Analysis in Education             
  • ED 750 Mixed Methods Research in Education                                         
  • ED 795 Special Topics in Education Research   
  • Course outside the College at the 500 level or above

Teacher Education and Learning Sciences (TELS) PhD Required Seminars

  • ECI 709: Special Problems, Seminar in Teacher Education  
  • ECI 709: Special Problems, Seminar in Learning Sciences    

PAS – Elementary Learning Sciences with emphasis on mathematics and/or science  Required Core Courses and Experiences

  • Professional Learning in Elementary STEM Education  
  • Elementary STEM Learning in Informal Settings  
  • Action and Cognition in Elementary STEM Teaching & Learning
  • Examining Researchers and Teacher Educators as Learners  
  • Independent Study
  • Internship in Elementary Education                                                      


The 4 ELM-LS PAS Core Courses will be offered on a 2-year rotation basis.

Students should prepare a paper for publication as part of their independent study.

Students should engage with external partners and other stakeholders in their internship.

Student and Graduate Committee selected focused courses or experiences 

  • Combination of courses (ECI, EMS, EAC, CSC, EDP, PSY) to fulfill students’ research and career goals


The Graduate School outlines basic requirements for admission.

  • Current resumé
  • Personal statement of interest and desired career goals. Statement should be written in essay format, be no more than 750 words, and address the following topics:
    • Your interest in obtaining a Ph.D. at NC State
    • How you plan to leverage your prior experiences to inform your research/educational interests.
    • Particular faculty in the EEMS progam with whom you want to work and why.
    • How this degree will help you pursue your career goals now and in the future.
    • The unique contributions or special interests you bring that will enhance your doctoral studies.
  • Three reference letters detailing relationship to applicant and discussing your work ethic/potential as a doctoral student.
  • Transcripts for master’s degree or equivalent from an accredited institution of higher education
  • 3.0 grade point average or higher at the master’s level
  • Completed application to the NC State Graduate School 
  • Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and related health, economic, and social challenges, GRE test scores are waived for applicants applying for all graduate programs in the College of Education for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. Read more about this decision.

Those interested in applying for an assistanship position should express interest in your personal statement letter and must submit the ELM-LS assistantship application form (Word doc)and email to Dr. Sarah J. Carrier at with the subject: Your Name here_Assistantship Application.

Provost’s Fellowships

Provost’s Fellowships are one-year awards with a stipend level to be determined by the Fellow’s respective college. These Fellowships are designed to help in college and departmental efforts to recruit outstanding new doctoral students to NC State University. Prospective students cannot apply directly for these fellowships, but are nominated by their respective colleges.

Only doctoral students are eligible to receive a Provost’s Fellowship. Fellowships cover tuition and health insurance. The out-of-state portion of tuition (where applicable) also is covered by the fellowship. Tuition and health insurance associated with the Fellowship will be covered in accordance with Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) guidelines.

Graduate Research Assistantships (RA)

Research assistantships are awarded by an individual faculty researcher to doctoral students who are interested in working on research projects in the faculty member’s area for which the researcher has external funding. Research Assistantships are either 9 or 12 month appointments; have a stipend award which varies depending upon funding source; and includes tuition, fees, and health insurance

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (TA)

Most teaching assistantships are granted from a pool of applicants who have received a recommendation from a faculty member who has agreed to advise the applicant on their research. These assistantships are skill-based and granted based on the background information each TA applicant submits via their Graduate Application and Application for Doctoral Support. Proficiency in spoken English is required for all teaching assistantships.

Teaching Assistantships are 9 month appointments (August 16 – May 15); have a stipend award which varies depending upon department; and includes tuition, fees, and health insurance.

For more information on the financial aid options open to you:

Explore the fellowships, traineeships and grants available to NC State graduate students.

Students benefit from collaborating with program faculty who are nationally recognized scholars actively engaged in research on children’s and/or teachers’ learning. Example areas of scholarship that appear in our research and coursework include:

  • How should we conceptualize, enact, and measure “effective” science and mathematics instruction in elementary classrooms?
  • How do different learning environments and pedagogies enable or constrain various constructs, such as motivation, creativity, memory, transfer, and identity in elementary teachers and students?
  • How can we use what we know about how people learn to design professional development that fosters the knowledge and beliefs needed to be an effective elementary teacher of mathematics or science?

View the Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science Graduate Student and Faculty Handbook for more information about coursework, the electronic thesis and dissertation, and graduate faculty.

Prepare to be a scholar leader with one of the leading colleges of education in the nation.


In Scholarly Activities by Education Faculty in N.C. (Academic Analytics)

Top 12%

Nationally In Active Grants Among All Colleges of Education

Top 12%

Nationally in U.S. News Ranking Among All Colleges of Education

Contact Us

Sarah J. Carrier
Associate Professor

Irene Armstrong
Graduate Student Services Specialist