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Concentration: 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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Earn your Ph.D. and prepare to be a scholar leader in Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science (EEMS).

Receive More Info on Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science

Why Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science at NC State:

Experience high-quality instruction that incorporates research and best practices.

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

Concentration Details

The doctoral concentration focused on Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science (EEMS) aims to prepare scholars with expertise in elementary mathematics education OR elementary science education.  Students in the EEMS concentration 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.

Students benefit from collaborating with concentration 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?

While students in the Elementary Education in Mathematics and Science (EEMS) concentration 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 concentration allows faculty and students to leverage the natural setting of elementary schools. Additionally, research and experiences in the EEMS concentration are not limited to formal “brick-and-mortar” learning environments but also include informal learning environments (e.g., home, museums, outdoor education).

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

All doctoral degrees in the College of Education require a minimum of 72 graduate credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree.

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

Courses to transfer must be equivalent to six courses for Elementary Mathematics Add-on OR six courses for Elementary Science Add-on    

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   
  • Research Methods course outside the College at the 500 level or above

Teacher Education and Learning Sciences (TELS) PhD Required Seminars:

  • ECI 709: Seminar in Teacher Education  
  • ECI 709: Seminar in Learning Sciences    

EEMS 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(in consultation with advisor)**
  • Internship in Elementary Education***                                                      


*The EEMS Core Courses will be offered on a 2-year rotation basis.

**Students typically prepare a paper for conference presentation and/or journal publication as part of their independent study.

***Students typically engage with external partners and other stakeholders in an internship.

Courses or experiences selected by student in consultation with advisor/graduate committee

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


The Graduate School outlines basic requirements for admission.

  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • 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 program 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
  • GRE Scores
  • Letters of recommendation (3)
    • At least one should be from a professor or someone who can comment on research experience/preparation for a PhD
  • 3.0 grade point average or higher at the master’s level
  • Completed application to the NC State Graduate School 

Those interested in applying for an assistantship position should express interest in your personal statement 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 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 that varies depending upon funding source, and include tuition 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. These assistantships are skill-based and granted based on the background information each applicant submits via their Graduate Application and the Assistantship Application Form. Proficiency in spoken English is required for all teaching assistantships.

Teaching Assistantships are 9-month appointments (August 16 – May 15); have a stipend award that varies depending upon department; and include 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.

Sarah J. Carrier
Research Interests: informal science education; situating teaching and learning in the outdoors; pre-service teacher development for equitably blending science with literacy and mathematics instruction.

Paola Sztajn
Research Interests:

Temple Walkowiak
Associate Professor
Research Interests: teacher learning and development in elementary mathematics; how to validly assess instructional quality in elementary mathematics lessons

James Minogue
Research Interests: elementary school science teaching and learning; emerging educational technologies, and haptics in education

Valerie Faulkner
Teaching Professor
Research Interests: K-2 Mathematics; Equitable practices in mathematics; Conceptual Linear Algebra; Teacher professional development

Jessica Hunt
Associate Professor
Research Interests: trajectories in math education; technology-supported student learning; intervention design and development

To learn more about our current doctoral students and alumni, please click EEMS PhD Current Students and Alumni

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


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Sarah J. Carrier

Irene Armstrong
Graduate Student Services Specialist