Program Contact

Sarah J. Carrier
Associate Professor
Elementary Science Education Graduate Program Coordinator
Program Contact

Irene Armstrong
Graduate Student Services Specialist

Program Area of Study

Elementary Learning Sciences

Ph.D. in Teacher Education and Learning Sciences (TELS)

The Elementary Learning Sciences Ph.D. program prepares scholar leaders in elementary learning sciences with an emphasis on mathematics or science.  Program graduates are committed to improving learning opportunities for all elementary aged children through researching, designing and enhancing the learning environments in which they interact.

Please note:  If you are interested in applying for this program, please use the Apply Now button. If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator Sarah J. Carrier.

Important Dates
January 1, 2019
Applications are due Jan. 1. Completed applications for consideration for funding and assistantships are due Nov. 15.

Program Description

The doctoral program area of study (PAS) focused on the Elementary Learning Sciences (ELM-LS) aims to prepare scholars with expertise in elementary mathematics education OR elementary science education who are committed to improving opportunities to learn for elementary aged children. Students in the ELM-LS 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. 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?

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

The PAS in ELM-LS builds on the successful work of NC State’s undergraduate elementary teacher preparation program and the elementary education master’s program. Together, the programs form a cohesive line of research, development, and instruction across all university-level degrees. The PAS in ELM-LS 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 MEd program.

Course of Study

Course descriptions can be found in the university course catalog.

The program has four core courses

  • 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

Admission Requirements

  • Current resumé
  • Personal statement detailing background and experiences with goals and commitment to doctoral studies. If relevant, please include a description of the target ELM faculty with whom you hope to engage.
  • Three reference letters detailing relationship to applicant and discussing your work ethic/potential as a doctoral student.
  • 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 (found here)
  • Official GRE scores from within the last 5 years*

* Preferred scores are at or above the mean for doctoral students in the department within the curriculum and instruction program areas. However, GRE scores provide only one piece of information used by the admissions committee in making its recommendation.