Ph.D. in Mathematics - Mathematics Education Emphasis

Program Overview

The Ph.D. in Mathematics with an emphasis in mathematics education combines study in advanced mathematics, mathematics education, and quantitative and qualitative research methods in education. This pathway is designed for candidates who plan a future of teaching, research, and service focused on mathematics education in K-12 settings. The program focuses on the teaching and learning of K-12 mathematics including curriculum, instruction, assessment, and teacher preparation or professional development in the K-12 education system. Graduates typically go on to faculty positions in mathematics departments that involve teacher preparation and research in K-12 mathematics education. Applicants are expected to possess K-12 teaching experience or to gain such experience through internships. 

Admission (preferred qualifications) 

  • An earned master’s degree in mathematics, statistics, or mathematics education, including graduate-level mathematics coursework in topics such as algebra and analysis. (Applicants with a strong undergraduate degree in mathematics or mathematics teaching may also be considered for an extended version of the program.)
  • One of the following:
    • Teacher licensure in secondary mathematics
    • Two years K-12 teaching experience
    • Two years college teaching experience 

Required Equivalencies (upon completion of coursework) 

Provisional Licensure:  All graduates of this program are expected to acquire a minimum level of competency in secondary mathematics instruction, comparable to satisfying the requirements for Montana's provisional license to teach mathematics. This includes a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and at least six credit hours of education coursework. Ph.D. candidates who fall short of the six-credit requirement will select courses from the following:

  • Complete a secondary mathematics methods course Methods: 9-12 Mathematics (EDU 497) or Methods: 5-8 Mathematics (EDU 497R))
  • Complete either Standards-Based Math for Teachers (M 520), Mathematics Learning Theory for Teachers (M 521), or another approved course. 

K-12 Classroom Experience: Students who lack sufficient exposure to instruction at the elementary or secondary level will be required to complete school-based internships prior to beginning dissertation research. Each internship calls for 135 hours of field experience as well as participation in a spring seminar that may address reviews of research, lesson study, analysis of student work, and reflection on classroom experiences. 

  • Elementary internship: teach, tutor, and observe students in a K-8 classroom
  • Secondary internship: teach one or more courses at the high school level 

Required Course Work (60 credits)

Mathematics - required (minimum 15 credits at MSU)
Advanced Linear Algebra
Abstract Algebra
One two-course doctoral sequence from the list below (6 credits)
Additional mathematics courses to be selected (3+ credits)
Mathematics Education - required (minimum 9 credits)
M 528Curriculum Design
M 529Assessment Models and Issues
M 534Research in Mathematics Education
Research Methods and Statistics - required (minimum 12 credits)
STAT 511Methods of Data Analysis I
STAT 512Methods of Data Analysis II
EDCI 506Applied Educational Research3
EDU 610Qualitative Educational Research3
Seminars and Internships - see explanation above (0 to 6 credits)
M 576Internship2-12
M 594Seminar1
Supporting Coursework - to be approved by committee (3+ credits)
May include specialized research courses or additional mathematics education coursework
Dissertation - required (21 credits)
M 689Doctoral Reading & Research
M 690Doctoral Thesis
Doctoral Mathematics - choose one two-course sequence from the following:
Partial Differential Equations I
Partial Differential Equations II
Measure Theory
Complex Analysis
Methods of Applied Mathematics I
Methods of Applied Mathematics II
Numerical Solution of Partial Differential Equations I
Numerical Solution of Partial Differential Equations II
Functional Analysis I
Functional Analysis II
Probability Theory
Topics in Applied Math I
Topics in Applied Math II
M 595Dynamical Systems I3
M 596Dynamical Systems II3

Comprehensive Examinations

Graduates of the program earn the equivalent of a master’s degree in mathematics, and must successfully complete a comprehensive examination in mathematics.  Two additional examinations address knowledge related to K-12 mathematics' teaching and learning and educational research design.

  • One comprehensive exam in Mathematics. This exam will be determined by the graduate committee and administered according to the guidelines for mathematics.
  • One comprehensive exam in Mathematics Education. This exam is developed and scored by the current (or most recent) instructors of Curriculum Design (M 528) and Assessment Models and Issues (M 529).
  • One comprehensive exam in Educational Statistics and Research Methods. This exam is collaboratively developed by the current (or most recent) instructor of Research in Mathematics Education (M 534) and appropriate research methods faculty in Statistics and Education.

Dissertation Research Component

The dissertation is a study in mathematics education. Scholarship in mathematics education examines teaching and learning, with roots in the disciplines of mathematics and educational theory and practice. It is grounded in mathematics content through the study of curriculum and mathematical practice and is generally carried out through social science research methods, including both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Mathematics education research at Montana State University adopts an applied approach, and research efforts often focus on the development and ongoing support of K-12 mathematics teachers. Doctoral students conduct research in areas relevant to current faculty research interests or funded projects.