Ph.D. in Science Education


The Ph.D. in Educational Studies: Science Education is distinctive and interdisciplinary in that it is designed with three foci: (a) the field of education (including science education & educational psychology), (b) educational research methodology, and (c) science content.

The science education courses, taught in the College of Education, are designed to increase understanding of current research about pedagogical content knowledge, the teaching and learning of science at all levels, national reform efforts, and science as inquiry.

While attending several conferences in our first and second years, often to present, my colleagues and I noticed that other doctoral students were writing their dissertations, attending their first conference, and presenting for the first time. We realized quickly that we were being challenged early in our programs, but it was for good reason. By the time we were writing our dissertations, we were seasoned presenters. This speaks to the culture of the program at TCU – one that challenges each student while also creating a community of practice that supports students throughout the entire program.

-Katherine Fogelberg Ph.D. ’14

The educational psychology courses are designed to help the student understand the learner and the application of psychology to education. The research courses, taught in the College of Education, are designed to help the students become facile in social science research methodologies.

The science content courses, taught in the College of Science and Engineering, are designed to prepare the student in the science discipline of his/her interest. These courses will be selected with the approval of the advisor. The School/College in which courses are offered will determine the readiness of students to take courses.

The Ph.D. in Educational Studies: Science Education prepares students who are qualified to engage in high quality original scholarship and therefore has a strong research orientation. Recipients will have the knowledge and skills to assume (a) college faculty positions with responsibility in conducting educational research and in teaching undergraduate/graduate science education courses and community college level science courses or (b) district and state-level leadership positions in science education.

Sequence of Experiences

  • Completion of all non-dissertation course work
  • Completion of internships and apprenticeship
  • Completion of the qualifying exam
  • Completion of original research and successful defense of resulting dissertation

Doctoral Advisory Committee

The Doctoral Advisory Committee assists the student in planning the completion of the program of study and in preparing for non-course work requirements such as the qualifying examination experience and the dissertation. The committee membership should be decided as soon as possible, but not later than the accrual of 36 semester hours. The Doctoral Advisory Committee consists of a minimum of four members. The major advisor, who serves as chair of the Doctoral Advisory Committee, is a full-time, tenure-track member of the College of Education faculty with graduate faculty status. The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies of the College of Education will approve committee membership and changes in that membership.

Ph.D. Committees

Committees for Ph.D. Educational Studies: Science Education degrees must be composed of a chairperson from the College of Education, two other professors from the COE and one professor from the College of Science and Engineering, resulting in a total of four committee members.

The Qualifying Examination Experience

The College of Education is committed to helping students move from a mind set of taking courses to a mind set of adding to the established body of knowledge. The transition will involve a qualifying exam to be completed at the end of the coursework and prior to beginning the dissertation. This exam will include written and oral demonstrations of synthesis of knowledge from the course work.

All committee members will read and give feedback to the student on this written product. When all committee members are satisfied with the quality of this product, an oral examination will be scheduled within three weeks. The oral examination is over only the topics covered in the written product and ensures that the student can present, as well as construct, his or her concepts in educational studies. The student’s committee will determine by consensus if he or she passed or failed the examination. The committee decides if the student can retake the oral examination at a later time.

Advancement to Candidacy

The Doctoral Advisory Committee recommends to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies of the College of Education that the student be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree when the student has completed all requirements for the degree except the dissertation. This includes satisfactory completion of all course work required in the program of study, successful completion of the qualifying examination experience, and the approval of the dissertation prospectus.

The Dissertation Prospectus

The Ph.D. dissertation is the presentation of original research. A number of creative, scholarly formats are allowed for the dissertation for the Ph.D. in Educational Studies. The Doctoral Advisory Committee and the student are provided considerable flexibility on the format and content of the dissertation. The prospectus for the dissertation must be a clear and thorough presentation of all tasks to be accomplished. The prospectus states the final form, format, and contents of the dissertation and must be approved and formally accepted by the Doctoral Advisory Committee. The dissertation prospectus can be written before, concurrent with, or after the successful completion of the qualifying examination experience.

Preparation for the Dissertation Defense

The Doctoral Advisory Committee must approve the dissertation upon its completion. This approval is based on the quality of the final product not just the completion of the tasks outlined in the prospectus. After final approval, a public announcement of the oral defense of the dissertation is disseminated to the faculty of the College of Education and other appropriate units.

Degree Completion

The dissertation must be concluded within three years of admission to candidacy. The student must be enrolled during the academic term in which all degree requirements are completed.

Application Information

Applicants must present a strong academic record, acceptable GRE scores within the past five years, a writing sample (15-20 pages, exclusive of notes and works cited) that demonstrates appropriate academic writing skills needed for success in a graduate program and three letters of recommendation.

Application Deadline: February 1.

Download Application Checklist

For complete program of studies see the TCU Online Catalog.

Ph.D. in Science Education Degree Plan

Advisors: Dr. Molly Weinburgh