Emphasis in Science Education

Goals of the Ph.D./Ed.D. in Science Education

Upon completion of the program, graduates will:

  • Be able to conduct scholarly research designed to advance knowledge within the specific topic areas in science education (e.g., pedagogical content knowledge, urban science education, critical and gender issues, science/technology/society and environmental issues). (UNLV Goals 2, 3, 4)
  • Be prepared for an academic and/or career position that demands a strong commitment to teaching and research in science education. (UNLV Goals 1, 2)

Degree Objectives

  • Doctoral students electing this Ph.D./Ed.D. area of study will be engaged in developing expertise in critical analysis, deconstruction, and research on teaching and learning science including, but not limited to: curriculum design, assessment, scientific literacy, policy, media, popular culture, issues related to race, gender, class, and attention to comparative, international, and cross-cultural studies in education. In essence, the development and offering of this Ph.D./Ed.D. emphasis is consistent with offerings at other top graduate schools of education including Penn State and The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education where these programs currently flourish. Indeed, this goal is consistent with UNLV planning documents designed to advance the research functions of UNLV while maintaining high quality teaching.
  • Students will demonstrate a well-grounded understanding of the science content, pedagogy, technology, and issues associated with teaching and learning in science education.
  • The program will emphasize contextualizing science education for both formal and informal arenas in K-12 and beyond.
  • Students will collaborate with program faculty to seek and secure external funding for outreach, research, and improvement of science education.
  • The program affords the opportunity for further collaboration between the College of Education and the College of Sciences by emphasizing the development of education scholars with a depth of science content knowledge. Further, this program offers our faculty and doctoral students the opportunity to engage in national and international science research studies.

Anticipated Completion Time: 3-6 years

Total Credit Hours: 72-78 (Ph.D.)/ 69-78 (Ed.D.)

Residency: 2 consecutive semesters full-time on campus (Ph.D. only)

AREA OF EMPHASIS (27 credit hours)

Courses arranged to support the student's area of interest within the broad areas of pure and applied science (i.e. in departments and centers across campus). Program is subject to committee approval.


  • CIG 761 Theoretical Foundations of Education
  • CIG 780 Research on Teaching and Learning
  • CIG 784 Theory and Research in School Science
  • CIG 777 Principles of Learning Science

Other emphasis courses may include the following:

  • CIG 775 Theoretical Frameworks for Science Education Research
  • CIG 776 Philosophical Foundations of Science Education
  • CIG 788 Individual Instruction in Science Education
  • Any > 600 level course with a BIO, CHE, PHY, ENV, GEO, GEY, ENG, AST, or SCI prefix.

Students should check with relevant department to ensure they meet any admission and/or prerequisite requirements.

COGNATE (9-12 credit hours)

Courses will be selected to broaden the student’s knowledge and research procedures in an area related to the area of emphasis (e.g., technology, learning and cognition, cultural studies).

RESEARCH or Inquiry (15 hours for Ph.D., 12 hours for Ed.D.)

Courses will be selected from various departments within and outside the College of Education designed to provide a broad understanding of research methodology and an in-depth understanding of the research methodology integral to the dissertation.


  • CIG 790 Doctoral Research Seminar
  • EPY 718 Qualitative Research Methodologies
  • EPY 721 Descriptive and Inferential Statistics: An Introduction

Other research courses may include the following:

  • EPY 714 Multi-Culturalism: Perspectives for Educators
  • EPY 716 Evaluation Research Methods
  • EPY 722 Inferential Statistics and Experimental Design
  • EPY 725 Advanced Evaluation Research Methods
  • EPY 730 Advanced Research Methods
  • EPY 733 Multivariate Statistics

INTERNSHIPS (6-12 credit hours)

Opportunities for research and teaching internships within the areas of science education will offer the doctoral student a foundation for an academic career in this area.


(This undertaking will typically be completed in conjunction with the research internship). Each student must satisfy a scholarly product requirement. This requirement can be met in one of two ways: students may submit a research study to a refereed journal; or submit a proposal for refereed presentation at an annual conference of a national organization (e.g. the Association of Science Teacher Educators, National Association of Research on Science Teaching, American Educational Research Association).


Following completion of the course of study, the student will complete a comprehensive examination centered on three areas: (a) Emphasis area; (b) Cognate; and (c) Research, with a particular focus on developing the dissertation proposal. (See the Doctoral Handbook for more detailed information on this process.)

DISSERTATION (15-24 credit hours)

Upon successful completion of the comprehensive exam and dissertation proposal defense, students will enroll in dissertation credits while they collect and analyze data and write and defend their results.

Course Plan