What is an Ed.D. in Science Education?
An Ed.D. in Science Education is a practical doctorate that prepares educators for PreK-12 and university-level positions in science education and leadership. Graduates also lead initiatives outside of traditional PK-20 spheres. Experts in this field become deeply versed in areas such as science teaching, instructional leadership, curriculum development, assessment, and program evaluation.
You might choose to pursue an Ed.D. in Science Education in order to:
- Qualify for jobs as curriculum supervisors, district-level leaders, assistant professors, and the like
- Gain a deep understanding of the theoretical & practical aspects of science pedagogy
- Engage in action research related to science teaching and learning
- Solve significant problems of practice within educational settings
- Think critically about the nature of science and the implications of science education within diverse communities
- Create positive changes in the teaching and learning of science within educational systems
Types of Doctorate in Science Education Programs
Ed.D. in Science Education
You’ll find a number of straightforward doctorates in “Science Education” in our listings, including some from big names in teaching (e.g. Columbia). Coursework is often a blend of education credits (e.g. curriculum theory & practice, science teacher education, teaching & learning, etc.), graduate-level science subjects, social issues, and research work.
Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction: Science Education
Alternatively, you could consider a doctorate in “Curriculum & Instruction” with a concentration in science education. These degrees have a similar feel to an Ed.D. in Science Education, but may contain a little more emphasis on curriculum development and program planning.
Check the curriculum links in our listings to get a sense of how the Ed.D. coursework is weighted. For example, UTRGV’s Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction: Science Education is designed to prepare individuals to formulate and lead PK-16 programs, qualify for leadership roles, and/or teach at the college or university level.
Note: We talk a lot more about about Curriculum & Instruction programs in our separate subject guide.
Ed.D. Programs in STEM Education
As the name implies, Ed.D. programs in STEM are built for current STEM educators who wish to take the next step in their practice-oriented careers. Students explore all of the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), with coursework in pedagogy, subject matter knowledge, and educational research.
You’ll find a lot of variation within STEM Ed.D. programs. Our listings contain doctorates in niche areas like STEM Leadership, STEM Education Enhancement, Integrative STEM Education, and more. The University of Idaho has sub-specialties in multiple areas (e.g. Indigenous STEM Education).
Ed.D. Programs in Specific Science Subjects
If you have a particular passion, you could even choose to pursue a science education doctorate in a specific subject (e.g. Biology, Health Science, Social Science, Physical Sciences, Earth Science, etc.).
These are often offered as sub-specialties within a more general degree (e.g. Ed.D. in Educational Innovation, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, Ed.D. in Supervision, Curriculum & Instruction).
Ph.D. vs. Ed.D. in Science Education
In broad terms, an Ed.D. is a practice-focused doctorate that concentrates on applied research & theory and a Ph.D. is designed for aspiring university professors & high-level researchers. For example:
- Columbia’s Ed.D. in Science Education is popular with classroom teachers who wish to advance their careers and become K-12 district leaders, curriculum supervisors, and the like.
- Pitt’s Ph.D. in Science Education prepares students to conduct scholarly research, create development projects in science education, teach science education courses, instruct other K-12 science teachers, and serve as a faculty member in a research-oriented university.
But the line is pretty fuzzy when it comes to job applications. When we looked at openings for faculty-level positions, most universities were content with a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in science education, STEM, or a relevant educational field (e.g. curriculum & instruction). This rule even applied to niche positions like “Assistant Professor of Biology Education.”
If your Ed.D. has a solid research component, you should be eligible for associate & assistant professor positions. Schools will be much more interested in your work history. Many university job openings ask for 5+ years of experience as a K-12 science teacher or administrator and/or substantial experience teaching science content & pedagogy at a post-secondary level.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! You can read our full discussion of the differences between Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs here.
Earning an Ed.D. in Science Education
Science Education Prerequisites
- Master’s Degree: A master’s degree in science education or a scientific field may or may not be required—it varies from school to school. However, if you hold an M.Ed., you may be expected to have a bachelor’s degree in a science subject. Check the applications links in our listings for details.
- Minimum GPA: The standard minimum GPA for Ed.D. programs is 3.0 on your master’s degree, but prestigious universities often go higher. At Virginia Tech, it’s 3.3.
- Work Experience: The standard minimum is 3 years of classroom teaching experience. Depending on the program, some schools may also want to see evidence of a valid educator’s/teaching certificate or the equivalent.
- Additional Requirements: Some schools will ask for GRE or MAT scores; some schools won’t. You may also be expected to provide a statement of purpose or research interests, a current résumé, an academic writing sample, and 2-4 letters of recommendation.
Science Education Coursework
Although each doctorate in our listings has a different focus, most Ed.D. programs in science education try to cover key bases. These bases include:
- Theory & practice of science education
- Graduate-level coursework in science and STEM subjects
- Action research methods & tools
- Current problems of practice
- Societal issues (e.g. multicultural education)
The focus of the program will depend on the title and the College of Education’s strengths, so we recommend you make a shortlist of 4-5 likely candidates and then dig into their curriculum links.
Science Education Internship & Fieldwork
Because the Ed.D. is a practice-oriented doctorate, some universities have gone the extra mile and included internship experiences in their programs. Examples include:
- UGA’s Ed.D. in Science Education, which has a research internship AND a teaching internship in science education.
- Pitt’s Hybrid Ed.D. in STEM, which has a choice of internships—job-embedded, aspirant/apprenticeship with a mentor, or an international/global studies experience. Ed.D. students choose one.
We tend to favor doctoral programs with internships & fieldwork, but we appreciate that they may cut into your work time. When in doubt, talk to alumni to learn if the internship was a valuable element in the program.
Science Education Dissertation
Ed.D. programs will include a traditional 5-chapter dissertation, Dissertation in Practice (DiP) or capstone project. We discuss the difference between these options in our guide to No Dissertation Ed.D. Programs.
We noticed that many Ed.D. in Science Education programs are still sticking to the traditional dissertation model, but there are exceptions. For example, Augusta is a CPED member, so it uses the Dissertation in Practice (DiP) model for its cohort-based Ed.D. in Educational Innovation.
Online Ed.D. in Science Education Programs
Are Ed.D. Programs in Science Education Offered Online?
Yes. Our program database contains a smattering of online doctorates in science education. We’ve flagged them all with an “Offered Online” marker. Some will be asynchronous (i.e. log in at any time); some won’t. For example, Virginia Tech’s Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Integrative STEM Education involves synchronous web-based delivery (i.e. real-time classes).
Do Online Ed.D. in Science Education Programs Contain Residencies?
Check the curriculum links. The University of South Carolina’s Online Ed.D. in Educational Practice and Innovation: STEM Education and Murray State’s Online Ed.D. in P-20 and Community leadership: STEM Leadership are 100% online, but Valdosta’s Online Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction – P-12 Disciplinary includes on-campus doctoral seminars. Each program is unique.
Science Education Careers
Ed.D. in Science Education Jobs
A doctorate in science education is designed to prepare graduates for leadership & high-level teaching roles in PreK-12 schools, districts, universities, and other relevant settings (e.g. zoos, museums, environmental education centers, STEM industries, etc.). You might pursue one in order to become a:
- District Leader in Science/STEM fields
- District Curriculum Supervisor
- Assistant/Associate Professor of Science Education
- Director of Science Programs
- Director of STEM Education
Ed.D. in Science Education Salary
The easiest way to find info on your chosen job in science education is to examine data from common salary sites. For example, Glassdoor posts average salary numbers for an “Assistant Professor of Science Education.” Remember that salary estimates will vary depending on the job title and location.
Is an Ed.D. in Science Education Worth it?
An Ed.D. in Science Education is a fairly niche degree to begin with, so we’re assuming you already have a few job goals in mind! If you’re on the fence about the cost & time, we recommend you talk to recent alumni. They’ll give you an honest opinion of the relevance of the doctorate and may be able to help with career guidance.
To find recent graduates of Ed.D. in Science Education programs, create a shortlist of potential programs from our listings and ask the university for alumni recommendations. You can also search for educational qualifications on LinkedIn and contact people directly.
Science Education Resources and Organizations
- Association for Multicultural Science Education (ASME): ASME is dedicated to promoting & improving science teaching to students of culturally diverse backgrounds; shaping science curricula, educational systems, and teaching methods; and recruiting and involving teachers of all minorities in science education.
- Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE): ASTE members include teacher educators, scientists, science coordinators and supervisors, and informal science educators from the U.S. and internationally. It hosts an annual meeting in January and posts employment opportunities on its website.
- Council for Elementary Science International (CESI): CESI is an international professional organization for PreK-8 educators who have the responsibility to teach science to children.
- Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS): CSSS members have direct accountability to the government agencies given the constitutional authority for education. Supervisors play a key role in directing efforts at improving school science and to ensure excellence and equity in science education.
- National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST): NARST is a global organization focused on improving science teaching and learning through research.
- National Marine Educators Association (NMEA): NMEA is a member-based organization of classroom teachers, informal educators, university professors, and scientists who are working together to advance the understanding and protection of freshwater and marine ecosystems.
- National Middle Level Science Teachers Association (NMLSTA): NMLSTA is a professional learning network for middle and junior high school science teachers who are committed to meeting the developmental needs of students in grades 5–9.
- National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA): NSELA members focus on the development of effective leadership practices as a means to improve science education.
- National Science Teaching Association (NSTA): NSTA is a community of 40,000+ science educators and professionals who have made a commitment to best practices in teaching science and its impact on student learning.
- North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE): NAAEE members promote professional excellence in non-formal organizations, K-12 classrooms, universities, government agencies, and corporate settings throughout the world.
- Society for College Science Teachers (SCST): SCST is an interdisciplinary affiliate of NSTA that’s dedicated to the study and advancement of college science teaching.