Doctoral Programs FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about doctoral degree programs
More fully detailed information may be found in the full Doctoral Program Brochure, or contact the Graduate Coordinator for Science Education Programs, Dr. Julie Kittleson, firstname.lastname@example.org, with any other questions or for further clarifications of any of these answers.
Most full-time doctoral students complete the program in 3 to 4 years (most often 4, occasionally more).
Time to degree completion is nearly always significantly longer, and varies much more greatly, for part-time students. A very few exceptional part-time students have finished in 3 years, while a very few have pushed the Graduate School’s limit of 11 years (maximum of 6 to achieve Candidacy and 5 more to complete the dissertation).
It is possible to begin doctoral work part-time and finish full-time (or vice versa), and time to degree tends to be intermediate for such students.
In general, students with a greater amount of graduate coursework already completed in the context of a master’s degree (whether in Education or in a science field) and/or an Ed.S. degree will need less time to complete coursework before achieving Candidacy (“all-but-dissertation” status).
In general, the most important qualification for applying for doctoral study in Science Education at UGA is a significant record of science teaching experience in some setting, with at least three full-time years highly recommended. Most doctoral students have taught science in a traditional secondary (middle or high school) setting, but some have extensive and successful college-level science Teaching Assistant experience instead, and elementary teachers with a special interest in science are also welcome. Other doctoral students have experience primarily in “informal” science education settings, such as museums, planetariums, nature centers, environmental education programs, or extension/outreach programs associated with scientific research institutions. A few, especially among international students, have limited previous experience with teaching but have an extremely strong academic record in a scientific research field and have been identified by their current university or by their nation’s government as promising future leaders in science education.
Most doctoral applicants have already earned a master’s degree in either an education field and/or in a science field, and many have earned an Ed.S., but a previous graduate degree is not required.
Previous experience with educational research, leadership in inservice teacher education, or curriculum materials development is not assumed, although all are certainly desirable and one or more is fairly common among our applicants.
Yes, although in most cases such students are limited to the Ed.D. rather than Ph.D. degree (see the next question). All Science Education courses intended primarily for graduate students, and most others typically included in a doctoral program, are available either on weekday evenings during the Fall and Spring Semesters or during the Summer Semester, so as not to conflict with the typical core schedule of practicing classroom teachers.
Note, however, that at UGA all graduate studies must be fairly continuous, and cannot, for instance, be pursued exclusively during the Summer Semester. The Graduate School’s Continuous Enrollment Policy requires at least 3 credit hours of coursework during at least two of the three semesters (Fall, Spring, Summer) of each academic year cycle, until degree requirements are met.
At a conceptual level, the Ed.D. is a professional degree meant to more greatly emphasize practical applications to science classroom teaching and curriculum issues, while the Ph.D. is a research degree intended to accomodate students with a stronger interest in more abstract questions and issues.
Specific differences between the two degrees in admissions standards, coursework requirements, and effective professional qualifications achieved upon graduation are minimal. The most important practical difference is that Ph.D. students must technically qualify as full-time students for at least two consecutive academic year semesters in order to meet the UGA Graduate School’s Residency Requirement.
More detailed descriptions of specific admissions, course, and graduation requirements may be found in the Doctoral Program Brochure.
Nearly all full-time doctoral students have a Graduate Assistantship appointment (see the next question) that includes a full tuition waiver and requires payment only of minimal nominal fees.
Part-time students or those not anticipating an Assistantship position should check with the UGA Bursar’s Office for specific and up-to-date information, however at this writing (looking towards Spring Semester 2012), the graduate in-state tuition rate for the College of Education at the Athens campus was listed as $1032 tuition per 3 semester hours (up to 12 hours), plus $1095 in miscellaneous fees per semester.
Out-of-state tuition rates are roughly 3 times higher. Upon moving from another state, in general one must live in Georgia for one full year as a non-student in order to establish legal residency and thus qualify for in-state tuition rates. If this issue is relevant it is advisable to check with the Bursar’s Office directly for details.
Most full-time doctoral students in Science Education apply for a Graduate Assistantship appointment, and funding for such appointments is usually available for most of those admitted. A very limited number of unusually highly qualified applicants who intend to be full-time students may be nominated by the Graduate Coordinator for competitive special assistantships funded at higher levels directly by the Graduate School. Either form of Graduate Assistantship includes both a stipend and a full tuition waiver. A few miscellaneous fees must still be paid each semester by students with an Assistantship appointment.
In the recent past, a very common and readily available source of financial aid for part-time doctoral students in Science Education not seeking a career change was Georgia’s HOPE Teacher Scholarship Loan Program, through which the state paid a majority of tuition costs in exchange for continuing to teach science in a Georgia public school for several years after completion of the degree. As of this writing (Summer 2010), this program has been eliminated from the state’s 2010-11 budget.
A limited number of unusually highly qualified students who are residents of other states may be nominated by the Graduate Coordinator for a Regents Out-of-State Tuition Waiver (ROOSTW) award, through which the Graduate School subsidizes the very substantial difference between in-state and out-ot-state tuition rates. ROOSTW awards usually must begin in Fall Semester. Applications are due in late Spring and are only accepted for applicants already admitted. Part-time students are eligible.
No. There are a few graduate-level courses given on an online basis that may be applied to doctoral degree requirements in Science Education in some cases. The most prominent examples include several Educational Psychology courses, including those leading to a Gifted Education endorsement. Nearly all graduate courses currently given at the Gwinnett campus are intended primarily for students enrolled in alternative certification programs at the master’s level or on a non-degree basis.
To the best of our current knowledge, the only institution offering an online doctoral program that is well respected in the Science Education research community is Curtin University of Technology, in Australia.
Doctoral studies may begin in either Summer or Fall Semester, not Spring. Assistantship appointments normally begin in the Fall, but new students on Assistantship qualify for a tuition waiver for the previous Summer.
All graduate students in Science Education must complete the online Application to the UGA Graduate School. Other required application materials that should be sent directly to the Graduate School include official transcripts from all institutions from which a degree was earned, an official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) (General Test) score report, and a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) report if applicable.
Three letters of recommendation are also required. The Graduate School’s online application provides a facility to request via automated e-mail that writers of recommendation letters complete the process online. For those preferring to solicit or submit letters in paper form, a cover sheet for letters of recommendation is also available on the Graduate School web site, and completed letters should then be sent to the Graduate Coordinator for Science Education.
We also ask that you complete the online Incoming Doctoral Student Questionnaire for Science Education in order to give the Graduate Coordinator an initial sense of your educational and professional background and goals.
Doctoral applicants should also submit an academic writing sample and a Statement of Purpose, and try to schedule interviews with several of the faculty if possible.
Doctoral admissions decisions are made by the entire Science Education faculty on a “rolling” basis throughout the academic year, usually no longer than three weeks after all application materials are complete. Although several minimum objective standards are maintained (see next question), doctoral admissions decisions involve careful subjective consideration of many qualitative factors as well.
Full details may be found at the Application/Admissions section of the Doctoral Program Brochure.
Minimum quantitative admissions standards are largely the same for the Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs in Science Education, and include:
Grade Point Average (GPA): Overall undergraduate GPA of 2.8, including 3.0 in all education and science courses. Overall graduate GPA of 3.5, including 3.5 in all education and science courses
Graduate Record Examination (GRE), General Test: Total score (sum of Verbal and Quantitative scores) of 1050 for Ph.D. or 950 for Ed.D., including 400 on the Verbal portion (Science Education program rule) and 550 on the Quantitative portion (Graduate School rule).
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): When English is not the applicant’s first language, a total score of 80, including a score of 20 on the Speaking and Writing sections.