2023 Best Online STEM PhD Programs [Doctorate Guide]

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A STEM PhD allows you to advance your studies in a particular STEM field while exploring STEM education as a whole.

Best Online STEM PhD Programs

For example, you can examine the various ways in which teachers may best instruct students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

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Earning a Ph.D. in STEM Education is also a strategic move for professionals who are interested in research as well as teaching or administration roles in higher education. Graduates may also pursue education leadership roles in K-12 schools.

Online STEM PhD Programs

Woman taking Online STEM PhD

An online STEM PhD program can help you advance your knowledge and skill sets in the STEM education field. STEM-focused online education degree programs can also help you gain a better understanding of how students think and learn when it comes to STEM-related subjects.

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In a PhD in Education in STEM program, you can explore how to develop theories and design solutions and curricula for STEM education that benefit all students. You can also choose a specific STEM-related field to further your studies in.

Here are some of the many areas of study your STEM doctorate program may cover:

  • How students think and learn in STEM fields
  • Educational trends, research, and theories
  • In-depth study of your chosen STEM field
  • How to ensure all students get a high-quality STEM education
  • Learning environments and their effects on STEM education access
  • Professional development of STEM teachers

Professionals with a PhD in STEM Education may pursue a number of career paths. For instance, graduates may go on to pursue careers as:

  • University teachers
  • Curriculum development specialists
  • Assessment specialists
  • Instructional leaders
  • Researchers
  • Policymakers

Some graduates also pursue careers as STEM coordinators in public schools. STEM PhDs can also help K-12 teachers advance their skill sets and professional qualifications in their field.

Common Online PhD in STEM Education Specializations 

Teacher and students in (STEM) Engineering Education class

The STEM field encompasses math, science, engineering, and technology. Students pursuing STEM studies can often choose one specialization among multiple STEM-related fields. Common specializations include:

  • Science Education. You can learn about science and environmental education and curriculum design in K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions, and informal settings.
  • Agricultural Education. This concentration focuses on education in agriculture and life sciences, especially in postsecondary education settings.
  • Engineering Education. You can learn about engineering concepts and how they are introduced and can be taught effectively in K-12 schools.
  • Mathematics Education. With this concentration, you can learn how to improve math curricula, teaching and learning of math concepts, and strategies for increasing student achievement.
  • Educational Technology. This concentration encompasses the study and teaching of computer science.

Different schools may offer different specializations. Much like with an on-campus or online masters in secondary education, when searching for the PhD STEM program that’s right for you, it’s helpful to research what specializations schools have available.

STEM Education Careers & Salaries 

STEM Education Careers & Salaries 

Professionals with a PhD in STEM education can pursue a number of careers in education and research. A PhD is also a common educational requirement for teaching at a college or university. Some graduates may pursue leadership or administrative roles in higher education as well.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the median salaries of some of the many career paths related to the STEM education field.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
K-12 Education Administrators $98,420
Postsecondary Education Administrators $96,910
Postsecondary Teachers $79,640
Junior College Teachers $76,350
Instructional Coordinators $63,740
High School Teachers $61,820
Special Education Teachers $61,820
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers $61,350
Middle School Teachers $61,320
Adult Basic and Secondary Education and ESL Teachers $59,720

Some graduates work in public schools, teaching STEM-related subjects to students or acting as STEM coordinators for the school as a whole. Teaching roles typically require a state license.

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Other STEM education professionals focus on designing or assessing curricula. They might work as curriculum developers or leaders in instructional coordination.

Doctorate in STEM Education Curriculum & Courses 

People pursuing Doctorate in STEM Education

Here are some examples of courses that a STEM doctorate program may offer:

  • Educational Statistics: You’ll learn about various sampling procedures, about analysis and correlation, and about computer analysis of educational data.
  • Critical Examination of Curriculum in Context: This course may discuss concepts, ideas, and debates in general curriculum.
  • Theories and Trends in Education: This course provides an overview of human development and learning, including cognitive, social, and behavioral learning theories.
  • Statistics for Educational Research: You’ll learn about regressive and correlation methods and how to analyze data.
  • Essentials of Educational Research: You’ll learn about different research skills and about planning and reporting applied research.
  • Teaching Theory and Research: This course provides an overview of teaching research, including historical perspective, modern research, and implications for the future.
  • Readings in Educational Research: You’ll learn to investigate research in a STEM-related field.
  • Nature of Inquiry in STEM Education: This course may teach you how to evaluate national teaching standards, how to research, and how to utilize cognitive theories of learning in the STEM field.
  • Equity, Policy, and Social Justice: You’ll learn about the issues of diversity, equity, policy, and social justice in the role of education.
  • Research Approaches to Classroom Discourse: This course may teach you about the analysis of classroom discourse, conversational analysis, and critical discourse.

The courses offered in your program will depend on your specialization and school. It could also help to look at what courses a school offers to make sure you take the courses that fit your interests and goals.

Admissions Requirements 

Man working on PhD in STEM Education Requirements 

Admission requirements for a STEM PhD program can depend on the school, but here are some common requirements:

  • GRE scores (if required)
  • Masters degree and prior coursework in a STEM-related field
  • Official transcripts
  • Prior teaching experience
  • Statement of intent

Your school may also require up to three letters of recommendation and an application fee. Not all programs require you to have prior teaching experience. It’s helpful to check a program’s specific admission requirements by checking their website or speaking to an admissions officer.


University offering PhD in STEM Education

When searching for an online STEM doctorate program, it’s strategic to find out if a school is regionally accredited. Regional accreditation means that a school has been reviewed by a reputable accrediting agency and has been found to meet certain standards of quality.

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A school’s accreditation status can affect whether your credits can be transferred to another school. Attending an accredited school is also a precondition for some forms of financial aid. Plus, many employers look at a school’s accreditation status when determining a candidate’s qualifications. You can learn more about accreditation at the US Department of Education’s website.

Financial Aid and Scholarships 

 PhD in STEM Education Financial Aid

When you’re searching for the PhD program that’s right for you, you may want to consider available financial aid opportunities as well.

Schools often have scholarship opportunities based on merit, and some may be specifically meant for STEM students. Some schools also offer fellowships or assistantships to PhD candidates. Federal student loans are also available to students who qualify. Unlike scholarships, loans need to be paid back after a student is no longer attending school.

You can see what forms of federal aid are available to you by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you’re currently working, you can also see if your employer offers any tuition assistance programs.

What Is a STEM Education PhD?

A PhD in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is a doctoral program that explores how students learn STEM subjects and how to better inspire them to engage in these lucrative fields.

Through a STEM PhD program, you can gain more experience and expertise in your chosen STEM field and advance your knowledge surrounding STEM educational programs. This program aims to help you develop the knowledge and skills to overcome challenges in providing high-quality STEM education to students at all levels.

Graduates are often prepared for teaching, supervisory, research, and administrative positions in K-12 or higher education.

What Can You Do with a PhD in STEM Education?

High School Teacher guiding her student with their lesson

With a PhD in STEM Education, you may qualify for a number of careers in the education field. Many STEM educators have teaching roles in K-12 schools.

Experienced educators may pursue administrative roles, working as instructional coordinators or STEM coordinators for schools or school districts. Many graduates pursue jobs as instructional leaders, curriculum developers, and assessment specialists. A PhD can also help you qualify for research, administrative, and teaching positions in institutions of higher education.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctoral Degree in STEM Education Online? 

It’s common for a PhD to take 3 to 5 years to earn with full-time study. How long it takes to complete an online STEM education PhD depends on many factors.

For instance, your timeframe can be affected by how many credit hours your program has, whether you’re studying full-time or part-time, and how long it takes complete your dissertation. If a dissertation isn’t required, a doctoral degree can generally be completed in 3 years of full-time study.

Is a STEM PhD Worth It?

Middle School Teacher discussing in class

Yes, a STEM PhD is worth it for many students. A STEM education PhD is beneficial to those who teach science, technology, engineering, or math to students in K-12 or postsecondary schools. It can also help you qualify for research positions in higher education.

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A PhD program in STEM education can help you prepare for leadership roles or curriculum development roles as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that many jobs in education are seeing steady growth. Overall, training, education, and library occupations are expected to see 10% job growth over the next ten years.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in STEM Education Degree Program

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

American College of Education

American College of Education campus

The American College of Education offers a Doctor of Education in Leadership with a focus in STEM. The program consists of fully online courses that are 5 or 10 weeks long, and it can typically be finished in 3 years. Courses include Management of Financial Resources, Global Perspectives, Applied Statistics, and more.

American College of Education is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

Drexel University

Drexel University campus

Drexel University offers a PhD in Education with a concentration in STEM Education. Part-time and full-time scheduling options are available, and on-campus classes are held in the evenings to accommodate working adults. Courses are also available online. Full-time students may apply for research or teaching assistantships.

Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Montana State University

Montana State University Billings campus

Montana State University offers a PhD in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction program that is intended to prepare students for conducting research related to STEM education. The program uses both face-to-face and online courses, and there is also a 1 year on-campus residency requirement. Coursework includes Dissertation Seminar, Higher Education History and Philosophy, Advanced Educational Psychology, and more.

Montana State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Murray State University

Murray State University campus

Murray State University offers a Doctor of Education in P-20 and Community Leadership with a specialization in STEM. The program requires the completion of 60 credit hours of coursework. Courses include Advanced Methods of Quantitative Research in Education, Leadership and Ethics in a Diverse Society, Emerging Trends in STEM Education, and more.

Murray State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus

Texas Tech University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction with a track in STEM. Students in the program must complete 63 credit hours of online and face-to-face coursework. Applicants must submit GRE scores and have at least three years of professional experience teaching STEM subjects. New students can begin every fall.

Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky campus

The University of Kentucky offers a PhD in Education Sciences with an emphasis in STEM Education. To graduate, students must complete 45 credit hours of coursework and a dissertation. Select courses are available online or in hybrid formats, but students do need to be able to come to campus in Lexington at least once a week.

The University of Kentucky is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Massachusetts – Lowell

University of Massachusetts Lowell campus

The University of Massachusetts—Lowell offers an EdD in Schooling with a STEM option. The program is mostly online, with a one-week residency on campus each summer. Students in the program take two courses each semester with a cohort and can typically finish the program in 3 years. Coursework includes Developing Inclusive School Contexts, Applied Research Design, and Data Analysis for Practitioner Leaders.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh campus

The University of Pittsburgh offers an EdD in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Accepted students may enroll part-time starting in the summer and can typically finish the program in 3 years. The program requires a total of 84 credits, 24 of which can be transferred from a qualifying master’s degree.

The University of Pittsburgh is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina campus

The University of South Carolina offers a 100% online program for a Doctor of Education in STEM Education. The program’s courses use an 8 week format. Classes include Introduction to Diversity and the Curriculum, Educational Policy Analysis, Principles of Engineering for Teachers, Integration of Technology and Instruction, and more. GRE and GMAT scores are not required to apply.

The University of South Carolina is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of the Southwest

University of the Southwest campus

The University of the Southwest offers a Doctor of Education in STEM Education that can be earned 100% online. Textbooks, course materials, and a laptop are included in tuition costs. The program requires two residencies, but students can choose to either come to campus or participate virtually.

The University of the Southwest is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Getting Your PhD in STEM Education Online 

Man completing his PhD in STEM Education Online

Earning a PhD in STEM Education could be a strategic step if you’re passionate about a STEM-related field and want to share that passion with the next generation.

A STEM PhD program can help you research different ways to improve STEM education and to provide a high-quality education for students at all levels. A PhD program in STEM education is especially beneficial for those who want to pursue STEM careers related to teaching, administration, instructional design, and research.

If you’re ready to advance your expertise in STEM education, then you can start exploring accredited schools today to find the PhD program and specialization that’s right for you.

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Kelly has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management from Winthrop University. Her interests include research on topics such as healthcare and business. She enjoys writing and sharing informative information to help others.