Projected Timeline

Step 1

Complete 75% of coursework including:

Notes and Resources:

  • Also take note of “Other Requirements” for publications, presentations, and enrollment below.
  • If not enrolling in coursework, sign up for Continuous Matriculation (GRAD DC1)
Step 2
Form Committee
  1. IMPORTANT! Join the Canvas page for Dissertation Organizing Central (D.O.C.) as soon as you receive an invitation.
  2. Meet with the Doctoral Program Director, or your advisor if you have one, to discuss your readiness for the comprehensive experience and begin planning.
  3. Seek a committee chair and 2 (or 3) additional committee members. Seek advice from multiple members of the faculty and from other doctoral students. You have the option to make changes to this committee prior to formalizing your committee at the proposal stage.
Step 3
Comprehensive Experience
  1. Candidate receives integrative essay prompts from committee chair and has three weeks to complete two integrative essays.
  2. Candidate submits responses to the integrative essays to their entire committee. The committee has two weeks to review the integrative essays. A day is set for a committee meeting with the student to defend the integrative essays. Committee members pass or fail the candidate, notifying them immediately of the decision.
  3. If the candidate passes, they reach candidacy and can begin work on the literature review.

Notes and Resources:

Step 4
Literature Review

Candidate conducts a review of the literature related to a particular topic in mathematics education and then synthesizes that review to produce a critical analysis of the relevant literature. The candidate should choose a topic related to their potential dissertation topic. Although the work prepared for the literature review may become the basis of the candidate’s dissertation, it should be distinguished from the proposal stage, where the candidate presents their research questions and research design. The candidate is encouraged to conclude their literature review by highlighting gaps in the extant literature and using the literature to propose future directions of research in the area.

The literature review must explicitly address the following overarching questions:

  1. What theories and methodologies have researchers used to study your topic? How have these theories evolved through the history of mathematics education? Are these theories compatible or incompatible?
  2. What are the seminal works? What are key findings from these and other papers on the topic and how have researchers used these findings to further study the topic? If key findings have not supported further research describe possible reasons for this.
  3. What are the gaps in the current literature and areas for further study?

Notes and Resources:

  • For all stages of the dissertation, candidates are encouraged to expect at least two weeks for faculty members to provide feedback.
  • When all committee members agree that the literature review is ready to discuss, set a date for a formal discussion with the committee.
  • The MSU Library has a Research Guide about Literature Reviews here. The University of Minnesota’s Library has a web-based tutorial, as well.
  • Graduate School Resources for writing your dissertation can be found here. We recommend that you write your proposal using a dissertation template and a citation manager.
Step 5
Dissertation Proposal
  • If changes are being made to the composition of the committee, now is the time to do so. Once it’s final, formalize that committee by submitting Form B – Approval of Dissertation Committee (PDF). If any proposed committee members are external to the university, also submit Form C – Request for Approval of Outside Dissertation Committee Member.
  • Enroll in Dissertation Advisement (MATH 900)
  • Begin IRB application – attend a workshop and complete a tutorial prior to applying.
  • At some point during the development of your proposal, have a preliminary conversation with your chair about the potential format of your dissertation: the two options are the conventional 5-chapter dissertation and the 3-article-based dissertation. The templates for these formats are on the Forms and Resources page along with Math Ed-specific guidelines for the articles-based dissertation. This decision should be integrated into your proposal. Additional conversations about your options should be held with all members of your committee as you develop your proposal.
  • Within three years of reaching candidacy, complete and defend proposal (Proposal Hearing: 20 minute presentation followed by up to 20 minutes of Q&A with the audience)
  • Submit Form D – Approval of Dissertation Proposal (PDF)
Step 6

Further information about Doctoral Policies, Procedures & Guidelines and the Dissertation Process is available at the website of The Graduate School.

Step 7

Congratulations, you have earned your PhD in Mathematics Education!

Other Requirements

Publication Requirement

Students in the PhD program will be expected to complete the following activities before defending their dissertation:

  • Submit an article viable for publication to a peer-reviewed mathematics education journal.
  • Present a research paper at a national or international conference.

Enrollment Requirement

Students must be continuously enrolled during their matriculation in the degree.