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Ph.D. in Mathematics Education

Inquiries welcomed!

This program is recently revised and open for application: Check out the Admission requirements and the program information here

Inquires about our Ph.D. program can be sent to Dr. Gulden Karakok, graduate recruitment and induction coordinator or Dr. Nathaniel Eldredge, graduate program coordinator. 

Program Overview

The Mathematics Education Ph.D. program at UNC combines graduate mathematics preparation with advanced coursework and research in mathematics education.  This program is designed for graduate students interested in specializing in mathematics teaching and learning in grades 6-14. Our innovative approach to mathematical pedagogy assumes that a deep understanding of mathematics is fundamental to teaching mathematics, for engaging in mathematics education research, and for supporting reform in mathematics education. The program has three major strands: mathematics, mathematics education, and preparing grades 6-14 mathematics teachers. This program is suited to secondary mathematics teachers who want to continue their education and move into mathematics leadership jobs in K-12 education or a faculty position in higher education, as well as to those with graduate work in mathematics who want to focus on research in mathematics education. 

Graduates of the program will be able to teach matematics at several levels, perform research, engage in and further ongoing efforts to improve mathematics education for all students, and serve as leaders in mathematics education.

This program is an on-campus program designed to be completed in four or five years. Most students in the program are supported as teaching assistants (TAs).  For details, see our financial support page.  Some additional information about our program can be found on our Graduate Studies page.


Applicants should possess a master's degree in mathematics or mathematics education. It is expected that students will have had a senior level or beginning graduate level course in each of abstract algebra, linear algebra, point-set topology, and real or complex analysis; applicants not having this background may be required to take additional courses to prepare for the coursework in the program.

Applicants to this program need to fill out the graduate school application; submit at least three letters of recommendation;  submit official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended; submit a CV (curriculum vitae); and must provide an essay of approximately 500 words about their personal educational goals and specific interest in the University of Northern Colorado's Mathematics Education Ph.D. program.  Questions about our program or about the application process should be sent to Dr. Gulden Karakok, Ph.D. program co-coordinator.

The application deadline for this program is February 15.  All application materials must be received by this date in order to be considered for admission to the program starting the following Fall semester. This program only admits students starting in the Fall semester.

Program Requirements

The Faculty

Our Mathematics Educators: The mathematics educators in our program bring a range of research expertise that incorporates both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Below are brief descriptions of our mathematics educators’ research interests. 

Gulden Karakok (Ph.D. Mathematics Education, Oregon State U.): Dr. Karakok's research area is in undergraduate mathematics education and focuses on transfer of learning of mathematics and how this construct helps to understand mathematical creativity. Together with the Creativity Research Group, she has helped to develop the Creativity-in-Progress Reflection for proving and problem solving to be used in undergraduate mathematics courses. Currently, the research group is working on implementation of these formative assessment tools in Calculus courses through NSF-funded project. Dr. Karakok uses inquiry-based learning (IBL) teaching practices in her courses and worked with the Academy of IBL to facilitate workshops for other faculty members. She also works with a group of researchers to offer discipline based education research mentorship funded by NSF. In addition to her research and professional development work at undergraduate level, Dr. Karakok has worked with K-12 teachers in state funded professional development programs both in Oregon and Colorado. Dr. Karakok also co-directs the Northern Colorado Math Circles program that offers monthly problem-solving sessions to 4th-8th grade students and teachers as well as week-long summer workshops. 

Jodie Novak (Ph.D. Mathematics, Oklahoma State University): Dr. Novak’s work focuses on the mathematical preparation of pre- and in-service mathematics teachers. Over the last 12 years, she has been involved with eight, multi-year partnerships with local school districts to support the professional development of K-12 mathematics teachers. These efforts always focus on deepening teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teachers but often through different mechanisms such as supporting teachers to engage in lesson study or to adopt a new curriculum. Dr. Novak led the Math Teacher Leadership Center, a 6.5 year, $5.3M NSF project, which developed and researched a blended delivery master’s program for secondary math teachers and a math teacher leadership program. She is currently wrapping up, in collaboration with Oklahoma State University, a 5-year, $1.2M NSF funded project, Initiating a Foundational Research Model for Secondary Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching, to develop a model for studying secondary teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching exponential functions. These projects provide opportunities for graduate students to engage in research and to develop their capacity in delivering professional development. She works regularly with K-12 math teacher leaders to develop their leadership capacity for developing and delivering math professional development. In addition, Dr. Novak brings an equity-minded focus to her work.

Robert Powers (Ed.D. Curriculum & Instruction, University of Houston): Dr. Powers’ background is in curriculum and instruction. His research involves investigations of expert teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching exponential functions in high school based on the Initiating a Foundational Research Model for Secondary Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching, a $1.17 million grant from the NSF. Other interests include investigations of the practice of mathematics teacher educators, including the nature of tasks used to teach mathematics pedagogy in methods courses of teacher education programs. He frequently mentors doctoral candidates to teach methods of teaching mathematics courses and mathematics courses required in the secondary teacher education preparation program.

Lindsay Reiten (Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction, U. of Wisconsin-Madison): Dr. Reiten’s research interests include the preparation of pre-service mathematics teachers, teaching with vs. near technology, and supporting the development of academic discourse in mathematics classrooms. Teaching with technology entails using technology and technology-based tasks to support students’ development of understanding through reflecting, communicating, and connecting multiple representations. Dr. Reiten continues work on Initiating a Foundational Research Model for Secondary Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching and Supporting Students’ Proof Practices through Quantitative Reasoning in Algebra projects, both of which stem from NSF grants. These interests build from her own experience as a middle and high school mathematics teacher, as well as her work with pre-service mathematics teachers. Outreach activities include fostering partnerships with community organizations and local districts aimed at supporting students and teachers. Dr. Reiten mentors graduate students as they explore how to foster and support secondary mathematics teachers striving to equip all students to read and write the world with mathematics.

Our Other Faculty: Many of the mathematicians in our program have interest and experience in mathematics education research, teach Ph.D. mathematics courses or participate on Ph.D. dissertation committees (sometimes as co-advisor).

  • Anton Dzhamay (Ph.D. Mathematics, Columbia University): Algebro-geometric methods in the theory of integrable systems and soliton equations, non-linear differential and partial differential equations, algebraic geometry, mathematical physics.
  • Nate Eldredge (Ph.D. Mathematics, University of California, San Diego): Probability theory and stochastic processes; stochastic, functional, and geometric analysis.
  • Christopher Harris (Ph.D. Informatics, University of Iowa): Information Retrieval, Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks, Natural Language Processing, Human-Machine Interfaces
  • Oscar Levin (Ph.D. Mathematics, U. of Connecticut): Mathematical logic; effective combinatorics.
  • Nathaniel Miller (Ph.D. Mathematics, Cornell University): Reasoning with geometric diagrams; logic; geometry; discovery learning in mathematics.
  • Katie Morrison (Ph.D. Mathematics, U. of Nebraska-Lincoln): Algebraic coding theory; applications of coding theory to neuroscience.

Recent Graduates