Science and Mathematics Education

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education (known informally as SESAME) offers an interdisciplinary graduate program leading to a doctoral degree in science, mathematics, technology, and engineering education. The program is designed to give graduates advanced expertise in a STEM discipline as well as in educational theory and research methodologies.

This Graduate Group was established so individuals with training or experience in a mathematical, scientific, or technical discipline can pursue advanced studies focused on educational issues in these disciplines. SESAME produces scholars who can communicate effectively with scientists, mathematicians, and engineers as well as with educational researchers and practitioners. SESAME students are expected to attain a level of expertise equivalent to that of a Master's student in their chosen discipline.

Thesis work typically consists of basic research on learning or cognition in a STEM field or the development of improved pedagogical approaches based on relevant models and research. Upon satisfactory completion of their studies and thesis work, students will obtain the degree of Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education.

SESAME also offers a Learning Sciences Certificate in Instructional Design, Learning Technologies, and Education Research.

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program


  1. A bachelor’s degree or its recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. Superior scholastic record, normally well above a 3.0 GPA;
  3. Indication of appropriate research goals, described in the statement of purpose; and
  4. For international applicants whose academic work has been in a language other than English, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Selection Criteria

SESAME accepts three to six Ph.D. students each year from more than 50 applications. Applicants are judged on a number of factors; good scores and a high GPA are necessary but not sufficient. Particularly valued are potential as a researcher and educator, a strong background in a STEM discipline, and an agenda that fits well with the work of specific faculty in this small, interdisciplinary program. Applicants should clearly indicate in their statement of purpose which faculty member(s) they are interested in doing research with and why.

Experience teaching, developing instructional materials, or doing educational or psychological research in these areas will also be favorably considered.  Knowledge of psychology, cognitive science, education, or statistics is helpful but not required. See SESAME Admissions for more information. SESAME accepts applications for only the Fall semester.

Statement of Purpose and Personal History

The statement of purpose and personal history are two separate essays.

The statement of purpose should succinctly explain your reasons for applying to SESAME, briefly review our relevant academic preparation and work experience, and describe your future academic or professional goals once the degree is acquired. The focus should be on your preparation, experience, and aims rather than a discussion of the trends or importance of education in general. The most successful statements are one to two pages in length and focus on the strengths and experiences of the applicant, providing the reviewers with evidence and justification for admitting those applicants who are qualified and well-suited for SESAME.

The personal history should include any relevant information not already included in the statement of purpose. Additional suggestions may be found in the Graduate Division’s Personal Statement Guide. There is no minimum length for the personal history.

These two essays are used in part to evaluate the candidate’s writing skills. Pursuant to UC Berkeley Policy, the two statements must be written by the candidate.

Three Letters of Recommendation

Ph.D. applicants should provide at least three and no more than five letters that speak directly to their ability and potential to perform academic work at the doctoral level.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

SESAME is programmatically separate from the GSE so GSE-wide course requirements do not apply. Note, however, that the Graduate Division’s requirement of EDUC 375 still applies.

A. Two SESAME Core Courses Taken in Year 1

SCMATHE 210Practicum in Science and Math Education Research and Development4 Units in Fall and 2 Units in Spring
SCMATHE 292Research Seminar and Colloquium (Fall and Spring)1

B. Two Foundations Courses Beginning in Year 1

EDUC 203Cultivating Cognitive Development: From Sensorimotor Intelligence to Embodied STEM Concepts (Spring)3
EDUC 254Introduction to Cultural Historical Activity Theory (Spring)3

C. Three Methodology Courses (1 Quant, 1 Qual + 1 More) Taken at Any Time

EDUC 222CDesign-Based Research Forum3
EDUC 241CNarrative across Learning Contexts3
EDUC 241DPerspectives on Classroom Discourse3
EDUC 243Advanced Qualitative Methods3
EDUC 244Data Mining and Analytics3
EDUC 250AQualitative Research in Language/Literacy Education3
EDUC 250CDiscourse Analysis3
EDUC 252BEthnographic Methods in the Study of Language and Literacy in Traditional and Digital Environment3
EDUC 259(co)Participant Observation Research in the Field4
EDUC C260FMachine Learning in Education3
EDUC 271BIntroduction to Qualitative Research Methods3
EDUC 274AMeasurement in Education and the Social Sciences I4
EDUC 274BMeasurement in Education and the Social Sciences II4
EDUC 274DMultidimensional Measurement4
Data Analysis in Educational Research II
and Educational Data Analysis Laboratory II
EDUC 275GHierarchical and Longitudinal Modeling3
EDUC 276AIntroduction to Program Evaluation3
EDUC 280CResearch Apprenticeship and Qualitative Methodology Seminar I3
Data Analysis in Education Research
and Educational Data Analysis Laboratory
SCMATHE 220CInstructional Design in Science and Mathematics Education3

D. One Learning in the Discipline Course Taken at Any Time

Below are examples of courses that represent this area but this list is not exhaustive. Students are encouraged to look at courses offered each term, to consult with their advisor, and to explore graduate coursework on campus more broadly.

EDUC 222CDesign-Based Research Forum (Fall)3
EDUC 224AMathematical Thinking and Problem Solving (Fall)3
EDUC 282Introduction to Disciplined Inquiry (Fall)3
SCMATHE 220CInstructional Design in Science and Mathematics Education (Spring, odd years. May satisfy the E requirement below.)3

E. Required: One Curriculum and Technology Design Course Taken at Any Time

Below are examples of courses that represent this area but this list is not exhaustive. You are encouraged to look at courses offered each term, to consult with your advisor, and to explore graduate coursework on campus more broadly - e.g., the School of Information.

EDUC 222Politics and Pedagogies at the Intersections of Data, Technologies, and Inequalities3
EDUC 224CGender, Mathematics and Science3
EDUC 224AMathematical Thinking and Problem Solving3
EDUC 170K12 Computer and Data Science Education: Design, Research, and Evaluation3
EDUC 244Data Mining and Analytics3
EDUC/INFO C260FMachine Learning in Education3

F. Two STEM Disciplinary Courses in the Student’s Field of Emphasis

Reflecting the range of STEM disciplinary fields and your interests, these two courses should be selected in consultation with your faculty advisor and with an eye toward your professional development.

G. Participation in a Research Group (At Least Four Semesters)

Many faculty in the GSE have one or multiple research groups that run yearlong. SESAME students typically enroll in a research group led by their advisor. However, you are encouraged to participate in multiple research groups if it will further enhance your growth. Below is a list of Learning Sciences and Human Development research groups to consider.

EDUC 209Academic Writing Support Group2
EDUC 223BSpecial Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Embodied Design Research Lab)2-6
EDUC 223BSpecial Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Embodied Underground)2-6
EDUC 223BSpecial Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Technology Enhanced Learning in Science)2-6
EDUC 223BSpecial Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Leveraging Learning Technologies)2-6
EDUC 223BSpecial Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Functions in Research)2-6
EDUC 223BSpecial Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Teaching for Robust Understanding)2-6
EDUC 223BSpecial Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Designing for Joy and Justice in Education)2-6
EDUC 223BSpecial Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Computational Representations in Education (CoRE))2-6
EDUC 298CGroup Studies, Seminars, or Group Research--DCEMST1-4
EDUC 290ASpecial Topics Seminars: Policy, Organization, Measurement, and Evaluation1-4

Learning Sciences Certificate

The Learning Sciences Certificate in Instructional Design, Learning Technologies, and Education Research prepares students for careers involving education design and research. This program is designed to meet the needs of both doctoral and professional master’s students in Berkeley’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) departments and in its professional schools.
Students who complete the certificate will be prepared to:
  • Design courses for undergraduates and graduate students
  • Use learning sciences research in design, implementation, and assessment of educational programs
  • Use and refine learning technologies, including online courses, learning management systems, interactive models and simulations, and educational games
  • Succeed in K-12 settings; undergraduate, graduate, and research institutions; out-of-school settings; non-profits, education startups, and industries that develop technical training and novel approaches to learning
  • Meet the needs of students with varied cultural, educational, and personal experiences, including emergent bilinguals, underrepresented minorities, and students new to technology.
For further information, visit or contact Lloyd Goldwasser (


Science and Mathematics Education

Faculty and Instructors

* Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Dor Abrahamson, Professor, Graduate School of Education. Mathematics cognition through the lenses of design-based frameworks.
Research Profile

Alice M. Agogino, Professor, Mechanical Engineering. Intelligent learning systems, information retrieval and data mining, multiobjective and strategic product design, nonlinear optimization, probabilistic modeling, intelligent control and manufacturing, sensor validation, fusion and diagnostics, wireless sensor networks, multimedia and computer-aided design, design databases, design theory and methods, MEMS Synthesis and CAD, artificial intelligence and decision and expert systems, gender equity .
Research Profile

Anne M. Baranger, Associate Teaching Professor, Adjunct Professor, College of Chemistry. The overall goal of our research is to develop evidence-based educational practices that teach rigorous chemical content and authentic scientific practices and make undergraduates education more accessible, more enjoyable, and more relatable .
Research Profile

Kris Gutierrez, Professor, Graduate School of Education. Designed learning environments, Cultural dimensions of learning, language and literacy learning for dual language learners, biliteracy, and new media literacies, the social organization of learning, ethnographic methodology and qualitative approaches to inquiry, design experiment/social design experiments, education of Latino, immigrant, and migrant youth, urban education, teacher learning, educational and language policy.
Research Profile

Marcia C. Linn, Professor, Graduate School of Education (SESAME Chair). Cognitive processes, science, computer instruction.
Research Profile

Zachary A. Pardos, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education. Formative assessment in virtual learning environments, educational data mining.
Research Profile

Thomas M. Philip, Professor, Graduate School of Education. Teacher Education , Learning as Political & Ethical .
Research Profile

Michael Andrew Ranney, Professor, Graduate School of Education. Reasoning, learning, cognitive science and society.
Research Profile

Alan H. Schoenfeld, Professor, Graduate School of Education and Department of Mathematics. Problem solving, metacognition, mathematical cognition.
Research Profile

Tesha Sengupta-Irving, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education. STEM Teaching and Learning, Inequality and Resistance, Politics, Ethics, and Emotions, Agency and Identity, Ethnographic Case Study & Design-Based Research.
Research Profile

* Angelica M. Stacy, Professor, College of Chemistry. Chemistry education.
Research Profile

Michelle H. Wilkerson, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Education. After-school Programs, Computer-Mediated Learning, Mathematics Education, Science Education, Simulation Learning Environments, Teacher Education, Technology and Schools, Classroom Learning Environments.
Research Profile

Affiliated Faculty

Armando Fox, Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. Programming systems (PS), Education (EDUC), Operating Systems and Networking (OSNT).
Research Profile

Robert J. Full, Professor, Integrative Biology.
Research Profile

Dan Garcia, Teaching Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.
Research Profile

David Romps, Professor Earth and Planetary Sciences. Atmospheric dynamics, moist convection and turbulence, and the interaction of clouds with Earth's climate.
Research Profile


Lloyd Goldwasser, Lecturer, Graduate School of Education.
Research Profile

Emeritus Faculty

Andrea A. diSessa, Professor, Graduate School of Education. Computer-Mediated Learning, Curriculum Development, Educational Media, Information Technology, Learning, Science Education, Simulation Learning Environments.
Research Profile

Bernard R. Gifford, Professor, Graduate School of Education. Assessment and Educational Measurement, Computer-Mediated Learning, Curriculum Development, Development of Professional Learning Communities, Educational Equity, Experimental Design In Education, High School Reform, Information Technology, Leadership, Mathematics Education, Minorities, Policy Analysis and Evaluation, Politics of School Structure and Governance, Professional Development for Educators, Reform Issues, School Data Analysis, School-University Collaboration, Science Education, Superintendency, Technology and Schools, Testing, Urban Leadership.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education

4321 Berkeley Way West

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SESAME Lecturer

Lloyd Goldwasser

4321 Berkeley Way West

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