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.
Admission to the University
Applying for Graduate Admission
Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. A complete list of graduate academic departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.
Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application can be found on the Graduate Division website.
The minimum graduate admission requirements are:
A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and
Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.
For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.
Where to apply?
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.
Admission to the Program
- A bachelor’s degree or its recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
- Superior scholastic record, normally well above a 3.0 GPA;
- Indication of appropriate research goals, described in the statement of purpose; and
- For international applicants whose academic work has been in a language other than English, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
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 210||Practicum in Science and Math Education Research and Development||4 Units in Fall and 2 Units in Spring|
|SCMATHE 292||Research Seminar and Colloquium (Fall and Spring)||1|
B. Two Foundations Courses Beginning in Year 1
|EDUC 203||Cultivating Cognitive Development: From Sensorimotor Intelligence to Embodied STEM Concepts (Spring)||3|
|EDUC 254||Introduction to Cultural Historical Activity Theory (Spring)||3|
C. Three Methodology Courses (1 Quant, 1 Qual + 1 More) Taken at Any Time
|EDUC 222C||Design-Based Research Forum||3|
|EDUC 241C||Narrative across Learning Contexts||3|
|EDUC 241D||Perspectives on Classroom Discourse||3|
|EDUC 243||Advanced Qualitative Methods||3|
|EDUC 244||Data Mining and Analytics||3|
|EDUC 250A||Qualitative Research in Language/Literacy Education||3|
|EDUC 250C||Discourse Analysis||3|
|EDUC 252B||Ethnographic Methods in the Study of Language and Literacy in Traditional and Digital Environment||3|
|EDUC 259||(co)Participant Observation Research in the Field||4|
|EDUC 271B||Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods||3|
|EDUC 274A||Measurement in Education and the Social Sciences I||4|
|EDUC 274B||Measurement in Education and the Social Sciences II||4|
|EDUC 274D||Multidimensional Measurement||4|
& EDUC 275L
|Data Analysis in Educational Research II|
and Educational Data Analysis Laboratory II
|EDUC 275G||Hierarchical and Longitudinal Modeling||5|
|EDUC 276A||Introduction to Program Evaluation||3|
|EDUC 280C||Research Apprenticeship and Qualitative Methodology Seminar I||3|
& EDUC 293L
|Data Analysis in Education Research|
and Educational Data Analysis Laboratory
|SCMATHE 220C||Instructional Design in Science and Mathematics Education||3|
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 222C||Design-Based Research Forum (Fall)||3|
|EDUC 224A||Mathematical Thinking and Problem Solving (Fall)||3|
|EDUC 282||Introduction to Disciplined Inquiry (Fall)||3|
|SCMATHE 220C||Instructional 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 222||Politics and Pedagogies at the Intersections of Data, Technologies, and Inequalities||3|
|EDUC 224C||Gender, Mathematics and Science||3|
|EDUC 224A||Mathematical Thinking and Problem Solving||3|
|EDUC 170||K12 Computer and Data Science Education: Design, Research, and Evaluation||3|
|EDUC 244||Data Mining and Analytics||3|
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 209||Academic Writing Support Group||2|
|EDUC 223B||Special Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Embodied Design Research Lab)||2-6|
|EDUC 223B||Special Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Embodied Underground)||2-6|
|EDUC 223B||Special Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Technology Enhanced Learning in Science)||2-6|
|EDUC 223B||Special Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Leveraging Learning Technologies)||2-6|
|EDUC 223B||Special Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Functions in Research)||2-6|
|EDUC 223B||Special Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Teaching for Robust Understanding)||2-6|
|EDUC 223B||Special Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Designing for Joy and Justice in Education)||2-6|
|EDUC 223B||Special Problems in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (Computational Representations in Education (CoRE))||2-6|
|EDUC 298C||Group Studies, Seminars, or Group Research--DCEMST||1-4|
|EDUC 290A||Special Topics Seminars: Policy, Organization, Measurement, and Evaluation||1-4|
Learning Sciences Certificate
- 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.