Ph.D. in Educational Mathematics

Inquiries welcomed!

Inquiries about this program can be sent to Dr. Hortensia Soto-Johnson, graduate recruitment and induction coordinator or Dr. Anton Dzhamay, graduate program coordinator.

Program Overview

The Educational Mathematics program at UNC combines graduate mathematics preparation with advanced coursework and research in mathematics education.  This innovative Ph.D. program prepares scholars who can perform research in K-16 mathematics education; teach college level mathematics; and prepare and work with K-16 mathematics teachers.

This program is a traditional, on-campus program.  Students who enter the program with a Master's degree typically finish in four or five years.  Most students in the program are supported as 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. Those with a strong bachelor's degree in mathematics apply to the "Master's Degree en route to Ph.D." option. 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 with the UNC cover sheet; submit current general GRE scores (the subject exam is not required); 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 Educational Mathematics Ph.D. program.  Questions about our program or about the application process should be sent to Dr. Hortensia Soto-Johnson, graduate recruitment and induction 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. 

  • Spencer Bagley (Ph.D. Mathematics Education, UC San Diego / San Diego State University): Dr. Bagley’s research interests are broad and include student thinking and learning in many areas of undergraduate mathematics, including differential equations, linear algebra, calculus, and upper-division mathematics courses. He is also interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning, and has studied the inverted/flipped classroom in various disciplines. Dr. Bagley is also interested in the professional development of college faculty, especially early career faculty and incoming graduate TAs.
  • Bill Blubaugh (Ph.D. Mathematics Education, U. of Colorado, Boulder): Dr. Blubaugh’s research focuses on implementing technology in the mathematics classroom and on developing students’ problem solving skills. Most recently he has been experimenting with the flipped classroom and working with the School of Special Education to help those who teach mathematics to students with special needs.
  • Gulden Karakok (Ph.D. Mathematics Education, Oregon State U.): Dr. Karakok's research and projects relate to transfer of learning of undergraduate mathematics. She investigates undergraduate students’ and mathematicians’ mathematical creativity and relates this creativity to the issue of transfer of learning by making connections to prior experiences that may result in creating new ideas, adopting new perspectives, and taking risks. In addition, Dr. Karakok investigates students' transfer of learning in undergraduate courses where she developed technology based modules (e.g., WeBWorK CLASS) and adopted novel teaching practices (e.g., flipped classroom model). She is the co-director of the Northern Colorado Math Teachers' Circle program and facilitates professional development workshops for K-12 mathematics teachers.
  • 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 leading in collaboration with Oklahoma State University a 3-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.
  • Robert Powers (Ed.D. Curriculum & Instruction, University of Houston): Dr. Powers has a background in curriculum and instruction. He is currently working on two grant projects related to the professional development of mathematics teachers. The Initiating a Foundational Research Model for Secondary Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching grant is a three-year, $1.17 million grant from the NSF investigating expert teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching exponential functions in high school. The Supporting Understanding through Meaningful Mathematical Instructional Tasks grant is a three-year state-funded project that provides professional development to K-12 teachers in northwest Colorado school districts. Dr. Powers frequently mentors doctoral candidates to teach methods of teaching mathematics courses and courses related to field experiences in the secondary teacher preparation program.
  • Hortensia Soto-Johnson (Ph.D. Educational Mathematics, University of Northern Colorado): Dr. Soto has published in various areas of mathematics education including assessment, mathematical preparation of elementary teachers, outreach efforts for high school girls, and especially in the area of teaching and learning of undergraduate mathematics. Her current research efforts are dedicated to investigating the teaching and learning complex analysis, where she adopts an embodied cognition perspective. Since her days as an undergraduate student, Dr. Soto has mentored young women and promoted mathematics via summer outreach programs. She has also been involved with facilitating professional development for K-12 teachers in Colorado. She has also taught teachers from rural Nebraska as part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln NSF-funded project, Math in the Middle. Dr. Soto is a working member of the Mathematical Association of America and currently serves as the Associate Treasurer.

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

  • Dean Allison (Ph.D. Mathematics, U. of Missouri): Differential geometry; undergraduate curriculum reform in discrete mathematics, calculus, and differential equations.
  • Ricardo Diaz (Ph.D. Mathematics, Princeton University): Applied partial differential equations.
  • Steve Leth (Ph.D. Mathematics, U. of Colorado, Boulder): Nonstandard analysis; calculus reform; writing and undergraduate mathematics learning; K-8 mathematics enrichment activities.
  • Nat Miller (Ph.D. Mathematics, Cornell University): Reasoning with geometric diagrams; logic; geometry; discovery learning in mathematics.

Recent Graduates

Contact Information

  • School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Northern Colorado
  • Ross 2239
  • Campus Box 122
  • 501 20th Street
  • Greeley, CO 80639
  • Tel: (970) 351-2820
  • Fax: (970) 351-1225