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Integrative STEM Education (Ed.D.)

(Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction)

Campus: Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus

Virginia Tech Online (Virtual)

Instructions: Residential/On Campus 

Online Courses for Virtual Option

Expand your understanding of Integrative STEM Education as you research curricular connections and integrative strategies for design based teaching and learning of STEM content and practices.


Semester Hours

Funding through Assistantships


Faculty Commitment

Intensive Research Opportunities

Our Ed.D. Program in Integrative STEM Education

The Ed.D. degree is designed for students who already hold a Master's Degree in education or STEM fields. The Ed.D. program will help you build on your existing knowledge and experience as you expand your understanding of STEM education by researching aspects related to integrative strategies for teaching STEM concepts. This degree path is best suited for students who are interested in pursuing a career in related to educational research, postsecondary education, teacher education, or educational leadership and administration. 

Why Study Integrative STEM Education Here?

What makes Virginia Tech's Integrative STEM Education program different from other S.T.E.M. programs is our emphasis on the integrative approach and the connections among the subjects. We have found that framing problems in terms of a design-based challenge provides an excellent springboard for such investigations. For example, challenging students to design a prototype power source for an off-grid hospital location would lead to (student-directed!) investigations of weather, climate, and electricity; solar- and wind-based technologies; material properties and specifications; and calculations of area and speed. Placing these concepts in a relevant context helps students see the immediate value of what they are learning, while they are constantly practicing their 21st-century skills of teamwork, communication, and problem solving. 

What You’ll Study

In this program, we emphasize the interconnectedness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines as we help our students explore teaching and learning methods. Real-world problems are rarely limited to a single school subject, and, as educators, we must help our students develop the ability to transfer skills and knowledge among subjects. This holistic and integrative approach to teaching and learning is both more effective and more fun, for both teachers and students alike. The Ed.D. program will help you build on your existing knowledge and experience as you expand your understanding of STEM education through explorations of integrative strategies for teaching STEM concepts, often through design-based and transdisciplinary challenges.

  • Qualifying Exam
  • Approved Plan of Study
  • 90+ semester hours of approved coursework, including previous Master's courses
  • Preliminary Exam
  • Dissertation
  • Residency (full-time student in two consecutive semesters or summer sessions)

The coursework for this degree is available on campus and through synchronous web-based delivery.

Career and Professional Development

This degree path is best suited for students who are interested in pursuing a career in postsecondary education, teacher education, or educational leadership and administration.

Graduates of the Virginia Tech Integrative STEM Education program are among the most sought after professionals in higher education. Since the program’s inception, there has been a 100% post-secondary education placement rate for our doctoral graduates.

The School of Education provides students with a plethora of research opportunities, including experimental and observational research, field research, and secondary data analysis. Graduate students are also encouraged to lead research projects and publish in scholarly journals. The school provides support for professional development to participate in conferences through travel grants. Additional professional development and research support resources are provided by the Graduate School at Virginia Tech.

Blacksburg Campus

This degree program is offered at the Blacksburg campus. The Blacksburg campus offers students the full services of the university, including an extensive library, technology support, and the Graduate Life Center. 

Our Faculty 

Research Interests

  • The cognitive demands addressed through technological and engineering design-based teaching and learning
  • Instructional strategies for design-based biotechnology literacy
  • Integrative pedagogical practices among STEM education areas
  • Instructional Design and Technology

John Wells, Associate Professor

John Wells, Associate Professor

Research Interests

  • K-12 teacher professional development in engineering education
  • Design and implementation of project-based classroom activities

Integrative STEM Education Research Highlights

Bowen, B. D., & Peterson, B. (2019). Exploring authenticity through an engineering-based context in a project-based learning mathematics activity. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 9(1), 1-10.

Bowen, B. D., & Shume, T. (2018). Educators in industry: An exploratory study to determine how teacher externships influence k-12 classroom practices. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 19(1), 5-10.

Bowen, B. D., Peterson, B., & DeLuca, V. W. (2018). The Impact of Content Knowledge on Performance Outcomes for Middle School Students in a Design-Based Simulation Environment. CTETE Refereed Paper at the Annual Proceedings of the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association, Atlanta, GA.

Gero, J., Yu, R., & Wells, J. (2019). The effect of design education on creative design cognition of high school students. International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation, DOI: 10.1080/21650349.2019.1628664.

Love, T. & Wells, J. (2017). Examining correlations between preparation experiences of U.S. technology and engineering educators and their teaching of science content and practices. International Journal of Technology and Design Education Online First. doi: 10.1007/s10798-017-9395-2.

Shanta, S. & Wells, J. (2018). Investigating T/E design based learning: Student ability to select and utilize STEM content and practices. Proceedings of the 36 th Pupils Attitudes Toward Technology Conference, pp.246-255. Technology Education Research Group, Athlone Institute of Technology, Co. Westmeath, Ireland. []

Wells, John G. (2019). STEM education: The potential of technology education. Chapter 10, in Daugherty, M. & Carter, V. (Eds.), The Most Influential Papers Presented at the Mississippi Valley Technology Teacher Education Conference. Council on Technology and Engineering Teacher Education, 62 nd Yearbook (pp. 195-229), Ball State University, Muncie, IN. Peer Reviewed. Available:

Wells, J. (2017). Design to Understand: Promoting higher order thinking through T/E design based learning. Proceedings of the Technology Education New Zealand and International Conference on Technology Education-Asia Pacific, pp.325-339. TEMS Education Research Center, University of Waikato, New Zealand.

Wells, John G., (2016). Efficacy of the technological/engineering design approach: Imposed cognitive demands within design based biotechnology instruction. Journal of Technology Education, 27(2), 4-20.

Wells, John G., (2016). PIRPOSAL Model of Integrative STEM Education: Conceptual and Pedagogical Framework for Classroom Implementation. Technology and Engineering Teacher, 75(6), 12-19.


  • STEMbot: Design Based Biotechnical Learning
  • Research In Engineering Education [RiEE] – K-12 Assessment of Design Cognition
  • Integrative STEM Education: U.S & Zimbabwe Collaboratory [Virginia Tech/Hampton University (U.S.) & NUST/Hillside (Zimbabwe)]
  • Virginia Initiative for Science Teaching and Achievement (VISTA)
  • Engineering By Design [EbD]

Students interested in applying to the Integrative STEM Education (Ed.D.) degree should contact the program director, Dr. John Wells, by email at

Visit our office at the Public Safety Building Suite 201 (0313), 330 Sterrett Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24061
Domestic Application
Spring: January 1
Summer: May 1
*Fall:  August 1
International Application
Spring: September 1
Summer: January 1
*Fall: April 1
*Deadline for early decision admission with full funding consideration for Fall: March 1.


John Wells
Program Leader
Public Safety Building, Suite 201 (0313)
330 Sterrett Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

School of Education (SOE) Programs

School of Education
Public Safety Building, Suite 201 (0313)
330 Sterrett Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061