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Integrative STEM Education

* Curriculum and Instruction



The Integrative STEM Education program is designed primarily for K-12 STEM educators and related fields that develops 21st century STEM educators, leaders and scholars by facilitating broader understanding of the intersections among the STEM/ STEM education disciplines and new integrative approaches for the teaching/learning STEM content. The M.A.Ed. is intended for experienced educators who have not yet earned a master’s degree, while the Ed.S. is intended for experienced educators who have already earned a master’s in an education-related discipline.

This non-thesis degree 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. 


What makes Virginia Tech's Integrative STEM Education program different from other STEM 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. 

Graduates of the Virginia Tech Integrative STEM Education Program are among the most sought after professionals in higher education.

Virginia Tech's 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.

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Integrative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education (I-STEM ED) is defined as: technological/engineering design based teaching and learning approaches to intentionally integrate content and practices of science and/or mathematics education concurrently with content and practices of technology/engineering education. Integrative STEM education is equally applicable at the natural intersections of learning within the continuum of content areas, educational environments, and academic levels. (Wells & Ernst, 2012).

The I-STEM ED Ed.S. program is a 30-credit hour degree program consisting of coursework in foundations of Integrative STEM, research methods, and electives.

To substitute a graduate course from another university for a course at Virginia Tech, you must submit a transcript from the other university. If the course was completed more than five years ago, please work with your advisor to request that the coursework be accepted as substitution. 

For specific requirements for the Ed.S program, please see this document.

Integrative STEM Education Foundation Courses

(15+ semester hours)

  • EDCI 5804: STEM Education Foundations (3 semester hours – Fall Semester)
  • EDCI 5814 STEM Education Pedagogy (3 semester hours – Fall Semester)
  • EDCI 5824: STEM Education Trends and Issues (3 semester hours – Spring Semester)
  • EDCI 5834: STEM Education Research (3 semester hours – Alternate Spring Semesters)
  • EDCI 5844: STEM Education Seminar (3 semester hours – Fall and Spring Semesters)
  • EDCI 5854: Biotechnology Literacy by Design (3 semester hours – Alternate Spring Semesters)
  • EDCI 5774: Readings in STEM Education (3 semester hours – Fall and Spring Semesters)
  • EDCI 5964: Field Studies in [I-STEM] Education (3 semester hours – Fall and Spring Semesters)

Research & Evaluation

(6+ semester hours, including EDCI 5834 above)

  • EDRE 6504: Qualitative Methods in Educational Research I (3 semester hours) OR
  • EDRE 6605: Quantitative Research Methods in Education I (3 semester hours)

Educational Foundations

(6+ semester hours, including EDCI 5804 above)

  • Educational Foundations elective

Field Study Project:

  • EDCI 5964: Field Studies in [I-STEM] Education (3 semester hours -- Fall and Spring Semester)


(3+ semester hours) Elective Options Include:

  • Science & Technology in Society
  • STEM content area courses
  • Engineering Education
  • …. And more

Course Descriptions

Provides an introduction to the nature of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and their corresponding STEM education disciplines; the inherent connections, confluences, and differences among the STEM and STEM education disciplines; the frameworks, standards, and infrastructures that govern the teaching of these subjects in K-16 STEM education; and other social, political, theoretical, and philosophical ideas and influences that underlie K-16 STEM education. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Provides an ordered investigation into the instructional practices and signature pedagogies of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines as a means for developing purposefully integrative approaches for teaching/learning the content of these disciplines. Through study of the epistemologies, philosophies, strengths, and limitations associated with STEM signature pedagogies, students come to know a set of blended pedagogical practices that serve to enhance individual practices within their chosen fields. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

An exploration of contemporary K-16 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education trends and issues, including both integrative and within-discipline STEM education trends/issues. Topics addressed include STEM literacy, integrative approaches to STEM education, the changing role of design and inquiry in STEM education, STEM education-related legislation, change theory, state and federal funding, and extracurricular STEM education initiatives. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Designed as a structured investigation into the educational research methods and priorities among the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education disciplines. This course examines the various research methodologies used in studying teaching/learning issues within the context of STEM education disciplines. Students examine the similarities, distinctions, and overlaps among questions posed, research designs, and methods of studying best practices in order to better understand the teaching and learning processes among STEM education disciplines. Student gains in their understanding of these processes serve as the framework for preparing individual STEM-related action research proposals. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

An open forum for the exploration of topics and issues reflective of the national educational reform efforts impacting the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, with particular attention to the broader context of concerns for developing a technologically literate populace within our educational system. Through a blend of readings, presentations, discussions, expeditions, and reflections on personal experiences, students develop an appreciation for STEM discipline perspectives relative to the educational process. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 1

Lecture Hour(s): 1

Level: Graduate

Addresses the field of biotechnology through technological design as a core curricular requirement reflective of the national Standards for Technological Literacy (STL) (ITEA, 2000). Using problem/project-based instruction, students develop a level of general science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education literacy necessary for K-12 STEM educators to teach about biotechnology from a technological/engineering design approach. Students examine the content areas of biotechnology and apply the technological design method as they explore a variety of purposefully designed integrative instructional strategies for teaching at the intersections of the STEM disciplines. This project-oriented course provides students with the opportunity to apply instructional theories, principles, and practices in the design of authentic problem-based instructional units appropriate for inclusion into the K-12 STEM Education curriculum. Graduate standing required.

Credit Hour(s): 3

Lecture Hour(s): 3

Level: Graduate

Applied study in one or more educational institutions. Research, evaluation, curricular, and instructional projects are examples of appropriate projects of study. The student is graded on the basis of the design of the project and ability to carry it through and report the results.

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Lecture Hour(s): 1 TO 19

Level: Graduate

Historical & philosophical foundations, contemporary trends & issues, research, etc.

Credit Hour(s): 1 TO 6

Lecture Hour(s): 1 TO 6

Level: Graduate


John Wells smiles cheerfully at the camera. He has short cropped grey hair with a bald pate, and is wearing a red hawaiian floral shirt
John Wells, Professor and Program Leader
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Bradley Bowen, Assistant Professor