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Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education (SESAME)

The Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education (informally know as SESAME) is an interdisciplinary graduate program leading to a doctoral degree in science, mathematics, or engineering education. The program is designed to produce graduates who have advanced expertise in a scientific 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 could pursue advanced studies focused on educational issues in these disciplines. SESAME produces scholars who can communicate effectively with scientists and engineers as well as with educational researchers and practitioners. SESAME students are expected to obtain at least master's-level competency in their mathematical or scientific discipline. 

The Online Graduate Application to apply to the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education is now available. We encourage you to read our application instructions thoroughly and begin your application early.

Focus of Study

SESAME students work with faculty to gain a better understanding of learning; to design more effective teaching approaches; and to create experiences that enhance the scientific and mathematical literacy of the general public. A major aim of the Group is to identify general theoretical principles that can guide the design of effective instruction.

Many student projects are concerned with college-level teaching in their disciplines. Others are concerned with:

  • K-12 curriculum development 
  • research into cognitive processes underlying good performance in scientific domains
  • investigations of principles for the design of computer-based educational software; or
  • studies of informal learning in science museums and other places open to the public.

Program Structure

SESAME includes advanced courses in the student's discipline, science and mathematics education, and psychology; teaching experience; research seminars; colloquia presented by outside speakers; and research into an educational problem connected with engineering, science, mathematics, or computer-science education. 

While SESAME emphasizes research in the processes of learning and teaching, it is not a teacher training unit. Students interested in careers in college-level math/science teaching (along with educational research), science museum program development, or research in the learning and teaching of science are likely to find SESAME suitable. 

The faculty consists of professors from several of Berkeley’s science and engineering departments and the Graduate School of Education, and instructors associated with other campus units such as the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Entrance Requirements

To enter the program, a student must have an excellent academic record with a bachelor's or, preferably, a master's degree in a natural science, mathematics, or engineering/computer science.  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.

Type of Program (M.A./Ph.D.)

This program offers a Ph.D. and students who enter without a master’s degree in their discipline are expected to obtain at least Master's-level competency in their mathematical or scientific discipline.  

The program typically takes 10 to 12 semesters to complete, depending upon whether students are also working toward their master’s degree. Full time enrollment is expected. 


SESAME graduates take leadership roles in promoting educational innovations in academic, industrial, and museum settings including the Exploratorium and the Lawrence Hall of Science. Others teach in two- or four-year colleges or universities, or are directing educational programs of science museums or similar institutions that offer programs for the general public. Still others are active in educational research and curricular development, in industrial training programs, or in their own consulting businesses.

Transfer from within Berkeley 

Application for admission into SEASAME by students already enrolled in a graduate degree program of the Berkeley campus is formally accomplished by submitting a Graduate Petition for Change of Major or Degree Goal.

These petitions are considered along with other applications for admission to the doctoral program. A petition for Change of Degree Goal should be accompanied in all cases by a statement describing the reasons for the proposed change and the nature of the program of studies contemplated. Any applicants previously admitted by the Graduate Division must still submit the standard application form and required letters of recommendation. We may also request a copy of your file from your current department.