Your Guide to Graduate Degrees in Math and Science Education
STEM classes — exploring science, technology, engineering and math — need teachers who can keep up with the relentless pace of innovation. If that sounds like you, congratulations: You’re already preparing young people for the technologies of tomorrow.
But do you have days when your students make you feel like you need more STEM knowledge? Or maybe you’ve thought about training the next generation of STEM teachers, or taking more of a leadership role in your school’s STEM efforts.
If so, you’re a prime candidate for an advanced degree in teaching math and science education. More education can help you prepare students for jobs in some of the fastest-growing fields including IT, data science, analytics, web development, technical engineering and more.
There’s a lot to think about before you decide to pursue an advanced degree in math and science education. This guide will help you make sure this degree is really what you want.
Is an advanced degree in math and science education for me?
Graduate school requires a substantial investment of time, money and passion. It’s crucial that you choose wisely to avoid making an expensive mistake. For starters, you have to weigh two important factors:
- Your personal and professional interests
- Your personal and professional goals
Does a master’s in math and science education align with your personal and professional interests?
- Do you enjoy math and science on your own?
- Are you excited by the applications of math and science?
- Would you like to help others learn more about these fields?
Does a math and science education degree align with your personal and professional goals?
- Would a graduate degree in math and science education help you contribute professional knowledge to a school or organization?
- Would earning this degree help you educate your students better?
- Will earning a math and science education degree help you get a desired job role?
- Will graduate-level math and science courses help you experience the impact you want in your teaching career?
You need to answer these questions honestly before diving into graduate school. Otherwise, you could make a poor choice that could cost you dearly.
How do I choose a graduate math and science education program?
By any other name: math and science education program titles
Throughout this guide, “math and science education” is a catch-all term for programs that vary substantially from college to college. After all, each program has a slightly different goal, and each school has its own ideas about the best way to title a program.
Here’s a list of program titles you might see:
- MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Mathematics
- Master of Arts Mathematics Education
- MEd in Curriculum & Instruction: Science
- Online Master of Arts in Mathematics Education
- ME in Curriculum & Instruction: STEM
- Master of Arts in Mathematics Education
- Mathematics Education Master’s
- Masters and Credential in Science and Mathematics Education
Not sure about the difference between an MEd and an MA? Check out this comprehensive article exploring the differences between an MEd and Master of Arts in Teaching.
What kinds of master’s math and science instructional programs are available? And what will I learn?
The wide variety of program titles illustrates the abundance of options in science or math education programs. Up next is a breakdown of the basic knowledge taught in such programs. This will help you pick the best fit for your personal and professional goals.
Common coursework in graduate math and science education
Although they may go by different names, most graduate degree programs in science and math education have similar core classes.
Here is a sampling of coursework common to most graduate math and science education programs:
- Learning and Teaching Measurement and Geometry — Before you can teach geometry, you need to learn its foundations. This means understanding measurement, numbers and operations, developing your thinking and lesson-planning skills, learning transformational teaching methods, and integrating technology into your everyday instruction and tests.
- Educational Research — Learn about quantitative and qualitative research, and how to evaluate others people’s research.
- Planning for an Inquiry-Based Classroom — Learn about teaching the scientific method, helping students build hypotheses and teaching research skills.
- The Technology-Based Science Classroom — Learn to use technology effectively to help give your students the best chance to succeed in math and science.
- STEM Program Leadership — To develop, teach and lead a STEM curriculum, you must understand its fundamentals and grasp its growing relevance for today’s students.
Variations in coursework of science and math education programs
Programs are designed to match a host of distinct classroom needs. Make sure you understand these differences as you narrow your college choices.
What makes each graduate math and science education program unique? These are some of the ways these programs differ:
- Learner demographics and locations — Teaching middle-schoolers will be a lot different than teaching high school students. Look for classes that target the kinds of students you want to teach, and the kinds of schools you want to teach them in.
- Online/distance learning — Programs specifically focusing on online or distance learning often are designed for people planning to teach at the community college level. Some teachers also train for distance learning targeting high school students.
- Math vs. science — While the two subjects rely on many of the same skills, a math-centric program will require a different set of skills than a science-specific graduate program.
- Use of technology — Most programs integrate a lot of technology learning, but the emphasis will vary from school to school. The key is to look over the the course catalog and see just how much technology you would like to focus on.
Make sure you read every course description in the programs where you’d like to enroll. You don’t want to derail your career by enrolling in a program that’s missing some of the instruction you need to achieve your goals.
Career opportunities for math and science education graduates
Getting a graduate degree can help you earn more money, land promotions and become more of an expert and leader in your field. It also could help you get a another job with another employer.
Who employs master’s in math and science education graduates? And what jobs are available?
If you’re looking for a new job, a science and math education graduate degree can help you get one in a wide variety of classroom.
Education: PreK to 12th grade and universities/colleges
- Subject Specialist in Math or Science
- Professional tutor
- Help students who need extra instruction or remediation
- Design new ways to teach difficult subjects to students
- Teach students at the community college, focusing on freshman- or sophomore-level math or science concepts
- Design new curriculum for your college or university
- Curriculum Developer
- Ensure district teachers meet state and federal teaching standards
- Help design new curriculum to keep education strong
- Oversee schools and teachers
- Ensure quality curriculum
- Communicate with parents and district-level employees
Math and Science Graduate Education
- Teach the next wave of math and science degree graduates
- Help design new curriculum to keep these teaching programs strong
- Design overall programs and curriculum to best serve new teachers who graduate from the program
- Manage and maintain these programs and ensure the best candidates get picked for them