Earning a master's degree is difficult, but rewarding. As the job market becomes more competitive, a graduate degree can help an applicant stand out. With growing job opportunities in science and technology, a master's degree in math education can lead to a higher salary and a better chance of employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects positions for math teachers to grow 8% in the coming years.
Should I Get a Master's in Math Education?
A master of science in teaching mathematics opens education opportunities in mathematics and related subjects, like computer coding and statistics. In a master's program, students review the fundamentals of mathematics -- including geometry, algebra, and calculus -- and learn to bridge education and theory. Students learn classroom dynamics and management, and current pedagogical strategies.
Most schools with education master's programs provide a specialization in mathematics. On-campus programs are ideal for recent BA graduates, while an online or hybrid program is a good fit for a working professionals or students with family commitments. An online master's in math education offers schedule and location flexibility. Similarly, a hybrid program will combine formats, with occasional on-campus classes and online coursework.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Math Education?
Math education graduates can work as teachers, mentoring, tutoring, and instructing students. Educators are driven, enthusiastic promoters of subject matter and interpersonal communication. K-12 teachers and college professors work on a school schedule, which includes teaching, class preparation, and personal research.
- Mathematics Teacher
Teachers work in elementary, middle, and high schools. They are responsible for teaching students about broad mathematical subjects, like geometry, algebra, and calculus.
Median Annual Salary: $59,170
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Professor of Mathematics
Professors teach the nuances of equations and mathematical theory. In addition to a master's in math education, a Ph.D. is generally required for teaching at a university.
Median Annual Salary: $76,000
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
- Instructional Coordinator
Instructional coordinators are a voice for educational development. Coordinators develop new curricula by analyzing innovations and limitations of school programs, and implement pedagogically informed alternatives. They also orchestrate training workshops and promote mentorship opportunities in education systems.
Median Annual Salary: $63,750
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
How to Choose a Master's in Math Education Program
Typically, a master's in teaching takes two years of study, though part-time enrollment can extend your time in school. Classes cover multiple levels of mathematics, educational theory, and direct teaching experience. Degree specializations include primary education, secondary education, and teacher administration. Most programs require a final teaching internship, where students work in a classroom with an accredited educator to gain teaching experience.
Tuition costs of on-campus versus online programs at the same institution are roughly equal. Regardless, students will graduate with the same rigorous education. In-state programs typically cost less than out-of-state tuition, though certain online programs waive out-of-state tuition rates to encourage enrollment. Students can save money in terms of housing and transportation by working remotely. For online students, it is sometimes difficult to find student-teaching institutions. Regardless of the program, ensure that the institution you select is accredited by an affiliate of the U.S. Department of Education (ED).
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Math Education Programs
Attending a fully accredited master's program can enhance your career prospects. Accreditation lets future employers and colleagues know you received a quality education. The ED certifies six regional accreditation services that govern all 50 states. There are also several private accreditation bodies, and these focus primarily on private religious institutions, such as the Association of Christian Schools International and the National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools.
Each state maintains standards of academic teaching credentials. Teachers must renew their credential status every five years. To renew, teachers must participate in continuing education programs designed to keep all instructors up-to-date on current teaching trends.
Master's in Math Education Program Admissions
While each school has a distinct application process, there are standard requirements in graduate applications, such as transcripts, letters of support, and a personal statement. The following list details common prerequisites and admission materials. Generally, online programs will require more involved applications than on-campus or hybrid programs. Whether on-campus or online, apply for programs that offer specializations you wish to pursue professionally. Typically, students apply to three or four master's programs to increase the chances of acceptance. Search for potential programs a year in advance to ensure enough time to gather and submit application materials.
- Bachelor's Degree: All master's programs require proof of an accredited bachelor's degree. Though traditionally a master's in teaching required a BA in teaching, increasingly master's programs accept a range of undergraduate degrees. Check out your potential school's requirements for details.
- Professional Experience: Most teaching programs do not require previous professional experience; however, programs may encourage volunteer work in a K-12 school.
- Minimum GPA: Most master's programs expect applicants to have a 3.0 GPA at minimum. If your undergraduate GPA is worse, consider enrolling in post-graduate courses in math, which demonstrates dedication to a subject and offers you a chance to raise your GPA.
- Application: An application is a general summary of your personal information, including current contact information and previous educational or professional experience. A complete application is required for consideration in any master's program.
- Transcripts: A transcript lists your final grades and cumulative GPA. Transcripts must be requested directly from your undergraduate institution and may cost a small fee.
- Letters of recommendation: Students can request letters from college instructors or mentors who can speak of a student's academic or professional achievements. Give your mentors at least one month to write and submit a letter. Usually, students must submit three letters of support.
- Test Scores: At the master's level, the GRE General Test is the most common required test. Some schools require that applicants pass the PRAXIS core and specialty exams with minimum scores.
- Application Fee: All schools require an application fee, typically between $50-$100. In some cases, applicants may be financially exempt from fees.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Math Education Program?
Core curricula in a master's of science in mathematics education includes mathematical theory, applied mathematics, pedagogy, and fieldwork experience. All coursework and fieldwork is intended to prepare graduates for state certification.
Courses in a Master's in Math Education Program
A master's degree in math education blends the fundamentals of mathematics with key teaching skills. While schools will vary in their specific coursework, the following classes provide an overview of the general requirements in a master's degree:
- Introduction to Probability
This class teaches the fundamentals of probabilities, how to analyze results, and teaching theories underriding successful probability analysis. Students review the language of probabilities and fundamental examples of probability analysis to understand the applicability of mathematics.
- Calculus Survey
This course provides a review of precalculus, calculus, and differential calculus, as well as analytic geometry. Calculus is an important focus for a master's in math education since it is a high school educational benchmark.
- Mathematics for Elementary Education
Courses on pedagogical theory are divided by age group and educational levels. Students learn educational theory, review integers, fractions, elementary mathematical analysis, and gain hands-on training.
- Principles of Child and Adolescent Psychology
A core class for all K-12 educators, principles of psychology reinforces positive classroom practices. This course covers learning theories, adolescent human development, and cognitive and social structures.
- Mathematics History and Technology
This course teaches the history and development of mathematics, and the newest technological innovations. Students learn about the human philosophical foundations of mathematics and how to teach mathematical history.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Math Education?
Though most master's degrees in math education only take two years, time management and private and professional obligations can impact your graduation time. Working hours, child care, and professional relocations are just three of the many unforeseen issues that can affect your program's duration. Most programs require 45-60 credit hours, and part-time and online students sometimes take three or four years to graduate.
For students eager to complete their degree in less than two years, some teaching programs offer accelerated options. These usually require the applicant to already hold a bachelor's degree in teaching or in the subject they intend to teach, such as a bachelor's in education or a BS in mathematics.
Student internships may also affect graduation time, especially if enrolled remotely. Online students can be required to find student teaching opportunities at local schools. Check your potential online master's program for school search assistance.
How Much Is a Master's in Math Education?
The cost of a master's degree will depend on the location of the institution, and the number of years it takes to complete the program. The largest up-front cost for participants is tuition. In-state tuition can cost approximately half of out-of-state tuition. Current average rates for in-state master's degrees at a public institution range from $6,000-$8,000 per term. Out-of-state tuition by term costs between $12,000-$16,000. Some online programs offer special tuition rates for out-of-state students.
Another key cost for students is housing. Students living on campus will spend more on standard room and board than off campus students. Students living at home can financially benefit even more from remote learning. Other hidden costs add up while pursuing your master's degree, including technology costs, software programs, and classroom materials. As you approach graduation, you should plan to complete and pay for certification exams and criminal background checks, which are required for teaching job applications. Certification exams, whether for permanent or substitute teaching, will cost around $200.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Math Education Prepares For
- State Certification
Each state maintains individual teaching standards and requirements. You must meet state certification guidelines to teach in any public institution. Private institutions may omit this requirement and maintain their own qualification standards. State certification must be renewed every five years.
- National Board Certification
Although state certification is always required to work in public institutions, national board certification is an optional addition that demonstrates established teaching qualifications. Nicknamed the "gold standard" of teacher certifications, this benchmark must be renewed every five years. Initial costs of board certification total approximately $1,900.
Resources for Math Education Graduate Students
As a member of the MAA, you will network with fellow math students, teaching professionals, and mathematical enthusiasts. The MAA offers job search engines, local and national meetings, and access to current publications.
This mathematics leadership organization brings together dedicated math educators. This group provides examples of teaching modules, educational resources, and a job search engine.
This society publishes the latest innovations in mathematical theory and education. Teachers can expose students to potential career opportunities derived from mathematical study.
Present your teaching innovations and learn about new directions in STEM programs as a contributor at the annual conference. This nonprofit association supports STEM innovations through grants and support services.
For students intent on working at the college level, the AMATYC brings together instructors at two-year college institutions. The organization seeks to elevate and maintain quality education for the first two years of a student's post-secondary education.
Professional Organizations in Math Education
Professional organizations will help you transition after graduation into your career through networking opportunities and job postings. Annual conferences and publications offer the chance to find like-minded educators dedicated to relevant issues in math education. The following list details some of the national associations open to new instructors. You should also check for local collaborative organizations that can you get your career started.