Math Teacher Education

Teachers in the United States are licensed through their state’s Board of Education. Regardless of the state in which an educator attains licensure, the basic, minimum requirement for becoming a math teacher is the completion of an approved teacher education program, which confers, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree and includes a supervised student teaching experience.

Degree Options for Future Math Teachers

Approved teacher preparation programs may be of the traditional variety, through which an individual completes a course of study leading to an undergraduate or graduate degree in math education, or it may be an alternative teacher preparation program, which is designed for professionals who either already possess a degree in a field related to mathematics but require additional coursework to complete the necessary education (pedagogy) coursework and mentored teaching experience.

Aspiring math teachers are best served by learning more about teacher preparation programs and alternative certification options recognized and approved through their state board of education.

Undergraduate Degrees in Mathematics Education

An undergraduate degree in mathematics education may be designed as a:

  • Bachelor of Science (B.S) in Mathematics Education
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Education with a specialization in middle school or secondary mathematics
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Mathematics with a teaching certificate

Undergraduate programs in mathematics education provide a foundation in mathematics and its applications and emphasize the reflective and conceptual understanding and techniques of this field of study. These programs provide students with fundamental mathematical knowledge to formulate and solve problems and provide quality mathematical instruction to students in primary or secondary school settings.

Preparatory courses for a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education typically include:

  • Probability and statistics
  • College algebra and trigonometry
  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Calculus III

Major course requirements often include:

  • Topics in Geometry
  • Linear Algebra
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Number Theory
  • Algebraic Structures
  • Foundations of Geometry
  • Advanced Calculus
  • Differential Equations
  • Statistical Analysis
  • History of Mathematics
  • Abstract Algebra
  • Applied Mathematical Modeling
  • Methods of Teaching Math
  • Problem Solving Strategies
  • Technology in Math Education

Graduate Degrees in Education

Graduate degrees in education are quite commonplace due to the number of states now requiring their teachers to earn master’s degrees as a component of continuing professional education. Further, mathematics professionals who already possess an undergraduate degree in a mathematics field and wish to teach mathematics often choose to complete master’s programs designated as approved teacher preparation programs as a way to fulfill licensing requirements.

Master’s degree programs in mathematics education may be designed as:

  • Masters of Education (MEd) degree: An MEd, with a specialization in curriculum and instruction, may also be termed a Master of Science in Education (MSEd) or a Master of Arts in Education (MAEd).
  • Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT): MAT degrees are specifically designed for current educators, as they provide the most hands-on, classroom-centered classes in specific content areas, such as mathematics in primary or secondary settings.
  • Fifth Year Master’s Degree (or certification) in Education: Fifth-year programs, which may or may not result in a master’s degree, include all necessary pedagogy courses for licensure, such as:
    • Foundations of Teaching
    • Instructional Planning and Presentation
    • Mathematics Education
    • Preclinical Experiences
    • Demonstration Teaching
    • Research Fundamentals

In general, a graduate degree in mathematics produces educators who are well-versed in current research and theories about mathematics learning and teaching and who are well-prepared to become leaders in the field. Master’s programs in mathematics education often focus on the analysis of theories about curriculum development and implementation, about learning and assessment, and about becoming an agent of change in mathematics education.

In addition to core coursework and specialized electives, graduate programs in math education result in a capstone project or master’s thesis.

Continuing Education Resources for Mathematics Educators

Although some states require the completion of a master’s degree, some do not; however, virtually all states require math teachers to complete a specific number of professional development hours/coursework during their licensure period.

Training programs in mathematics education are often available through continuing education providers at the local, state, and national levels. They offer a wide variety of classes, seminars, and conferences, all of which count toward professional development hours. Training programs are often found through national math educator associations, such as:

National Council of Math Teachers: The National Council of Math Teachers offers a number of regional conferences, which offer presentations, hands-on workshops and activities, and collaboration with other math educators; an annual meeting and exposition, which features sessions, workshops, grade-level strategies, and expert speakers and presentations; and interactive programs, such as:

  • Algebra Readiness for Every Student, Grades 6 through 8
  • Connecting Number and Operations in the Classroom, Pre-K through 5
  • Engaging Students in Learning: Mathematical Practices and Process Standards for Grades 9 through 12

Association of Mathematics Educators: The Association of Mathematics Educators hosts an annual conference for math teachers, which offers a wide variety of meetings and workshops, including:

  • Standards for Elementary Mathematics Specialist Teacher Preparation/Certification
  • Developing Pre-Service and Beginning Teachers Use of Formative Assessment in the Secondary Classroom
  • Technology Workshop
  • Preparing to Teach Mathematics with Technology
  • The Mathematical Preparation of Teachers: Developing the Knowledge Base for Teacher Educators

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