Overview of Degrees in Secondary Math Education
Despite the opinion of many sixth graders, being well trained in mathematics is fundamental to the educational journey. But without good teachers many middle and high school students might not have the opportunities that could otherwise be available to them. Individuals hoping to impact the lives of secondary school students through mathematics will need at least a bachelor's degree and teacher certification. There are many degree programs in math education across the US, some of which provide the opportunity to specialize or focus on secondary education through both coursework and student teaching experiences. See what to expect when pursuing a degree in secondary math education, including admissions, coursework, and various career opportunities by reading below.
When applying to an undergraduate program, most colleges require the completion of a high school diploma or GED and the submission of SAT/ACT scores. Demonstrable success in high school mathematics courses and participation in extracurricular mathematics activities may prove helpful to applicants. Some colleges require a certain minimum GPA and/or minimum standardized test scores for entrance into any of their undergraduate programs.
Secondary Math Education Degree Coursework
Secondary math education programs typically include both advanced mathematics courses as well as courses that train students in the skills and principles necessary to the teaching profession. Students study a wide range of mathematical concepts in depth as well as how to teach those concepts effectively. Listed below are some common courses someone pursuing a degree in secondary math education may encounter.
Students may be required to take at least an introductory class in linear algebra in order to understand modern applied mathematics and how to teach high school students interested in science and engineering. Students are introduced to the fundamental concepts, theory, and application of linear algebraic principles. Topics of study could include matrices, determinants, and eigenvalues.
Math for the Secondary Teacher
Some programs include coursework in high school mathematics that is designed to help students deeply examine the meaning and development of mathematical concepts and relationships. Students may be expected to demonstrate an advanced understanding of these subjects through writing and verbal articulation. The end goal of such courses is to prepare students to teach mathematics with fluency and with a range of learning styles in mind.
Courses in non-Euclidean geometry teach higher geometric concepts that transcend typical two-dimensional geometric space. Students may investigate Euclid's postulate regarding parallel lines and learn the theories which tried to settle its discrepancies. A study of the history behind non-Euclidean systems and their development may be taught with the aim of understanding contemporary geometries.
Teaching Methods for Secondary Mathematics
Most programs require students to take courses in teaching methods that train future teachers in a variety of pedagogical strategies. Students may learn about different modes of learning, how to use technology effectively, and how to meet various levels of student proficiency within the same classroom. These courses may be tailored specifically to teaching mathematics, but general courses in secondary teaching methods might also be offered.
Most programs require students to take courses intended to give them a broad view of single-variable differential and integral calculus. Topics of study could include the applications of limits and derivatives, the fundamental theorem of calculus, and L'Hospital's rule. Programs usually expect a student to take at least two advanced calculus courses but some require a total of three such courses.
How to Choose a Secondary Math Education Program
When considering which program to attend, consider colleges that have well-regarded mathematics departments. These colleges generally have a good bank of educational and professional resources available to their students, such as computing facilities, math study halls, and opportunities to participate in research projects. If teacher certification is one's goal, look for colleges with a strong professional counseling program that can help navigate internships, student teaching, and the certification requirements specific to one's specific state.
Career Options with a Degree in Secondary Math Education
A degree in secondary math education is designed to prepare someone for a middle or high school teaching position, especially after they have obtained their teaching certification. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics listed a median annual salary of $58,600 for middle school teachers and $60,320 for high school teachers. According to the BLS, employment is expected to grow 3% for middle school teachers and 4% for high school teachers from 2018 to 2028. Graduates may also find their degree has prepared them for careers in education publishing or curriculum development. Listed below are a handful of careers that someone with a degree in secondary math education may pursue.