An online master's in math education sets students up for careers as educators, administrators, and school policy creators. A study in 2016 by U.S. News & World Report found a spike in teacher shortages, especially in the fields of math and science.
Below is information on how to select the best online math education degree program. This page includes details on coursework, skills, average degree length, math careers, certifications, and professional organizations.
Some information varies based on degree program or institution. Students should always research options before choosing the program that best suits their educational, financial, and personal needs.
Overview of an Online Master's Program in Math Education
Many students pursuing a master's in math education will become math teachers. To prepare for this career path, students must know how to create curriculum, stay current on modern teaching methods, and develop strong communication skills.
Listed below are some common courses and skills needed for this degree program. Classes may vary based on the college or university.
Common Classes and Coursework
Effective Teaching Practices
This course demonstrates the best methods for engaging a classroom and examines current practices for leading classes in reading, writing, and critical thinking. Students learn current teaching strategies and tools they will need to maintain a high level of academic success at their future school.
This course focuses specifically on teaching methods for math, providing students with effective strategies for productive learning. Students will learn several approaches for different types of learners and earn a deeper understanding of mathematics pedagogy. This course targets students who wish to become secondary or postsecondary teachers after graduation.
This class examines the four types of research: quantitative, qualitative, mixed, and action research. Students learn what these methods are, how to apply them, and how to teach them to others. The class uses a mix of real-world and hypothetical data in lessons. Some courses require an independent research project and some do not.
Instructional Planning and Presentation
Aspiring math educators need strong communication and planning skills to successfully teach in front of a classroom. This course shows students the best methods for lesson planning, preparing and delivering instructions, using technology in lessons, and engaging a classroom. Learning this material is essential for future educators at any level of schooling.
History of Mathematics
Students learn the history and development of mathematics, allowing a better understanding of its foundations and underlying theories. This course covers significant historical figures and cultures that made contributions to the advancement of mathematics. Students can bring this knowledge to future classrooms to provide a well-rounded, balanced education.
Skills You Will Develop
After earning a master's in math education, many students become math teachers or decide to pursue a doctoral degree. Students pursuing these paths learn material relating to either mathematics theory and practice, or education theory and methodology. Core competencies include:
- Proficiency in algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and other areas of mathematics
- Curriculum development and planning
- Communication and presentation skills
- Teaching philosophy and methodology
- Technology and math; technology in the classroom
- Research methodology
- Organizational skills
- Critical and analytical thinking
Students who pursue doctorates or who decide to become administrators need strong organizational skills, the ability to conduct and apply research, and the ability to communicate clearly. These skills help professionals identify problems and create effective solutions.
Future math educators must be highly motivated, create and adapt curriculum, understand effective teaching methodology, and have a thorough grasp of mathematical subjects (i.e. algebra, geometry, or statistics).
Learning these skills through courses and practical experience helps students grasp key concepts and prepares them for real-world careers. Motivated students who keep these underlying principles in mind will excel, both in their own studies and in their professional lives.
Average Degree Length
The amount of time it takes to earn a master's degree depends on a number of factors. On average, master's programs require students to fulfill 32 credit hours and take about two years to complete. Students will take a mix of set core courses and free electives. Some programs may also require an internship or capstone project.
On average, master's programs require students to fulfill 32 credit hours and take about two years to complete
Many students who choose online learning work part time. Online degree programs allow a higher level of flexibility in scheduling. Students who work can tailor their schedules to take fewer classes per semester. It may take longer to finish a degree this way, but students will not have to quit their jobs while finishing school.
Some institutions offer accelerated programs, where students can take on more credit hours per semester or finish their degrees faster than average. Students should check with their academic advisors to determine the best course of action and find a schedule that works for them.
How to Find a Top Program
When looking for a school, students should research certain key factors that reveal the quality of education at an institution. Characteristics like high graduation rates, high test pass rates, and strong research programs are all indicators of a good school.
Below, students will find just a few of the factors that they should look for:
Applicants should examine how much academic support colleges invest in their students. Academic advisors, peer counselors, writing and math centers, and tutors all demonstrate a dedication to helping students achieve good grades.
Availability of online resources is particularly important for online learners. Students in online degree programs need access to research materials, library catalogues, academic journals, and online tech support in order to succeed in their studies.
High Graduation Rates
Schools with high graduation rates show a dedication to the academic success of their students. Typically, this means the institution ensures that students receive the support they need to excel.
Research programs are a big draw to leading professors and intelligent, inquiring students. Universities with strong research programs lead the field and stay on the cutting edge of new information.
High Test Pass Rates
High test pass rates correlate directly with high graduation rates. Universities should help prepare students for success in the classroom and in completing their degree.
Math Education Careers After Earning Your Master's
A master's in math education sets up students for careers in teaching (elementary to postsecondary), school administration, education policymaking, or for further education. Most students will find careers in the education industry, though some may branch out to other mathematics-related fields.
Below, students will find five potential careers and the average salaries for degree holders. Job descriptions and salaries may differ based on region, employer, and level of employment. Employment availability will vary from state to state.
High School Teacher
High school teachers work at public or private institutions. Apart from creating curriculum, managing a classroom, and mentoring students, teachers may also help with extracurricular activities, proctor standardized tests, or oversee school trips.
Average Annual Salary: $49,159
Instructor, Postsecondary Institution
Postsecondary teachers engage with material at a higher level than postsecondary schools, designing lectures for students beyond the basics of the subject. These instructors need strong verbal and written communication skills, a passion for research, and the ability to mentor students.
Average Annual Salary: $49,015
School administrators oversee daily operations at an institution. These positions often require specialized training or additional education. Administrators should be highly organized, have excellent management skills, and work well with people.
Average Annual Salary: $64,022
Education Program Manager
Education program managers work both with clients and with data to develop programs for schools, private clients, or school districts. These managers need strong communication and analytical thinking skills, and some experience with marketing.
Average Annual Salary: $55,930
Curriculum developers design instruction material and implement training for teachers. They can work with textbook companies, school districts, or individual schools. The lowest requirement for this career is a bachelor's degree, but a master's may help candidates stand out from the crowd or negotiate a higher salary.
Average Annual Salary: $60,464
Additional Certifications for Math Education
Degree holders may need additional licensure or certification for certain jobs. These certifications provide additional training, proof of competency, and fill in gaps in knowledge.
There are three types of licenses or certificates that graduates with a master's in math education may need to pursue.
Professional Organizations and Resources for Math Education Students
Joining a professional organization has many benefits for students, including access to online resources and current research, peer networking opportunities, career boards, and professional conventions.
- American Mathematical Society Established in 1888, the AMS focuses on research in mathematics and the diffusion of information through publications, online resources, and awareness programs. The AMS also offers advocacy and other professional services.
- American Statistical Association The ASA is the world's largest community of statisticians. This group supports the development, application, and dissemination of statistics through professional publications, continuing education, and advocacy.
- Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators AMTE is a professional organization dedicated to mathematics teacher education. This organization works to improve teaching methods, allow networking between professionals, and foster diversity in schools and among teachers.
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ASCD dedicates itself to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. The organization has over 113,000 members and provides networking events, professional publications, and continuing education opportunities.
- Association for Women in Mathematics A nonprofit organization, AWM is a leading society for women in STEM. This organization seeks to influence mathematics culture and make it easier for young women entering the field.
- Institute of Mathematical Statistics IMS offers a variety of benefits to members, including awards and fellowships, sponsored lectures, publications, and online resources. IMS promotes peer interaction and professional development for professionals in mathematical statistics.
- Mathematical Association of America The MMA often collaborates with the AMS in furthering the study of mathematics in the U.S. This organization offers publications, advocacy, and math competitions across the country for middle and high school students.
- National Association of Mathematicians NAM is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting excellence in math and mathematical development for minorities. NAM offers seminars, workshops, and other programs for members and assists in continuing education and advocacy.
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics This organization is one of the largest throughout the U.S. and Canada for mathematics teachers. The NCTM provides community resources to teachers, offers advocacy, and promotes a culture of equity amongst educators.
- National Education Association The NEA focuses on advancing public education in the U.S. and has over three million members. The organization offers lesson plans, classroom management ideas, teaching strategies, and professional support to teachers in all subjects.