Box 2-1

Master’s Education for Science and Mathematics Teachers

The most frequently awarded master’s degrees in the United States are in education, with nearly 170,000 in the 2004-2005 academic year. Teachers’ salaries are generally strongly linked to degrees earned and courses taken, as well as time in service. Education master’s programs are therefore important factors in the teacher professional development enterprises that are ubiquitous in state and local elementary and secondary education systems. In her book Professionalizing Graduate Education, Judith Glazer-Raymo asserts, “The master’s degree is a pivotal step toward professionalization of teaching.” Though that assertion is consistent with the position our committee has taken here with respect to non-research careers in the sciences, the master’s degree in education does not fall within our charge. (Another NRC committee, The Committee on the Study of Teacher Preparation Programs in the United States, will issue a report addressing this issue within several months of our committee’s report.) Nevertheless, we would suggest that attention be given to the development of professional science master’s degree programs designed specifically for science teachers. Like other aspects of our K-12 educational systems, education master’s programs have become the focus of increasing attention and concerns about their quality, coherence, and performance accountability. To help address the issue of teacher quality in science and mathematics education, Rising Above the Gathering Storm recommends providing grants to research universities to offer, over five years, 50,000 current middle and high school science, mathematics, and technology teachers two-year part-time master’s degree programs that focus on rigorous science and mathematics content and pedagogy. The report offers as a model for the action the University of Pennsylvania Science Teacher Institute. In addition to the natural science content, we offer that such programs could also focus on exploring the growing body of research-based knowledge of optimal pedagogical techniques in the teaching of science.


SOURCE: Judith Glazer-Raymo, Professionalizing Graduate Education: The Master’s Degree in the Marketplace (ASHE Higher Education Report, Vol. 31, No. 4, 2005), 1.

into the field. In other fields, the acquisition of a master’s degree is not necessarily the entry-level professional degree, but it is often important for advancement. In elementary and secondary education, for example, teachers are typically required to obtain additional education and professional development, and their salary increases are often pegged to this continuing education and the award of a master’s degree. (See Box 2-1.)

In engineering, the bachelor’s degree has typically been the entry-level professional degree for most subfields, but there has been an almost continuous 130-year discussion regarding the body of knowledge necessary in order to become a “professional” engineer. Bruce Seely describes



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement