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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Degree Information > Science and Dental Education, MA

Science and Dental Education, MA

M.A. Degree (SCDT)

Note: This degree does not lead to New York State Certification as a public school teacher.

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Brief Program Description
Welcome to the 32-point M.A. degree in Science and Dental Education. The 32-point M.A. degree in Science and Dental Education serves students whose professional interests are centered in the enhancement of teaching and learning in the fields of oral and dental surgery based on scientific and clinical research and evidence of best practices. The enables selected dental students, who have expressed a genuine interest in becoming dental educators, to earn an M.A. degree at Teachers College while working toward their professional degree in dentistry (D.D.S.). Traditionally, health sciences education has been content-oriented and the vast majority of medical, dental educators have professional doctorates without grounding in education. This lack of preparation to become teachers of the profession, rather than just being excellent practitioners, is felt keenly by many dental educators. This program will provide you with a sound preparation in theory and practice of dental education drawing from some of the best course offerings in the College of Dental Medicine and Teachers College Columbia University. The program of studies combines content courses from the School of Dental Medicine with professional education courses in dental medical research and practice, complemented by courses that establish breadth in modern theory and practice of education, with special emphasis on adult learning.

In addition to completion of the required course of study (see attached course guideline in Appendix I) all M.A. students will submit a final Integrative Project. This is typically an essay of approximately 15 to 20 pages that presents an integrative perspective on theory and practice within your domain of professional interest and demonstrates your mastery of the relevant major principles and practices of your field of study. It may also be an appropriate data-gathering research report.

Requirements for dual registration at Teachers College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons
This program is officially registered as a dual program with New York State; therefore, it is possible that a student in the program may be registered in both Teachers College and the Dental School at the same time. Please keep the following in mind:

  1. As an admitted student, you cannot take over 18 points (or equivalent) each term combined in both institutions to be in accordance with NYSED requirements; e.g., a student could not take the equivalent of 16 points at the Dental School and 4 points at TC, because the combined total of the registration would be 20 points.
  2. It is not possible to take courses as a TC student and cross-register for TC courses as a CU student the same semester. It is possible, however to take Dental School courses as a Dental School student and TC courses as a TC student in the same semester.
  3. Students must register a minimum of two terms as a TC student to maintain residence and take a minimum of 12 points through their TC registration.

Getting Started
There are some typical questions that our new students ask about the M.A. Program. We provide some guidance by addressing some of the topics that often are addressed for your convenience, and we also include a list of faculty members who can assist you with specific questions and issues that may arise.

To be admitted to the program, students are required to be enrolled in the D.D.S. degree program at Columbia University (College of Dental Medicine), recommended for admission to the M.A. degree by faculty in the College of Dental Medicine, and subsequently approved by the faculty of the Science Department at Teachers College. Application for admission to the Dental Science Education Program should be submitted to the Office of Admissions at Teachers College. Information on general admission requirements and on-line versions of application materials are available at the Admissions Office website ( admissions/).

Time commitment
Students, on average, can complete their coursework and submit the Integrative Project within two academic years. This assumes that you plan your studies to complete the 12 points of core courses in dental medicine before you begin the remaining 20 points of coursework in the M.A. degree program. Some courses can be taken during summer sessions if necessary to accommodate commitments to clinical work and other coursework and professional obligations in the College of Dental Medicine. Some students may take longer if personal and professional commitments require a less intense commitment to the course of study. For example, some courses in the broad and basic areas of education offered outside of the department are offered in the summer. Careful planning of your course of study including summer offerings can enhance your rate of progress toward completion of the degree. Please consult carefully with your advisor in planning your program of studies to make the most effective and efficient use of the opportunities for study.

Faculty Advisors for the 32-point M. A. Degree
The faculty who advise students in the M.A. program are listed alphabetically, including their area of expertise.

Teachers College
O. Roger Anderson: Biology content and curriculum research including the application of cognitive theory to science teaching and learning. Prof. Anderson also holds a joint appointment at Columbia University as a Senior Research Scientist (Biology: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory). E-mail:

College of Dental Medicine
Dr. Letty Moss-Salentijn: Dr. Moss-Salentijn is Edwin S. Robinson Professor of Dentistry and Senior Associate Dean in the College of Dental Medicine. Her research is in anatomy and cell biology, including oral histology. E-mail:

Dr. Roseanna Graham: Dr. Graham is an Assistant Professor in the College of Dental Medicine – Restorative Dentistry. E-mail:

Dr. Laureen Zubiaurre Bitzer: Dr. Bitzer is an Associate Professor in the College of Dental Medicine – Restorative Dentistry. E-mail:

Dr. Marlene Klyvert: Dr. Klyvert is Special Research Scientist and Special Lecturer in the Department of CDM-Diversity Affairs/DATP. E-mail:

General Organization of M.A. Degree Requirements
The 32-point M.A. program in Science and Dental Education at Teachers College Columbia University focuses on five key areas of study as detailed in Appendix I:

  1. Basic and Applied Sciences in the Health Sciences Professions
  3. Instructional Theory and Practice
  5. Adult Learning
  7. Instructional Design
  9. Research Competencies in Education

In addition to the core courses listed in the five key areas of study, students will also be required to study courses in their own area of interest within each section of the guide or to enroll in an Independent Study course where appropriate to provide in-depth explorations in areas of specific professional or academic interests related to your final integrative project.

Core Courses and Breadth Requirement
The M.A. degree requires 32 points as outlined in Appendix I. In addition to courses in dental science (co-linear with the D.D.S. degree) and dental science education, all M.A. students are required to take 9 points to gain breadth in educational theory listed specifically in Sections 2, 3 and 4 of Appendix I (Bold font core courses). Please note: the course MSTC 5044 (004) Selected Topics: Educational Practices and Research (Scientific Foundations of Medical Practice)should be taken as early as possible in your course of study in the program to gain breadth in basic knowledge and practices in the field.

Integrative Project
The integrative essay/project as stated above is approximately a 15 to 20 page document written with the advice of your advisor and should demonstrate your broad and integrated understanding of the major principles and theory within your field of study, including but not limited to current theory and practice in dental education in the classroom and/or clinic, or education of patients and topics in public literacy in dental medical issues related to oral and dental health. The project must be submitted and approved by your advisor before you can be recommended for award of the degree. It is wise to seek advice early in your course of studies to begin to focus on a general theme or topic for your project report. However, in some cases, the final topic and organizational outline for the written report may not be assembled until the last semester of your degree program. At that point you are more likely to have a clearer understanding of the broad aspects of your field that need to be included in your final project report. It is expected that your advisor will provide guidance during your completion of the written project and she/he will determine when the project has been adequately prepared to meet the criteria of excellence required by the program faculty.

Statement on Satisfactory Progress and Academic Performance
Students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of degree requirements. Program faculty will annually review each student’s progress. Where there are concerns about satisfactory progress, students will be informed by the program faculty. If a student is performing below expectations he/she may be required to complete additional course work. The program will provide a plan and timeline for remediation so students know the expectation for them to continue in the program. If satisfactory progress is not maintained a student may be dismissed from the program. For additional information about Academic Performance, please refer to Degree Requirements in the TC Catalog.

An average grade of B or better is expected for satisfactory completion of the degree. According to College policy, no more than 3 points of C- may be credited toward any degree or diploma. Students completing requirements for more than one degree or diploma may count 3 points of C- toward only one such award. A student who accumulates 8 points or more in C- or lower grades will not be permitted to continue study at the College and will not be awarded a degree or diploma. Please see the statement on policy of grades at Teachers College. (URL:

Transfer Credits
By College policy, no transfer credits can be applied to a 32-point degree. However, if you choose to continue on for an advanced Master’s Degree, up to 30 points of acceptable prior graduate credits can be applied to the degree. Please note that the courses listed in Section 1 of the course guideline (Appendix I) are not transfer credits. They are taken at Columbia University as part of the approved degree program.

Obligations That You Have to Complete the Degree
It is wise to maintain close communication with your M.A. advisor. However, as a graduate student, it is important to remember that it is your responsibility to seek advisement and that not seeking advisement can have unintended financial consequences including delay in completion of degree requirements and/or enrolling in additional courses beyond the specified required points; e.g., if you have not properly selected courses as stipulated in the course guidelines, and you can seriously compromise the successful completion of degree requirements. You must submit your final approved copy of the Integrative Project to your advisor. It is your obligation to obtain and complete all of the applications required for the degree including the Application for Award of the M.A. degree and if necessary the supplementary sheet that your advisor signs to verify that you have successfully completed the requirements for the Integrative Project.

Standard Policies and Practices of the College
Services for Students with Disabilities: The College will make reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities for information about registration (166 Thorndike Hall). Services are available only to students who are registered and submit appropriate documentation.

Statement on Academic Conduct:A Teachers College student is expected to refrain from any conduct, including cheating, plagiarizing, or purchasing documents submitted for academic evaluation, that calls into question his/her academic and/or professional probity. Decisions regarding academic evaluation in all aspects of students’ work at the college, including course work, certification examinations, clinical or field experiences, and preparation of dissertations, are within the sole jurisdiction of the faculty concerned, including as appropriate, the department or program staff members. Disciplinary actions (e.g., reprimand, suspension, or dismissal) in cases of academic misconduct can be imposed by the Vice Provost or the Committee on Student Conduct.

Resolution of Student Academic Program Concerns: Any student who has a concern regarding an academic matter may seek assistance. The procedure for resolving academic program concerns (see note of grade correction process below) begins with either the faculty member (if the concern is related to a course) or the student’s advisor. If the student is not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved at this first level, or if speaking with the faculty member presents a conflict of interest for the student, the student should proceed to speak with the Program Coordinator in the area in which the academic concern resides. If the student is not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved through the Program Coordinator, the student should proceed to speak with the Chair of the academic department in which the academic concern resides. If the student is still not satisfied with the response or resolution achieved through the Department Chair, or if speaking with the Department Chair presents a conflict of interest for the student, the next step is to contact the Office of the Vice Provost. At any stage of the process, students are welcome to seek the advice and guidance of the Ombudsman, who is charged with attempting to informally resolve student dissatisfaction of an academic nature on a completely confidential basis.

Grade Correction Procedure: The instructor for a course has the responsibility for setting the requirements for a course and making an evaluation of students’ work. Once a grade has been given, the instructor is not free to change the grade unless the instructor indicates to the Registrar that an error was made in the original grade transmitted. If a student believes that an error has been made, he/she must take the initiative in bringing about the necessary correction prior to the conclusion of the semester immediately following the semester in which the course was taken. The normal procedure for effecting a correction would be through direct discussion between the student and the instructor. If redress cannot be attained through such discussions, the student may next appeal to the department chairperson of the department offering the course. If resolution cannot be attained through appeal, the student may next appeal to the Dean. In situations where the student feels that such an appeal process might not be in the student’s interest, counsel and assistance can be sought from the Office of the College Ombudsman and the Office of the Vice Provost.

Keeping in Communication after Graduation
We are eager to remain in communication with our graduates upon completion of their degrees. Our graduates enter the educating professions at many different levels and at institutions around the world. Our Alumni Office will remain in communication with you at the College level, but we also would like to keep you informed about events and accomplishments of our students, graduates, and faculty of the Department by informal and formal means. Informally, we do hope that you will make an opportunity from time-to-time to keep us informed of your current address and any of your professional and academic activities and achievements by sending an e-mail message or other forms of communication to our Director of Administration and/or the faculty. Formally, we will be pleased to send you the Newsletter published by the Department that contains newsworthy information about the College, our Department and our alumni. From time-to-time we also have events specifically for our alumni and we would be most pleased if you were able to attend. Please consult the website for the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology for up-to-date information URL:


Appendix I

Advising Checklist and Course Guidelines

M.A. Degree in Science and Dental Education (SCDT)


Date of enrollment:


Science Content Area:

Dental Sciences

Course Requirements

Basic and Applied Courses

(12 points)

Instructional Theory and Practice

(6 points)

Adult Learning

(6-8 points)

Instructional Design

(5-8 points)

Research Competencies

(2-3 points)


32 points

Courses in Section 1 are allocated from the College of Dental Medicine. Please be certain that all Core courses are included in your program of studies for the M.A. Degree.

1. Basic and Applied Sciences in the Health Science Professions (12 points)



Term Completed

INTC D5001: Scientific Inquiry and Decision Making in Dentistry (Core; 50 contact hours)


PATH D5102: Molecular Mechanisms in Health and Disease (Core; 150 contact hours)

MEDI D5108: Immunology, Microbiology/Infectious Diseases modules (Core; 60 contact hours)

ORBL D6110: Oral Histology, Growth and Development (Core; 60 contact hours)

2. Instructional Theory and Practice (6 points)



Term Completed

MSTC 5044 (004): Selected Topics: Educational Practices and Research (Scientific Foundations of Medical Practice) (Core)


HBSS 6145: Health Psychology


MSTC 5041: Nature and Practices of Science*


HUDK 4029: Cognition and Learning


*At the advisor’s discretion.

3. Adult Learning (6-8 points)



Term Completed

ORLD 4031: How Adults Learn (Core)


Facilitating Adult Learning/Helping Adults Learn


Critical Theory/Developing Critical Thinking


ORLJ 5016 (004): Conflict and Complexity (see also attached list)


4. Instructional Design (5-8 points)



Term Completed

C&T 4005: Principles of Teaching and Learning (Core)


C&T 4052: Designing Curriculum and Instruction (Core)


Computer Applications/Technology in Education


C&T 4029: Creativity: Its Nature and Nurture (or other)


5. Research Competencies in Education (2-3 points)



Term Completed

ORL 5521: Research Methods in Education


HUD 4120: Methods of Empirical Research


ORLJ 4009: Understanding Behavioral Research


MSTC 4902: Guided Study (may be used for final MA project)


6. M.A. Project & Degree Completion Status



Summative M.A. Project Completed

Total Time for Completion of Degree

List of Additional Recommended Courses to be Considered for Section 3: On Learning

List 1: Foundations/philosophy/history/policy/culture

A&HH4070 History of education in the United States
A&HH4076  History of urban education
A&HH5076  History of African American education
A&HF4061  Introduction to cultural studies
A&HF4090  Philosophies of education
A&HF4094  School and society
A&HF4190  American philosophies of education
A&HF4194  Dialogue and difference in the multicultural classroom
A&HF4060  Youth cultures
A&HF5190  Critical perspectives on philosophy and education
A&HR5075 Knowledge and human values
A&HW5530 History of American social thought
C&T4004  School change
C&T4002 Curriculum theory and history
C&T4005 Principles of teaching and learning
C&T4032 Gender, difference and curriculum
C&T4161 The teacher:Socio-historical, cultural contexts of teaching
C&T5074 Curriculum and teaching policy
HUDF4000 Education and public policy
ITSF4010  Cultural and social basesof education
ITSF4011  Social context of education
ITSF4012  Cross-cultural studies of learning
ITSF4014  Urban situations and education
ITSF4075  Cross-cultural communication and classroom ecology
ITSF4051  Education and economic development
ITSF4057  Economics of urban and minority education
MSTU4005  Equity, ethical, and social issues in educational technology
ORLF4040  American politics and education
ORLF4043  Political thought and education
ORLF5042  Urban politics and education
ORLF5044  Modern political theory and education

List 2: Sociology/psychology/cognition

A&HF5093  Ways of knowing
BBS4032 Neuroscience of human speech
HUDK4015 Psychology of thinking
HUDK4029  Human cognition and learning
HUDK4080  Educational psychology
HUDK4820 Education for thinking: Goals and methods for middle school
HUDK5023  Cognitive development
HUDK5125 Cross-cultural developmental psychology
HUDF4021  Sociology of education
HUDF4022  Sociology of urban education
HUDF4027  Sociology of classrooms
HUDF4029  Sociology of schools
HUDF5022  Sociological analysis of educational systems
MSTU4133-34  Cognition and computers
MSTU5035  Technology and metacognition
ORLJ4005  Organizational psychology