Degrees | Science Education | Mathematics Science and Technology

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Science Education

In the Department of Mathematics, Science & Technology

Supervisor/Teacher, MA

Master of Arts Supervisor/Teacher of Science Education

Degree: M.A.

Major Code: SCSS

Brief Program Description

Welcome to the 32-point M.A. degree in Science Education. The 32-point M.A. degree in Supervision/Teacher of Science Education serves students whose professional interests are centered in the enhancement of science teaching and learning including teacher professional development, curriculum improvement, personal professional development and preparation for more advanced studies leading to advanced master’s degrees in science teacher supervision. In particular, we are concerned that students develop expertise in key domains which make up the knowledge base in science education, including deep and conceptual understandings of the disciplines of science, thoughtful exploration of the core science education areas of study (including history of science education, sociocultural issues, curriculum and pedagogy, teacher education, and equity and policy), and proficiencies in the professional education areas of study (e.g., psychology, sociological and cultural studies, history and philosophy), and technology.  

Over the past fifty years, science education has developed into a rich field with a particular history and a set of specialized subdivisions. Fundamental developments in the philosophy of science, the psychology of learning, sociological understandings, and in research methodologies have led to the development of several productive domains, as documented by the Handbook of Research on Science Teaching and Learning (Gabel, 1994) and the Handbook of Research on Science Education (Abell and Lederman, Ed., 2007). We aim to support our students in developing robust understandings of science content knowledge, contemporary educational scholarship and research, and the demands of educational settings and policies. Teachers College offers a unique setting for the construction of productive, comprehensive knowledge in the diverse field of science education, thus playing a vital role in the preparation of local, national, and international science educators.

In addition to completion of the required course of study (see attached course guidelines in Appendices I and II) 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.


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 have a Bachelors degree in one of the sciences or its equivalent and preferably with at least a B+ average in courses within science. Application for admission to the Science Education Program should be submitted to the Office of Admissions. Information on general admission requirements and on-line versions of application materials are available at the Admissions Office website ( 


Time Commitment
Students, on average, can complete their coursework and submit the Integrative Project within one academic year. This assumes that you are enrolled for 16 points per semester. Some students may take longer if personal and professional commitments require a less intense commitment to the course of study. Some of the courses in the Science Program, and particularly 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 at Teachers College. 


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.

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). E-mail:

Chris Emdin: Physical Science and chemistry content and research on urban science education with a focus on the dynamics of the social, scientific, and group processes that enhance science teaching and learning.

Felicia Moore Mensah: Biology content, elementary science teaching, and the application of social constructivist theory and cognate theories to urban science education and enhancement of science teacher education.

Ann Rivet: Earth and physical science content, with an emphasis on the application of cognitive science and learning theory to curriculum development and implementation in urban schools. E-mail:


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

  1. The Discipline of Science  
  2. Science Education Core Areas of Study  
  3. General Professional Core Areas of Study  
  4. Research  
  5. Technology

In addition to these five key areas of study, students will also be required to study courses in their own area of interest (electives) as well as to enroll in Independent Study courses where appropriate to provide in-depth explorations in areas of specific professional or academic interests. In this program, students are permitted to take elective courses that may focus on areas of expertise related to the enhancement of science teaching and learning, including teacher education and supervision of teachers. These should be planned to complement courses taken in the area of Core Professional Concerns to promote your best progress toward completion of your degree goals.


Core Courses and Breadth Requirement
The M.A. degree requires 32 points as outlined in Appendix I. In addition to courses in science content and science education, all M.A. students are required to take 9 points in “Core Professional Concerns” (see Section 3 of Appendix I) to establish breadth in professional education theory and practice beyond the specialization in science. Some of the typical courses that our students choose to fulfill this requirement are listed in Appendix II, but you are not limited to these courses.


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. 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.


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 Supervisor/Teacher

Science Education (SCSS)




Date of enrollment:




Science Content Area:



Course Requirements


Disciplinary Courses

(6-8 points)

Core Science Education Courses

(6-8 points)

Core Professional Concerns

(9 points)


(0-3 points)


(9 points)

Integrative Project Advisement

(0-3 points)



32 points



For a concentration in Supervision, Core Professional Concerns and Electives courses should be chosen with the advice of a faculty member in the Department of Organization and Leadership. The concentration in Science Teaching should emphasize a broader perspective in the selection of Core Professional Concerns including courses in broad and basic areas of education such as curriculum design and theory, philosophy or history of education, sociology of education, and cognitive psychology and learning sciences.


1. Disciplinary Courses (6-8 points)



Term Completed

MSTC5041: Nature and Practices of Science (required)



Science content courses appropriate to your discipline and/or MSTC 4902: Guided Study in Science Education




[PCK course or a specialized methods course in your discipline1]




1At the advisor’s discretion.


2. Science Education Courses2 (6-8 points)



Term Completed

MSTC 4000: Science in Secondary School



MSTC 5048: Curriculum & Pedagogy in Science Education



MSTC 4007: Urban and Multicultural Education



MSTC 4852: Informal Science Education



MSTC 5047: Science Teacher Education



2Select courses from above general course topics to fulfill 6 points.


3. Core Professional Concerns [Breadth Requirement] (9 points)



Term Completed

History, Philosophy, Sociology of Education




Educational Psychology, Learning Theory, Cognitive Studies



Curriculum History, Design, Theory or Cognate Areas

Of Study



Other to be assigned in consultation with your advisor




4. Technology (0-3 points)



Term Completed










5. Electives3 (9 points)



Term Completed

















3Students may develop a particular area of interest, i.e. a content area, teacher education and supervision, curriculum development, technology, etc. All elective courses must be approved by your advisor.


6. Integrative Project Advisement (0-3 points)



Term Completed










Appendix II

Examples of Courses Suitable to Meet the Requirements of Breadth



A&HH 4070  History of education in the United States

A&HH 4076  History of urban education

A&HH 5076  History of African American education

A&HF 4061  Introduction to cultural studies

A&HF 4090  Philosophies of education

A&HF 4094  School and society

A&HF 4190  American philosophies of education

A&HF 4194  Dialogue and difference in the multicultural classroom

A&HF 4060  Youth cultures

A&HF 5190  Critical perspectives on philosophy and education

A&HR 5075 Knowledge and human values

A&HW 5530 History of American social thought

C&T 4004  School change

C&T 4005 Principles of teaching and learning

C&T 4161 The teacher: Socio-historical, cultural contexts of teaching

HUDF 4000 Education and public policy

ITSF 4010  Cultural and social bases of education

ITSF 4011  Social context of education

ITSF 4012  Cross-cultural studies of learning

ITSF 4014  Urban situations and education

ITSF 4075  Cross-cultural communication and classroom ecology

ITSF 4051  Education and economic development

ITSF 4057  Economics of urban and minority education

MSTU 4005  Equity, ethics, and social issues in educational technology

ORLF 4040  American politics and education

ORLF 4043  Political thought and education

ORLF 5042  Urban politics and education

ORLF 5044  Modern political theory and education



A&HF 5093  Ways of knowing

BBS 4032 Neuroscience of human speech

HUDK 4015 Psychology of thinking

HUDK 4029  Human cognition and learning

HUDK 4080  Educational psychology

HUDK 4820 Education for thinking: Goals and methods for middle school

HUDK 5023  Cognitive development

HUDK 5125 Cross-cultural developmental psychology

HUDF 4021  Sociology of education

HUDF 4022  Sociology of urban education

HUDF 4027  Sociology of classrooms

HUDF 4029  Sociology of schools

HUDF 5022  Sociological analysis of educational systems

MSTU 4133-4134 Cognition and computers

MSTU 5035  Technology and metacognition

ORLJ 4005  Organizational psychology


Curriculum Theory and Practices

C&T 4002 Curriculum theory and history

C&T 4032 Gender, difference and curriculum

C&T 5074 Curriculum and teaching policy