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M.S. In Mathematics

With Emphasis in Mathematics Education

Though students of the Master’s Degree Program in Mathematics and Math Education come from diverse backgrounds and continue onto various careers, the factor they have most in common is their love of mathematics.

Through the program, these students have the opportunity to indulge their higher math craving, gain invaluable teaching experience, receive financial aid, and earn a teaching license – all in just two years – giving them an advantage in any number of career fields.

The program, housed in the School of Mathematics as a Master’s of Science Degree, requires students to take a year each of advanced math courses and math education courses, including a semester of student teaching in a high school. In addition, all students have a paid TA position in college-level classes offered by the School of Mathematics or the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP). “Students aren’t accepted into the program unless they are qualified for a TA position in the School of Math,” says Harvey Keynes, the advising professor for program students. This means they were successful in their undergraduate programs, have a primary focus on mathematics, and a strong interest in teaching.

These qualifications are evident in the students, according to Terry Wyberg, an instructor in the Math Education Department who works closely with Keynes and program students. “The students’…math content knowledge is exceptional. They are so excited about math and discuss it with such enthusiasm that the classes are more vibrant for having them there.” With their experience in both high school and college settings, graduates of the program “really have a feel for what teaching is like,” says Wyberg.

And these are qualities schools are seeking. “I easily found a job,” states Justin Jacobs, a 2002 alumnus. “I taught…at Westwood Middle School…[and] Park Center Senior High... I feel that I have been successful at both schools, and I have to give much of the credit for my success to my college experience.” Melissa Morgan, also a 2002 graduate, adds, “With a Master's degree, I am paid more and I have been able to teach more advanced classes, which I enjoy very much.” After 6 years teaching, Carraig Hegi, a graduate of the first class in 1998, is a high school teacher, math team advisor and creates “new materials as needed” for his school.

But the program prepares graduates for other career paths too. “It gives me a lot of options for my career,” says Chris Robinson, a current second-year student. “I see myself teaching in a junior high or high school over the next 5 or 6 years, but I also have an interest in developing curriculum.” Sarah Cherry, one of Robinson’s classmates, also sees herself developing curriculum and teaching but in a non-classroom setting, such as a museum or a university center. John Hall, one of Hegi’s classmates, finished his Mathematics Ph.D. in June 2005. He says “I am a much better Ph.D. student than I would have been coming straight from undergraduate work.”

Considering the quality of student emerging from the program, it is no wonder those closely involved hold it in such high regard. It has proved a “constructive, sustainable and worthwhile masters program,” according to Professor Paul Garrett. “This program potentially could change the way math is taught in Minnesota. It has resulted in a leadership group who really understand mathematics."

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