An online bachelor's in math education provides individuals the opportunity to teach mathematics at various levels of education in a flexible and accessible format. Many professionals can continue to work while pursuing an online degree. This guide provides important information for prospective bachelor's in math education students, including sample courses and learning competencies, potential career options, and the top professional organizations in the field.
Overview of Online Math Teaching Degrees
Math fosters the ability to think abstractly, approach problems in a logical way, and handle finances and other real world responsibilities. In a world increasingly dependent on technology, engineering, and scientific advances, the demand for skilled mathematicians will continue to grow, leading to a need for math educators at all grade levels. The projected 2016-2026 job growth for middle school and high school teachers is 8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An online education degree in math prepares aspiring teachers through a combination of courses in mathematics, curriculum and instruction, and professional development. Ideal for working professionals, an online program allows students the flexibility to complete course components according to their schedule. Typically, the only in-person requirement for an online bachelor's in math education involves student teaching. In the last few months before graduation, all education majors pursuing certification must participate in this full-time practicum experience, working in a classroom environment at a local school for 3-4 months.
Admission requirements vary by program, but applying to any online bachelor's program in math education generally requires several basic materials. Applicants typically must provide two letters of recommendation, a brief essay or personal statement, ACT or SAT test scores, and official transcripts from high school and any previously attended college institution. Applicants can obtain instructions for retrieving official copies of their transcripts from their high school office or college registrar.
Prepare to allocate up to $150 for each college application you submit. This budget covers the typical $20-$90 fee for application processing and the $5-$20 fee for each transcript request. Make sure to confirm the application rules and guidelines of prospective schools, including deadlines and required materials. Submit applications as early as possible to allow time for processing issues and other unforeseen delays.
What Will I Learn?
Students beginning an online math education degree take courses in mathematics, teaching and pedagogy, and the liberal arts. A 120-credit bachelor's degree for math educators commonly breaks down as follows: 34-40 credits of general education courses, 30 credits of major core courses, 27 credits of mathematics courses, and 23-29 credits of electives.
Degree plans differ depending on whether mathematics is a concentration within a larger education degree or a central focus, and whether the degree leads to teacher certification or the pursuit of a graduate degree. Programs leading to certification generally require more pedagogy, curriculum development, and instruction courses to prepare students for full-time work in a classroom. The following six courses are commonly found in an online math teaching degree curriculum.
Classroom Management and Theory
Vital for all aspiring educators, a course on classroom management and theory introduces students to topics including learning outcomes, effective assessment strategies, and developmentally appropriate curricula. Students examine theories and strategies for understanding and managing classroom behavior, and discuss how rules and procedures contribute to an effective classroom environment.
Mathematics for Teachers
This course introduces future educators to the theories and practices of teaching mathematics to children. Students learn how to effectively facilitate the learning of mathematics through instructional strategies, appropriate resources, and knowledge of instructional planning.
Diversity and Inclusion
Educators must meet the needs of a diverse student population, including students with disabilities, gifted and talented students, English language learners, and culturally diverse students. Through study and observation, this course gives aspiring teachers practical strategies for adapting instruction for every child in the classroom.
Courses on instructional planning introduce future educators to fundamental principles and methods of differentiating instruction. Through an exploration of learning environments, tools, technologies, and resources, students learn how to choose age and ability appropriate strategies for different content areas.
Math educators must possess high-level understanding of the subject. College trigonometry introduces mathematical concepts, including complex numbers, vectors and matrices, systems of nonlinear equations, and De Moivre's Theorem. Trigonometry at the college level is typically a prerequisite for college calculus.
Often taught throughout two or three different courses with increasing levels of difficulty, calculus introduces math educators to introductory and advanced concepts dealing with the study of change and motion. Students learn how to calculate rates and accumulations of change in relation to curves.
What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Math Education?
In the sections below, we explore the ways an online math teaching degree prepares graduates for future careers, including the core skills and competencies learned in these programs and popular entry-level careers for graduates.
The best online math education degrees prepare graduates for work in all levels of primary and secondary education. The curriculum develops core skills and competencies in areas such as current academic content, learning assessment strategies, and subject-specific instructional planning.
Math education graduates know how to design, plan, and implement instruction for a diverse pool of students, developing the ability to apply core concepts, solve problems, and become self-sufficient learners. Graduates can use technology skills to support their instructional goals by accessing data, conducting research, and enhancing productivity. Graduates understand how to use diverse teaching methods to approach different student groups and educational programs. Graduates also learn how to provide professional leadership within their schools and communities.
Although alternative routes to certification exist, a bachelor's in education remains the most common prerequisite for pursuing teaching licensure in the United States. After working through coursework and student teaching requirements, graduates of an online bachelor's in math education can secure state certification and begin a teaching career.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Upon earning teacher certification -- a process which typically requires a background check and successful completion of a few exams -- online math teaching degree graduates can pursue employment in public schools. Math teachers can work at varying levels, from kindergarten to high school. Educators may also work in special education or in adult education programs, helping older learners obtain a high school equivalent education.
Regardless of the job, all educators must be competent in their subject area; understand how to adapt curricula and lessons for diverse learners; and communicate professionally with students, colleagues, administrators, parents, and community members. Explore the earning potential and descriptions of five popular careers for math teachers in the table below.
Adult Literacy and High School Diploma Teacher
Annual Median Salary: $52,100
Math teachers working in adult education teach students fundamentals and prepare students to take a high school equivalency exam. Curriculum content depends on student ability. Educators must assess student progress, strengths, and weaknesses, and adapt accordingly.
Kindergarten or Elementary School Teacher
Annual Median Salary: $56,900
Math teachers at the kindergarten and elementary levels help students develop knowledge of math fundamentals, like counting, measurement, and shape recognition. Teachers incorporate fun activities into the curriculum to increase student engagement.
Middle School Teacher
Annual Median Salary: $57,720
Middle school math teachers work with students in 6th through 8th grade, building upon foundational knowledge and introducing students to more advanced mathematical concepts, including geometry, algebra, probability, and statistics. Teachers also prepare students for standardized tests.
High School Teacher
Annual Median Salary: $59,170
High school math teachers teach students in 9th through 12th grade. High school math classes offer a range of subjects and difficulty level according to a students abilities and goals. Teachers may help struggling students through algebra I or lead aspiring engineers through pre-calculus.
Special Education Teacher
Annual Median Salary: $58,980
A special education teacher generally works with children in multiple subject areas rather than focusing on math alone. They assess student skills and needs, develop individualized education programs, and often teach students in small groups or one-on-one.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Math Education?
Earning a bachelor's degree and state teaching certification allows aspiring educators to work in entry-level academic jobs in public and private schools. Teachers interested in administrative positions or postsecondary teaching must obtain a graduate degree.
Earning an advanced degree typically increases earning potential; however, teachers with only a bachelor's degree can earn high salaries through other means. Most school districts pay employees on a sliding scale according to years of service, allowing math teachers to receive higher salaries by remaining employees of the same district for a significant length of time.
Accreditation for Math Education Bachelor's Programs
Accreditation validates the quality and legitimacy of an institution. During the accreditation process, third-party agencies examine a school's policies, budgets, and academic rigor. Aspiring math educators should look for programs accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Programs accredited by the CAEP meet standards in areas including pedagogical knowledge, clinical preparation, and candidate recruitment and selection.
Not all schools pursue programmatic accreditation. If your preferred online math teaching degree does not hold CAEP accreditation, check if the school holds institutional accreditation from a regional or national agency, like the Higher Learning Commission, Distance Education Accrediting Commission, or Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In many cases regional accreditation is preferred. These organizations provide rigorous vetting on a larger scale, examining an institution's policies, budgets, and curriculum standards.
Math Education Professional Organizations
Education professionals benefit from joining a professional organization. Benefits include access to regional and national events, professional development and classroom grant opportunities, the latest research and news impacting mathematics education, and professional resources for inside and outside of the classroom.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
The world's largest organization dedicated to mathematics education boasts more than 60,000 members. NCTM engages in advocacy, connects math educators with peers, and provides resources to support high-quality teaching. Members receive access to discounted conference registration, journals, and grant applications.
Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications
Founded in 1980, this nonprofit organization works with teachers, students, and businesses to improve mathematics education for all ages. COMAP conducts research and analysis, develops curriculum materials, and provides professional development support to teachers. Benefits of membership include access to COMAP periodicals, exclusive printable materials, and video archives.
Association of American Educators
The nation's largest nonpartisan professional trade association for teachers strives to advance the profession through teacher advocacy and protection, personal growth, and professional development. More than 90% of AAE members work as public school teachers. Membership benefits include liability insurance, third-party discounts, and involvement through surveys provided to policymakers and the media.