Graduate Study in Mathematics for K-12 Mathematics Teachers


Does the Department of Mathematics offer courses with teachers in mind?

Yes, the Department of Mathematics is a national leader in the design and delivery of mathematics courses for teachers as evidenced by the fact that since 2005, 165 teachers have graduated with an MAT degree from the UNL Department of Mathematics.

The Department offers a variety of courses for elementary, middle level and high school mathematics teachers. While historically, most have been offered in the summer, many are now offered online. For more information on opportunities for K-12 mathematics teachers, contact Dr. Wendy Smith, wsmith5@unl.edu, 402-472-7259.

It is important to note that the mathematics courses offered for teachers through the MAT (e.g., graduate level mathematics courses for teachers) are not "make-and-take" courses comprised of projects a teacher might use directly with secondary students, as this would not be considered graduate level work. Rather, the mathematics courses seek to deepen teachers' knowledge of advanced mathematics, with connections to K-12 math curriculum.


I want to become a mathematics teacher

If you want to become a mathematics teacher, you need to contact the UNL Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education, which offers a Master of Arts with an emphasis on mathematics teaching (MAmt) which is a master's program that leads to secondary mathematics teaching certification.


I want to take a mathematics course

If you want to take a UNL graduate class, it is necessary to apply and be admitted as a UNL graduate student. It is possible to apply for admission as a non-degree post baccalaureate student. This offers the opportunity to take a few graduate classes without committing to a degree program. UNL Graduate Studies has a special program, Teach Nebraska, which greatly simplifies the application process and is designed to meet the needs of certified Nebraska K-12 teachers. If you apply through Teach Nebraska, you will not need to pay a fee to apply to Graduate Studies. Moreover, because Nebraska teachers must have an undergraduate degree to be certified, it is not necessary to obtain copies of one's college transcripts in order to apply to the Teach Nebraska program. (If you are a new graduate of a teacher education program and apply to Teach Nebraska prior to obtaining your certification, the process may be more involved because of the need to document that you qualify for the program.) For information on Teach Nebraska, including how to apply as a Nebraska teacher, see the Teach Nebraska website.


I am a certified K-12 mathematics teacher and I want to earn a Master’s Degree

The Department of Mathematics offers two degree choices for teachers:

  • the Master of Arts for Teachers (MAT) degree (for certified secondary mathematics teachers); and
  • the Master of Arts for Teachers with a specialization in the Teaching of Middle Level Mathematics degree (for any certified K-12 mathematics teacher).

Both options for the MAT degree require 36 graduate credits. While the program is quite flexible, coursework must constitute a coherent program of study that has been approved by the department’s Graduate Chair. The Memorandum of Courses is used for this purpose. Note also that you must earn credit for at least six courses (18 hours) in mathematics, and it is encouraged that you take 7-9 mathematics courses.

Some teachers who pursue the MAT degree also choose to earn a minor in Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education. Transfer of some graduate credit from another institution is usually possible if the coursework is supportive of your degree objectives. Once admitted to the MAT program, you will be assigned a graduate advisor who will assist you in meeting the MAT degree requirements.

While it is still possible to earn a Masters of Science for Teachers (MScT), almost all teachers in recent years have opted for the MAT degree.


What mathematics courses for K-12 teachers are available?

The Department of Mathematics has a wide variety of courses for K-12 teachers, most of which can apply to an MAT degree. The following table shows mathematics courses with targeted grade level teacher audiences. Underlined courses are regularly offered as online versions.

K-33-95-127-129-12
Math 800P* Math 800T Math 805T Math 810T Math 809
Math 801P* Math 802T Math 806T Math 811T Math 814T
Math 802P* Math 804T Math 808T Math 812T Stat 812T
Math 803P Math 807T Stat 811T Math 816T Math 896**
Math 804P

*courses denoted by “P” cannot count as mathematics courses toward a MAT degree but can count as non-math courses.

**As courses for teachers are developed, they are first offered under the mathematical topics number 896. Many of the courses then become a part of the graduate program and receive a more permanent course number.

 

As noted, many mathematics teachers pursuing a MAT degree also pursue a strong body of courses (or a minor) in mathematics pedagogy. The following courses are among those taken by mathematics teachers in recent years.

K-3K-8K-127-12
TEAC 808A (K-3) TEAC 890 TEAC 800* TEAC 908 TEAC 991
TEAC 808J (K-3) TEAC 836B TEAC 801* TEAC 923 TEAC 880E
TEAC 907 (K-3) TEAC 892** TEAC 889* TEAC 949A TEAC 892**
    TEAC 888 TEAC 892**  

*required to minor in teaching, learning, and teacher education with an MAT degree, or to receive an MA degree through TLTE.

**As courses for teachers are developed, they are first offered under the Seminar: Special Topics in Education (TEAC 892). Many of the courses then become a part of the graduate program and receive a more permanent course number.


What courses should I take for a MAT degree?

The Master of Arts for Teachers is a flexible degree. To earn a degree in mathematics, teachers must take at least 6 mathematics courses. Typically teachers take 7-10 mathematics and statistics courses, with the complement being pedagogy courses in TLTE or Ed Psych. The tables below show model programs for the MAT (7-12) and MAT with a specialization Teaching Middle Level Mathematics (K-12). Below the tables are brief course descriptions.

MAT specialize TMLM
Math 800T Stat 811T
Math 802T Math 807T or 809
Math 804T TEAC 800
Math 805T TEAC 801
Math 806T TEAC 880E
Math 808T TEAC 888 or 890
 
MAT
Math 810T Math 806T
Math 811T Math 808T
Math 812T Stat 812T
Math 809 TEAC 892
Math 804T TEAC 801
Math 805T TEAC 880E

 

MAT Course Descriptions
Math 800T Math as a Second Language This course will help you align your teaching with the new Nebraska standards and the new Common Core standards in mathematics by focusing on the development of "habits of mind of a mathematical thinker". The approach is to understand arithmetic (number) and (introductory) algebra as a means of communicating mathematical ideas, and will stress a deep understanding of the basic operations of arithmetic, as well as the interconnected nature of arithmetic, algebra and geometry relating to the grades 3-7 curriculum.
Math 802T Functions, Algebra, and Geometry This course is designed to help teachers gain a deep understanding of the concept of function and the algebra and geometry concepts taught in the middle-level (through early high school) curriculum. Studying this content at a deeper level will help teachers better prepare their students for the NeSA-M. Participants also will study measurement with an emphasis on length, area and volume. NOTE: this course is not open to teachers with secondary certification except in special cases; this course is intended for those with elementary and/or middle level certification. You may not get credit for Math 802T after taking Math 810T or Math 811T.
Math 804T Experimentation, Conjecture and Reasoning This course focuses on problem solving, reasoning and proof and communicating mathematics. The overall goal for this course is to bring participants to the next level in the development of their mathematical habits of mind: A person who is an effective mathematical thinker has a toolbox of skills and knowledge to experiment, conjecture, reason, and ultimately solve problems.
Math 805T Discrete Math for Teaching Designed to deepen knowledge of discrete mathematics as it relates to topics covered in middle through high school curricula. Course topics (such as graph theory and counting techniques) are introduced through "hands-on" explorations through which various problem-solving strategies are emphasized.
Math 806T Number Theory and Cryptology for Teaching This course focuses on basic number theory results which are needed to understand the number theoretic RSA cryptography algorithm (an encryption algorithm which is in use today to secure information sent via the internet). The course emphasizes connections to middle level mathematics and promotes a deep understanding of the integers and their properties. Elementary methods for encoding and decoding are introduced to elucidate the nature of cryptology. These methods are readily adaptable as enrichment activities in the classroom.
Math 807T Using Math to Understand Our World This course will examine the mathematics underlying several socially-relevant questions from a variety of academic disciplines. Mathematical models of problems will be constructed and studied using a variety of topics and basic skills in algebra, functions, statistics and probability. Sources will include original documentation whenever possible (such as government data, reports and research papers) in order to provide a sense of the very real role that mathematics plays in society. NOTE: Math 807T is not open to teachers who have completed Math 809.
Math 808T Concepts of Calculus Develops a fundamental understanding of the key mathematical ideas of calculus in order to broaden teachers' mathematical perspective and gain insight into concepts contained in the middle-level curriculum which are related and foundational to the development of calculus. Topics include limits, differentiation, integration, applications and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.
Math 809 Mathematical Modeling for High School Teaching This course is designed around a series of projects in which students examine the mathematics underlying several socially-relevant questions which arise in a variety of academic disciplines (i.e. real-world problems, such as how to use mathematics to understand the spread of a disease). Students learn to extract the mathematics out of the problem in order to construct models to describe them. The models are then analyzed using skills developed in this or previous mathematics courses. NOTE: Teachers cannot receive credit for both Math 807T and Math 809.
Math 810T Algebra for Algebra Teaching The main goal of the course is to help Algebra I teachers better understand the conceptual underpinnings of school algebra, and how to leverage that understanding into improved classroom practice. Emphasis is placed on developing the habits of mind of a mathematical thinker. NOTE: If you did not take a modern/abstract algebra course as an undergrad, you may wish to take Math 802T first.
Math 811T Functions for Precalculus Teaching A study of functions in the pre-calculus, high school mathematics curriculum from an advanced viewpoint. Functions will be investigated by examining their utility in more advanced courses and applications, enabling teachers to better understand the important aspects and appropriate emphasis of a concept. Content will include polynomial, circular (trig), and exponential functions, and their connections to calculus.
Math 812T Geometry for Geometry Teaching A study of functions in the pre-calculus, high school mathematics curriculum from an advanced viewpoint. Functions will be investigated by examining their utility in more advanced courses and applications, enabling teachers to better understand the important aspects and appropriate emphasis of a concept. Content will include polynomial, circular (trig), and exponential functions, and their connections to calculus. The main goals of the course are to strengthen your mathematical background for teaching Geometry. We will focus on fundamental concepts of Euclidean geometry, with explorations of non-Euclidean geometry for contrast.
Math 814T Linear Algebra for Teaching Linear Algebra is intertwined study of linear equations and linear transformations. The geometry of lines and planes mixes with the practicalities of keeping secrets, planning production, and understanding data. In this course, learn how all these threads are linked together.
Stat 811T/812T Statistics for Teaching This course will cover the statistical concepts typically taught in a middle (811T) or high school (812T) Statistics class. These include: linear regression, two-way tables, sampling distributions, statistical inference for means and proportions, chi-square tests, and inference for regression. Some experience with basic statistical concepts (mean, standard deviation, elementary probability) is necessary. The course will be inquiry-based, and will emphasize applications and statistical thinking. Software and calculators will be used for most analyses. NOTE: Teachers cannot receive credit for both Stat 811T and Stat 812T.
TEAC 800 Inquiry Into Teaching and Learning This course will introduce you to the assumptions about what counts as knowledge underlying particular approaches to scholarly inquiry and will help you identify the factors, forces and audiences that shape any and all forms of educational research. This course is an introduction to education research, and is usually offered in general online sections for teachers (not math-specific).
TEAC 801 Curriculum Inquiry Focuses on building an understanding of mathematics curriculum development, including historical and contemporary issues that influence curriculum planning and educational change. This course is usually offered in general online sections for teachers (not math-specific).
TEAC 880E Teaching Mathematics with Technology The focus of this workshop is on developing skills for using GeoGebra and other technologies in the teaching and learning of middle and high school mathematics. Topics found in PreAlgebra, Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus and Calculus courses will be emphasized. Geometry properties and theorems, functions, transformations, conics, data analysis and other mathematics topics will be addressed. Participants will develop interactive mathematics applets, map downloaded files to their curriculum, and develop an implementation plan of action.
TEAC 890 Responsive Instruction in the Elementary Classroom The new Nebraska state and Common Core standards for mathematics are based largely on learning progressions. Thus, the aim of this course is to familiarize elementary teachers with mathematical learning progressions by utilizing a set of frameworks developed to provide teachers with a way to analyze student thinking and respond with instruction that guides students through the "next steps" needed to advance and deepen understanding. NOTE: this is open to elementary/middle level teachers only.
TEAC 892 Integrating Geometry Teaching and Learning The course focuses on current research and practices of teaching, learning and assessing geometry from multiple perspectives. Participating teachers will be challenged to understand geometry at a deeper level and become more effective through improved lesson design, reflection, and collaboration.
TEAC 892 Integrating Mathematics Teaching and Learning This course will focus on the learning and teaching of functions and other key ideas in the ideas in the high school curriculum from algebra to introductory calculus. The goal is to explicitly apply the advanced mathematics learned to the improvement of classroom instruction. The course employs a variety of technologies in a modified Lesson Study design that repeatedly cycles through (1) the learning of a concept, (2) the development of an exemplary classroom lesson about the concept, and (3) the improvement of the lesson through reflection.
TEAC 892 Teacher Learning about Reasoning & Sense Making in Secondary Mathematics This course will focus on three main issues: exploring the nature of reasoning-and-proving in secondary mathematics; establishing criteria for judging the validity of mathematical arguments; and, developing strategies for modifying current textbook tasks to provide more reasoning opportunities for students. Course materials include math tasks, cases drawn from real secondary mathematics classrooms, related student work, and prompts for mathematical and pedagogical discussions and reflections. This is an excellent course to help secondary teachers make immediate improvements to their mathematics classrooms in order to better prepare students for state tests. This course is regularly offered online.
EdPs 892 Introduction to Education Assessment This is a course in the theory and application of educational assessment. Main topics include test design, item writing, reliability, validity, and statistical analysis of test data, with an emphasis on practical applications of assessment in the classroom. An understanding of these topics can help teachers more effectively use assessment information to improve teaching and learning via “data-based decision-making.”
 

Is the MAT degree available as an online program?

Yes. The Mathematics Department offers about 2 online math courses each fall, spring and summer. Most teachers in the MAT program take their mathematics courses in the summer at various locations in Nebraska; other teachers take MAT courses all or mostly online. We recommend teachers limit themselves to one course per fall or spring semester. Teachers may take up to four summer courses.
Summer online courses are listed each year as part of the Nebraska Math and Science Summer Institutes schedule. You can filter the course catalog at this link to show only online courses. Typically at least four online courses are available each summer. See above for course descriptions.

Fall and spring online courses follow a rotation, with 2-3 courses available each fall and spring semester.

Summer 2017, Fall 2017, and Spring 2018 Schedule

Summer 2017 Fall 2017 Spring 2018
Math 808T Math 810T Math 814T
Stat 812T Math 806T Math 805T
TEAC 892 TEAC 800 TEAC 800
TEAC 800 and 801 TEAC 801 TEAC 801

General Future Schedule: This schedule will occasionally be altered, due to demand for the courses and availability of instructors. The intent for most courses is to be offered every other year. In the table below, odd years means the course will be offered in 2017, 2019, etc. and even years are 2018, 2020, etc. TEAC 800 and 801 are generally offered every semester as online courses; the sections tend to fill up quickly.

Note: most online courses are NOT self-paced, and have assignments due throughout the semester.

Fall Alternating Spring Alternating Summer Alternating
Math 810T (odd years) Math 804T (odd years) Math 808T (odd years)
Math 806T (odd years) Math 812T (odd years) Stat 812T (odd years)
Math 802T (even years) Math 805T (even years) TEAC 892 (odd years)
Math 811T (even years) Math 814T (even years) Math 807T (even years)
TEAC 880E (even years)

How much does it cost?

The quick answer to cost is "it depends". Tuition and fee rates vary for summer vs fall/spring courses, and for online vs in-person courses. Additionally, Nebraska residents have lower tuition costs than non-residents. The full information about UNL graduate tuition and fees is online. For a separate look at summer costs, information is on the NMSSI page.


Who can I talk to, to learn more about graduate opportunities for mathematics teachers?

If you have questions, please contact the MAT coordinator, Dr. Wendy Smith, wsmith5@unl.edu, 402-472-7259.


How do I apply?

If you have previously applied through the Teach Nebraska program, you must submit a new application to Graduate Studies to be admitted to the MAT program. Mathematics teachers are welcome to apply immediately to the MAT program, but by applying first to Teach Nebraska as a non-degree student, you avoid having to pay the fee to apply to Graduate Studies. Be sure to select the "Mathematics (MAT)" program as your degree objective when applying for admission to the MAT program. You may also choose the Teaching Middle Level Mathematics specialization while you are applying.

The MAT application to the Mathematics Department is now online, using the university's GAMES online application system. You will receive access to the GAMES system once your UNL Graduate Studies application is complete. In that system, you will be asked to provide:

  1. Official transcripts from your bachelor's degree, as well as any graduate coursework. Note: If your undergraduate degree is from UNL, it is not necessary to request a UNL transcript.
  2. A letter of intent, stating your goals for your master's degree
  3. 3 letters of recommendation
  4. Your teaching license (if you are not a Nebraska teacher)
  5. Your resume (optional)

If you need a physical address for sending transcripts (this is sometimes this case if your transcripts are many years in the past), then please send your transcripts to:

Office of Graduate Studies
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
1100 Seaton Hall
Lincoln NE 68588-0619
Voice: 402-472-2878
Fax: 402-472-0589
graduate@unl.edu