Be a Science Teacher

students taking apart a flower

We need science teachers more than ever. Middle and high school students are at a crucial stage of development, a good science teacher can instill in them a scientific literacy that will shape how they think about the world, an excellent science teacher will inspire students to continue their studies and become the innovators of their generation.   

Remember the science teacher who inspired you to become a science teacher? Follow in their footsteps and inspire the next generation. 

The UMass Amherst College of Education offers many pathways to become a licensed teacher in General Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Every pathway involves a dual path. You work on attaining practical teaching experience alongside content expertise, guided by the current experts in the fields of Education and your field.  

Get started

Submit your information through the “Find Your Path” form on the Secondary Education program page. An advisor will make initial contact with you and share the relevant advising documents so that you can prepare for the admissions process.

Advisor
John Kudukey, JKudukey@EDUC.UMass.edu, (413) 545-312.

 

A proclivity for science is embedded deeply within us, in all times, places, and cultures. It has been the means for our survival. It is our birthright. When, through indifference, inattention, incompetence, or fear of skepticism, we discourage children from science, we are disenfranchising them, taking from them the tools needed to manage their future.

Carl Sagan

 

Subject Matter Requirements

Requirements depend on the grade level and the type of science you plan to teach. 

General Science

Massachusetts Subject Matter Knowledge for General Science (Grade Level: 5 - 8)

(a) Intermediate knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, earth/space science, and related mathematics
(b) History and philosophy of science
(c) Methods of research in the sciences, including laboratory techniques and the use of computers

Subject matter knowledge in General Science for Initial Licensure can be demonstrated by successful completion of appropriate course work and by passing the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) in General Science. Normally the coursework requirement can be met with a distribution of courses in all four sciences and an equivalent of at least a minor in one. Often candidates must take additional course work to fulfill requirement (b).

High School Biology (Initial Licensure)

Massachusetts Subject Matter Knowledge for Biology (Grade Level: 8 - 12)

(a)  Biology of organisms, especially that of humans, including characteristics and classifications of organisms
(b)  Cells and cell theory
(c)  Ecology and evolutionary biology
(d)  Matter and energy in ecosystems
(e)  Genetics, including chromosome structure and function and inheritance.
(f)  Molecular biology
(g) Related aspects of chemistry, physics, earth science, and mathematics, such as statistics
(h) Engineering and technical applications of biology
(i)  History and philosophy of science
(j) Methods of research in the sciences, including laboratory techniques and the use of computers

Subject matter knowledge in Biology for Initial Licensure can be demonstrated by successful completion of appropriate course work and by passing the MTEL in biology. Normally the course work requirement can be met with a major in biology. Often candidates must take additional course work to fulfill requirements (h) and (i).

High School Chemistry (Initial License)

Massachusetts Subject Matter Knowledge Requirements for Chemistry (Grade Level: 8 - 12)

(a)  Inorganic chemistry
(b)  Organic chemistry
(c)  Analytical chemistry
(d)  Physical chemistry
(e)  Biochemistry
(f)  Related aspects of biology, physics, earth science, and mathematics, such as statistics and calculus
(g)  Engineering and technical applications of chemistry
(h)  History and philosophy of science
(i)  Methods of research in the sciences, including laboratory techniques and the use of computers

Subject matter knowledge in Chemistry for Initial Licensure can be demonstrated by successful completion of appropriate course work and by passing the MTEL in Chemistry. Normally the course work requirements can be met with a major in Chemistry. Often candidates must take additional courses to fulfill requirements (g), (h) and (i).

Earth Science (initial License)

Massachusetts Subject Matter Knowledge for Earth Science (Grade Level: 5 - 12)

(a) Geology
(b) Oceanography
(c) Astronomy
(d) Environmental biology, physics, and chemistry
(e) Meteorology
(f) Related aspects of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics
(g) Engineering and technical applications of earth science
(h) History and philosophy of science
(i) Methods of research in the sciences, including laboratory techniques and the use of computers

Subject matter knowledge in Earth Science for Initial Licensure can be demonstrated by successful completion of appropriate course work and by passing the MTEL in Earth Science. Normally the course work requirement can be met with a major in Earth Science or Earth Systems. Often candidates must take additional coursework to fulfill requirements (g) and (h).

High School Physics (Initial License)

Massachusetts Subject Matter Knowledge Requirements for Physics (Grade Level: 8 - 12)

(a) Mechanics (including fluid mechanics) (b) Heat, heat transfer, and thermodynamics (c) Kinetic theory of gases
(d) Light and geometric optics
(e) Electricity and magnetism
(f) Waves (sound and light)
(g) The atom: its structure and the nucleus (including nuclear reactions)
(h) Quantum theory of the atom
(i) Quantum theory of light
(j) Engineering and technical application of physics
(k) Related aspects of biology, chemistry, earth science and mathematics, such as trigonometry, vector analysis, and calculus
(l) History and philosophy of science
(m) Methods of research in the sciences, including laboratory techniques and the use of computers

Subject matter knowledge in Physics for Initial Licensure can be demonstrated by successful completion of appropriate course work and by passing the MTEL in physics. Normally the course work requirements can be met with a degree or major in Physics. Often candidates must take additional courses to fulfill requirements (k), (l) and (m).
 

 

Basic process of admissions

STEP ONE: Attend an informational meeting (Fall and Spring) or connect with the Program Coordinator

At these meetings, participants are introduced to the mission of the Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) and learn about the various licenses and pathways UMass Amherst offers toward initial licensure.

STEP TWO: Submit an application by the deadline for either the undergraduate and graduate pathways (January 15)

Submit an application by the deadline for either the undergraduate and graduate pathways (January 15):

  • For applications to the Undergraduate UTS program
  • For applications to the UMass Graduate School

In February, Faculty review applicationS using the following criteria 

  • A well developed and carefully written personal statement of approximately 500 words. This statement should make clear why you are interested in entering the teaching profession and what you hope to accomplish in the future as a teacher in your chosen subject. Keep in mind that we are interested in hearing why you are interested in coming to UMass and why a particular pathway fits with your professional goals. 

  • Experience working with diverse youth during one’s undergraduate experience (e.g., extra-curricular activities, volunteering in schools, tutoring, summer work experience). 

  • Evidence of leadership and a commitment to issues of equity-based on a review of the applicant’s transcript, resume, writing sample, and personal statement.

  • Subject Matter Knowledge based on a review of the applicants’ transcript and subject matter form. This review is significant in determining if you are eligible for the one-year pathways (e.g., Bridges to the Future, 180 Days in Springfield). 

  • A minimum GPA of a 3.0 

Passing the Communication and Literacy Skills (01) and Subject Matter Tests  English (07) portions of the Massachusetts Test of Educator Licensure (MTEL). In order to be licensed in Massachusetts, all teachers must have passed both the Communication and Literacy Test, as well as their Subject matter test. In order to progress successfully through the program, we encourage all candidates to take these tests as early as possible.  The Communication and Literacy test should be successfully completed by the start of your pre-practicum semester. The Subject matter test must be completed prior to your student teaching practicum. 

STEP THREE: Interview with Secondary Admissions Committee and School Districts (February and March)

Each Program/Pathway has a rigorous and intentional process for interviewing all candidates.  The Program Coordinators will send you information about the interview process. Please note - Bridges to the Future and TEACH 180 Days in Springfield require an admissions committee interview as well as a school district interview.  

Please approach these interviews in a professional manner. Come prepared to discuss your application materials and future plans in the same way you would if you were interviewing for a teaching position with a school district (e.g., subject matter knowledge form, resume, and personal statement).

STEP FOUR: Notification of admission to STEP (March/April)

University to Schools candidates will be notified in March if they have been accepted into their program.  The UTS Program Coordinator will then contact you to start the placement process in one of our partner school districts.  This could include visiting a range of schools and interviewing with potential mentor teachers.  
 
Bridges to the Future and 180 Days in Springfield will be interviewed by the University Admissions Committee (as per step 4 above) and if appropriate, will be invited to a School District Interview with participating Schools in early March. Once the school district interviews are complete applicants will be notified to continue with their process. These applicants will meet with teachers in the districts and solidify a potential placement. Candidates will be notified once this process is complete (typically usually mid to late April).

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this an online program?

This program is not designed as a fully online program. However, we are  taking into account disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Fall 2020 we will be adapting as needed to support students who cannot be present to engage in studies. There will be the availability of remote courses and we are planning for several different outcomes whether on campus or off campus. 

Can I work and enroll in the program at the same time?

The UTS pathway allows flexibility to students who need to work full or part-time. UTS also provides the opportunity for para-educators to enroll in the program and continue to work at their school - if your school district agrees. Bridges to the Future and 180 Days in Springfield require full time study. 

I am already teaching, can I be in this program?

Yes. The UTS pathway is designed for teachers already employed, but seeking a Master’s degree and state license.
 

How do I get experience working with youth?

  • Take courses that have a service learning component.
  • Look for summer employment at a camp or youth organization.
  • Look for opportunities to volunteer.

Do I need a car?

Having access to a car will give you more flexibility in finding a placement that is a match for you. Otherwise, you will need to rely on public transportation and may have fewer options for placement. 

I am interested in applying, but did not major in the subject that I want to teach. Therefore, I am missing a number of subject matter requirements. Will my application be competitive?

Yes, but you will mostly likely only be eligible for the University to Schools Pathway, not the one-year immersion pathways. However, it is important to meet with the program coordinator so that they can guide you through the Subject Matter Knowledge requirements - in case your major is a good fit. You can also complete these requirements at a community college, another college, or online. 

I grew up in a predominately white middle class community and have not had much experience working across race, class, and language differences. What should I do?

  • Join student organizations with a social justice mission.
  • Take courses that have a service learning component.
  • Look for summer employment at a camp or youth organization.
  • Look for opportunities to volunteer.