Saturday, September 20, 2008

Masters Degree

I'm in the midst of one of my periodic searches for the right masters degree program.

I have a bachelor's degree, a teaching credential, a CLAD certification (meaning I'm trained to teach students who are still learning English), and a few other courses. In the parlance of my employment contract, I'm in the column for Bachelor's + 45 units.

And I'm bottomed out in that column. Until I get more education, I'll never see another pay raise outside of cost of living adjustments. I need another 30 units and/or a masters degree to move to the next column, where I'd get about a $10,000 raise.

There are plenty of Masters in Education programs out there; they're not for me. I don't think I could tolerate another liberal, touchy-feely course of study like my credential and CLAD programs. If I'm going to get an advanced degree, I want it to mean something. Yes, I'd only be pursuing the degree for the pay raise, but I'd still want to get something academically useful out of the exercise.

I've been away from my college math classes for over 20 years now, so getting a masters in math is probably out of the question. Besides, you don't find many of those online, and I'm looking for a distance-learning opportunity; I spent 3 of my first 6 years teaching doing the "single parent, working, going to school" thing, and I don't want to do it again. So my options are to wait 6 more years until my son has graduated and moved on, or to get a degree (mostly) online.

I don't want a generic Masters in Education degree--everyone has those, and it's a hoop-jump like credentialing classes were. I'm looking at online Masters in Teaching Secondary Math programs at Iowa State, Idaho State, and Montana State, and perhaps a Masters in Statistics program from Colorado State. At least programs like those stand a chance of helping me become a better math teacher--and that's what I want, in addition to the pay increase.

If any readers know about these programs, or know about similar programs at other schools, please be sure to leave comments.


Anonymous said...

Can you get a master's degree in some other subject than the ones you have mentioned? Computer Science, maybe? Or History? I suspect you could find on-line CS degree programs.

-Mark Roulo

Darren said...

I'm not really interested in CS, although I'd *consider* an M.Ed. with an emphasis on technology. I'm thinking that at least some of a Teaching Secondary Math curriculum would be technology, though.

I found a *great* degree for me once. Masters in Military History through Norwich University. When I found out it was $40,000, though, I gave it no further consideration. At all.

Coach Brown said...


I'm looking for a good Master's Program too. Price is a big thing (I considered the same Norwich degree), and I'm wanting a degree in something that stimulates my own learning. I totally agree that Master's in Ed is idiotic hoop jumping, and I almost feel like I'm just paying for a nothing degree.

Let me know if you come across something good.

Ellen K said...

At the ripe age of 52, I am still trying to find a program that is cost effective. A masters will give me just about $1200 more per year, although I could then move into administration at a curriculum writing level or teach at a community college. Personally, I would love to go back to get an MFA in painting, just because. But frankly, even at a nearby state school the cost is just prohibitive.

M.A. said...

How about a Master's program with an administrative emphasis that includes an Administrative Credential? It would be valuable and you would increase your options as an educator.

I am considering it.

KauaiMark said...

How about a Masters in Library Science?

I'm not sure what's scientific about stacking books but it should be a cheap credential!

(In case you haven't guessed, I believe the "Master Degree" diploma mill is actually pretty worthless in the real world.)

Anonymous said...

What about this:


-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

It would be difficult to restart your studies in mathematics after a 20-year gap, but it may be worth considering anyway, even if you plan to remain with your current employer.

I would encourage you to look at the minimum qualifications for teaching at a community college. You can find them here, and you can see that they list "mathematics education." While many (I confess, myself included) view this as being nearly as empty and useless as an edu-masters, it is enough to get you in the door at many campuses. (In fact I served on a hiring committee which selected two former high-school teachers with this degree a few months ago.)

If you're looking to earn more than you're getting now, you might be surprised by what can be made working at a community college. Many campuses allow full-timers to teach additional courses for extra money. At my campus, I can teach the equivalent of an extra load per year (30 semester hours) and I can earn about 160% of my base salary. It may seem like a lot of work for the money, but you have to remember that a full-time load at a community college is 15 hours/semester, or 30 hours/year. So last year, I made around $160K for teaching a total of 950 hours. This is not a strict accounting; I'm not including the on-the-job hours spent outside of the classroom, which are considerable. Still, as a high school teacher, a full-time load meant being in the classroom 25 hours/week for 36 weeks (plus prep), which works out to 1080 hours/year, plus any extra duty that I opted in for, like summer school. If I was still working at the same high school that I escaped from, I would be making about $80K/year.

The full-time jobs at the community college aren't easy to get, but you could keep your current gig and teach nights while you attempt to get hired full-time. In fact, you would considerably improve the odds of being hired for a full-time position if you can shine in a part-time position for a year or so.

There are many collateral benefits associated with work at the community college. For example, I only work on occasional Fridays. YMMV, as this is not true of every campus, but it is true of many. In addition, I have my own office, can choose my own textbooks, and teach the way I want to teach without really having to concern myself with state tests, standards, or any of that.

Down here in SoCal, at least one CSU campus is offering an accelerated MS program. I know a couple of graduates of this program, and they speak well of it.

Something for you to consider, anyway...

mazenko said...

Anything but the Masters in Education.

As a teacher, I acknowledge that we are pursuing the advanced degree primarily for the pay raise. However, I can't fathom putting that kind of effort into anything except my subject area. When I did pursue my Master's in English Language and Literature, it was the most rewarding education I have ever received, and it has made me a much better teacher.

Thus, I would advise something subject-area related. Good luck.

Joshua Sasmor said...

What about instructional design? There's a relatively recent online program at my school, but I'm not sure if it will fit your definition of "non-touchy-feely". Take a look at the instructional design graduate program at and let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...


You've expressed an interest in teaching the statitic slas at our school, and one of the programs you're considering is a Master's in statistical analysis.

Ideologically and practically, I would imagine that to be a decision made.


rightwingprof said...

An MLS is the terminal degree for the field, and would qualify you to become a librarian (get a job at a university, and you get tenure). However, library schools are about as moonbatty as it gets. Instructional design tends to be, uh, very ed school chic and trendy.

If you want maximum ROI, I'd look for a math MS that doesn't require a thesis, or has minimal thesis requirements. It's surely not the best degree, but it gets you the best bang for your buck.

Or there's always an MBA.

Nic said...

I have a Master's in Education--it was also a teacher credentialing program, so I got my certificate out of it plus an extra 2k a year in pay. It was all about practicality in my case, as it allowed me to begin working as a teacher, but I have to agree about it being a hoop-jumping exercise, because it was.

I considered moving to Boston a couple of years ago with my then-fiancé. They require you to get a Master's there in 10 years, but it has to be in your content area. I would have ended up having to get a real one, anyway--right at the time both of my kids hit college. (Fortunately we settled in Arizona, which takes education far less seriously).

Darren said...

Honestly, I can't imagine why anyone would need a masters degree in order to teach high school. Were it not for the pay increase from getting one, I would not even consider it--and I'll bet the number of teachers with such degrees would be significantly (90%) lower.

Polski3 said...

I don't know if they still offer these, I wanted to do one, but time was a factor for me....anyhow, Northern Ariz. University (Flagstaff) offered Masters in the Teaching of ___. It was, last I looked several years ago, a "mixed" program: 24 hours of major content ( Biology, Math, History....) and 12 hours of Educational crap.

I don't know if such a MA would be in for possible teaching at Community College level. I've been told that I could be teaching a class or two (part time, adjacent faculty) at local CSU branch campus IF I had the MA.....

I looked at Norwich masters program, but too damn expensive. Someone told me they cater to active military officers who have the tuition paid by their service branch...

Law and Order Teacher said...

I, too, went the quickest route of a obtaining an MA in Education. I needed the MA for pay and tenure purposes. The Masters at Norwich would have been cool but the price tag is outrageous. I asked them about payments and they said I should take out a loan. I said good-bye. I have a friend who got a masters in statistics. She said it was difficult but worth the time.

Anonymous said...

You don't need a master's degree . . . UNLESS you teach an AP subject, or a sequential subject like math, where any greater understanding on your part might trickle down to the students. Masters in education should only benefit you if they relate to the work you do.

But as long as elementary school teachers get to vote on contracts, it won't happen.

Oops. I didn't actually say that, did I?


Darren said...

I don't even see needing a masters degree to teach AP, but whatever.

rightwingprof said...

I don't know about now, but my grandparents were teachers back in Indiana, and the state used to require teachers to get MAs within I don't remember how many years, or lose their jobs.

That was decades ago, by the way.

Anonymous said...

"I don't even see needing a masters degree to teach AP, but whatever."

When I graduated with my Bachelor's degree, I really thought I knew a fair amount about mathematics. But when I graduated with my MS, I realized how completely ignorant I had been, and was. Even so, my perspective of the subject was much more complete.

I can't imagine how it would be bad if a high school math teacher had an MS in mathematics. The MS is only another 30 semester units... ten courses at three units each. It can be a lot of work, but is there anything good in this world that is easy to get?

Darren said...

I'm not arguing that it would be bad, only that it's not absolutely necessary.

Steve K. USMA '85 said...


Since you said you would consider an M.Ed with a tech emphasis, check out UofMaryland, University College. They have a master's program in Education with a bent to how to incorporate tech into teaching. Classes are online and caters to military folk. I am in a Leadership & Management program and find the student body and teachers to be a refreshing change from what you and I have both experienced in our careers. URL is:

Darren said...

I shall do so. Muchas gracias.

Anonymous said...

If you do decide to go the M.Ed route, take a look at Lesley University. I'm currently in the TIE program for a Technology in Education Master's degree. The program is completely online. Good quality program.

I am a Technology Integration Specialist in a private school for grades K-8. Everything I am learning in my graduate studies is directly applicable to my job. It's been great.

There are programs for science, math, and ecological teaching too. Some areas in the US have cohort programs where you attend one weekend a month. I know there is a local venue near me for the Arts in Education program.

My classes have included "Computers Technology and Education", "The WWW as an Educational Resource", "Fundamentals of Computer Structure", "Designing Curriculum with Technology".

Check out if you would like more information on what they are offering. More affordable than the Norwich program too.

Good luck with the next step in your career!


Carter said...

How about a Masters in some sort of e-learning or online learning? Then you could teach online yourself! Or be in charge of setting up this program for others to teach. Combines computers and teaching. There are several new distnce learning Masters programs out there with this new concept. I was looking into that very thing a few months back...but got distracted with life and never followed through yet.

Karen said...

GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY out of Phoenix, AZ has a bunch of degrees one can get either on line or by attending in person. Rated in top 10 in the 2008 Princeton Review. I'm going for a Masters Education K-8. A friend is going for Masters in Education Admin.