Examining the Difference Between the MS Science Education and the MA Teaching (MAT) Program


The MS Science Education research processes, and core course sequence of our degree distinguishes it from the MAT. Our students are engaging in original research and taking coursework that supports the development of a robust understanding of specific science education topics (SCED 220), the construction of a research question and prospectus with appropriate research methodology (SCED 205) and the collection and analysis of empirical data (currently taught as an elective - SCED 255).

For the MS Science Education, we will accept up to 9 units of core coursework from the SSCP program as electives, and the Science Ed core course SCED 273 also fulfills a requirement for the SSCP program. But this is where the similarities end. From a practical standpoint, the MAT requires only 2 additional courses or 6 units in addition to the regular SSCP coursework: EDTE 250: Qualitative Methods and EDTE 298: Special Studies in Education. In contrast, the MS Degree requires 18 units in addition to SSCP coursework. The 18 units come from the fact that there is a maximum transfer of 12 units from the SSCP allowed by GAPE/Graduate Studies.

The nature of the project/research conducted through each program is different. The MAT projects are designed to be action research projects or inquiries into the candidate's teaching whereas the MS projects involve a systemic process of collecting and analyzing information for educational purposes. Discipline based education research (DBER) requires deep knowledge of the content and ways of knowing in the science discipline and expertise in conducting research about how humans think and learn. Our science education research projects are purposeful and involve research processes outlines by Crotty (1998): 1) Methods - the techniques or procedures used to gather and analyze data related to some research questions or hypothesis. 2) Methodology - the strategy or plan of action, process or design lying behind the choice and use of methods to the desired outcomes. 3) Theoretical perspective - the philosophical stance informing the methodology and providing a context for the process and grounding its logic and criteria and 4) Epistemology - the theory of knowledge embedded in the theoretical perspective and thereby methodology.

Another notable difference between the culminating projects in each program is that the 298 units are differently presented in each program. The SCED 298 units are earned independently with the guidance of a faculty advisor knowledgeable in the particular topical area that the student is studying, while the EDTE 298 units are offered as a part of a course with a single instructor, where all students earning the units are taught by the same advisor and milestones are kept track of in a course context. SCED 298 units are more similar to authentic research practices. Our faculty guidance involves regularly scheduled meetings between faculty advisor and student where questions are addressed at different stages of the research process.

              SCED MS             TED MAT
Focal Knowledge and Skills            
  • Theories and methods of science teaching
  • Training in multiple research methods
  • Publishable research of one's teaching and issues of interest to the field of science education
  • Theories of education broadly
  • Training in Teacher Action Inquiry methods
  • Teacher-researcher self-study presented internally
Additional Courses Beyond Credential            
  • Three courses (18 units beyond credential, but with 9 transferring in from SSCP):
    • SCED 220
    • SCED 205
    • SCED 255
  • Two courses:
    • EDTE 250: Qualitative Research in Education
    • EDTE 298: Special Studies in Education - MAT Project
Career Opportunities from Degree            
  • Higher starting salary as classroom teacher
  • Eligibility to lecture in college of science departments and education departments at BA/BS/MA/MS levels
  • Strong preparation for doctoral study in science education
  • Higher starting salary as classroom teacher