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Masters degree for Physics teaching

  1. Dec 26, 2011 #1
    I am an undergrad who wants to teach high school physics in the US (most likely public school). I am seeking some advice about a masters degree. I could either pursue a masters degree in education or in physics. The M.ed would probably include student teaching. The M.sc would probably require some extra student teaching separately after graduation.

    Everyone that I talk to seems to feel that one or the other is the ONLY option! and that I am crazy to consider anything else. I have heard of studies that claim that masters degrees are not correlated to teaching performance. I have also heard that IF there is a correlation, it is stronger for teachers with degrees in the field they are teaching. I have this info from NPR and NYTimes, but I do not know the specific when/where/who for the actual studies.

    I have about a year to decide. My personal desire would lean me towards more study of physics since I think that I will learn the most about teaching from actually doing it rather than abstractly studying it. However, that may be influence by the fact that I just enjoy studying physics.

    If anyone knows about any studies that point one way or the other (or more likely point nowhere) I would like to hear about it. I would also like opinions from people who are teaching.

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 28, 2011 #2
    all you need is a bs to teach hs physics
  4. Dec 28, 2011 #3


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    Gold Member

    Not exactly true.

    It depends on where you want to work. I'm not sure how other states do this, but at least in California, you have to have a credential, which is basically 2 years of classes, which waste your time, and student teaching, which make you hate the idea of teaching kids. Your MS in physics will not help you be a better teacher, although from what I've heard and seen, a M.Ed won't either. I also was under the impression that M.Eds were for people looking more into administrative positions such as Principals and what-not.
  5. Dec 28, 2011 #4
    My high school physics teacher has been teaching atleast 7-8 years and has a BS in physics, and only began working on his M.Ed in the past 2-3...

    I know because I just visited him 2 weeks ago :)
  6. Dec 29, 2011 #5
    From a practical standpoint, it would be better to get the M.Ed. rather than the M.S. in physics. This is because school districts are very tight on budget right now, and they would rather higher someone at the entry level and pay them less than hire someone further up the ladder and pay them more. However, since there is a shortage of physics teachers in many districts, this may not be an issue. It is something to consider, though.
  7. Dec 29, 2011 #6
    Here in MA at least, you are not required to have a masters, but everyone does. You have less job security and a lower pay. I think the situation here is similar to CA. Lots of jumping through hoops that, more often than not, encourages the good teachers to go to private schools instead.
    While a Masters is not actually a requirement, many school systems will only hire you with the guarantee that you will have a masters within 3-4 years, but it does depend on the school system. If I choose M.ed, I can wait, but if I go M.sc, I won't be accepted if I don't apply right out of undergrad.
    Thanks for the thoughts.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
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