The Department of Mathematics and Statistical Science at the University of Idaho offers a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in mathematics. Courses are available on campus, virtually (synchronously), and by distance learning through Idaho Engineering Outreach. The distance education courses are offered in an online video format. (See courses available for a list of currently-available video and web courses that can be used towards the M.A.T., as well as a brief description of how the video format for mathematics courses works. See the Engineering Outreach website for details on registration and fees.) All requirements for the degree may be completed by distance — it is not necessary to come to the University of Idaho campus to complete any part of this degree program.
The M.A.T. is a non-thesis degree designed primarily for certified teachers who wish to strengthen their mathematics preparation. This degree does not give certification in high school teaching. It can provide teachers with a mathematics endorsement, which may allow already-certified teachers to teach mathematics at middle school and high school levels. In some cases, the M.A.T. may qualify teachers to teach at some community colleges. If you are interested in this possibility, we recommend that you inquire with colleges at which you might be interested in teaching to see if they acknowledge the M.A.T. as appropriate preparation.
A minimum of 30 credits is required. The following requirements apply to these 30 credits:
- Six (6) of these credits must be at the 500-level.
- At least six (6) credits must be in professional courses in education. (The six credits in education courses may also be the six 500-level credits.)
- At least 20 credits must be in mathematics and statistics. These courses may be at the 300-, 400-, or 500-level, including 300-level courses in mathematics and statistics if they are part of the logical sequence of study.
Forming a Supervisory Committee
Once you have applied and been admitted to the M.A.T. program, you should begin thinking about a study plan. But before you can prepare and formally submit a study plan, you will need to have a committee in place. The M.A.T. supervisory committee consists of just two people:
- a major professor from among the mathematics faculty, and
- a co-advisor from the faculty in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences.
Typically, you need only worry about finding your major professor, as the co-advisor from education will be appointed for you. Usually, the major professor is one of the faculty members teaching your math courses. If you know of a faculty member that you would like to work with, you can simply ask him or her to serve as your major professor. If you have no preference, you might want to just email the Mathematics and Statistical Science Department and they can assign you a major professor.
Once you are in touch with a major professor, you'll need to print out the Appointment of major professor and/or Committee Form from the College of Graduate Studies website. Fill out and sign your portion of this form and then email it to your major professor, who will gather the remaining signatures and get the form submitted.
Making the Study Plan
Once you have a committee arranged, you can prepare your study plan in conjunction with your major professor. (The study plan can be submitted simultaneously with the committee form.) Some reasonable steps to doing this might be:
- Look over the list of courses offered and choose some that you think would constitute a good course of study. Remember that your list must meet these requirements:
- 30 credits total
- At least 6 credits at the 500-level
- At least 6 credits in education
- At least 20 credits in mathematics or statistics
- If you have questions on whether or not a certain course is a good fit, ask your major professor or email the instructor of that course.
- Once you have a preliminary list of courses, send it to your major professor to get his or her opinion. The major professor may suggest changes, or may approve it as is.
Once you and your major professor have agreed on a list of courses, you're ready to submit a study plan. This is done electronically through your degree audit -- information and a tutorial are available on the Registrar's website.
Note: Don't worry about being locked into a set of courses by submitting a study plan. Changes to the study plan are not difficult to do — instructions and a tutorial are again given at the above link.
Common Study Plan Questions
- Can I transfer previous coursework to the M.A.T.?
Up to 12 credits (of the 30 credits total on the study plan) can come from courses in these categories:
- Credits taken at other accredited colleges or universities that do not appear on a transcript for an undergraduate degree
- Credits taken from the University of Idaho as "non-degree" status (prior to admission to the M.A.T. program) — again, this cannot include courses that appear on your undergraduate transcript
- "Over-aged" credits (credits taken as part of your M.A.T. program that are more than seven years old at the time of graduation)
- How do I go about getting approval for using previous coursework as transfer credits?
Your major professor cannot give final approval of transfer credits. Rather, this can only come from submitting a study plan and having the study plan approved by the College of Graduate Studies. Only after the plan is submitted will the Registrar's Office check the potential transfer courses on the transcripts. This is one good reason for submitting a study plan early : once a study plan is approved we know that transfer courses have been accepted.
- Can I retake courses that I've taken previously and use them towards the M.A.T.?
Generally, repeating courses you have taken previously is not appropriate. However, there are some exceptions.
- Some courses (such as Geometry) have substantial variation in content at different schools. Depending on what the syllabus to your previous course indicates, you may be able to use the UI versions of these courses in your study plan. Ask your major professor for advice in these situations. DO NOT enroll in a repeat course expecting to use it in the study plan unless you have prior approval to do so.
- Some courses (such as Abstract Algebra or Introduction to Analysis) are at a level where a second exposure to the material is often justified. Again, work with your major professor for approval before retaking any course.
Preparing for Graduation
As you near your last couple of semesters in the M.A.T. program, here are some steps to follow in preparing for graduation.
- Communicate with your advisor
Be sure your advisor knows your plans. Tell them exactly what semester you expect to finish. Outline your plan to finish the degree requirements. Be sure your advisor knows well ahead of time so that the two of you can plan together for your comprehensive exam (see below).
- File an Application for Advanced Degree.
Go to the Registrar's Graduation Information webpage. The deadlines for application as well as instructions on how to complete the online application process are there. There will be a $25 diploma fee to pay along with the application. Note that you must apply well before the semester you plan to graduate in order to avoid a late fee: for summer and fall semester graduations the deadline is in May, whereas for a May graduation the deadline will be in the preceding December.
- Plan and prepare for the Comprehensive Exam.
Students usually complete the comprehensive exam during their last semester. By university rule you must be enrolled in a course during the semester you graduate. For students who wish to complete all of their coursework and then take the comprehensive exam the next semester, we can set up a one credit course of "Comprehensive Exam Preparation". Most students, however, simply take the exam near the end of their last semester of coursework. To schedule the M.A.T. exam, do the following:
- Set up a three-hour time block several weeks in advance with your proctor.
- Notify both the Engineering Outreach office and your major professor of the exam date. We will coordinate getting the exam to your proctor in time.
General Information about the Comprehensive Exam
At the conclusion of the M.A.T. coursework, a student must satisfactorily pass a three-hour written comprehensive exam covering mathematics courses from their study plan. For distance education students, proctoring arrangements for the exam may be made so that it will not be necessary to come to Moscow for the exam.
- What does the exam cover?
The comprehensive exam covers up to six University of Idaho mathematics and statistics courses on your study plan — we don't include transfer or ED courses on the exam. If you have taken more than six math and stat classes as part of your study plan, you can choose which six courses to include on the exam. Notify your Major Professor of your choice in this case.
- What is the exam format?
The exam will include two or three questions from each course covered. The time limit for the exam is three hours. You are allowed to use a calculator, but no notes or books are allowed. (Some instructors will provide formula sheets along with the exam.)
- How should I go about preparing for this exam?
You can often get a list of review topics from the instructor of each course by emailing them and asking. Questions on the comprehensive exam tend to focus on the "big" topics from the courses rather than on details.
- It sounds scary! Should I be worried?
Don't let the exam scare you too much. We all know the prospect of an exam on that much material can be a frightening thing — but we really don't want it to be. This is not meant to "weed out" any M.A.T. candidates — rather, it is intended to give you the opportunity to review the material you've studied along the way to earning your degree. We don't expect perfection — there's just too much material to expect that. What we do want to see is evidence that you have learned some good mathematics in the course of your M.A.T. studies. Certainly, any candidate who has done reasonably well in the coursework and then does a good self-review before the exam should do well enough.
You must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 in your graduate courses in order to graduate with your degree. Any semester in which your GPA is below 3.0 will result in being placed on probation, and two consecutive semesters of GPA below 3.0 results in removal from the degree program.