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Graduate Programs

Three graduate degree options are offered by the Science Education Department:

The M.S. in Science Education is designed primarily for credentialed K-12 teachers interested in deepening their understanding of science, education, and the teaching and learning of science. The program includes a blend of courses from the Science Education department, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the College of Education. The program introduces candidates to Science Education as a field of study, with its own journals, issues, and research areas.

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Video: CSULB Masters in Science Education Program

The option in Elementary and Middle School Science Education is designed for teachers who are K-8 generalists. Although aimed at those with a Multiple Subject credential, the program may also be appropriate for Single Subject teachers interested in increasing the breadth of their scientific knowledge. Students completing this option will be prepared to assume positions of greater science leadership at their schools or districts, or go on to further graduate study in Science Education.

The option in Secondary Science Education is designed for teachers who are 7-12 science discipline specialists.

The option in Informal Science Education is designed for museum, aquaria, outdoor, and environmental educators who want to further their educational studies with a focus on learning and teaching science in non-classroom settings.

Application Process and Deadlines

Applicants are required to send application materials to both:

  1. the University through Cal State Apply
    • Please submit the University application via Cal State Apply by the June 1 deadline. The application fee and one set of official transcripts must to be sent directly to the CSULB Office of Admissions. Additional information about applying to the University can be viewed at CSULB Admissions or at International Admissions.

  2. AND the Science Education Department (see Departmental Application under Admission Policies, below).

We will begin reviewing candidates and making acceptance decisions after May 1. We will accept applications until June 1, assuming there's space. There is a non-refundable fee for admission to the university. Remember that the departmental application is separate from the university application. You must be accepted by both the university and the Science Education Department before being eligible as a Classified Graduate Student.

Admission Policies

University Requirements for Admission into CSULB can be found under "Graduate Degree Information" in the University Catalog.

Prospective International Applicants: Please visit Center for International Education for questions regarding visas, and admissions to the university and deadlines.

Department Requirements

In addition to the University requirements for admission as a graduate student, the department requires:

  • A California Multiple Subject credential, Single Subject Science Teaching credential, or other instructional experience deemed equivalent by the Graduate Studies Committee. In the case of informal science educators, this must be evidenced by letters from employers provided on institutional letterhead.
  • A GPA of at least 3.0 for the last 60 units of study completed.

Students missing any admission criteria may only be admitted after receiving the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.

Review by the Graduate Studies Committee

The Graduate Studies Committee will review all completed applications and recommend either accepting you as a Classified or Conditionally Classified graduate student, or denying admission. If you are accepted you should contact the Departmental Graduate Advisor before your first semester for advisement and orientation.

The Science Education Department will recommend you for admission as a Classified graduate student if you have met all prerequisites and also been accepted by the Graduate Studies Committee.

If you fail to meet the criteria for Classified admission to the department you may be considered by the Graduate Studies Committee for admission as a Conditionally Classified graduate student. The Graduate Studies Committee will determine what deficiencies each applicant has and specify what you must do to make up those deficiencies. You must make up all such deficiencies before attaining Classified status.

Departmental Application

As a prospective graduate student you must formally apply for admission to CSULB (described previously). You have to do this even if you are a CSULB graduate. You must also apply directly to the Science Education department. Here is what you must submit to the department:

  1. A completed Departmental Application Form (PDF)
  2. A personal statement.
  3. Two confidential recommendation letters, sent under separate cover. At least one of the letters must be from an administrator or supervisor at a school where you are (or were) employed.

With campus temporarily under hibernation restrictions, applications should be emailed to

You must also receive a positive recommendation following an interview with graduate faculty.

Overview of the M.S. Degree Programs

Program of Study, Thesis, and Thesis Committee

The Program of Study includes successful completion of:

  • Science Education Core Courses: SCED 550, 551, 552, 553 (SCED 553 required for informal option only), 560.
  • Science courses: SCED 500, 501, 502, (elementary option takes all three courses, the informal option takes two of the three courses) or 9 units graduate science coursework in a discipline (chosen in consultation with advisor).
  • 3 units of elective coursework chosen in consultation with advisor.
  • Thesis/project: SCED 697/698.

A Thesis Committee consisting of three members will oversee your progress toward completing a thesis or project. At least two of the committee members must be full time faculty from the Science Education Department. The third member must be approved by your advisor and the Graduate Studies Committee. Each member of your Thesis Committee must ultimately deem the work satisfactory before you can be awarded the M.S. degree.

The thesis or project process includes completing the written work, and presenting it publicly.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to the general University requirements stated under Post-Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees in the Catalog, you must be a Classified Graduate Student in the Science Education Department, demonstrated writing competency via the WPE (or equivalent), and selected a thesis advisor before receiving Candidate status. The process begins with candidates filling out the appropriate form found under "Program Forms."

Upon evidence of satisfactory academic progress, including a minimum GPA of 3.00, the Thesis Committee will recommend you for advancement to candidacy by forwarding its recommendation to the Department Graduate Advisor. Upon approval by the Associate Dean, you will be advanced to candidacy.

Please note: Always follow the current CSULB University Catalog if you find any discrepancies.

Program-Level Learning Objectives

The Master's degree program offered by the Science Education Department is designed for the practicing professionals, with options for elementary and secondary teachers and educators from informal science learning centers. Students graduating from our program will have:

  • deepened their science content knowledge.
  • increased their confidence in their content knowledge and teaching abilities.
  • synthesized, evaluated, and applied key ideas in the discipline and practice of science education.
  • critically read and applied scholarly literature in science education.
  • designed and carried out education research.
  • developed science education professional leadership skills.

Program Forms

Graduate Student Resources

Research Instruments

Assessment Tools in Informal Science has a variety of surveys/assessment instruments that are useful for both formal and informal settings. This site allows you to search for instruments by age (select what age level you are working with), domain (type of instrument), assessment type. You can also do custom searches where you control for multiple characteristics.

Statistics Resources

If you are doing quantitative studies, esp. ones where they're using SPSS, you might find Statistics Help for Students handy. It includes detailed directions about how to enter the numbers and analyze the data in SPSS, how to interpret the results, and how to report them when they write them up.

If you are doing simple stats you may want to use GraphPad QuickCalcs. This site allows you to enter data and run various tests. It allows students to test categorical data, continuous data, distributions, random numbers and chemical/radiochemical data. It's simple to use - you can enter raw data or various group data (means, SD, etc.).

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you'll find answers to our most frequently-asked questions. If you have additional queries, please contact the department and we will do our best to point you in the right direction!

How long will this program take?

That depends on you! Like all master's programs, our M.S. is 30-33 units. Any prerequisite courses you need to take are above and beyond the program's 30 units (this also is standard). If you take one course (3 units) per semester, it will take you about ten semesters to complete the program. However, classes will always be available during summer semesters. If you took 12-15 units per semester, as a full time student, you might be able to complete the program in one calendar year. Most students will be somewhere in between those two extremes It takes most people 3 years.

How much does it cost?

Tuition costs change frequently and the best place to check is with the university financial information. However, one helpful piece of information is that the university charges one fee for graduate students taking 0-6 units in a semester (regardless of the number of units), and a different fee for students taking more than 6 units (regardless of the number of units).

How many units do I take at a time?

We recommend people working full time while enrolled in the program not take more than 6 units at a time. Full time students could take 9 or more units per semester.

Can I keep teaching while I'm in the program?

Yes, we have designed the program with full time teachers in mind. Most courses will be offered in the late afternoon or early evenings.

Are there prerequisite courses to the program?

You must meet University and Department admissions requirements. Beyond these, if you are planning on being a student in the Elementary Option, the program has three prerequisite courses: Biology 200, Physical Science 112, and Geology 102/104 (or the equivalents for any of the courses). If you graduated from CSULB with a degree in Liberal Studies within the last several years you probably took these courses.

If you are planning on being a student in the Secondary Option, your program will include 9 units of science coursework at a level high enough to count toward a graduate degree. These courses may have prerequisites.

Can I take the program from off campus?

Generally, no--this was designed to be an on campus program. In theory, you could complete much of your thesis/project from off campus, if you kept in close contact with your advisor (and it was OK with him or her). In addition, some students in the Secondary option may complete some of their science course requirements via online coursework. The majority of the program, however, must be completed on campus.

How many students are in the program?

We limit enrollment to no more than 15 students per year. We want to be sure the student to faculty ratio does not become too large for us to provide you with quality advising, and that the program is small enough that you feel you're a member of a cohort.

When I fill out the university application, what should I put in as my major code? Is it the same as that for a Master's in Education?

The major code is a number identifying you as someone applying for the M.S. program for Science Education. Your application should indicate you are applying for the Elementary Option of the M.S. in Science Education (SCEDMS01); the Secondary Option for the M.S. in Science Education (SCEDMS02); or the Informal Option for the M.S. in Science Education (SCEDMS03).

Do I need to take the GRE?

No, we are not currently requiring students to have taken the GRE. We do require a teaching credential (or something a Science Education department committee deems equivalent), as well as various other requirements discussed on the previous web page. The application includes a writing sample.

What should I take to start?

SCED 550 is a good place to start. This class introduces things like how to make use of the library's research databases and how to read a research paper. If SCED 550 is not being offered the semester you begin the program, good alternates include one of your science courses or one of the courses from the College of Education.

If I'm already enrolled at the university, do I need to reapply?

Yes. You need to apply (and be accepted by) both the University and Department. However, you will not need to provide the university with a new set of transcripts. In addition, the university will calculate your GPA in a manner that includes the most recent courses you have taken at the university.

I teach middle school. Should I enroll in the Elementary Education option or the Secondary Education option?

Technically, you can enroll in either option. The options are quite similar. The only difference is that students in the Elementary option will take SCED 500, 501, and 502 (three science courses created specifically for elementary teachers with relatively little science background), whereas students in the Secondary option will take 9 units of science in a discipline of their choice. The 9 units of science, of course, must be at a level high enough to count toward a graduate degree at CSULB. We currently have middle school teachers in both options. It's something we could discuss further, either before or after you have applied. It's easy to switch between options, especially early in your program.

What if I have already filed to graduate but something happens and I need to push back my graduation date to a later semester?

If a graduate student is not ready to graduate, then they are required to change the expected graduation date with Enrollment Services. You should submit a Request to Change Graduation Term form found on Forms - Enrollment Services.