Graduate Certificate Programs in STEM Education

Oct 20, 2021

A graduate certificate in STEM education can prepare educators to implement science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teaching. These programs are available to graduate students who want to enhance their education with STEM innovation.

Typical Course Content of Graduate STEM Programs

Graduate certificate programs in STEM education often require around 12 credits and may vary as to whether the courses will apply to a master's degree should you decide to earn one. However, the courses like those described below remain fairly standard across campuses offering this type of certificate.

STEM Introduction

These courses will include basic introductions to the concept and foundations of STEM education. Topics like the history of STEM education, STEM research, and justifications for teaching through STEM are often covered. The pedagogy of each STEM subject (science, technology, engineering, and math) may be addressed. This type of course often touches on many topics covered further in other classes of the program.

STEM Leadership

One goal of the STEM certificate program may be that graduate students become leaders on campus to spread the pedagogy of STEM learning. A course in STEM leadership can prepare educators for sharing their knowledge with peers through leadership training. An investigation of current STEM initiatives may be included in a STEM leadership course.

Inquiry-Based Learning

STEM certificate programs often address problem-solving and/or inquiry-based learning. The rationale for inquiry-based learning along with strategies for creating inquiry learning opportunities in STEM projects is often explored. The foundations for creating inquiry in the classroom, such as open-ended questioning, are often a part of such a course.

Creativity and Innovation

Technology and engineering foundations as a means to support science and math learning in the classroom are covered in these courses. The content learned can provide the foundation for understanding how and why to integrate all STEM subjects. Graduate students can expect to experience hands-on problem-solving tasks, similar to those used in a STEM classroom, to help deepen their understanding of how to design STEM projects.

STEM Curriculum Integration

These courses might include curriculum models for how to integrate science, technology, engineering, and math in creative, student-led project learning. Graduate students could learn how to create or modify curriculum to include STEM best practices in student learning experiences. Learning to integrate subjects and about new classroom strategies can prepare graduate students to succeed as STEM educators. Students may also have clinical teaching hours required of them in this type of course.

Problem-Based Mathematics (or Problem-Based Science)

Often, math or science is the emphasis of integrated STEM learning projects. In this and similar courses, learning focuses on how to support math or science concepts through the use of the other STEM subjects and problem-solving. The course will likely be grade-level focused, K-4 for example, since math and science concepts are so varied by grade. Effective classroom practices, methods, and resources are some of the topics often covered in the course.

Assessment in STEM Education

This kind of course might explore different ways to assess when using STEM to teach and the assessment issues that often arise in a STEM classroom. Graduate students can gain knowledge about different ways to assess students when they are engaged in projects and hands-on learning. Topics such as authentic, useful, and ethical assessment practices and philosophies will often be the focus of the class.

Advanced Topics in STEM and Integrated Learning

The latest developments in STEM teaching and learning are covered in these types of courses. The results of STEM research and emerging topics in STEM give graduate students both practical classroom knowledge and the foundations to be leaders in STEM education. Topics may include both school settings and other applications of STEM such as those applicable to business settings.

Entrance to a STEM Graduate Certificate Program

Although there may be some variances between programs, entrance requirements are quite typical in many aspects such as requiring that the student already have a bachelor's degree. Many schools require that the bachelor's degree be in an applicable field of study or a closely related one. Other standard requirements include an application fee, a minimum GPA of 3.0, transcripts, and application as a non-degree seeking student. Along with these, students may have to request admittance officially through application or letter, to the graduate program's advisor or Dean. If you are already in another graduate program at the school, some requirements may be waived.

A graduate certificate in STEM education offers an educator the chance to deepen their understanding of innovative, integrated teaching practices through varying STEM-focused coursework. Entrance to these 12-credit, non-degree programs is often not as vigorous as to traditional graduate programs, yet may offer you coursework that applies to a later master's degree.

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