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Certification in Teaching College Science and Mathematics

Prepare yourself for a career in post-secondary education.

The Certification in Teaching College Science and Mathematics is a comprehensive program to prepare future post-secondary educators while enhancing the quality of their teaching at Michigan State.

Most new faculty must have advanced training in their discipline and some teaching experience, yet few will have participated in programs that prepare them for a career in higher education (Davis and Minnis, Innov. Higher Ed. 1993. 17: 211-224).  As competition for faculty positions continues to increase, it will become more important for graduate students, well prepared as researchers, to be able to demonstrate similar preparation as teachers.

The Certification in Teaching of College Science and Mathematics is the only formal program in the state of Michigan, and one of only a handful in the country, that provides future post-secondary educators a comprehensive preparation for teaching at the college level.  Program participants will develop syllabi, a teaching philosophy, and explore various instructional techniques to increase student engagement in their courses. 


Current students within the College of Natural Science enrolled in an M.S. or Ph.D. program who wish to further develop their teaching practice are eligible.  In addition, post-doctoral researchers currently working in a lab within the College of Natural Science are also eligible.


Application to the Program

Interested students or post-docs should complete the application form.  Completing the form will trigger the College CCTP coordinator (Matt Oney – oneymatt@msu.edu) to schedule a short meeting with the individual about certification requirements. 

Course Work (pick one)

  • MTHE 879, Teaching College Mathematics – 3 credits, offered fall semester of even years.  This course addresses curriculum materials, case studies, approaches to teaching and student learning of mathematics topics.
  • ISE 870, Teaching College Science – 2 credits, spring semester.  This course presents an introduction to the five core areas of the CCTP program.
  • ISE 820, College Student Cognition in Science – 3 credits, spring semester.  This course introduces research methodologies and findings relevant to college student cognition in science disciplines.  Material from education, psychology, cognitive sciences, and the science disciplines will be used to reveal college student cognitive processes as they relate to science fields.
  • MOOC Course 1 – An Introduction to Evidence-based Undergraduate STEM Teaching.  Graduate students who take this option must also participate in two teaching experiences that are offered as part of ISE 870 each spring semester.  Contact Matt Oney to make arrangements or visit the CIRTL webpage for registration information.

Core Area Competencies

The CCTP is assembled around five core competency areas:

  1. Developing Discipline-Related Teaching Strategies1
    Select appropriate pedagogical approaches to teaching threshold concepts and research methods specific to a discipline or field.
    • Design and facilitate learning of discipline-specific content
    • Instructional design
    • Plan course objectives
    • Teaching contexts: discussions, small groups, laboratories, lectures, recitations, office hours, tutoring
  2. Creating Effective Learning Environments2
    Cultivate effective learning environments by promoting student success and engagement and creating inclusive learning spaces.
    • Creating inclusive learning spaces
    • Motivation
    • Communication Skills
    • Active learning
    • Classroom management strategies
  3. Incorporating Effective Learning Environments2
    Incorporate digital technologies into teaching practices.
    • Multimedia
    • Distance learning
    • Hybrid courses
    • Video technologies
  4. Understanding the University Context2
    Negotiate the college and/or university institutional environment (e.g., identify partners, resources, and governance structures) to maximize their ability to cultivate student learning.
    • Faculty rights, roles, and responsibilities
    • Teaching as research and professional development
    • Developing a professional teaching presence and plan
  5. Assessing Student Learning2
    Assess student learning outcomes using summative and formative approaches
    • Testing
    • Grading
    • Classroom assessment
    • Course design
    • Portfolio assessment

1 Fulfilled through coursework

2 Fulfilled through a CCT Institute Workshop.  Visit the Graduate School’s calendar for more information about the Institute.

Mentored Teaching Experience

CCTP participants are required to conduct one semester of Mentored Teaching Experience. Participation in multiple semesters of teaching experience is encouraged, but not required.  The mentored teaching experience is designed to bring together graduate students with faculty in their disciplines that have similar pedagogical interests.  Academic advisors may serve as the participants’ teaching mentors; however, a participant may choose to work with another faculty member within or outside of their department or college.

The mentored teaching experience requires the completion of a teaching project (IRB approval from the Human Research Protection Program may be necessary for some teaching projects) and a minimum of one reflection paper on experiences while teaching.  Graduate students and faculty mentors should have active discussions about teaching and learning and explore innovative teaching practices. 

Note: the requirements of the mentored teaching experience are flexible.  The requirement may be fulfilled in many ways, including online instruction, hosting workshops, or teaching seminar courses.  The faculty mentor and CCTP participant should decide on a mentored teaching experience appropriate for the participant’s future goals.

See the Graduate School website for additional information related to the Mentored Teaching Project.

Teaching Portfolio

The teaching portfolio will demonstrate and document the participant’s accomplishments and growth during the CCTP.  The portfolio should contain Reflection Papers on teaching philosophies and the five core competency areas, as well as curricular development materials, faculty observations, student evaluations, and other supporting activities from the core competency areas.  The CCTP program committee will review and evaluate the portfolio, initiating discussions of the contents with the program participant where appropriate.  The completed portfolio should be a high quality, professional document that may be used by the participant as evidence of teaching experience during future interviews for academic positions.

The Graduate School’s website has the following resources for your final portfolio:

Completion of the Program

The CCTP participant must complete and illustrate competency in the above requirements to earn the Certification in College Teaching.  The student must complete the graduate certification checklist and include a copy of the teaching portfolio.  When all requirements are complete, electronically submit the final version of the portfolio (#5 above) and the Mentored Teaching Project Approval Document (#4 above).  The CCTP program committee and the Graduate School will review and determine if the student has met all the CCTP requirements.

Completion of the program is expected to take approximately two years.  Upon completion of the program, the participant will receive a certificate from the College of Natural Science and Michigan State University indicating the participant’s knowledge and experience in teaching at the college level. 

Note: Completion of the CCTP program will also result in a notation on the participant’s transcript.  The participant will not receive a degree or