Department of Mathematics
and Statistics

Mathematics and Science Center, Room 368
146 Library Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)
phone: (248) 370-3430
fax: (248) 370-4184

Hours:
Monday–Friday: 8:00–11:59 a.m. and 1:00–5:00 p.m.

Secondary Teacher Education Program

The Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) at Oakland University is for those students interested in teaching mathematics at the high school level. This program also gives certification for teaching mathematics in grades 6–12, so middle school teaching is also covered. One can also obtain certification to teach mathematics up through grade 8 by going through the elementary education program.

STEP is open both to undergraduate students at OU and to students who already have an undergraduate degree (in mathematics or any other field). Undergraduate students who successfully complete the program will obtain a B. A. or B. S. in mathematics and teaching certification. Students who already have a degree will meet all the major, minor, and teacher certification requirements and receive certification, but will normally not receive a second bachelor's degree.

See also: 

Frequently Asked Questions

Because we get many inquiries each week from post-baccalaureate students, the bulk of these questions and answers are directed at such students, but the information is relevant to current undergraduates (or students considering coming to Oakland University as undergraduates) as well.

Q1: I've got a degree in business (or engineering, or physical therapy, or ...), and I'd like to be a high school math teacher. How many more math courses will I need?

A1: Most majors outside of engineering have very few courses that apply to a math major. The mathematics major starts with a rigorous three-course calculus sequence (MTH 1554 (154)-1555 (155)-2554 (254)), and also includes linear algebra (MTH 2775 (275) — this is not the same as high school algebra), applied probability and statistics (STA 2226 (226)), a computer programming course (CSE 1300 (130) or EGR 1400 (141)), and six advanced mathematics courses where the emphasis is on why things are true, as opposed to just getting answers to problems: a course on proofs (MTH 3002 (302)), advanced calculus (MTH 4552 (452)), abstract algebra (MTH 4775 (475)), geometry (MTH 4662 (462)), the history of mathematics (MTH 4114 (414)), and discrete mathematics (APM 2663 (263)). To a large extent, these courses need to be taken in a specific order in order to satisfy prerequisites. Thus most students should count on spending three years to complete the mathematics requirements (this could be reduced to two years for some engineering majors, and students who already have a mathematics major will probably need only a few math courses to meet the state requirements).

Q2: What are the job prospects for secondary mathematics teachers?

A2: Articles in the popular press show a great need for math teachers. The State of Michigan's new high school graduation requirements also greatly increase the amount of mathematics study required for all students. You should probably call some local school systems and ask them what their hiring patterns have been over the past few years and what they see down the road. Graduates of Oakland University STEP in mathematics have been in very high demand, finding nice positions in the local area (often at the schools at which they do their internships). The current economic downturn in Michigan may dampen some of these prospects, however.

Q3: Can I take some courses at community colleges to apply to this program? What about Wayne State or other 4-year schools?

A3: Yes, to some extent. There are community college equivalents for the calculus sequence and linear algebra (as well as for precalculus or remedial courses — MTH 1441 (141), 0662 (062), or 0661 (061) — for students whose background does not permit them to start with calculus). We believe, however, that one receives a better preparation at OU for the advanced work in mathematics that is required in this program, so it would be advisable to take as many courses here as possible. Most of the neighboring 4-year schools have equivalents to most of our courses, and you can take some courses there if necessary. For example, Wayne State often offers their advanced calculus course in the summer, whereas we do not.

Q4: Why are those particular mathematics courses all required?

A4: The State of Michigan has guidelines that programs to certify teachers much satisfy, so that the prospective teacher learns a broad range of the subject matter he or she will be teaching, and especially particular topics covered in the high school curriculum. This latter point explains things like discrete mathematics and statistics, which are now important parts of secondary school mathematics. Obviously the teacher needs to be far more advanced than the students.

Q5: It has been a long time since I took calculus. Will I have to take the calculus courses over again?

A5: Of the advanced required courses, only the junior-level advanced calculus course really uses calculus, and it is important to review your understanding of calculus before taking it. (It is also good to have had advanced calculus before taking the history of mathematics course, since that course often emphasizes the history of calculus.)

Q6: What if I just want a minor in mathematics?

A6: The secondary teaching minor requires 28 credits, consisting of MTH 1554 (154)-1555 (155), APM 2663 (263), STA 2226 (226), MTH 3002 (302), MTH 4662 (462), and SED 4100 (427) (math section, previously called SED 426), with a grade of at least 2.0 in each, and an average of at least 3.00.

Q7: If I major in math for STEP, then I need a minor in some other subject. What do you suggest?

A7: You can minor in any of the subjects OU offers as a secondary teaching minor (physics, chemistry, biology, various foreign languages, history, English, ...). You should probably let your interests and past coursework guide you. Most likely, you'll end up teaching mathematics exclusively. If you have a science or engineering background, then minoring in a science would probably make sense. Minors require about five to seven courses. See the Undergraduate Catalog or information on the SEHS website for the detailed requirements, and schedule an appointment to talk the academic adviser in the subject in which you want to minor.

Q8: When are the courses offered?

A8: The 100-200 level courses are usually offered both fall and winter, both in the daytime and in the evening. There are also usually daytime spring and summer offerings of some of them. The 300-400 level courses are offered less frequently (Fall and Winter for MTH 3002 (302), Fall for MTH 4552 (452) and MTH 4662 (462); Winter for MTH 4114 (414) and MTH 4775 (475)); all of these tend to be offered in late afternoons or evenings two days a week.

Q9: How much does it cost?

A9: Tuition and fees change each year. Check with the registrar's office or a recent Schedule of Classes for the latest rate schedule.

Q10: Is financial aid available?

A10: Oakland has financial aid programs of all kinds for undergraduates; some of these might also apply to post-baccaulerate students. Contact the financial aid office for information.

Q11: What else can I do with a mathematics major?

A11: Teaching is not the only profession for math (or statistics) majors. You may read the Career Information provided by American Mathematical Society.

Q12: Your STEP is open both to current undergraduates and to students who already have a college degree?

A12: Yes. Both types of students are encouraged to participate, and both have been successful.

Q13: How hard is it to get accepted into STEP in mathematics?

A13: We have about nine internship slots per year in mathematics (this may change — in particular, there is talk of doing away with all limits). In recent years, the number of interns has varied from about three to eight; thus we are not yet over capacity. This means that currently anyone who meets the minimum requirements will probably be accepted. If there are more applicants than slots, then admission could get competitive. The application involves completing a program plan and computing grade point averages, writing some essays to indicate why you would be a good teacher, getting letters of recommendation, taking a standardized skills test, and so on. Generally you need at least a 2.80 GPA overall, a 3.00 GPA in your major, and a 3.00 GPA in your minor.

Q14: How do I apply for admissions if I'm not currently an OU student?

A14: Admissions to the program itself is discussed in the previous question/answer. If you are a student who already has a degree in some subject and are returning to school to become a secondary school teacher, then you first need to apply to Oakland University in order to start taking classes. The admissions office is the place to go (101 NFH, 248-370-3360). It is important that you apply not for the "postbac" status but for the "U2" status, which stands for "second undergraduate degree". Specify a math major with secondary education certification using the curriculum code 1825; you might as well list the degree as BA (although you probably won't actually get a second degree in most cases — there's probably no advantage in doing so). In addition to the usual admissions application form, you need to have a "green form" filled out in consultation with and signed by an adviser in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics (currently Professor Darrell Schmidt, 552 SEB, 248-370-3433, schmidt@oakland.edu), listing the exact courses you'll need to complete. This green form also needs to be signed by a College of Arts and Sciences official (contact their advising office in 221 VAR, 248-370-4567), and you can start in either place (department or college).

Q15: Where can I get more information?

A15: In addition to viewing these Department of Mathematics and Statistics Web pages on the undergraduate program, you should talk to an adviser in the Department. Call the main office (248-370-3430) and ask to speak to an adviser about the secondary teacher education program in mathematics.