The mission of the Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) program is to provide an exemplary, accessible, responsive, and student-centered science and applied science education master’s degree resulting in enhanced teaching and learning of science for educators and their students. 


MSSE promotes effective and innovative science teaching to a diverse community of science educators through the delivery of unique online and on-campus graduate courses designed specifically for science educators with a dual focus on content and pedagogy. 

Program Goals

  1. To utilize the unique environment of Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to teach scientific principles and provide models of field-based instruction.  
  2. To provide educators with experiences in using laboratory skills and/or field experiences to demonstrate scientific principles.
  3. To increase educators’ knowledge and understanding in the scientific subject areas.
  4. To improve educators’ practices through reflective techniques.
  5. To increase educators’ knowledge of instructional skills and strategies.
  6. To provide a safe, positive, supportive yet challenging learning environment for students.      
  7. To create educator awareness of the strong commonalities and interrelationships among various science disciplines, applied sciences, and engineering.
  8. To enhance the ability for educators to communicate research-based scientific knowledge and science/engineering practices. 
  9. To create teacher-researchers through exposure to and engagement in emerging science education research.
  10. To create a cadre of science teacher leaders who can actively participate in the systemic reform of science education at community, state, regional, national, and international levels.   


Excellence – Strive to be an exceptional, adaptive, dynamic and rigorous program that results in high rates of successful completion and student satisfaction by utilizing best practices in teaching, learning, business, and customer service.

Service – Provide exemplary service that is professional, seamless, efficient, responsive, and prompt, that advocates for students, and that leads to open communication among students, staff, faculty, and administration. 

Opportunity – Improve opportunities and access to education through innovative modes of program and course delivery as well as flexible options for research focus.       

Diversity – Embrace diversity at all levels: student backgrounds and experiences, students’ settings and teaching assignments, faculty backgrounds, interdisciplinary curriculum options, individualized programs of study, and capstone opportunities.  

Learning – Encourage, promote, and model life-long learning through comprehensive long-term action research, field and laboratory experiences, exposure to cutting edge research and researchers, and innovative instructional strategies. 

Empowerment – Work to empower students, graduates, faculty, colleagues, and staff by providing, and promoting participation in, professional development and leadership opportunities such as presentations and/or representation at state and national conferences, assisting program faculty with research and instruction, mentoring/coaching new students and/or faculty, and serving on STEM related committees and boards at all levels.  

Community – Promote the development of a community of life-long learners by creating opportunities for networking through campus-based field/laboratory courses and the annual symposium; by connecting alumni and providing for post-graduation involvement; by maintaining the program’s interdisciplinary focus; by continued communication with program stakeholders; and by celebrating the success of students, graduates, staff, and faculty. 


The intercollege-interdisciplinary Master of Science in Science Education (MSSE) degree program was approved in May, 1996, by the Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education and is offered by Montana State University-Bozeman. This program was sponsored jointly by the Colleges of Agriculture; Education, Health and Human Development; Letters and Science; and the Graduate School. The Office of Intercollege Programs for Science Education coordinates the MSSE Program, and the Burns Telecommunications Center provides technical support. Today the program has expanded to include sponsorship with the College of Engineering and receives technology support from Academic Technology and Outreach (ATO).

Since MSSE's creation, MSU-Bozeman has gained valuable experience in offering on-line courses through the National Science Foundation-funded National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN) project. Since the early 1990's, those participating in MSU's NTEN project have offered many on-line science courses to teachers nationwide. In addition to increasing awareness, acceptance, and expertise among faculty and administrators, such experience with distance delivery has resulted in the development of an infrastructure for both faculty and student support that enables MSU to provide high quality learning experiences at a distance. In 2020, NTEN merged with MSSE, providing a robust, cohesive choice of online science content courses under the MSSE banner. In addition, certificate programs in the areas of Chemistry, Climate Science, Earth Science, Elementary School Science, Life Science, and Physics are available. 


The MSSE degree program was developed by Montana State University faculty members who are active in science, science education, and mathematics. The program is a unique, cooperative effort of several colleges and departments. Today, faculty members of the departments of Biology, Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Computer Science, Earth Science, Education, Electrical Engineering, Land Resources and Environmental Science, Mathematics, Microbiology, Nutrition, Physics, and Plant Sciences teach courses. Instructors have doctorate and master's degrees in the subjects they teach.

Program Features

  • Designed for science educators by experienced science, science education, and mathematics faculty with the collaboration of outstanding classroom teachers.
  • Over 80% of the courses may be taken on-line by asynchronous, computer-mediated communication.
  • The opportunity to work at home without frequent trips to campus.
  • The chance to participate in classes when it is most convenient for you.
  • On-campus summer experiences that vary in length from one to two weeks.
  • Emphasizes the National Science Education Standards.
  • Personalized science education capstone project for each student.
  • Interdisciplinary-intercollege program.
  • Large selection of science content courses.
  • Self-paced program

The program is unusual in two important ways. First, it is an intercollege, interdisciplinary effort. Second, many of the courses will be taken by distance learning asynchronous, computer-mediated communication.

The program of study may begin with distance learning courses in any semester or summer classes at the MSU-Bozeman campus. Study continues with distance learning courses that students take from their homes or workplaces, and ends with a second visit for presentation of the results of a personalized science education capstone project. Over 80% of the courses and credits may be taken off-campus by asynchronous, computer-mediated communication. Thirty semester credits are required for the degree. Students typically will complete the degree in two or three years.

In addition to completing a group of core courses (14 credits total) which includes the 3-credit capstone project, students develop interdisciplinary combinations of science courses (12 credits minimum) from offerings in biology, chemistry, earth science, microbiology, plant sciences, physics, and other related areas. The final 4 credits in the 30-credit program are electives selected from education and/or science courses. See Course Catalog.

Interdisciplinary efforts and incorporation of both science content and pedagogy have been encouraged during the development of courses. Each student seeking the degree is advised by a three-person faculty committee, and programs are designed taking into account the student's background, interests, and career goals.

Additional Degree Program