MSSE is an intercollege, interdisciplinary effort. Online graduate courses are offered during the fall semester, spring semester, and summer session and delivered by asynchronous, computer-mediated communication. Montana-based field and lab graduate courses are offered during the summer session.

The program of study may begin with online courses in any semester and/or by taking advantage of the popular summer field and lab courses out of the MSU-Bozeman campus. Study continues with asynchronous online courses that students take from their homes or workplaces, and ends with a final campus visit for presentation of the results of a personalized science education capstone project.  Thirty semester credits are required for the degree. Students typically will complete the degree in two or three years.

All students complete a group of core courses (14 credits total), which includes a 3-credit capstone course. Students also take interdisciplinary combinations of elective courses (16 credits minimum), including at least two credits from a campus-based summer field or lab course. No more than four (4) elective credits may come from education elective courses. See the Course Catalog for specific course information.

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

Program Features

      • Designed for science educators by experienced science, science education, and mathematics faculty with the collaboration of outstanding classroom teachers
      • Coursework delivered primarily online, offering flexibility for working educators
      • On-campus summer experiences that vary in length from one day to two weeks (three credit minimum, includes 1-credit capstone course) 
      • Emphasizes Next Generation Science Standards
      • Customized capstone experience
      • Interdisciplinary program with a large selection of science content courses
      • Self-paced program with a 6-year window to complete all coursework


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. Faculty members of the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Earth Science, Education, Health and Human Development, Land Resources and Environmental Science, Mathematics, Microbiology, Plant Science and Plant Pathology, Physics, and other related areas will teach most courses. However, other departments and units play a major role in some courses and courses may occasionally be taught by faculty members from other institutions.

Degree Program Information

The MSSE program is 30 credits, and all coursework must be completed within a certain timeframe. It is not a licensing or endorsement program. In addition to a master’s degree, graduate certificates in science education are also available under the MSSE program.

The 30 credit MSSE degree program requires the following:
  • Fourteen (14) credits of core education classes (listed below). Core courses must be taken sequentially*
  • Sixteen (16) credits of elective courses, including at least two credits from a campus-based summer field or lab course. No more than four (4) elective credits may come from education elective courses. 

Core Education Classes:


      • MSSE 501 Inquiry through Science & Engineering Practices (2 credits) (fall, spring, summer)
      • MSSE 504 Assessment and Evaluation (3 credits) (fall or spring)
      • MSSE 505 Foundations in Action Research (3 credits) (spring only)
      • MSSE 509 Implementing Action Research (3 credits) (fall only)
      • MSSE 575 Capstone Forum (2 credits) (spring only)


      • MSSE 575 Capstone Project/Symposium in Science Education (1 credit) (summer only)

Summer Field and Lab Courses

      • Immersive courses held during the summer months at MSU. Courses vary, but most are held over the course of one week and offer 2 credits. One-day, one-credit courses are also available.
      • The next summer’s field/lab course schedule is posted by end of January.
      • Housing options are available on campus (see information in FAQ).

*MSSE 501 is the only core course not required to be taken sequentially, however, it must be taken prior to MSSE 509. MSSE 504, 505, 509, 575 are designed to be taken sequentially, without breaks, and scheduled so that you end with MSSE 575 Capstone Symposium in your final summer of the program. 


Because students have different responsibilities at work and home, not everyone will progress in the program at the same pace. Most students will complete the degree in 2-3 years. The Graduate School allows up to six years to finish the degree. Therefore, all coursework for a master’s degree must be completed within a 6-year window of time.

If they do not have the prerequisites required to gain admission, students have the option to take up to nine credits as a non-degree seeking graduate student (someone not yet admitted to the degree program) and then transfer into a graduate program of study.

Not a Licensing or an Endorsement Program

MSSE is not a licensing and/or endorsement program. Students interested in initial licensure should check with the Department of Education in their states for local certification policies. MSSE program coursework may be used toward licensure/endorsements depending on the policies of individual states.

Certificate Options

Graduate Certificates in Science Education are offered under the MSSE program in the following seven content areas: Chemistry, Climate Science, Earth Science, Elementary School Science, Life Science, Physics, and STEM. Courses from the certificate program may be applied toward an MSSE program of study. Likewise, courses taken toward the MSSE degree may be applied to a certificate. For more information, please contact the MSSE office.

Online Course Logistics

Online courses are offered by asynchronous, computer-mediated communication. From their home, workplace, or other convenient location, students use a personal computer to connect with instructors and participants from across the country and around the world.

Online courses may use manuals, textbooks, case histories, problems, computer software, databases, websites, evaluation activities, and other sources of information - but there are no lectures. Instructors and students work through the material together, discussing topics and issues by using a computer network that allows for private messages and group discussions. Courses are structured, but not conducted in real time; therefore, students can access the class at times during the day or night that are most convenient to them.

Equipment Requirements

Most Web-based courses at Montana State University are delivered Via a D2L (aka Brightspace) platform, which features courseware for building interactive online learning communities. To check system requirements, visit:

Campus-Based Course Logistics

Academic field trips enhance the content of courses by providing visual and hands-on information that is impossible to convey in a classroom setting. MSSE requires the completion of 2 credits of campus-based field or lab courses, as well as a 3-day visit to campus to present a Capstone Project at the summer Symposium. These requirements can be completed during the same summer. This means that students will have to visit Bozeman at least once; however, two visits are suggested.

Two Visits to Campus (Recommended)

Often, students take their required on-campus field and/or lab class(es) early on in the program (the minimum to meet the 2-credit campus field or lab course requirement). This can be as short as two days (2, 1-credit courses)  or as long as several weeks. This is the student's choice.  

Then, students visit a second time during the final summer of the program. During this week, students present a Capstone Project at the Symposium in Science Education and fulfill the remaining requirements for the final MSSE 575 course. The Symposium is typically 3 days long during the first week of July.

One Visit to Campus

Students who do not complete an on-campus lab or field course early on in the program can complete one during their last summer in the program when they visit to present their Capstone Project. In this way, both requirements can be satisfied during a single trip for a minimum of one week on campus.

Longer Visits to MSU-Bozeman

You may spend a minimum of one week in Bozeman while completing your MSSE degree. However, for those who can afford the time, we believe a longer campus session provides the best experience. Campus courses are excellent models of using fieldwork to teach science. Teachers are always welcome to take summer field and lab courses.

Campus housing includes:

  • Single or double dorm rooms are available for all MSSE students at an affordable rate during the summer months while taking MSSE courses. Reservation information is offered in the Summer Bulletin located on the MSSE Summer Courses page beginning in March of each year. 
  • Apartments, townhouses, and houses offered on a contractual basis through Family and Graduate Housing are recommended for students staying for longer periods and/or who are traveling with families. If this is your choice, submit a contract as soon as possible, as housing assignments are based on the date of the contract.

FAQs      Student Quotes