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Mathematics for Teaching Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Mathematics for Teaching degree field is online with one 3-week summer course required on campus here at Harvard University. You choose between a thesis or capstone track.

Getting Started

Registration for January and Spring 2024 opens on November 6.

Browse degree courses offered in Fall 2023.

Explore Degree Requirements

Required Courses (48 credits)

The degree is customizable. Within the program curriculum, you choose a capstone or thesis track as well as the math courses that meet your learning goals.

With online courses offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats, you can participate in some courses on demand and others live that offer real-time engagement with faculty and peers.

  • MATH 300 Mathematical Foundations for Teaching Secondary School Math
  • 2 mathematical theory courses
  • Calculus 2
  • 1 pedagogy and lesson study course
  • 3 math for teaching electives
  • Math S-329 Appraising and Reimagining Middle and High School Mathematics Education (on campus)
    • 3-week summer school course

Thesis Track: Additional Courses

  • MATH 497 Crafting the Thesis Proposal in Mathematics for Teaching Tutorial
  • MATH 499AB ALM Thesis in Math for Teaching (8 credits)

Recent Thesis Topics:

  • Effects of Math Olympiad Training on Middle-school Female Students’ Confidence in Mathematics
  • The Comparison of American and Chinese Mathematics Education (Grade 7 to Grade 10)
  • A Math Curriculum to Educate Workers in Manufacturing
  • Comparing Student Achievement, Perceptions, and Teacher Observations for Flipped and
    Flipped Mastery Blended Learning Methods in Algebra II Classrooms
  • A Study of Motivational Techniques for Inner-City Math Classrooms: How to Increase
    Student Engagement while Decreasing Teacher Burn-Out

Capstone Track: Additional Courses

  • 2 additional math for teaching electives
  • MATH 599 Teaching Projects: Math for Teaching Capstone

The capstone experience. In the capstone, you research and deliver two class presentations. First, you present to your instructor and fellow degree candidates research on a current topic in mathematics education. Second, you demonstrate how a particular technology can be used to enhance classroom math lessons.

The Harvard 3-Week On-Campus Experience

Nearly all courses are online, but the degree requires a 3-week Harvard University campus experience. Learn more about campus life at Harvard.

You come to Cambridge in the summer to complete Math S-329 Appraising and Reimagining Middle and High School Mathematics Education, which is a 3-week course that provides in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.

International Students Needing a Student Visa

You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School for the 3-week session. For more information, see the important visa information on the International Student Study Options page.

In-Person Co-Curricular Events

Come to Cambridge for Convocation (fall) to celebrate your hard-earned admission, Harvard career fairs offered throughout the year, HES alumni networking events (here at Harvard or around the globe), and, of course, Harvard Commencement (May).

Optional Certificates

You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific area to earn a graduate certificate along the way. There are 2 options:

  • Learning Design and Technology
  • Math Leadership


Below are our initial eligibility requirements and an overview of our unique admissions process to help get you started. Be sure to visit Degree Program Admissions for full details.

Initial Eligibility

  • Prior to enrolling in any degree-applicable courses, you must possess a 4-year regionally accredited US bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. Foreign bachelor’s degrees must be evaluated for equivalency.
  • You cannot already have or be in the process of earning a master’s degree in mathematics for teaching or a related field. Check your eligibility.

Earning Your Way In: Courses for Admission

The path to your degree begins before you apply to the program. To begin, you simply register—no application needed—for the following 2 graduate-level degree courses (available online):

  • MATH 300 Mathematical Foundations for Teaching Secondary School Math
    • You have 2 attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in MATH 300 (a withdrawal grade counts as an attempt) and the course cannot be more than two years old at the time of application.
  • One mathematical theory course

The courses above are investments in your studies and help ensure success in the program. They count toward your degree once you’re admitted; they are not additional courses.

Course sequencing and grading. The 2 courses don’t need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, but each course must be completed with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.

Applying to the Degree Program

During the semester of your second degree course, submit the official application to the program. 

Don’t delay! You must submit a timely application by prioritizing the 2 degree courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. By doing so, you’ll:

  • avoid the loss of credit due to expired course work or changes to admission and degree requirements.
  • ensure critical and timely registration in degree-candidate-only courses.
  • pay the standard versus delayed application fee.
  • gain access to exclusive benefits (see bottom of page).

Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 10 more courses after admission to earn the degree.

The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes all final determinations about program eligibility. For details about full eligibility and the application process, visit Degree Program Admissions.

Search and Register for Courses

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) offers degree courses all year round to support accelerated degree completion.

  • You can study in fall, January, and spring terms through Harvard Extension School (HES) and during the summer through Harvard Summer School (HSS).
  • You can choose to enroll either full or part-time with many degree candidates, after qualifying for admission, choosing 2 courses per semester (fall/spring) and 1 in the January term as well as summer.
  • Most fall and spring courses meet once a week for two hours, while January and summer courses meet more frequently in a condensed format.

To Complete Your Degree

Required 3.0 GPA, 2 Withdrawal Grade Limit, and Repeat Course Policy

GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the 2 degree courses required for admission and a B– or higher in each of the subsequent courses. In addition, your cumulative GPA cannot dip below 3.0.

Withdrawal Grades. You are allowed to receive 2 withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. Please note that a WD grade from a two-credit course will count as 1 of your 2 allowed WD grades. See Academic Standing.

Repeat Courses. We advise you to review the ALM program’s strict policies about repeating courses. Generally speaking, you may not repeat a course to improve your GPA or to fulfill a degree requirement (if the minimum grade was not initially achieved). Nor can you repeat a course for graduate credit that you’ve previously completed at Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School at the undergraduate level.

Courses Expire: Apply on Time and Finish Your Coursework in Under 5 Years

Courses over 5 years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree. As noted above, MATH 300 cannot be more than 2 years old at the time of application.

Further, you have 5 years to complete your degree requirements. The 5-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any 2 degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program.

Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the 5-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied (i.e., too many courses to complete in the time remaining).

Potential degree candidates must submit timely applications or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work.

Graduate with Your Harvard Degree

When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your Harvard University degree: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Mathematics for Teaching. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.

Degree Candidate Exclusive Benefits

When you become an officially admitted degree candidate, you have access to a rich variety of exclusive benefits to support your academic journey. To learn more, visit degree candidate academic opportunities and privileges.