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Mathematics for Teaching Degree Requirements

The Master of Liberal Arts, Mathematics for Teaching degree field is offered online with one 3-week summer course required on campus at Harvard University.

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Explore Degree Requirements

Upcoming Term: Summer 2024

Course registration is open March 4 – June 20. Learn how to register →

Fall 2024 courses and registration details will be live in June.

Required Courses

  • Two people on a zoom call.

    Online core and elective courses

  • School building.

    3-week on-campus course

  • Lightbulb in a hand.

    Capstone or thesis

12 Graduate Courses (48 credits)

The degree is customizable. As part of 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 for real-time engagement with faculty and peers.

Required Core & Elective Courses

  • 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 (see on-campus requirement)

Browse Courses →

Thesis Track

The thesis is a 9-month independent research project where you work one-on-one in a tutorial setting with a thesis director.

For this track, you enroll in the following 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

For the capstone track project, you complete acapstone project additional courses:

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

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.

Optional Graduate Certificates

You can choose to concentrate your degree studies in a specific area to earn a graduate certificate along the way.

Graduate Certificates:

On-Campus Experience

  • Teacher speaking to class.

    Spend three weeks examining middle and high school mathematics education.

  • Two people talking at a table.

    Learn and network in-person with your classmates.

Nearly all courses are online, but the degree requires a 3-week on-campus experience through Harvard Summer School (HSS).

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.

HSS offers, for an additional fee, housing, meal plans, and a prolonged on-campus experience here at Harvard University. Learn more about campus life at Harvard.

International Students Who Need 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).


  • Diploma.

    Confirm your initial eligibility with a 4-year bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent.

  • Person climbing toward a flag.

    Take two courses in our unique “earn your way in” admissions process that count toward your degree.

  • Checking off a box.

    In the semester of your second course, submit the official application for admission to the program.

Below are our initial eligibility requirements and an overview of our unique admissions process to help get you started. Visit the Degree Program Admissions page for more details.

Initial Eligibility

Earning Your Way In — Courses Required for Admission

To begin the admission process, you simply register — no application required — for the following two, four-credit, graduate-level degree courses (available online).

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

  • MATH 300 Mathematical Foundations for Teaching Secondary School Math
    • You have two 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 two 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 prioritize the two 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 your enrollment in critical and timely degree-candidate-only courses.
  • Avoid the delayed application fee.
  • Gain access to exclusive benefits.

Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 10 more courses after admission to earn the degree. Applicants can register for courses in the upcoming semester before they receive their grades and while they await their admission decision.

The Office of Predegree Advising & Admissions makes all final determinations about program eligibility.

Search and Register for Courses

The Division of Continuing Education (DCE) offers degree courses all year round to accelerate 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 enroll full or part time. After qualifying for admission, many of our degree candidates study part time, taking 2 courses per semester (fall/spring) and 1 in the January and summer sessions.
  • 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

  • Trophy on a computer monitor.

    Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  • Clipboard with a pen.

    Complete your courses in five years.

  • Graduation cap and diploma.

    Earn your Harvard degree and enjoy Harvard Alumni Association benefits upon graduation.

Required GPA, Withdrawal Grades, and Repeat Courses

GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the two 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 two withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. 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: Finish Your Coursework in Under Five Years

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

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

Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with the five-year course expiration policy or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work. Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the five-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied (i.e., too many courses to complete in the time remaining).

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.