Science/Math Education M.S.Ed. Program

For Current Students

UNK Science/Math Education M.S.Ed. Program Information

Program information and answers to common questions are given on this webpage.  Contact the Program Director, Dr. Christopher Exstrom, at exstromc@unk.edu or (308) 865-8565 with any additional questions.

When can I register for classes?

If you are currently enrolled in at least one class, you are eligible to register during the Early Registration period.  This runs roughly from late March through mid-April (for Summer/Fall registration) and from mid-October through early November (for Spring registration).  You are assigned a start time based on your NUID number.  All admitted students may register during the Open Registration period that immediately follows and runs until the first day of classes.  Register for classes through MyBlue.

What do I do if a class I really need is closed?

While the Program Director (Dr. Christopher Exstrom, exstromc@unk.edu, (308) 865-8565) can give you a rough idea of future course rotations, he cannot permit you into a class or put you on a waiting list.  Only Department Chairs can do those things.  Contact the appropriate Department Chair for the class you are trying to get into:

Biology (BIOL) -- Dr. Joe Springer (springerj@unk.edu, (308) 865-8920)

Chemistry (CHEM) -- Dr. Scott Darveau (darveausa@unk.edu, (308) 865-8491)

Mathematics (MATH) -- Dr. Barton Willis (willisb@unk.edu, (308) 865-8868)

Physics/Physical Science (PHYS) -- Dr. Ken Trantham (tranthamkw@unk.edu, (308) 865-8278)

Teacher Education (TE) -- Dr. Ken Anderson (andersonke@unk.edu, (308) 865-8971)

For what reasons will I need to submit paperwork? (READ THIS NOW)

There are several situations where approval from the Program Director and/or the Dean of Graduate Studies is required.  Details about the associated paperwork are given in other tabs on this webpage.

  • Transferring a non-UNK course into your degree program (Change of Program of Study form)
  • Applying any course (UNK or transferred) to the Electives category (Change of Program of Study form or direct request by the Program Director to the Graduate Office)
  • Shifting courses between categories in your degree program (Change of Program of Study form or direct request by the Program Director to the Graduate Office)
  • Registering to take a course at another University of Nebraska campus (Intercampus Registration Request)
  • Applying for Degree Candidacy (Application for Candidacy) -- do this after 12 credit-hours of UNK courses have been completed
  • Applying for Graduation (online form on MyBlue)
  • Applying to take the Science/Math Education comprehensive exam (Written Comprehensive Exam Application form)

Course Transfer & Program Timeline Policy

Graduate-level courses completed at other institutions may be transferred into your degree program upon approval by the Program Director on a course-by-course basis.  There are two UNK institutional rules that apply to all graduate students and programs: 

  • At least 50% of your degree program credit hours must come from UNK courses.
  • No more than 9 credit hours may be transferred in from institutions outside the University of Nebraska system.

To request one or more course transfers, do the following: 

  • E-mail your request to the Program Director (Dr. Christopher Exstrom, exstromc@unk.edu) and include a course description via syllabus attachment or web link to the other institution's course catalog.
  • Upon approval, complete a Change of Program of Study form and indicate which degree program category the transferred course will apply to.
  • Sign this form and e-mail (preferred) or mail it to the Program Director.
  • The Program Director will sign the form and forward it to the Graduate Office for final approval by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Guidelines for Course Transfer Approval (see the Degree Program Structure webpage for category descriptions): 

Professional Component Category -- The course must be largely equivalent to a UNK course that satisfies the educational curriculum, research, or pedagogy course requirement.

Major Emphasis and Supporting Course Categories -- At least 50% of the course must focus on math or science content.  If the course focuses more on pedagogy, it would be more appropriate as an elective course transfer.

Electives Category -- Any math, science, or teacher education course (content- or pedagogy-focused) that serves the mission of our program and your teaching needs is eligible for transfer in this category.  (NOTE:  Courses that focus on school administration will not be acceptable for transfer.)

To count toward your degree, all classes -- whether transferred or taken at UNK -- must be completed within 10 years of your graduation semester.

Change of Program of Study forms

In order to ensure the proper completion of all course category requirements in your degree program, there are certain circumstances that require the filing of a Change of Program of Study form:

  • to credit any transferred course to your program
  • to credit any course (UNK or transferred) to the electives category
  • to shift courses between categories

In the Science/Math Education M.S.Ed. program, the degree program course categories are:

  • Professional Components (research, curriculum, and pedagogy courses)
  • Major Emphasis (biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics/physical science -- choose ONE)
  • Supporting Courses (biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics/physical science -- courses must cover at least TWO areas OUTSIDE the major emphasis)
  • Electives

To request a Change of Program of Study, complete the following form: 

Sign on the "Student Signature" line and scan/e-mail or mail it to the Science/Math Education Program Director: 

Dr. Christopher Exstrom
Department of Chemistry
University of Nebraska at Kearney
2401 11th Avenue, 405C Bruner Hall
Kearney, NE  68849-1150
email:  exstromc@unk.edu
phone:  (308) 865-8565

Applying for Degree Candidacy

Only degree candidates are eligible to complete a UNK Master's degree.  As soon as you meet ALL of the following requirements, you should apply for candidacy:

  • You have completed at least 1/3 (12 credit-hours) of your degree program
  • At least 12 credit-hours have been completed through UNK courses
  • Your GPA is at least 3.00
  • If you were conditionally admitted, all conditions have been met

Apply for candidacy by completing the top portion of this form: 

http://www.unk.edu/uploadedFiles/academics/gradstudies/Candidacy%20form.pdf 

Sign the form on the "Student Signature" line and scan/e-mail or mail it to the Science/Math Education Program Director: 

Dr. Christopher Exstrom
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Department of Chemistry
2401 11th Avenue
Kearney, NE  68849-1150

email:  exstromc@unk.edu
phone:  (308) 865-8565

Applying for Graduation

GRADUATION PROCEDURES

  1. During what is expected to be the final semester of a student's program of study, the student must file a formal application for graduation. Applications and complete graduation instructions are available at http://myblue.unk.edu.
  2. Students must have all degree requirements completed prior to participating in a commencement ceremony.
  3. A student planning to graduate in December must make application no later than September 15; one planning to graduate in May must make application no later than February 1; and one planning to graduate at the end of the summer session must make application no later than June 15.
  4. Students applying on or before the above deadlines will be assessed a $25 Graduation Fee.
  5. All incomplete grades and all academic obligations outside of the term's work must be resolved prior to the date of graduation or other arrangements must be approved by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research to allow the student to continue with the graduation process. A student must be enrolled in all remaining course work required for the degree in order to be considered for graduation. If all degree requirements are not completed by the anticipated graduation date, then the student must re-apply and again pay the $25 fee in order to graduate.
  6. All financial and procedural obligations to the institution must be met in order for the degree to be awarded. Students with outstanding requirements will be notified of such holds and the degree will not be granted until the obligations are cleared. Students who fail to resolve all obligations will be removed from graduation and must reapply for a future graduation date.
  7. Participation in Commencement and/or receipt of the diploma DO NOT indicate that a degree has been granted. Only after final grades for the semester have been processed and reviewed and compliance with all academic regulations has been determined, will the actual degree be posted to a student's transcript. The transcript is the official record of the awarding of a degree.
There are commencement ceremonies performed following each semester. Participation is encouraged, although is not mandatory. All academic requirements must be completed and financial indebtedness paid to the University prior to the posting of the degree and release of transcripts.

Comprehensive Exam Overview

Purpose:  The purpose of the Comprehensive Exam is to determine the degree candidate’s level of knowledge and ability to apply that knowledge to their teaching assignment, as well as the impact of degree coursework on the candidate’s professional knowledge.  Shortly after you apply for graduation, the Program Director will send you specific instructions regarding the comprehensive exams. 

Format:  The comprehensive exam is composed of both written and oral components.  Exam questions are determined by the Program Committee and may cover topics from the major emphasis, supporting courses, pedagogy, and research.  The written exam is administered by a proctor (identified by the candidate).  The Program Committee conducts the oral exam in person or by conference phone; the oral exam may include questions designed to follow up on written answers but may also introduce new questions as necessary to judge the candidate’s knowledge.

Deadline:  The exam is taken in the last semester of the program and must be completed at least four weeks prior to the end of the semester.  Written questions are submitted by the Program Committee and forwarded to the proctor at least one week prior to the due date for the exam.  The written portion of the exam is closed-book and must be completed in the presence of the proctor and within the time frame specified (usually 3-4 hours).  Written responses to the questions are to be received by the Program Committee prior to the oral exam.   

Outcome:  At the conclusion of the oral exam, the Program Committee will determine the level of performance exhibited by the candidate.  The Degree Program Committee determines whether the candidate should be (1) passed without reservation, (2) passed with reservations which are specified and documented, or (3) failed, according to the rubric below.  The student is immediately notified of the outcome of the Comprehensive Exam and a report of the outcome of the Comprehensive Exam is filed with the Office of Graduate Studies and Research.  In cases where the student is passed with reservations, the Program Committee may request additional evidence of mastery from the student.  If the student does not pass the exam on his/her first attempt, the exam may be taken a second time in the following semester.  If the student does not pass the exam on the second attempt, he/she is dismissed from the program.

How do I arrange to take the Comprehensive Exam?

At the beginning of your planned graduation semester, notify the Program Director (Dr. Christopher Exstrom, exstromc@unk.edu, (308) 865-8565) that you are planning to graduate and would like to take the Comprehensive Exam.  You will still need to apply to graduate by the appropriate deadline using the online application form through MyBlue. Both the written and oral components must be completed no later than 4 weeks prior to Commencement (2 weeks prior during the Summer term) – that is our deadline to report your exam result to the Graduate Office.  The written part must be taken at least a week before the oral part.  The Program Director will coordinate the scheduling and delivery of the exam.  Your answers will be evaluated by our entire program committee.

Written Exam Scheduling -- You may come in to UNK to take this test, but you have the option to arrange for a proctor so you don’t have to travel to Kearney (most people exercise this option).  The proctor may be a work supervisor or colleague or any responsible adult who is not your spouse or relative.  Either way, you will need to fill out a Written Comprehensive Exam application and send it back to me so I will have your exam date and (if needed) proctor’s contact information.  For now, the Program Director will send you this form but soon this will be on the website.

Oral Exam Scheduling -- If you live within a couple of hours of Kearney, we strongly suggest that you come to UNK to take the oral exam.  However, if you live farther away or it's otherwise impossible for you to come in, you may take the oral exam via phone.  We'll have a speaker phone with the program committee at our end.  Either way, the Program Director will make individual scheduling arrangements with you.

What can I expect to see on the Comprehensive Exam?

WRITTEN COMPONENT – This will be a 3-4 hour test that usually has 6-8 questions of typically open-ended or comprehensive natures.  You may click here to download a copy of the exam rubric so you have an idea of what objectives we're trying to cover.  Certain types of questions may lend themselves more toward the written part or oral part.  You'll see both education- and science-based questions.  Things of an open-ended nature to think about:

-- How would you design a lesson plan/lab experience/research project?

-- For a given lesson unit, how/why would you choose certain pedagogical methods to apply?  How would you accommodate different learning styles?

-- In a given class or lesson unit, what content/curriculum standards come into play and how do you apply them?

-- How does math influence science topic X?  How do you overcome student difficulties with math?

-- How would you teach topic __________ to students?

Going over any term papers or projects you had in your courses would be a good idea -- in general, the more correct terminology and principles you can apply to these open-ended questions, the better. You will also likely see some specific science content questions.  I suggest reviewing the exams from your science classes.  Expect about one-half to three-fourths of your degree program classes to be touched on by one or both parts of the exam.


ORAL COMPONENT –  Plan on the oral exam taking up to 90 minutes.  We typically start with follow-up questions to your written test answers and then move to new questions.  While anything in your program is fair game for questions, many of these new questions often pertain to your teaching experiences and applications of your degree program material to teaching.