Preparing for Advising for the Math Teaching Concentration
Hello, welcome to the major! You have great intellectual taste. I am Eric Hsu, and you can find out more about me at my home page. We will meet to plot out a reasonable sequence of coursework that will prepare you to be a great teacher in a timely way.
To prepare for your advising session with me, you need to
- read this page carefully;
- be prepared to discuss what courses you've already passed; and
- bring a draft of a semester-by-semester sequence of math classes from now through graduation. Make sure your draft is compatible with the prerequisite and semester dependencies illustrated in the Diagram of the Major below.
Recommended Pathway to Becoming a Secondary Math Teacher
The recommended way to be prepared and authorized to teach math in middle or high school is to earn a single-subject math credential in the following way.
- Earn SFSU's BA in Mathematics, Concentration in Teaching.
- This degree qualifies you to take a year of graduate study in any credential program in California, to earn a single-subject mathematics credential. (Specifically, it satisfies the subject matter comptency and early field experience requirements. For other requirements, see here.)
The credential will authorize you to teach mathematics in any secondary classroom in California.
There are alternate routes, which are discussed at the very end of this page, but this one is the best preparation to be a good teacher.
A Diagram of the Major
This is a picture of the BA in Math, Concentration in Teaching. Each oval is a required course (in Math unless noted). Arrows go from prerequisite to requiring course. Dashed means suggested or concurrent enrollment allowed. You can download this as a PDF. If Fall/Spring is noted, then these courses are only guaranteed to be offered in that semester.
Recommended Coursework Pattern
Math is beautiful, but difficult. It is stressful to get through the struggles with the material and you will often need time to digest the material. Therefore, it's best if you take only two math courses at a time. (Besides, you're only in college once, so why not enjoy it?) The full recommended four-year pathway to the BA can be downloaded here. The recommended math course sequence for first-year students is:
- Year 1: 226 (fall) / 227 (spring)
- Year 2: 228 / CS 210, 301
- Year 3: 325, 375 / 335, 324
- Year 4: 310, 370 / 300, 350, 475
Common Scheduling Mistakes
- If Fall/Spring is noted, then these courses are only guaranteed to be offered in that semester.
- Don't expect these courses will be offered over the summer. Calc 1, 2 and 3 are usually offered at your local community college over the summer.
- Don't take more than 3 math courses simultaneously. You will need to convince me to make an exception and approve such a schedule.
- Do not work more than 20 hours a week during the school year; it will seriously degrade your student performance.
- Do not take 335 Modern Algebra and 370 Real Analysis in the same semester.
- Don't wait for Math 309, which is officially required. CSC 210 (Intro to Programming) is counted as an equivalent and has the advantage being offered regularly, so it is much better to plan on taking it instead of Math 309.
If you plan to transfer, try to come in with as much coursework as possible. Most local community colleges have an articulation agreement to offer SFSU equivalents to 226, 227, 228, CS 210 and 325. This will allow you to finish your BA in a civilized two years with the above pattern for Year 3 and 4 (swapping 301 and 325, and also that you will have to choose one upper-division elective to reach 40 upper division units, since 325 doesn't articulate as upper divison units).
Brief Highlights of the Coursework
Here are the courses that people find most challenging (and rewarding). Give yourself a fair shot by not overloading yourself when taking these courses.
- Calculus 1, 2 and 3 require dedication, and fluency with algebra and functions.
- Math 301 (Proof and Exploration) is really the first upper-division math course emphasizing proof and thinking over raw computation.
- Math 370 (Real Analysis) is calculus done abstractly and with proofs.
- Math 335 (Modern Algebra) presents group theory and ring theory, which unify ideas from arithmetic, school algebra and linear algebra.
There are two courses especially tuned for future teachers.
- Math 375 (Early Field Experience) will arrange for you to spend 45 hours volunteering in a secondary math public school classroom. During class time, you will discuss readings about pedagogy, work on math and math teaching in class, analyze videotape of teachers and students and process the emotional ups and downs of your school experiences. This should be taken as early as possible to help you decide if teaching is for you.
- Math 475 (Capstone) is a look back through K-12 mathematics with the benefit of all the higher mathematics you've experienced. This should be taken in your last year.
Complementary Studies for Mathematics Majors
This only applies to students who enrolled after Fall 2014.
Students who pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics with Concentrations in Liberal Arts, Teaching, or Advanced Studies must complete 12 complementary units, within a coherent group of courses with a prefix other than MATH, and not cross-listed with MATH.
You automatically fulfill this requirement IF you:
(a) complete a second major;
(b) take 12 units towards a minor;
(c) take 12 units of a language other than English
(d) participate in a Study Abroad program
(e) take 12 units towards an academic certificate
Your 12 Complementary Studies units for the MATH major may come from:
(1) Courses offered by other departments in the College of Science & Engineering (CoSE), OR
(2) The following courses outside of the College of Science and Engineering:
- DS 312 Data Analysis with Computer Applications
- DS 408 Computer Simulation
- ECON 101 Introduction to Microeconomic Analysis
- ECON 301 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory
- ECON 302 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory
- ECON 615 Mathematical Econometrics
- ECON 630 Econometric Theory
- ECON 725 Applied Data Analysis in Economics
- FIN 350 Business Finance
- ISYS 363 Information Systems for Management
- ISYS 463 Information Systems for Analysis and Design
- PHIL 205 Formal Logic
- PHIL 350 Philosophy of Science
- PHIL 351 Philosophy of Risk
- PHIL 694 Philosophical Workshop
- PHIL 695 Advanced Logic Workshop
Transfer students who have earned AA-T or AS-T degrees and are pursuing a similar B.A. degree at SF State are required to fulfill Complementary Studies requirements for their major only if these courses are included in the minimum units required for the major (and therefore do not have to do so for the math major).
Students can discuss potential substitutions with their advisor. All complementary studies courses must be approved by the Mathematics Department undergraduate advisors.
Alternate Pathways (optional reading)
...to a Secondary Math Teaching Credential
Here is the original recommended pathway, annotated with alternatives.
- 1. Earn SFSU's BA in Mathematics, Concentration in Teaching.
- 1.1. An alternative is to get a BA of whatever field and to pass CSET Math Subtests 1, 2 & 3. You must also spend 45 hours observing in diverse public school secondary mathematics classrooms. PROS: Don't have to take the coursework. CONS: You don't get actual math preparation! And tests are stressful. This path only makes sense for people who already have a BA in a math-heavy field or have a experience in a math-heavy career.
- 2. Take a year of graduate study in any credential program in California, to earn a single-subject mathematics credential.
- 2.1. An alternative to the single-year format is to enter an "internship" program. You still need to show math competency by coursework or test as described in (1). You would start a job teaching right away after your Bachelors, and over two years, take the coursework of the single-year credential program during night and weekends. PROS: You earn money and get in the classroom right away. CONS: This is like having two stressful full-time jobs. You are teaching before being prepared for it.
...to a Middle School / Lower HS Math Teaching Credential
If you only want to teach middle school, or mathematics in high school below trigonometry, here is an alternate pathway.
- 1. Earn SFSU's BA in Mathematics, Concentration in Teaching.
- 1.1. An alternative is to get a BA of whatever field and to pass CSET Math Subtests 1 and 2 (not 3). You must also spend 45 hours observing in diverse public school secondary mathematics classrooms.
- 2. Take a year of graduate study in any credential program in California, to earn a Foundational Level Mathematics credential.
- 2.1. If you already have a credential, either multiple-subjects or single-subject, and show competency through coursework or test as described in (1), then you can instead take a single secondary math methods course and get your Foundational Level Mathematics credential..
A Foundational Level Math credential is, naturally, less attractive to employers than a full Single Subject Math credential, because the latter allows you to teach any mathematics throughout high school.