Other Universities

Link to the National Science Foundation

Specialists Cohorts
at VCU
VCU & MathScience Innovation
Center anticpate starting a new cohort in Summer or Fall 2014.

Virginia Commonwealth University
Program Requirements for Master's Degree

The Mathematics Specialist Program is designed for in-service teachers in grades K-8. In designing their individual programs, in conjunction with their advisors, students may select courses offered by UVA Mathematics and Education departments and courses offered by other collaborating Virginia universities. The program is offered in collaboration with the Department of Mathematics and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. It is administered in the Office of Mathematics Outreach.

Who Are Mathematics Specialists?

Mathematics Specialists are teacher leaders with strong preparation and background in mathematics content, instructional strategies, and school leadership. Based in elementary and middle schools, mathematics specialists are former classroom teachers who are responsible for supporting the professional growth of their colleagues and promoting enhanced mathematics instruction and student learning throughout their schools. They are responsible for strengthening classroom teachers’ understanding of mathematics content, and helping teachers develop more effective mathematics teaching practices that allow all students to reach high standards as well as sharing research addressing how students learn mathematics.

The overarching purpose for Mathematics Specialists is to increase the mathematics achievement of all the students in their schools. To do so, they

  • Collaborate with individual teachers through co-planning, co-teaching, and coaching;
  • Assist administrative and instructional staff in interpreting data and designing approaches to improve student achievement and instruction;
  • Ensure that the school curriculum is aligned with state and national standards and their school division’s mathematics curriculum;
  • Promote teachers’ delivery and understanding of the school curriculum through collaborative long-range and short-range planning;
  • Facilitate teachers’ use of successful, research-based instructional strategies, including differentiated instruction for diverse learners such as those with limited English proficiency or disabilities;
  • Work with parent/guardians and community leaders to foster continuing home/school/community partnerships focused on students’ learning of mathematics;
  • Collaborate with administrators to provide leadership and vision for a school-wide mathematics program.
The Mathematics and Science Leadership track of the Masters in Interdisciplinary Studies degree is designed to prepare individuals to be leaders in educational initiatives related to mathematics and science in K-12 schools.


  1. Students will be able to perform, individually and collaboratively, mathematical tasks competently. This includes solving problems and describing mathematical ideas.
  2. Students will be able to assess and communicate mathematical knowledge and mathematics education knowledge effectively. This includes reading mathematics education literature, reading national and state standards, reading case studies of teaching mathematics, writing about effective teaching, and giving presentations.
  3. Students will be able to assess and communicate knowledge about mathematics education to teachers, school leaders, parents, and community members. This includes studying and implementing coaching models, methods of professional development, and methods of assessment.

Student Outcomes and Objectives:

  1. Students will write mathematics (not including mathematical proofs) clearly, concisely, and correctly.
  2. Students will solve mathematical problems.
  3. Students will use multiple representations to correctly describe mathematical ideas.
  4. Students will study K-12 children’s work and use it to demonstrate knowledge of children’s thinking.
  5. Students will write mathematical proofs clearly, concisely, and correctly.
  6. Students will collaborate on projects.
  7. Students will read and comprehend mathematical works and mathematics education works, including national and state standards.
  8. Students will analyze and synthesize mathematics education literature.
  9. Students will make effective written and oral presentations to demonstrate their understanding of mathematical ideas and mathematics education ideas.
  10. Students will (a) analyze and develop rich mathematical tasks for children and adults, (b) study and implement models of mathematics coaching, (c) study and implement professional development models.
  11. Students will study and implement models of formative and summative assessment.
  12. Students will study and implement effective methods of communicating with teachers and administrators.

Program Description

Candidates must complete all of the course requirements of the MIS program. In addition:

  • At least 18 of the 39 credits, including the Externship Proposal, must be granted by VCU. Up to six transfer credits may be approved and the remainder of the credits must be from consortium partners as approved by the student’s advisor, the VCU Graduate School and the Mathematics and Science Leadership Advisory Committee.
  • The Seminar and Externship
    Seminar: Develops and refines the skills applicable to the preparation of an acceptable draft of an externship proposal.
    Externship: Off-campus planned experiences for advanced graduate students designed to extend professional competencies that are carried out under supervision of an approved professional. Activities, final report and presentation/publication are directed by university advisor.

Admission Procedures

Applicants for admission to the program should complete forms provided by the School of Graduate Studies and indicate Master of Interdisciplinary Studies – Mathematics and Science Leadership as the curriculum. Graduate application information can be obtained on-line at http://www.math.vcu.edu/MSP/admissions_directions.html. Additional information is available in the  VCU Graduate Bulletin (www.pubapps.vcu.edu/bulletins/graduate) and the VCU Graduate School (www.graduate.vcu.edu) website.

In addition to the overall requirements for admission to the MIS program, candidates need to:

  • Submit evidence of at least three years of successful experience teaching mathematics. One of the three letters of reference should address this experience;
  • Meet with an advisor to develop a plan of study detailing which courses would be taken as a part of their program and which institutions would be offering the courses. After the admissions package has been submitted to the Graduate School, applicants should contact Karen Murphy at kamurphy@vcu.edu to arrange for this meeting.
  • Submit scores from Graduate Record Exam or Miller Analogies

Course requirements*

Mathematics Course Requirements
Course Description credits
1. MATH 661 Number Systems & Operations**
2. MATH 662 Geometry & Measurement
3. MATH 664 Probability & Statistics
4. MATH 663 Algebra & Functions
5. MATH 665 Rational Numbers & Proportional Reasoning

Education Course Requirements
Course Description credits
6. TEDU 657 Educational/Leadership I
7. TEDU 658 Education/Leadership II
8. TEDU 659 Education/Leadership III
Education Elective

Elective Courses
Course Description credits
10-11. Approved Mathematics/Science/Education Electives

Note: Electives must be approved by advisor.

Course Description credits
12. TEDU 680 Externship Proposal Seminar
13. TEDU 700

Total credits: 39

* Courses 1-8 above have been specially developed by statewide teams to include competencies required for the proposed Mathematics Specialist license.

Contact Information

Virginia Commonwealth University
Mathematics and Applied Mathematics
P.O. Box 842014
Richmond, VA 23284-2014

MIS Mathematics Specialists Contact:
Karen Murphy
Harris Hall South - Office 3009
Phone: (804) 828-3439
E-mail: kamurphy@vcu.edu