Science Education at St. Olaf

Can you imagine yourself teaching science to students, perhaps as a classroom teacher or as a TA in graduate school or even as a professor?

 Do you expect to be training people in your future science career?

Do you see yourself working in informal science education, like museums, nature centers or after school programs?

Do you want to develop practices that foster culturally responsive and sustaining learning communities and empower students to be agents of change?

Most people will find themselves teaching or educating in some capacity in their future careers.  The education program at St. Olaf has resources to help you develop important skills in this area, and we can license you to become a middle or high school science teacher.   Nearly every education class provides you with opportunities to interact with students and observe and practice these skills.

The education department seeks to support students from diverse backgrounds and with diverse goals on a variety of pathways.  You can pursue an Education Concentration to learn how people learn and how to communicate effectively, especially with people who are different from you.  You can enroll in EDUC 364 The Teaching of Science to learn and develop current best-practices for teaching science.  And, if you are majoring in biology, chemistry, or physics and love working with youth, you can major in Education and become licensed to teach middle or high school science.

Don’t just take my word for it.  See what St. Olaf science majors say about why they want to teach science and their experiences in the education program.

Thanks to Paulo Gladney for producing this video.

Education Major and Licensure Program highlights*:

  • Receive lots of individualized support that prepares you to become an excellent teacher.
  • Develop deep content knowledge in your major.
  • Participate in structured field experiences that expose you to real classrooms and students throughout the program, including an Interim of deep engagement with urban education.
  • Study off campus in Hawaii, India, Chicago, or Arizona, if you so choose.
  • Complete student teaching during your 8th or 9th semester.
  • Support, inspire, and teach youth.
  • Graduate ready to start an impactful career with marketable skills and a teaching license.
    • There is a shortage of science teachers in many places, so demand is high.
    • Science teachers are eligible for a variety of loan forgiveness programs like those described here and here. Research your options carefully.
    • It is typically easy to transfer teaching licenses to other states.
    • Teacher salaries and benefits vary widely and may be better than you think. You can look up average teacher salaries by state at this site (try table 211.60).

*The Education Major prepares students to become licensed teachers and is designed for those wishing to teach middle or high school science in public schools.  If you have different goals, an education concentration or an education course may be more appropriate.

Overview of Education Major Requirements (for most licensure programs; please follow the link  and seek advising for more details).

  • Complete a major in physics, chemistry, or biology
  • Take 5.5 credits of education courses, including 1 interim.
    • Many of these courses meet GE requirements: HBS, ORC, and WRI! 
    • Note that the courses required for licensure are different from those required for the Education Concentration.
  • Complete Student Teaching, Senior Seminar, and Human Issues in Education in the same semester.

Students seeking licensure ideally enter the program their sophomore or junior year, although there is room for flexibility.

Education Concentration Highlights:

  • Pursue one of three tracks: Licensure, Non-Licensure, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language
  • Learn how people learn and practice your communication skills in 2.5 credits of core classes.
  • Learn and practice skills for teaching and working with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Complete 1 interim in an educational setting, including an option to go to Hawaii.
  • Choose 2 interdisciplinary social/cultural themed classes that develop your personal interests and skills
  • Non-Licensure Concentrators who are science majors can substitute The Teaching of Science (EDUC 364) for Foundations in Education (EDUC 260) to focus their learning on science teaching and learning.


Questions?  Contact Professor Emily Mohl [mohl], RNS 432, x3984.