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Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in the Biological Sciences

M.A.T. in the Biological Sciences

Regional Ecology students Sarah Barrow, Molly Toth, Tiger Irvin (bottom) Jennifer Vorachek-King and Gretchen Uhrinek) explore reforestation efforts with the Cleveland Metroparks Natural Resources team
For Teachers:

All students in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) and the Global Field Program (GFP) choose to earn either the M.A.T. in the Biological Sciences or the M.A. in BiologyThe M.A.T. is for teachers across all career stages who are already certified (or those who soon will be). Project Dragonfly’s M.A.T. is not a licensure program and does not confer a teaching license.  Like the M.A., the M.A.T. is offered part-time, enabling teachers to continue teaching while earning their master’s degree.

Teachers can complete the degree while residing anywhere in the U.S. (for the GFP) or residing near an AIP Institution (for the AIP).  Teachers working abroad are also encouraged to apply, with enrollment contingent on the admission policies of Miami University’s Graduate School for international students. The Master of Arts in Teaching in the Biological Sciences is a fully accredited graduate degree from Miami University. 

Purpose: Project Dragonfly celebrates teachers and supports their unique ability to engage students and communities. Whether enrolled in the more locally focused AIP or the more globally focused GFP, the M.A.T. degree provides teachers with the knowledge, skills, professional networks, and inspiration to open new frontiers of learning for a better planet. To expand education beyond the classroom, M.A.T. teachers take courses alongside a wide range of professionals earning their M.A. degree. This cross-cutting feature of Project Dragonfly’s graduate programs enables teachers to share ideas and co-create change with diverse leaders across nonprofit, business, informal science, government, and other sectors. Teachers in the M.A.T. gain invaluable learning partnerships and create exciting new approaches to inquiry-driven learning and shared action for their students, schools, and communities. 

Details: The M.A.T. requires 35 credit hours that can be completed in two-and-a-half years while working full-time. M.A.T. students typically take three to six credit hours per semester in the summer, fall, and spring terms. The degree does not require a master’s thesis. Instead, all M.A.T. students, with faculty and professional guidance, develop an individualized Master Plan to advance their personal, academic, and professional goals. In a final capstone course dedicated to teachers, M.A.T. students also complete a degree Portfolio that showcases their individualized degree and achievements. The Portfolio can be adapted to National Board Standards or serve other professional purposes. The M.A.T. degree itself additionally benefits many teachers through promotions and salary increases from their schools or districts. 

Whether writing a new lesson plan that involves students in saving a local species, co-designing a project with science and art students to support pollinator diversity, forming a partnership with one of Project Dragonfly’s global conservation partners, or leading a state-wide curricular proposal focused on environmental justice, teachers in the M.A.T. lead collaborative change and blaze new paths to a better future. All M.A.T. students complete an authorship challenge as part of their degree, with many publishing research in professional journals and presenting at professional conferences.

We asked our alumni what they share most about the program. Here is what they said...

Other Degree Options

M.A. in Biology. While the M.A.T. is the preferred choice for most teachers, some may opt to enroll in the Master of Arts (M.A.) in Biology instead. This decision depends on each individuals’ goals. Typically, teachers who enroll in the M.A. are considering career changes outside of formal education, or they have a particular focus not directly related to their classroom or school setting. Before deciding, we encourage teachers to check with others in their district for advice.  More information on Project Dragonfly’s M.A. in Biology can be found here.

M.S. degree.  While Project Dragonfly does not offer an M.S. degree, we recommend that students interested in a research-intensive career explore M.S. programs, at Miami University or elsewhere. M.S. programs in Biology are typically offered as full-time degrees that require the completion of master’s thesis. 

Ph.D. degree.  Some Dragonfly M.A. and M.A.T. graduates decide to pursue a Ph.D. While Project Dragonfly does not currently offer a Ph.D., Dragonfly graduates have successfully enrolled in Ph.D. programs, including at Kansas State University, University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), University of Washington, Texas Tech, University of Rhode Island, and others. These students have cited their Dragonfly graduate work as critical in preparing them for a doctoral program, preparing them to work across diverse social and ecological settings, co-develop community relevant issues, and lead social and ecological change, all skills relevant to many Ph.D. programs (as well as to many professions). Keep in mind, however, that Ph.D. programs in the sciences, particularly those without interdisciplinary tracts, may prefer or require a research-intensive M.S. degree and completion of a master’s thesis.

Funding Your Degree

Please see our “Helping Fund Your Degree” page scholarships, information on Federal TEACH Grants, and other sources. In a recent survey of Dragonfly graduates, most students indicated that reduced tuition and the part-time basis of their coursework enabled them to self-finance their degree. Many teachers cited school and district reimbursement programs and scholarships as additional support.