Specialize in Teaching Middle/High School Biology
Biology is the study of life. Understanding and appreciating it are key to healthy, sustainable lives. As a biology teacher, you can inspire your students to marvel at how the world’s many life forms and ecosystems are all connected to each other.
This online master’s degree program in science education can prepare you to teach biology courses at the junior high and high school levels. The program helps ensure your proficiency in natural sciences, general chemistry, biology, and evolution. You will also learn the skills necessary to teach this content to students in junior high, middle school, or high school*.
*The specific grade levels you will be qualified or endorsed to teach will depend on your state.
Eligibility note: WGU's M.A. Science Education programs are for already-licensed teachers. The M.A. Science Education (Secondary Biology) program is for certified teachers who already hold a bachelor's degree and wish to add secondary biology to their existing licenses. This program is not intended for aspiring teachers seeking licensure or certification. If you are seeking your teaching certificate, please view our programs leading to teacher licensure.
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COURSES & COMPETENCIES
Biological Science Education Courses
Curriculum that ensures you’ve mastered the skills you’ll need as a biology teacher.
This online Master of Arts in Science Education (Secondary Biological Science) degree program provides the essential skills, knowledge, and experience you need to teach biology courses to students in junior high, middle school, or high school. The WGU M.A. Science Education (Secondary Biological Science) program was designed (and is regularly updated) with input from the experts on our Education Program Council. These respected authorities know exactly what it takes for a graduate to be an outstanding biology teacher.
The program also includes a home science lab kit. You will be provided with a self-contained laboratory kit—including science equipment, specimens and chemicals—to complete lab experiments at home.
This program is made up of the following courses. You will complete them one at a time as you make your way through your program, working with your Program Mentor each term to build your personalized Degree Plan. You’ll work through each course as quickly as you can study and learn the material. As soon as you’re ready, you’ll pass the assessment, complete the course, and move on. This means that you can finish as many courses as you're able in a term at no additional cost.
This course examines the structures and functions of the human body and covers anatomical terminology, cells and tissues, and organ systems. Students will study the healthy state of the organ systems of the human body, including the digestive, skeletal, sensory, respiratory, reproductive, nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, lymphatic, integumentary, endocrine, and renal systems. There are no prerequisites for this course.
Molecular and Cellular Biology provides graduate students seeking initial licensure or endorsement and/or to earn their MA degree in secondary science education with an introduction to the area of molecular and cellular biology. This course examines the cell as an organism emphasizing molecular basis of cell structure and functions of biological macromolecules, subcellular organelles, intracellular transport, cell division, and biological reactions. A prerequisite for this course is Introduction to Biology.
Heredity and Genetics is an introductory course for graduate students seeking initial licensure or endorsement and/or students earning their MA degree in secondary or middle grade science education. This course addresses the basic principles of heredity and the function of molecular genetics. Topics include Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance and population genetics. This course has no prerequisites.
Zoology provides graduate students seeking licensure or endorsement and/or their MA degree in secondary science education with an introduction to the field of zoology. Zoology includes the study of major animal phyla emphasizing characteristics, variations in anatomy, life cycles, adaptations, and relationships among the animal kingdom. A prerequisite for this course is Introduction to Biology.
This course addresses why evolution is the fundamental concept that underlies all life sciences and how it contributes to advances in medicine, public health, and conservation. This course helps participants gain a firm understanding of the basic mechanisms of evolution including the process of speciation and how these systems have given rise to the great diversity of life in the world today. This course also explore how new ideas, discoveries, and technologies are modifying prior evolutionary concepts. Ultimately, the course will explain how evolution works and how we know what we know.
This comprehensive course examines a student’s conceptual understanding of a broad range of biology topics. High school biology teachers must help students make connections between isolated topics. This course starts with macromolecules that make up cellular components and continues with understanding the many cellular processes that allow life to exist. Connections are then made between genetics and evolution. Classification of organisms leads into plant and animal development that study the organ systems and their role in maintaining homeostasis. The course finishes by studying ecology and the effect humans have on the environment.
Chemistry with Lab for graduates provides already licensed teachers seeking an additional license or endorsement in middle grades science or secondary physics, biological science, or earth science with an introduction to the field of chemistry. Designed for those not majoring in chemistry education, this course highlights how the topics covered can be applied within various branches of science. This course provides students with opportunities to examine the electronic structure of atoms, study periodic trends, name chemical compounds, write chemical formulas, determine the structure of molecules, balance chemical reactions, and discover the changing states of matter. Laboratory experiences facilitate the study of matter and the application of laboratory safety and maintenance procedures. Concepts in Science for graduates is a prerequisite for this course.
Ecology and Environmental Science is an introductory course for graduate students seeking initial licensure or endorsement and/or to earn their MA degree in secondary or middle grade science education. The course explores the relationships between organisms and their environment, including population ecology, communities, adaptations, distributions, interactions, and the environmental factors controlling these relationships. This course has no prerequisites.
Concepts in Science for graduates provides already-licensed teachers seeking an additional license or endorsement in science education with an introduction to essential science themes present within and across all science disciplines, including chemistry, physics, biology, and the geosciences. These themes include comprehending the magnitude of the physical and natural world, analyzing and converting measurements, understanding the basic nature and behavior of matter and energy, examining atomic structure, identifying and naming basic types of chemical bonds, and analyzing and interpreting scientific data. Concepts in Science provides a solid foundation for future, in-depth, scientific studies and should be taken prior to any other science content course. There are no prerequisites for this course.
This course is a foundational introduction to the biological sciences. This course explores the overarching theories of life from biological research as well as the fundamental concepts and principles of the study of living organisms and their interaction with the environment. Key concepts include how living organisms use and produce energy; how life grows, develops, and reproduces; how life responds to the environment to maintain internal stability; and how life evolves and adapts to the environment.
Science, Technology, and Society explores the ways in which science influences and is influenced by society and technology. A humanistic and social endeavor, science serves the needs of ever-changing societies by providing methods for observing, questioning, discovering, and communicating information about the physical and natural world. This course prepares educators to explain the nature and history of science, the various applications of science, and the scientific and engineering processes used to conduct investigations, make decisions, and solve problems. There are no prerequisites for this course.
Science Methods—Secondary Biology focuses on teaching methods specific to science for graduate students seeking an endorsement in secondary biology. This course focuses on the design and teaching of standards-based lessons using the three dimensions of science (science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas) and the appropriate integration of technology into those lessons. Students in this course work within their content areas to evaluate, enhance, and plan appropriate science instruction. This course includes laboratory safety training and certification, which includes safe laboratory practices and procedures for science classrooms and the proper use of personal protective equipment. There are no prerequisites for this course.
MA, Science Education Teacher Performance Assessment contains a comprehensive, original, research-based curriculum unit designed to meet an identified educational need. It provides direct evidence of the candidate’s ability to design and implement a multi-week, standards-based unit of instruction, assess student learning, and then reflect on the learning process. The WGU Teacher Performance Assessment requires students to plan and teach a multi-week standards-based instructional unit consisting of seven components: 1) contextual factors, 2) learning goals, 3) assessment, 4) design for instruction, 5) instructional decision-making, 6) analysis of student learning, and 7) self-evaluation and reflection.
Program consists of 13 courses
At WGU, we design our curriculum to be timely, relevant, and practical—all to ensure your degree is proof you really know your stuff.
Teacher Work Sample
Special requirements for this program
The final exam requires that you write an original, comprehensive research paper that provides direct evidence of your ability to design and implement a multi-week, standards-based unit of instruction, assess student learning, and then reflect on the learning process.
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WGU's biology education master's degree program is for licensed teachers who want to specialize in teaching biology.
A Master’s in Biology Education Paves the Way for Current Teachers to Take to the Next Step
If you're a licensed classroom teacher with a passion for the living world and how it works, you are ready to advance in your career by specializing in middle school or high school biology.
School districts in the United States consistently rank the sciences among their areas of highest need. Obtaining the M.A. in Science Education (Secondary Biological Science) degree will prepare you for secondary certification to teach kids biology.
Already-certified teachers who earn a master’s degree in biology education qualify to teach high school biology as well as teach in junior high and middle schools, depending on grade-level requirements in your state.
Return on Your Investment
WGU Has Alumni Teaching Across the Country
Graduates of WGU's online Teachers College have found meaningful, rewarding teaching careers in classrooms at:
- Inclusionary K–12 classrooms
- Middle/junior high schools
- High schools
- Private and charter schools
Impressive Class of Graduates
Graduates of the WGU Teachers College include recipients of many professional honors, including:
- Gates Millennium Scholars
- Intel Grant for Mathematics and Technology
- Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award
- Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award
- Association of Public Charter Schools Educator of the Year Award
Focused on Equity and Accessibility
The WGU Teachers College is in the top 1% for granting degrees for Black and Hispanic/Latinx educators at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. It is second in the nation for combined graduate and undergraduate degrees and credentials for students of color, according to the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
Master in Science Education Admission Requirements
If you enroll in a program that also includes a special endorsement and you plan to eventually apply for the endorsement, the following is required of you:
- A copy of a valid teaching license.
- Official transcripts that demonstrate you have earned a bachelor’s degree from a recognized accredited university.
An Enrollment Counselor will instruct you as to when and how to submit your teaching license prior to or during your program.
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More About Earning This Degree
- About the M.A. in Science Education
- About Financial Aid
Our M.A. Science Education program is designed for licensed teachers who want to expand their abilities by adding a science endorsement.
You should pursue a master's in education based on what you want to do for your career. For many current teachers, adding to their existing license to expand or adjust the kind of teacher they want to be can be helpful. For example, a teacher who wants to pivot and teach science courses can pursue a master's degree in science education that allows them to expand on their current license.
Yes! There are online, accredited universities like WGU that allow students to pursue a master's degree in education online. Be sure to find a program that is reputable and will help you get the correct license for your state.
There will be a small practicum in the capstone for the degree. You will be teaching a multi-week lesson plan to a body of at least 10 students. This lesson plan usually consists of about 10 hours of in-class time.
Scholarships are available for new WGU students and returning graduates. This video shows more about scholarship opportunities and how they can help you pay for school. Get information on:
- How to apply
- Eligibility requirements
- Examples of scholarships
- What happens after you apply
- Other financial aid options
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