Program Overview

As part of Northern Michigan University’s newly created Master of Science in Post-Secondary Biology Education program, students take a mixture of advanced level biology and pedagogical courses, giving them the sound scientific foundation needed to effectively teach science.

This program is unique because higher education instructors seldom receive training in pedagogy and must often learn “on the job,” making job advancement a challenge. This program seeks to combine a graduate-level science curriculum with pedagogical training so graduates will be well prepared to compete for full-time community college instructional positions immediately upon graduation.

The program is also designed for those focused on gathering additional post-secondary educational expertise, including secondary teachers and students interested in eventually attaining a Ph.D for university teaching, but who would like to gain direct post-secondary instructional training to build their credentials.

Where a Degree in Post-Secondary Biology Ed Can Take You

This program is primarily geared toward those seeking to teach at the college level, although those interested in secondary education may also find it valuable.

Job growth:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, post-secondary educator opportunities are expected to grow 9 percent by 2029. And with a continued emphasis placed on STEM subjects – science, math, engineering and mathematics – demand for these types of classes will grow, as will demand for people to teach them.*

Where you might work: 
  • Community colleges
  • Vocational schools
  • Universities

Salary range: 

The average pay range for individuals teaching in a post-secondary environment, including community colleges, is $79,540 a year.*

*Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

Female educator outside with class

The Master of Science in Postsecondary Biology Education is tailored to those interested in teaching biology in a college setting, particularly in community colleges.

Program Curriculum

There is no thesis requirement for this program. Rather, students will complete a final semester internship that will include staff and student evaluations of teaching, which is included in the students’ teaching portfolio. This degree isn’t just about science – it’s about teaching science and there’s no better way to learn how than by actually doing it.

Immersive Learning


As part of the program, students participate in a six-week summer research intensive course, during which they’ll rotate through numerous scientific research labs in the biology department. During this time, students gain exposure to and experience with different research techniques and approaches to scientific investigation.

This program also offers the opportunity to complete a semester’s worth of student teaching at a college or university, giving students a real-world example of what the job will be like upon graduation.

Curriculum Outline


Year Semester Credits Course(s)
One Fall 7-8

Two advanced biology courses of choice

One Winter 8

ED 541A - Improvement of Instruction

ED 522 - Curriculum Development

BI 500 - Planning and Proposing Research

One Summer 6 BI 594 - Methods in Biological Research
Two Fall 10-11

ED 506/507 - Foundations in Education

ED 531 - College Student Development

Advanced biology course of choice

Two Winter 5

ED 574 - Seminar in Educational Research

ED 548A - College Teaching

Admission Requirements

To be accepted into this program, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences or a minimum of 24 credit hours in undergraduate biology courses, or equivalents, with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • At least 16 credits of coursework from at least two of the following areas:
    • Chemistry (general chemistry, organic chemistry, or biochemistry),
    • Geography (geographic information systems),
    • Geology (physical geology, soils or hydrology),
    • Physics, or
    • Statistics
    • At least 12 of these credits are expected to be accompanied by a lab. Other courses may be accepted with the approval of the program advisory committee.

Students with an advanced degree in the biological sciences (e.g. M.S, Ph.D, DVM, etc.) are eligible to be admitted to an accelerated track such that they can transfer 10 credits from other graduate degree(s), usually in the Biology content area. This would remove the requirement for two graduate-level Biology courses (e.g. one semester) and BI500, assuming that a proposal was created for the first degree. This option is not available if students have advanced degrees in other content areas.

Learn More

To learn more about pursuing your education at NMU, you can request additional information, schedule a visit, or apply online. You can also reach out to our program director using the contact information below:

Dr. Donna Becker 
Professor of Biology
2013 New Science Facility

Schedule a Visit

Request Information

Maple leaves changing colors in autumn

This program is offered jointly by the Biology Department and School of Education, Leadership & Public Service. This two year program, including one summer session, is focused on coursework in both graduate-level biology concepts and educational instruction. It includes both research experience in biology and hands-on instructional practice. The mission of this program is to provide opportunities for graduate students to become professional educators in the field of biology. Graduates will be proficient in the pedagogy of science, with a focus on the principles and theories in the teaching of biology, and will have a strong understanding of advanced knowledge in the field of biology, including the principles that guide the design and execution of scientific research.

MS Post-Secondary Biology Education Mission