Physics Teacher Education Program Information
Texas State University is one of the best universities in the nation to prepare for a career as a physics teacher.
Our successful program has two main pillars:
- a caring, supportive, tight-knit community of students and faculty
- a tradition of thinking deeply and critically about physics education, with an emphasis on research-based instructional practices
Every future physics teacher is individually mentored by expert faculty over several years, from their first physics courses through graduation, student teaching, job hunting, and the adjustment to their first classrooms. We aim to form life-long relationships with future colleagues in physics education!
Texas State University was a Comprehensive PhysTEC site in 2015-2018 and a member of the PhysTEC 5+ Club in 2020. See the story about it in the TXST Newsroom.
To learn more about our program, make an appointment with Dr. Hunter Close and meet him in his personal zoom room.
Why teach physics?
- Help and connect with people every day, and inspire them to love learning
- Learn something new about physics and people every day
- Have fun with exciting experiments, profound ideas, and vibrant people
- Earn a good salary with good benefits, job security, professional development opportunities, and a great community of colleagues
PhysTEC Teacher of the Year 2021
Get the Facts Out (YouTube channel)
This YouTube channel has multiple short videos about taking an honest inside look at careers in teaching science. Also see the Get the Facts Out website.
This page should address everything you might want to know about becoming a physics teacher through Texas State. If you have suggestions for improvements, or if you would like more information, please contact Dr. Hunter Close at email@example.com.
GPA requirement for all teachers
The State of Texas has a minimum GPA requirement of 2.5. You will not be able to be a teacher at a public school in Texas unless your overall GPA is 2.5 or greater, or the GPA of your last 60 hours is 2.5 or greater.
Teacher preparation programs through Texas State University currently have a minimum GPA requirement of 2.75.
Learning Assistant Program
All students who might be interested in teaching physics as a career are strongly encouraged to participate in the Learning Assistant Program.
RADIANS Teacher Scholarship Program at TXST
RADIANS Teacher Scholarship Program. Earn a $10K scholarship for committing to teach for 2 years.
How do I choose a path to teacher certification?
Most future physics teachers at Texas State finish their bachelor's degree in physics first and pursue teacher certification after graduation. All future physics teachers, regardless of pathway to certification, are offered the same high level of ongoing mentoring from faculty.
Physics bachelor's degree with teacher certification. Overall, this is the most compact option. However, you must complete the degree program in order to earn teacher certification, and you must complete the certification requirements to earn the degree. If you know early that you want to pursue physics teaching, this may be the best option. If you would like to take more physics than this degree requires, you may be interested in the Minor in Advanced Physics (currently being proposed, as of Fall 2021).
For those with a standard (non-teaching) bachelor's degree in physics (or those near to earning one), there are four other options for pursuing teacher certification:
- The Teacher Recruitment Program (TRP) is the quickest way to certification and full-time work. It is an intensive commitment and requires that you make good progress through the program along with your cohort. You can become a full-time teacher 1 year after beginning the program. The program work is done mostly in Round Rock. Your coursework counts toward a master's degree in education. Admission requirements to this program are currently (as of Fall 2021) being critically examined by faculty in the College of Education and are possibly in transition toward favoring those applicants who have significant experience already working in schools as educational aides. This option may or may not continue to be available to fresh physics bachelor's graduates.
- The "CMEd" program can be done at a slower pace, mostly in San Marcos. Coursework counts toward a master's degree. You may earn teacher certification before you complete the degree; students are strongly encouraged to complete the degree within one year of achieving certification. Because the program is not accelerated like TRP, it is likely with this program that you would not begin full-time teaching as early as you would with TRP.
- Post-bac "stand-alone" teacher certification is also available. This coursework is usually at the undergraduate level. Like CMEd, the coursework is taken course-by-course, at a slower pace, in San Marcos. It may get you teaching sooner than with CMEd, but your coursework will not count toward a master's degree.
- For students who are especially interested in learning more physics, there is the graduate program in the physics department at Texas State. There are several options available, but we would recommend "Master of Science (M.S.) Major in Physics (Thesis Option)". The thesis work could be in any research area that is available in the department, but physics education research would be the first recommendation. The student would add a minor in Secondary Education; adding a minor requires the submission of the Change in Minor form. The coursework in secondary education would be limited to those courses required for teacher certification (15 credits). See the FAQ "Is there a minor in Secondary Education with Certification?" here. Of these 15 credits, 6 would count directly toward the physics major requirements of 30 credits (3 would count as a "FREE ELECTIVE", and 3 would substitute for one physics "PRESCRIBED ELECTIVE"). The minimum number of thesis credits required is 6. If the student takes the minimum number of required credits for this combo degree, the total would be 39 credits. If you are interested in this option, please contact Dr. Hunter Close. This option may be best for those who are interested in further graduate work in physics after teaching high school for a while, or for those who aspire to teach physics at the college level (including community college).
In all of the above four cases, student teaching may be done in two different formats:
- 1 semester of EDST 4681; Cooperating Teacher hosts the Student Teacher in their classroom and mentors them daily; ST is unpaid; University Supervisor mentors and evaluates ST
- 2 semesters of EDST 4681; ST is hired by the school district, is assigned a probationary teaching certificate, and earns a regular teacher salary; ST teaches alone with no Cooperating Teacher, is an "Intern", and has a district-assigned mentor; University Supervisor mentors and evaluates ST
For each student teaching option, standard teacher certification comes at the end of the student teaching period.
Overall, this process is somewhat complex and benefits from a significant advising relationship. Please contact Dr. Hunter Close for those advising conversations.
Mentoring for New Teachers
New physics teachers who are graduates of Texas State University maintain long-term relationships with caring and knowledgeable faculty in the physics department. From the beginning of a student's journey, they are supported in their physics coursework, initial peer-teaching experiences, pedagogy coursework, student teaching, mentoring in the first 1-2 years of teaching, and lifelong friendships as colleagues in physics education after that.
Also, check out AAPT's eMentoring program.
Teacher Recruitment Program at TXST
If you are close to finishing, or have finished, a Bachelor's degree without teacher certification, the TRP is a great way to accomplish teacher certification. It is an intensive field-based program that is based on the Round Rock campus of Texas State University. It can be extended for an M.Ed, including some graduate coursework in physics, if preferred.
Students with a chemistry or mathematics undergraduate major will need to have completed approximately the equivalent of a physics minor in order to qualify for an initial teacher certification that includes physics.
Be aware that this program has its own admissions deadlines, requirements, and selection processes.
Office of Educator Preparation at TXST
Office of Educator Preparation at Texas State University
This office ultimately determines whether a teacher candidate has met the state requirements for teacher certification. The staff manages teacher certification for all physics students pursuing certification and also can facilitate post-baccalaureate certification.
Be aware that this program has its own admissions deadlines, requirements, and processes.
Teacher salaries are a moving target (that is generally moving up), so it is better not to publish too many details here. As of the 2020-21 Academic Year, most base salaries in districts surrounding Texas State University are, for new teachers (0 years experience) and a Bachelor's degree, in the $48-53K range. Additional pay is often available for doing additional work (e.g., summer school), having a master's degree, being bilingual, achieving high student learning outcomes, serving in leadership positions, or other various incentive programs. To get the most up to date information, do an internet search on "teacher salary [name of district]" to find a school district's teacher salary schedule. Note that these schedules do not predict what anyone will earn in the future; they only say what teachers with various levels of experience earn at the present time in their district.
International Physics Teaching
International schools are located in countries around the world. With some exceptions, they are independent of one another and vary widely. Some are privately owned and run for profit, some are non-profit organizations run by parent boards. Common curricula include: American based (Common Core etc.), British National Curriculum (Key stages, IGCSE, A-levels), and International Baccalaureate (PYP, MYP, DP, CP). All schools are eager to find good Physics and Mathematics teachers who are passionate about teaching all students - not just those who are potential scientists. The recruiting cycle starts in the Fall for the next August, but it is still possible to find jobs in the late spring and even summer. Many candidates sign up with recruiting agencies. The most common are: http://www.searchassociates.com, https://www.iss.edu, and https://schrole.edu.au/. These agencies hold job fairs at convention centers around the world. Candidates and recruiters attend with interviews held in hotel rooms. Decisions are expected before the end of the fair. So, candidates need to do their homework before attending. Many schools are trying to do much of their hiring through 'Skype' interviews before the fairs, but the fairs are still an important part of recruiting. Hiring criteria vary widely. In many cases these criteria reflect the requirements for a work visa in the host country (e.g., in Turkey you must have a teaching certificate, in Shanghai you must be under 65 and have two years experience after your BS degree). Generally speaking, most recruiters would like to hire someone with two years of international teaching. Experience with the International Baccalaureate (http://www.ibo.org) is often seen as a plus. For a good Physics or Mathematics candidate, however, most recruiters are willing to be as creative and flexible as possible. Many teachers get their initial experience at schools that are less desirable, and then move to better schools. Some find it is a fabulous career option. There are very few professions that offer as much autonomy in deciding where you will work. Most international companies have a handful of sites through which an employee might rotate, but an international school job fair offers prospects in most countries around the globe. (Thanks to Andrew Crouse, experienced International Physics Teacher, for this material.)
Instructional Resources for Physics Teachers
PhysPort is the the go-to place for physics teachers of all levels to find resources based on physics education research (PER) to support their teaching.