STEM Composite Major

preparing science and math teachers

The STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) composite major is an interdisciplinary program in the natural sciences, which may be declared as a second major in conjunction with another course of study. Pairing a strong background in math and/or science with a degree in journalism, business or secondary education, for example, will strengthen the resumes of future graduates.

The STEM composite major draws faculty from the departments of mathematics, biology, chemistry and physics, and features the course "Navigating a Diverse Society for Equity in Math/Science," taught by Augustana’s director of diversity and inclusion programs. While the STEM composite major may be paired with a wide variety of second majors, one of the primary goals in the design of the curriculum is to complement the secondary education major. 

Why Study Secondary Education and Mathematics/Science?

This major provides the flexibility for students to specialize in multiple STEM content areas, preparing them for certification in two fields. The South Dakota Department of Education has approved the major for undergraduate pre-service teachers pursuing certification.

Mathematics and science are federally designated teacher shortage areas in South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Positions for chemistry and physics teachers are particularly difficult to fill, even in these states' largest districts; in smaller districts, teachers may be called upon to teach a course outside of their discipline. For example, the ability to teach physics in addition to mathematics or chemistry as well as biology will be “a huge plus in the interview,” said Cindy Kroon, president of the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics from 2015-17.

The pairing of the composite STEM major with a secondary education major is designed to integrate the triad of strong science/math content, evidence-based science and math pedagogy, as well as cultural competence, to assure inclusive excellence in STEM education.

More specifically, students completing the secondary education and STEM composite majors will:

  • Study in a learning community that fosters identity formation, self-efficacy, and confidence as STEM professionals and as a STEM educators, with particular emphasis on underrepresented groups in STEM.
  • Have expanded science and/or science and math content learning opportunities for secondary education teacher preparation.
  • Benefit from enhanced integration of content and pedagogy across science, math and education courses.


Courses in the math/science composite major will prepare students for certification in two STEM content areas. Teachers with dynamic backgrounds in science and math education will meet the needs of many school districts, supplying ongoing need for highly qualified secondary science and mathematics teachers. Students who graduate from this program will be highly sought after and well prepared to teach.

Core Courses: 7 Credit Hours

  • MATH 151 Calculus I
  • GENL 255 Navigating a Diverse Society for Equity in Math/Science

Students select two areas of study from the following four options:

  • Mathematics emphasis: 16 credit hours
  • Biology emphasis: 28 credit hours
  • Chemistry emphasis: 20 credit hours
  • Physics emphasis: 18 credit hours

Details of each emphasis can be found in the Undergraduate Course Catalog.