Graduate Program

Apply academic learning to teaching practice

Our program combines classroom learning coursework and mentored teaching experiences with a variety of diverse student groups. Classroom curriculum provides instruction and knowledge development through the lens of place-based education theories. Ongoing teaching practica structures and cultivates student teaching under the guidance and close mentorship of faculty. The culminating experience of the Graduate Program is the summer semester, where students plan, instruct and assess an extended summer youth program at Teton Science Schools.

Our Approach

The Graduate Program is anchored by the three competencies of Teton Science Schools’ Framework. These competencies guide alignment of academic coursework, teaching and community experiences.

Download Program Competencies

Academic Courses

The academic components of the program provide instruction and knowledge development in ecological field science, educational theory and educational leadership. The courses are generally block scheduled for two to four weeks and interweave lectures, fieldwork, classroom presentations and independent projects. All courses are graduate-level semester credits.

Fall Semester

Emphases: Introduction to Place-Based Education and field science teaching practices

  • Introduction to Field Science Teaching – 3 credits
  • Community Ecology of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – 3 credits
  • Principles of Place-Based Education – 3 credits
  • Fall Teaching Practicum – 2 credits

Spring Semester

Emphases: Best practices in place-based instruction, winter ecology, and social-ecological systems

  • Winter Ecology of the Yellowstone Ecosystem – 2 Credits
  • Advanced Instructional Strategies – 3 credits
  • Spring Teaching Practicum – 4 credits
  • Ecological Inquiry – 3 credits

Summer Session

Emphasis: Final capstone synthesis of yearlong learning

  • Advanced Elements of Field Ecology Course Design – 5 credits
  • Capstone Teaching Practicum – 4 credits

View 2019 Course Calendar

Teaching Practica

The objective of the Teaching Practica is to improve your teaching methods and expand your professional education skills. These objectives are achieved by giving graduate students multiple opportunities to teach a variety of ages under the guidance and close mentorship of faculty. During the practica, students will develop curriculum, apply coursework content, build the core competencies of a skilled educator and nurture their instructional identity. Throughout the year, graduate students have the opportunity to teach in Teton Science Schools’ independent school, in the field with visiting school groups and at numerous regional schools through state-wide outreach. In total, graduate students complete over 600 hours of mentored teaching.

Teaching Seasons

Each season presents new opportunities for the development of educational skills and topics; emphases will be approached on a continuum, with mentors and graduate students focusing on individual expertise and teaching goals. The seasonal progression includes the following topics.

Fall Semester

Student management, positive learning environments, field teaching techniques, place-based education and reflective practice.

Winter/Spring Semester

Winter – Instructional and assessment strategies, learning styles, developmental theory and teaching science as inquiry.


Spring – Curriculum planning, backward design, advanced lesson plan development, questioning strategies and action research.

Summer Semester

The Capstone Teaching Practicum is the culminating experience of the Graduate Program. By planning, instructing and assessing a full program, graduate students synthesize their year of residential learning in a challenging and practical way. Many students share that this experience the most valuable experience of their year in the program.