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My ultimate goal is to teach undergraduate level mathematics, that is, classes such as calculus and differential equations, as well as introductory proof-based courses like linear algebra, abstract algebra, and real and complex analysis. Why? I just love to teach people who are interested in learning math, and I have the strong belief (it's more of a certainty) that all interested mathematics students can appreciate and find the joy to learn any of these core classes if they receive the right approach. I am willing to teach like this patiently because I like it and I'm willing to devote to it. I feel very comfortable teaching math.

I am receiving a bachelor's degree in mathematics from UC Berkeley in May 2016. Needless to say, I like math a lot and I am excited to learn math at a higher level in grad school.

My question is, given that my goal is to become a math educator and obtain a secured job, do I need to pursue a PhD in mathematics?

I know that the whole idea in getting a PhD is to do original research, but to be honest, this is not the exciting part for me to go to grad school. This is merely secondary for me. I would even say it is tertiary since I am more enthusiastic about studying more math and being a graduate instructor. I know community colleges, liberal arts colleges, and even some universities hire lecturers (whose only job is to teach). Should I get into a master's program to achieve my dream job instead?

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At least in the US, if you want to teach calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra, and are also willing to teach lower-level stuff (e.g., algebra stuff like quadratic equations and trigonometry) you can likely do that at a community college, which means you might not need a PhD. If you really want to teach abstract algebra and real analysis you probably could not do that at a community college, which means you'd probably need a PhD.

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I think your question is really "which universities will hire instructors without a doctorate?" This depends strongly on the country in which you want to work, and the type of university you want to work at. In some countries and at some universities, there are regular faculty who have only a master's degree. But in many cases (e.g., at typical four-year institutions in the US), you will be automatically disqualified, or may qualify only for a part-time or adjunct position.

  • Don't forget community colleges. See Can you teach at a community college with a master's degree? – ff524 Sep 27 '15 at 6:07
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    @ff524: Right, but don't forget the OP said "My ultimate goal is to teach undergraduate level mathematics, that is, classes such as calculus and differential equations, as well as introductory proof-based courses like linear algebra, abstract algebra, and real and complex analysis." At most community colleges I'm familiar with, the highest level math course taught would be either calculus or differential equations, the majority of the teaching would be at the precalculus level, and being able to teach the highest level courses is positively correlated with having a PhD. – Pete L. Clark Sep 27 '15 at 6:15
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    @PeteL.Clark I think that you should write another answer including this information, since the OP specifically mentioned community colleges as a possibility. – ff524 Sep 27 '15 at 6:16

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