How People Live: Social Studies Teacher Education

People who are drawn to social studies teaching are often interested in history and cultures of other lands or times. You must feel a genuine excitement about historical events and understanding what the people who lived through those times thought and felt about them. You will also require analytical skills to help your students understand why the events they study are of significance.

You must be organized in your thoughts and be unafraid of public speaking, since a good part of the day will be spent lecturing students who are often middle school and high school age students.

Social Studies Teacher Degree Information

You will need to major in education and fill your electives with social studies and humanities courses. Education courses include fundamentals of teaching, education science, instructional planning and strategy and will include one or more supervised teaching assignments.

If you already have a degree in social studies, you may be eligible to earn a teaching certificate that completes your teaching credentials.

Online Social Studies Teacher Curriculum

You will study fundamentals of learning, instructional planning, teaching methods and technology in teaching. You may also be required to take a course in adolescent psychology. You should plan to fill all your elective slots with humanities and social studies courses.

You can complete nearly all of your social studies teaching degree program online. You will be required to complete one or more supervised teaching segments, each of which may be several weeks in duration, in order to be eligible for certification in most states. These student teaching assignments are part of the education curriculum at most schools.

Earning a Degree Online

There are many great online social studies education programs. You will want to be sure that any program you use is acceptable for teacher certification in your state. Some states require fieldwork and student teaching as part of the certification process. If this is the case in your state, make sure your online degree program meets these requirements. These requirements usually cannot be met online and must be completed in person.

Consider taking online social studies teacher education classes if you have the subject knowledge but lack the teacher education background. These classes can help prepare you for a career as an elementary social studies teacher. When you select social studies as your field, you may be drawn to a specialty like history, geography or civics. You will also have to check with your state to see what education requirements have to be satisfied to become certified to teach there. This is necessary to teach at the elementary and high school levels.


A bachelor’s degree is the minimum acceptable degree for a position at public or private schools. The bachelor’s degree usually takes about four years to complete. You will study principles of education, learning methods, and the use of technology in education. You will also need to take several courses that focus on social studies so that you have a thorough grounding in the topic.

You may also find opportunities as a private tutor or educator.


A Master’s degree may be required at some private schools and institutions of higher learning. You will most likely need to earn a Master’s degree if you wish to become a department chairperson or a high-level school administrator. You can earn a Master’s degree in social studies education online.

You may also choose to earn a master’s in education if you already have a bachelor’s degree in social studies but do not yet have the necessary teaching credentials. A Master’s program takes about two years to complete.

Many communities will hire teachers with a bachelor’s degree but will expect teachers to complete a master’s program after hiring to remain employed.

Further Education

Many schools offer PhD programs in education. You will study educational methods, lesson planning, psychology, and instruction and assessment. A PhD may be required at some private schools. You may also go into educational research or school administration with a PhD.


Coursework for social studies education focuses on ensuring that you have a solid grounding in educational methods. You will study lesson planning, educational delivery, education methods, public speaking, educational assessment and more. You will also be required to complete one or more student teaching or field assignments that are completed under the supervision of a certified teacher.

Career Opportunities

Social studies teachers are usually employed in middle schools or high schools. There are opportunities at both public and private schools. In smaller communities you may be called upon to teach several social studies subjects during a single semester, but in larger schools that may not be the case.

There are opportunities in every community for good teachers. The field is growing at about 17 percent a year, which is about average for most professions.

Earning Potential

According to US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics salary surveys, middle school teachers earn about $51,000 to $56,000 per year and up. This can vary widely depending on the topic you teach and the community where you teach, as well as by individual school.

Social Studies Teaching Degree FAQs

What are the Social Studies Teacher Education Requirements?

You’ll have to pass a statewide teacher exam and take a set a number of education classes. For example, you might choose to do online course work in student assessment, special education, managing a classroom or educational foundation. Several accredited colleges and universities offer online teacher education courses for social studies. These courses can help prepare you to teach social studies at the high school or elementary school level.

What Subjects Can I Teach with a Social Studies Teaching Degree?

Social studies covers topics such as history, geography and foreign cultures and their evolution.

Are There Opportunities To Teach Social Studies In Middle Schools Or Only High Schools?

There are opportunities in both public and private high schools and middle schools in nearly every community. You will find no shortage of exciting and rewarding career opportunities with your degree in social studies education.

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