Online Master’s in Social Studies Education 2021

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A master’s in social studies education expands students’ pedagogical knowledge of the field. Graduates with this degree often teach social studies at the secondary level. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that high school teachers earn a median annual salary of $62,870, which is higher than the national median for all occupations.

This guide ranks the best online master’s in social studies education programs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, including common classes and certifications.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Social Studies Education


  • Q. What can I do with a master's degree in social studies education?

    Graduates with a master’s in social studies education can teach at postsecondary schools and community colleges. They can also work as education coordinators and program directors.


  • Q. How many years is a master's in social studies education?

    A master’s in social studies education usually takes 18-24 months of full-time study to complete.


  • Q. What certification do I need to become a social studies teacher?

    Certification requirements vary by state. Some states issue a general certification valid from middle school through high school, while others require separate certifications for each level.


Why Get a Degree in Social Studies Education?

A master’s in social studies education qualifies students for rewarding careers teaching secondary students and community college students. The BLS reports that high school teachers earn an annual median salary of $62,870, which is significantly higher than the national median for all occupations.

Many colleges and universities now offer social studies education master’s degrees online. Online learning often gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Additionally, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students.

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How Much Does a Social Studies Education Degree Cost?

The cost of a master’s in social studies education varies by factors like school type, enrollment status, and delivery format. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate students who enrolled in an in-state public institution paid an average of $12,171 in tuition during the 2018-2019 academic year. Students at private institutions paid an average of $27,776.

Students can often save money on their degree by pursuing a master’s in social studies education online. For instance, online students often save on some of the expenses that on-campus students incur, such as transportation expenses. Online programs also typically give students the flexibility to continue working while pursuing their degree. Additionally, many schools offer tuition discounts to online students.

Additional Online Student Fees for Social Studies Education

Online programs sometimes include on-campus requirements. Nonresident online enrollees should remember to factor in the transportation and accommodation expenses needed to fulfill these requirements.

Some institutions require online students to pay technology fees. On-campus enrollees do not typically bear this expense. Students should research whether prospective schools feature this requirement since it can affect how much their degree costs.

How Much Do Social Studies Education Majors Make?

Salaries vary by factors like organization, location, and experience. The BLS reports that the highest-paying organizations for secondary teachers include state governments ($83,010), religious organizations ($70,850), elementary and secondary schools ($67,360), and psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals ($61,790).

Location also impacts salary. For instance, teachers in New York and California typically earn higher salaries than teachers in other regions. However, New York and California also feature high costs of living.

Graduates with a master’s in social studies education can also pursue teaching opportunities at junior colleges. The BLS reports that junior college teachers make an mean annual salary of $88,020.

Courses in Social Studies Education

A typical curriculum for a master’s in social studies education includes coursework in civics, economics, and content subjects such as U.S. history. Students also receive training in curriculum development, activities planning, and assessment tools and techniques.

Additionally, many programs include an internship experience that gives students hands-on teaching experience in the classroom. Many colleges and universities also require master’s candidates to write and present a thesis prior to graduation.

Courses vary by program, but the following list outlines several courses commonly found in master’s in social studies education programs.


  • Historical Nonfiction for Teaching History

    Students in this class learn how to analyze historical nonfiction literature. The course familiarizes enrollees with key historical periods and themes. Students learn how to extract valuable insights from these historical moments to inform their teaching practice.


  • Methods for Teaching Social Studies

    This class examines various educational theories, tools, strategies, and techniques for teaching social studies. Students learn how to incorporate relevant technology into lesson plans. They adapt a curriculum to address specific student needs and implement grade-appropriate instructional practices.


  • Research on Social Studies Education

    This course examines current and emerging research in K-12 social studies education. Students learn how to evaluate and synthesize key research data and developments. They apply them to curriculum design, instructional planning, and academic inquiry.


How to Become a Social Studies Teacher

Licensure requirements vary by state, but public school teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree and a state license. Most states grant a generalist social studies endorsement that qualifies holders to teach the subject at middle schools and high schools. However, some states issue separate middle school and high school social studies endorsements.

In some states, social studies teachers can earn secondary certification in specific areas. These include economics, history, or geography. Social studies teachers who wish to teach at the postsecondary level must earn at least a master’s degree.

Certification for Social Studies Education

All states require public school teachers to hold a license. Licensure requirements vary by state, but most states require licensure candidates to complete a teacher preparation program. Middle school and high school teachers may also need to pass an exam in their subject area to earn licensure. Some states refer to a license as a certification.

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) sets the standards for certification across the country. However, each state decides how to reflect the standards in their regulations. The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits programs and schools focused on teacher preparation. CAEP-accredited programs meet NCSS standards.

Most states require social studies education teachers to pass the Praxis-Social Studies exam in addition to the Praxis CORE general academic assessment exam. Applicants must also complete a pedagogy assessment. A student-teaching experience, which is part of most educator programs, typically meets this requirement.

Online Master’s in Social Studies Education



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