How do I Become a Social Studies Teacher?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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A social studies teacher could design and teach classes that touch on themes of history, geography, and humanities. These teachers tend to work at middle school and high school levels and may need a single subject credential in order to get work. This means the bachelor’s degree has to be focused on subjects like social studies and history. Those wanting to become a social studies teacher below seventh grade level, especially in places like the US, may not need the single subject major and usually will teach a variety of subjects. People interested in pursuing this profession as a college teacher will need to meet more extensive requirements.

Anyone who would like to become a social studies teacher at the middle or high school level needs to get a bachelor’s degree first. There may be variation in available degrees a person can take. Some people might major in social studies, history, geography or other fields. To determine the best major, students should contact their regional board of education or teacher licensing board and ask which degrees are specifically appropriate to become a social studies teacher. This information helps students find the right school with the best programs to meet this goal.


Different regions have varied requirements for what it takes to actually become a social studies teacher, or any kind of teacher. Many of them require people to finish a bachelor’s degree in an approved major and then apply to a teaching or teacher credential program. In some places, standardized testing is also required either before entrance to such a program or while a person participates in it. A few regions allow people to teach with only a bachelor’s degree, but this is becoming less common.

One option for those who want to become a social studies teacher is to get a credential and a master’s degree concurrently. This means more study in areas of expertise, which can be of great benefit to students. It also lengthens time spent in school, and some teachers prefer to get out sooner and start teaching. One attractive quality of earning the master’s degree is it often means starting out at a higher rate of pay. Another potential benefit is that teachers might teach at community colleges with this degree.

Those who are bound for college teaching really don’t need a teaching credential. They can become a social studies teacher at the community college level with a master’s degree. Most standard universities require even more. To become a college professor, teachers will have to earn a doctorate in social studies, and this can take, after a bachelor’s degree, three to seven years to accomplish.



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Post 3

@indigomoth - But that is why this is one of the best subjects to teach. If you do it properly, it's almost impossible not to engage every student, which isn't the case with subjects like math or PE. Every student can relate to the subject matter in some way. All of them will have an opinion.

And there are so many interesting topics. The only thing I think is a pity is that I think a lot of countries tend to stick to their own history rather than branching out.

Post 2

@Mor - Usually that is up to individual schools, rather than whole areas and in most cases the school will just set a textbook and expect the teacher to go through it. Unfortunately, the textbooks aren't always accurate, but a good teacher will be able to make do and explain the real history anyway.

Being a teacher anywhere is difficult, particularly social studies teaching jobs because the subject matter is so controversial. I can remember students getting into fights with our social studies teacher over issues they felt strongly about. I'm not sure if that makes him a good teacher for not avoiding thorny issues, or a bad one for riling up the students. At least it was memorable.

Post 1

Take a good, hard look at where you are going to be teaching if you want to go into social studies for the love of history or politics. A lot of places will have a prescribed curriculum and you might not like what you're forced to teach.

I remember I was quite dismayed when I was in high school and I read about some of the real history behind the cute stories they told us about, for example, the pilgrims when I was a kid. If you knew the real history, it would be very difficult to teach the wrong history. But that might be one of the requirements for a teacher in some places.

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