Social Studies Education at the Graduate Level

social studies; social studies education; social education; history education; masters degree; master's degree; phd; Ph.D.; doctoral; doctoral degree; M.Ed.; graduate degree; graduate degrees; civics education; social justice education; teacher education; professional development; geography education; place-based education; place based education; online education degree; elementary social studies; secondary social studies; middle level social studies; middle grade social studies;

Social Studies Lab

Master’s (M.Ed.) and Doctoral (Ph.D.) Degrees in Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) with an emphasis in Social Studies Education build expertise in this K-12 school subject area and in the professional development of teachers for it. Social Studies Education at the graduate level allows flexibility in choosing intellectually rich academic experiences that support specialization in social studies topics as well as interdisciplinary connections to related fields.

  • The M.Ed. serves practicing educators seeking to upgrade their certification and professional expertise. Master’s Degree students work with a faculty adviser to choose classes that contribute to their understanding of K-12 social studies curriculum, teaching and learning, and educational research. Student work includes academic writing that leads to a Master’s project before graduation.
  • The Ph.D. serves educators interested in a professorial career in social studies teacher education at colleges or universities, or research careers in industry, foundations, or government. Doctoral Degree students work closely with an adviser to create a program of study that is individualized around academic interests and professional goals, culminating in a doctoral research dissertation. You do not need a Master's Degree to apply for the Doctoral Degree program.

Graduate-Level Social Studies Education May Include

  • civic education
  • democracy education and democratic pedagogy
  • history education
  • media literacy and technology
  • global education
  • place and community
  • public issues and ethical reasoning
  • social sciences (e.g., economics, political science, sociology)
  • sustainability and ecological issues

Classes On-Campus or Online

We offer a number of graduate courses that include these social studies topics. Some are on-campus seminars; others are available online. It is possible for our residential graduate students to take most of our online courses and for students in our online program to take residential classes. Our graduate students are able to take intellectually diverse coursework—including some courses more broadly in Curriculum and Instruction (C&I), from Language, Culture, and Society (LCS), and possibly from across the College of Education (such as Educational Theory and Policy, Educational Psychology, or Learning Design and Technology) or even different University departments (such as History, Political Science, or Sociology).

Penn State’s Graduate Courses in Social Studies

Our Social Studies Faculty: Leaders in the Field

We encourage you to look at our faculty members and their teaching and research interests:

  • Dr. Mark Kissling (middle grades, citizenship and place-based education)
  • Dr. Scott Metzger (secondary grades, history education and media)
  • Dr. Stephanie Schroeder (elementary grades, democratic education/pedagogy)
  • Dr. Sarah Shear (K-12 curriculum studies, Indigenous studies)

If you are interested in working with any of our faculty members, please call or email them at the contact information linked to their name above.

For more information on our online program, please see the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State's World Campus.

For more information on how to apply to our Master's and Doctoral programs, please see Curriculum and Instruction's How to Apply and our Frequently Asked Questions.

If you need more help, please contact Dr. , Professor in Charge of Social Studies Education.