Teaching Social Studies - History - Penn State Altoona

Teaching Social Studies

History majors interested in public education at the secondary school level will need to consider many factors, including job trends at the local, state, and national levels as well as the varying certification requirements in different locales. A number of states now require secondary school teachers to have an academic degree in the liberal arts and sciences, with history often the preferred discipline for social studies teachers. In addition, social studies teachers interested in pursuing an M.A. in history should realize that many graduate programs strongly prefer if not require that applicants already possess a B.A. in History.

Concurrent and Sequential Majors at Penn State
Penn State students may consider a dual major which combines a B.A. in History with a B.S. in Social Studies Education. Through careful planning with academic advisors, such students can graduate with both degrees in five years. For the relevant Penn State policies on concurrent and sequential majors, please consult:

Teacher Certification Programs in Pennsylvania
There are ninety-three colleges and universities in the state that offer teacher education programs. Some of these schools offer one-year certification programs for students who already hold a B.A. or B.S. degree. Careful use of elective credits while an undergraduate can help meet certification requirements: consult the program requirements of your schools of interest.

Teacher Certification Information Outside of Pennsylvania
A number of states now require public school teachers to hold a degree in a major in the liberal arts and sciences. There is also information on regional employment trends. Consult the following sites for more information.

  • Occupational Information Network
    This site gives projected hiring trends secondary education in all fifty states.
  • National Council for the Social Studies
    This site provides information about the field of social studies education.
  • States Outside Pennsylvania
    To find information about specific states, go to Google and search "State" Department of Education, then search for "teacher certification requirements."


For more information:

Marc Harris

Dr. Marc L. Harris

Associate Professor of History
Arts and Humanities

Office: C129D Smith Building
Phone: 814-949-5242
Email: @psu.edu

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Steven Andrews

Dr. Steven C. Andrews

Instructor in History
Arts and Humanities

Office: C122 Smith Building
Phone: 814-949-5355
Email: @psu.edu

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