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How to Become a Social Studies Teacher

The requirements to become a social studies teacher in the US are usually categorized in direct undergraduate education degree or an alternative teacher certification pathway. Either of the two, the certification process is usually in two tiers; a bachelor degree AND a certification or assessment program.

 If you want to become a social studies teacher and already have a bachelor degree, the first step is passing a screening process to be admitted to a state-approved graduate program with education and Social Studies core subjects. A passing mark in PRAXIS and at least a 2.5 GPA is also initially required in most states. A bachelor degree in Social Studies or equivalent programs may have advantage in reducing the core subjects and speeding up the timeline. Most state universities offer professional education programs that can be completed in a year or two, which equivalently leads to a Master degree. Most of the Social studies programs include anthropology, economics, political science, sociology, and world history courses. At the same time, one is required to take pedagogy studies in education for elementary and secondary levels.

After completing the training program, one must serve practicum or teaching internship hours. Usually, a probationary teaching certificate is given to new graduates of teacher training programs, which allows them to get paid practicum or teaching internships within the state. The practicum is supervised by an administrator or a fellow teacher. A crucial step is to pass an observed teaching class by the school board. After that, one can get an official Social Studies teaching certificate.

For those who want to pursue a teaching degree, universities in United States offer education courses for students in 4-year programs for History, Anthropology and Social Studies. Some universities also offer BA – Master degree in just 5 years, which is highly desirable in most educators sectors nowadays. For example in New York, all teachers are required to get a relevant master’s degree within five years from start of their teaching profession. Integrated or accelerated baccalaureate-masters prove to be time saving, apart from strengthening teacher’s knowledge on the subject matter.

For foreign teachers or college graduates that aspire to be a Social Studies teacher in the United States, the bachelor degree you hold must be equivalent to the bachelor degree in the US. Your transcript and course descriptions will be evaluated by the state education department. Once approved, you’ll also need TOEFL or IELTS passing scores if you come from countries where English if not the first language. One must also pass PRAXIS exams to determine subject proficiency. Official J-1 or H1-B visa are also needed. Some states also recognize previous teaching experience. For example in Arizona, if you have more than 2 years of teaching experience, you may qualify for accelerated alternative teacher certificate.

For more information on How to Become a Social Studies Teacher, check out our Guide to Education Degrees & Teaching Schools.

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