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M.A. | PhD
Social Studies Education

Faculty research interests include the areas of political socialization, political tolerance, authentic assessment, citizenship and civics education, and democratic thought. In addition, faculty members engage in research centered on the history of curricula, multicultural and gender studies, and social justice.

Graduates of the program have assumed positions as instructional leaders in the public schools, curriculum development specialists, and social studies assessment specialists.

Priority deadline: December 1

Admissions decisions: January

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Faculty advisers

Faculty maintain active research agendas with several research centers at the University, including:

  • the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement
  • the Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership
  • the Center for the Study of Political Psychology
Patricia Avery

Patricia G. Avery

Political engagement | Civic identity + education | Teacher education | Controversial issues discussion | Talking about difficult histories. Full profile

J.B. Mayo

Associate Professor
J.B. Mayo, Jr.

LGBT and Queer Studies | Critical pedagogies | Teacher education | Multicultural education | Social justice | Intersectionality of race, gender, and sexual orientation. Full profile


Mentor, teach, present

As a full-time graduate student, you will have opportunities to:

  • supervise student teachers
  • teach introductory social studies classes
  • conduct and publish research with faculty. Doctoral students are required to complete a research internship with one or more of the faculty as part of their study for the degree.
  • You will be supported and encouraged to present research papers at professional conferences, specifically the National Council for the Social Studies and the American Educational Research Association

What will you study?

  • Multicultural and gender issues
  • Critical pedagogy and social justice
  • Civic and/or historical identity
  • Immigrant education
  • Classroom dialogue
  • Children's literature in the social studies
  • Political socialization
  • Political tolerance
  • Authentic assessment
  • Citizenship and civics education
  • Democratic thought
  • History of curricula

Where our PhD students go from here

  • Indiana University
  • Wells College
  • George Washington University
  • St. Thomas University
  • University of Wisconsin - LaCrosse
  • Bemidji State University
  • College of Saint Bennedict & St. John's University
  • College of Saint Scholastica

Research to transform

Recent graduates have conducted research in the areas of:

  • intercultural relations
  • moral development
  • multicultural gender-fair curriculum
  • social studies instructional issues
  • the standards movement as it relates to social studies education
  • gender talk in preservice classrooms
  • students’ negotiation of heritage history and school history
  • primary grade teachers’ integration of social studies concepts into children’s literature
  • development of Hmong students’ civic identity in a 12th grade U.S. Government class
  • confronting difficult and controversial issues in a U.S. History classroom
  • Negotiating citizenship identity in a diverse rural community


M.A students: Select plan A or B
M.A.: Thesis
(Plan A)

  • 10 thesis credits
  • approximately 450 hours of work
  • involves original research in the form of a "mini-dissertation" divided into chapters
  • is likely to require human subjects (IRB) approval
  • final copy is bound and submitted to the Graduate School
  • often pursued by students who intend to pursue a Ph.D.*

*Completing a thesis does not guarantee admission to a Ph.D program, though, if accepted, the thesis can serve as the basis of your dissertation.


32-35 total credits

  • CI 5761 Social Studies Education for the Inservice Middle/Secondary Teacher (3 cr.)
  • CI 5762 Developing Civic Discourse in the Social Studies (3 cr.)
  • CI 8796 Research Internship (1 – 4 cr.)
  • CI 8133 Research methods in curriculum and instruction (3 cr.)
  • EPSY 5261—Introduction to Statistics (3 cr.)
  • One qualitative research course (selected with adviser)
  • Minor or related field: (6 cr.)
  • Thesis credits: CI 8777 (10 cr.)

M.A students: Select plan A or B
M.A.: Final Paper (Plan B)

  • 3 credit "Problems" course
  • approximately 120 hours of work
  • results in 1 paper, 40-60 pages in length, divided into sections. Or 2 papers, each 20-30 pages
  • may or many not involve human subjects (IRB) approval
  • final copy is not submitted to the graduate school
  • often pursued by students who aren't committed to pursuing a Ph.D.*

*It is possible to complete a final paper and later pursue your Ph.D. You will apply with less research experience, but will still be considered for admission based on the strength of your application.


30 total credits

  • CI 5761Social Studies Education for the Inservice Middle/Secondary Teacher (3 cr.)
  • CI 5762 Developing Civic Discourse in the Social Studies (3 cr.)
  • At least one course in qualitative research methods, selected with adviser
  • DES 8181 Research Ethic (1 cr.) OR Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) part 1 & 2 workshops
  • EPSY 5261 Introduction to Statistics (recommended)
  • CI 8795 Problems: Social Studies Education [3 cr. for Plan B paper(s)]
  • Minor or related field: (6 cr.)

Common Curriculum

You will plan your PhD curriculum based upon your research interests with your faculty adviser. The following general curriculum is taken by all PhD students to prepare them for their dissertation.

  • CI 8131 – CI Core: Critical examination of curriculum in context
  • CI 8132 – CI Core: Teaching theory and research
  • CI 8133 – Research methods in CI
  • CI 8148 – Conducting qualitative studies in educational contexts
  • OLPD 8812 – Qualitative research in work and human resource education
  • A minimum of 9 semester additional credits in qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods

You will also complete:

  • 15 credits in your track, including:
    • CI 8741 – History and theory of social studies education
    • CI 8742 – Seminar in research on social studies education
    • CI 8796 – Research internship in social studies education
  • 3 elective credits
  • 12 credits from outside your track (if pursuing a minor or supporting program)

54 course credits + 24 thesis credits = 78 total



Support is available in the form of:

  • Teaching Assistantships. The majority work as student teaching supervisors for M.Ed. initial licensure students. Daytime availability, a teaching license, and teaching experience are required
  • Research Assistantships
  • Fellowships. Based on a departmental nomination process. You will be notified by the Director of Graduate Studies if you are being considered for a fellowship

A typical full benefits assistantship (tuition, health insurance + stipend) 20 hours/week at approximately $18/hour. Benefits are pro-rated based on the appointment percentage.

Have a complete application in by December 1 to be considered for these positions for the following academic year.

While support is not guaranteed, we make every attempt to financially support full-time students through completion. You may also explore assistantships available outside our department on the University's employment page.

Tuition and cost information.

Credit for past work
Transfer credits

M.A. students must complete at least 60% of coursework (not including thesis credits) within our program. PhD students may transfer no more than 15 credits from an outside institution.

A maximum of 12 graduate course credits taken as non-degree seeking or non-admitted status at the University of Minnesota can be transferred--this is counted separately from the maximum 60%, or 15 outside institution credits.

For example, a PhD student could transfer a maximum of 27 credits (15 outside + 12 non-degree from UMN).

If you earned a M.A. at the UMN, please contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator to discuss transfer procedures.

Thesis credits cannot be transferred.

After you are admitted, you will work with your adviser to determine which credits may transfer.


Graduate Studies Coordinator
Kristina Pearson
Fax: (612) 624.8277
125H Peik Hall
Office hours 8:00 - 3:30