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Ph.D./M.A. in Social Studies Education


The doctoral program in social studies education spans disciplines, and offers opportunities to specialize in many aspects of social studies education. The ideal candidates for the program have at least three years of teaching experience and diverse set of backgrounds with interests in furthering education and research in social studies education.

Graduates of the program have assumed positions as instructional leaders in the public schools, faculty colleges/universities, curriculum development specialists, and social studies assessment specialists. Graduates leave the program prepared to teach methods courses to social studies teachers.

Research Opportunities

Students can engage in research that advances the field of social studies education and ties into their area of interest. Faculty work closely with each cohort to achieve research and educational goals and improve educational opportunities students.

Areas of research include:

  • 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

In addition, faculty members engage in research centered on the history of curricula, multicultural and gender studies, and social justice.

View more faculty research areas .

Examples of student research dissertation areas:

  • intercultural relations
  • moral development
  • 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

View a selection of recent student dissertations.

Career Outlook

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

Some recent graduates have gone on to positions at:

  • 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


J.B. Mayo, Jr. Associate Professor
J.B. Mayo, Jr.


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

To view the core curriculum and electives visit the Education, Curriculum, and Instruction Ph.D. page in the course catalog, under sub-plans.

Master of arts students have similar can choose either a thesis (Plan A) or final paper (Plan B) to complete their degree.

View the core requirements for the M.A. in Social Studies Education in the course catalog. Look under sub-plans for Social Studies Education.

Ph.D. Curriculum

Your Ph.D. coursework will center on your research interests. The program consists of 54 course credits and 24 doctoral thesis credits for a total of 78 credits. To see the curriculum requirements in detail visit the course catalog. Look under sub-plans for Social Studies Education.

Admission Information

For more detailed admissions information visit the M.A./Ph.D. admissions page

George Dalbo

"My experience with the faculty has been fantastic! Graduate classes are small, typically 10-12 students, which allows you to get to know faculty in a more intimate setting. Everyone I have encountered in department has been so supportive of my development as an academic."

George Dalbo, Ph.D. candidate 2021