Social Studies

The field of social studies examines people and communities through the lens of history, culture and government. Learn more about degree programs and courses, as well as what types of careers you can pursue and how much you can earn as a graduate of a social studies program.

Is Social Studies for Me?

Overview of the Field

Social studies can be an interesting and rewarding field for individuals who possess a profound interest in government, civics, social science and the humanities. You may also consider this field if you are interested in becoming an educator and sharing your knowledge of geography and cultural studies. Social studies is usually taught in elementary and junior high schools. Specific topics, such as civics and government, are taught at the high school level.

Employment and Salary Information

Nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected an average growth in job openings for social studies teachers at the elementary and middle school levels between 2012 and 2022. A slower-than-average increase is expected for those at the high school level through 2022. In May 2013, elementary and middle school teachers earned average annual salaries of $56,320 and $56,630 respectively, while secondary school teachers earned an average of $58,260 a year (www.bls.gov).

Social studies can also serve as a foundation for further studies in political science and law. The BLS has projected a faster-than-average growth in employment for political scientists from 2012-2022; opportunities for lawyers were expected to increase by an average rate during the same period (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Social Studies?

Undergraduate Programs

In an associate's or bachelor's degree program in social studies, you'll most likely take courses in American and European history, American government, economics and sociology. Training in educational methodology might also be included and can help you qualify for a teaching certificate or license. An undergraduate program in this field of study can also prepare your for an entry-level career in social services or journalism.

Graduate Programs

Graduate work in social studies can lead to a master's degree program in social science or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Interdisciplinary Studies. Relevant coursework might cover topics in history, sociology or government, depending on your concentration. Completion of a graduate degree program might also qualify you for a position as a sociologist or history professor, as well as admission to law school.

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