College of Education and Human Development

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

Social studies education MA / PhD

The MA/PhD track in social studies education span 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, a diverse experience, and interest 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, cand social studies assessment specialists. Graduates leave the program prepared to teach methods courses to social studies teachers. 

Quote from 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 my department has been so supportive of my development as an academic. 

George Dalbo PhD 2021



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 their 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, Instruction PhD page in the course catalog, find Requirements > Program Sub-Plan Requirements > Social Studies Education.

PhD curriculum

Your PhD coursework will center on your research interests. The program consists of 48 course credits and 24 doctoral thesis credits for a total of 72 credits. To see the curriculum requirements in detail visit the course catalog, find Requirements >Program Sub-Plan Requirements > Social Studies Education.  

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. Learn more about the student research experience in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. 

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.

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. 

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

    Jehanne Beaton Jehanne Beaton

    Jehanne Beaton has worked as a secondary social studies teacher in the public schools for more than twenty years, the bulk of which has been spent in diverse, urban classrooms in Minneapolis. She holds an M.F.A.


    Justin Grinage Justin Grinage

    The focus of my research centers on analyzing processes of racialization in school and classroom spaces through several areas of inquiry including critical whiteness studies, Black education, neoliberal multiculturalism, and critical literacy.

    Justin Grinage

    Jeff Henning-Smith Jeff Henning-Smith

    Jeff Henning-Smith is a Senior Lecturer in the Elementary Education and Social Studies program areas.

    Jeff Henning-Smith

    J.B. Mayo J.B. Mayo

    I am an Associate Professor in social studies education. I hold a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of South Florida, where my focus of study was gender and sexuality within the social studies, specifically on the formation and…

    J.B. Mayo

    Robert Poch Robert Poch

    What motivates me in my work? The exploration of challenging questions concerning human diversity is a strong motivating force in my teaching and research.

    Robert Poch

    Ramon Vasquez Ramon Vasquez

    Dr. Vasquez is an Assistant Professor of Critical Elementary Education. Before working in higher education, he served as an elementary school teacher in California.

    Ramon Vasquez
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    How to apply

      Application deadline and instructions

      Priority deadline: December 1 for admission to the fall of the following year
      Admissions decisions: January

      Applications submitted after this date are considered on a case-by-case basis and may not be reviewed until the following year. Faculty review applications in mid-late December, and the Graduate School will notify applicants about admission decisions shortly thereafter. Final admission decisions are based on complete applications. All application materials must be included for the application to be released for review.

      Before applying online, go through the application checklist to ensure you have all the required materials. We are here to help! If you have questions, please contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator. If you are a returning Graduate School student, follow the Readmission guidelines. If you are a current Graduate School student and need to change your program, follow the Change of Status guidelines.

      Tuition and funding

      We have several funding options to support students full-time through program completion. Support is available in the form of:

      • Teaching Assistantships. The majority work as student teaching supervisors for MEd 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. Decisions are made by April 15.
      • Graduate students are also eligible to apply for fellowships and graduate assistantships through other University departments. Visit the University's employment page or fellowships through the Graduate School's Graduate Fellowship Office.
      • Find more detailed federal financial aid and graduate tuition information.

      Application requirements

      What we look for

      Admission to our master's of arts and doctoral programs are competitive and we look for candidates whose goals and interests align with the program’s research and scholarship. Program faculty make admissions decisions based on the candidate’s experience and research competencies, along with compatibility of research goals.

      Please look at our current faculty members’ research interests.

      Our masters and doctoral candidates display

      • Evidence of strong interest in research and in the development of research competencies
      • Evidence of substantial experience in the discipline
      • Strong writing skills
      • Bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. institution or foreign equivalent

      Required application documents

      1. Unofficial transcripts.Upload your transcripts into the application system. Please include all transcripts from any institution you have attended, even if you did not earn a degree or certificate. Please do not mail your transcripts. Official transcripts are required only after you are admitted. Tips for uploading your transcript(s).
      2. Resume.
      3. CI Application Form. Upload in the graduate program additional materials section.
      4. Three letters of recommendation. Ask professors, employers, or supervisors to speak to your potential for successfully completing your degree; they will upload their letters directly into the online application.

      The GRE is being waived for those applicants applying for Fall 2025.

      Required written statements

      1. Personal statement.Upload to the Applicant Statements section of the online application. (Most statements are 1.5-3 pages, single spaced). Please trace how you became interested in research in this discipline, as well as what problems interest you the most and why. Be sure to speak to:
        1. Why you want to study in our department
        2. What strengths, expertise, and research experience would contribute to your success in our program
        3. Your professional goals for pursuing a research-focused degree
      2. Diversity statement.Upload to the Applicant Statements section of the online application. Identify the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would contribute to our community. You may wish to include examples that address your contribution to the diversity of the student body and illustrate your motivation to succeed by setting high standards for accomplishing intellectual and other goals, overcoming obstacles to achievement, and/or helping others to gain access to the resources necessary for success. (please do not exceed one page in length)
      3. Short writing sample.(Optional except for Literacy Education applicants). For example, an excerpt from a term paper or research paper for publication. No longer than five pages in English.
      4. Common Ground Consortium Fellowship. (Optional) The primary purpose of the CGC is to assist graduate programs in the College of Education and Human Development to recruit exceptional students with the distinct experience provided by HBCUs or similarly distinguishing contexts, provide these students with financial assistance support during their graduate studies, and assistance with career development and job placement afterwards. It offers a pipeline to excellence and an opportunity to diversify perspectives in the academy. If you wish to apply, submit a statement that describes how your participation as a CGC scholar would a) enhance your graduate student experience, b) prepare you for your chosen career, and c) benefit the public. Upload to graduate program additional materials section.

      Additional admissions information

      Application checklist

      Before applying online, go through the application checklist to ensure you have all the required materials. We are here to help! If you have questions, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

      If you are a returning Graduate School student, follow the Readmission guidelines. If you are a current Graduate School student and need to change your program, follow the Change of Status guidelines.

      Transfer credits

      MA students must complete at least 60 percent of their 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 percent or 15 non-UMN credits. For example, a PhD student could transfer a maximum of 27 credits (15 non-UMN and 12 non-degree from UMN).

      If you earned a MA 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.

      International applicants

      International applicants may also need:

      • An English translation of your transcripts, if the transcript is not in English. Please note: the Graduate School Admissions Office will not accept an evaluation of your international coursework by an outside agency such as ECE or WES; they only accept the original transcripts.
      • TOEFL/IELTS or MELAB. You may qualify for an exception if you have completed 16 semester or 24 quarter credits within the past 24 months in residence as a full-time student at an accredited institution of higher learning in the United States or other country where English is the official language (i.e. U.K, Canada). Score requirements and submission guidelines

      Request information

      We’re here to help. Simply complete one of these forms and a member of our department will be in touch