Teaching Social Studies

Note: As of Fall 2021, the Education Department will not be accepting new cohorts of students to Teacher Certification Programs housed in the Education Department (English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Foreign Languages). The Music Education program will continue to offer the BME with certification.

Want to Change the World? Start by Helping Students Understand It

Teacher preparation in social studies is unique at Gettysburg College because of its thoroughgoing interdisciplinary nature. At Gettysburg, future social studies teachers are challenged to develop their knowledge of disciplinary "ways of knowing" and of the methods and epistemological frameworks that support those ways of understanding the world, but are also encouraged to see connections between and among the various disciplines that comprise social studies to develop content knowledge for teaching. Most important, prospective social studies teachers are given opportunities to connect their knowledge of subject matter to thoughtful and thought provoking approaches to professional practice that are comprehensive in scope, sophisticated in their design, and firmly grounded in the "signature pedagogies" of social studies teaching that have been proven to enhance student learning and growth.

All of this learning is directed toward an important goal: helping young people become active, engaged, thoughtful, community-oriented citizens. Democracy depends on it.


Because social studies is an interdisciplinary subject, prospective teachers have multiple pathways to choose from as they plan their courses of study. It is not possible to major in social studies education at Gettysburg College; instead students must choose a major in a content area and connect their understanding of the content they learn across campus to the coursework and field experiences they complete in the Education Department. With that end in mind students who wish to become social studies teachers are strongly encouraged to consider a range of options as they plan their programs of study. In one sense, the more interdisciplinary the major the more likely it is that our teachers will graduate with the wide-ranging knowledge they need to teach effectively. On the other hand, understanding and knowing how to use the intellectual tools employed by disciplinary scholars is key to developing "disciplined" knowledge of social life and institutions. Each of the options available to prospective social studies teachers, when combined with rigorous Education coursework, offers teacher candidates the opportunity to develop this knowledge and hone these skills. Listed below are some options available to prospective social studies teachers at Gettysburg College.

American Studies with Teacher Certification in Social Studies (AS/ED)

The interdisciplinary program in American Studies with teacher certification in secondary social studies, referred to colloquially as AS/ED, is open to any student interested in designing his or her own major in American history and culture with the coursework required to obtain secondary certification in social studies in Pennsylvania. Click on the Special Programs and Opportunities link in the menu to the left for more information on the AS/ED program.

Teacher Certification in Social Studies for Traditional Majors

For students uncomfortable taking the path less traveled, a major in any traditional discipline associated with social studies (including history, economics, sociology, psychology, anthropology, or political science) can be combined with certification coursework. Because requirements for certification are substantial, careful and frequent consultation with your Education Advisor is especially important if you wish to pursue a major in one of the traditional academic disciplines with teacher certification in social studies. But, rest assured: it can be done.

Globalization Studies with Teacher Certification in Social Studies (GS/ED)

Majors in Globalization Studies combine required interdisciplinary coursework in the social sciences with regional and thematic “tracks” to develop a deeper sense of the increasing connectedness of the world and its implications for the future. GS majors completing certification coursework would be well positioned to teach World History, World Geography, and Sociology courses in K-12 schools, as well as any range of cultural and historical course elective that may be offered. More information on the Globalization Studies major.

Public Policy Double-Major with Teacher Certification in Social Studies

Students more interested in political science and economics may choose to combine certification coursework with a major in Public Policy. Coursework in Public Policy encourages quantitative analysis of various policy alternatives and sustained study of the political institutions that help shape and respond to various policy alternatives. Public Policy majors who earn secondary certification would be especially well positioned to teach courses in Micro- and Macroeconomics, Government and Politics, Geography, and Environmental Studies. Note that the major in Public Policy is not a standalone major; students hoping to connect a public policy major to certification should pair that major with one in the subject areas already approved for certification. More information in this can be obtained in the Education Office. More information on the Public Policy major. If you wish to pair certification with a Public Policy major please consult the checksheet for certification associated with the primary major you have selected.

Getting Started

For more information on the requirements that must be met in order to obtain initial certification in social studies please consult the checksheet appropriate for your major program by clicking one of the links below. For answers to additional questions you may have about certification in social studies, for music recommendations, or for general good advice contact Dr. Dave Powell.


View the certification checksheet for majors in American Studies (PDF)

View the certification checksheet for majors in History (PDF)

View the certification checksheet for majors in Political Science (PDF)