Updated December 8, 2022

Are you passionate about politics, history, and culture? If so, earning one the 5 Best Online Master's Degrees in Social Studies could be the right choice for you in 2019. While earning a Master's degree is not necessary to become a teacher in K-12 education in the United States, it undoubtedly improves the odds of ...

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Are you passionate about politics, history, and culture? If so, earning one the 5 Best Online Master's Degrees in Social Studies could be the right choice for you.

While earning a Master's degree is not necessary to become a teacher in K-12 education in the United States, it undoubtedly improves the odds of receiving competitive pay and employment opportunities. Earning a Master's degree in Social Studies or Teaching will also prepare grad students to take on more administrative roles in the school system, such as designing curriculum or overseeing programs.

Most school districts also require that teachers participate in ongoing education, where earning a Master's degree would put those required credits at more beneficial use. The Center for American Progress conducted a survey and found that those teaching with a masters degree rather than a solitary bachelor's earned on average $3,000-$10,000 more in each state of the US.

Selection Criteria

Best Value Schools went through the trouble of finding the best possible online degrees for Social Studies enthusiasts because, why would you settle for less? When planning for the future, every student's career outcome is largely dependent on the quality of education they received. The better the quality, the more qualified students can be to take on more competitive job opportunities.

Pursuing an online Master's in Social Studies will not only give candidates a more competitive edge upon entering the teaching workforce, but it will better the abilities, skills, and chance for growth in those already in the professional field. Students will learn more integrative and interdisciplinary ways of teaching Social Studies, including in-depth courses dedicated to the pedagogy of the discipline. Obtaining a masters in Social Studies will put teachers at an advantage in both their teaching skills and professional growth.

Ranking Factors

In order to rank the 5 Best Online Master's Degrees in Social Studies, several online degrees were examined with attendance costs, university reputation, and future job prospects in mind. More specifically, BVS ranked each of the 10 online degrees based on:

  • Affordability
  • Academic Standards
  • University Reputation
  • Post-graduate Job Outcomes
  • Student Satisfaction

For more information on how Best Value Schools ranks every degree, check out our methodology page.

#1 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
#2 University of Missouri - Columbia Columbia, MO
#3 New York University New York, NY
#4 University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, KY
#5 Pennsylvania State University - World Campus University Park, PA

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. University of Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh, PA



    Designed for secondary teachers who have not graduated from their Master of Arts, The University of Pittsburgh gives students an education in research, theory, and practice in social studies education when admitted to their Master of Education in Secondary Social Studies Education. The MEd consists of 36 total credits, which are divided into courses on Social Studies Pedagogy, Psychological Perspectives on Education, Social and Cultural Perspectives on Education, Research Seminar and Research Methods, and electives. All students should have a degree in Social Studies Education or a related field and already have an Instructional I certificate in Social Studies Education.

  2. University of Missouri - Columbia

    Columbia, MO



    The University of Missouri-Columbia's offers their Master of Education in Social Studies Education to students looking for an online advanced education degree, but it does not lead to the certification required to become a teacher nor a social studies certification. The MEd is 30 credit hours and requires that all applicants have at least two years of experience in a related field. Course work is focused on a curriculum in social studies education, civic education, social studies research, and social studies and both technology and literary. 18 of the 30 credit hours involve core course work involving social studies and pedagogy. Electives include topics such as African-American Education - History and Current Issues, Immigrant Issues in Education, Families in Poverty, and more.

  3. New York University

    New York, NY



    New York University's MA in Teaching Social Studies, Grades 7-12 is offered for Initial and Professional Certification, preparing students as eligible for each the Initial and Professional Certifications in New York State. The Initial Certification is 35 credits and can be completed in one year, with a history-centered yet interdisciplinary curriculum. Students become familiar with integrating history with novels, music, photography, economics, psychology, and more. For the Initial Certification NYU students complete two semesters of student teaching at NYC schools. Once a student has earned their initial certification, students may complete their Professional Certification, which is 30 credits and includes learning more about social studies pedagogy. Students in the Professional Certification are also able to specialize, taking classes in the MATSS, as well as at NYU Steinhardt and NYU's Graduate school of Arts and Science.

  4. University of the Cumberlands

    Williamsburg, KY



    The University of the Cumberlands online Masters of Arts in Teaching prepares students to teach around the world, allowing a focus in Elementary Education, Middle School Education, Secondary Education, All Grades, Business, and Marketing, or Special Education. Each specialization requires from 33-42 credits. The MAT is designed for students who already have teaching certificates or undergraduate degrees and a desire to earn an advanced teaching degree. Terms are eight weeks long, and students are allowed to take a maximum of two courses per term. All students are required to student teach, and some courses require completion of field experience.

  5. Pennsylvania State University - World Campus

    University Park, PA



    Pennsylvania State University's Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction allows students an emphasis on Social Studies Education for the K-12 school subject area. PSU's MEd is designed for educators who wish to advance their certification. However, students who have not had teaching experience may still apply. The degree can be earned in as little as 15 months but is usually completed within three years. All students complete a Master's project upon graduation. Graduate assistantships allow students to participate in research, teach courses, or receive other responsibilities and earn a stipend while doing so. The curriculum may include place and community, global education, sustainability, and ecological issues, and more.

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