History Teacher Degree Program Information

History teachers aim to instill knowledge of the past in their students in order to help them understand the present and anticipate the future. Academic paths to teaching history include a four-year bachelor's degree and a seven-year doctoral program.

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Essential Information

Bachelor's degree programs in history education are available to students who have their high school diploma or GED and may focus on both general education subjects as well as a single subject of expertise. Doctoral-level students may focus on learning historiography and pedagogical methods and fulfilling dissertation requirements. Candidates must be licensed to teach in public high school systems. Passage of history-related examinations may also be necessary.


Bachelor's Degree in Education with Teacher Certification - History Teacher

These programs prepare individuals for careers teaching social studies at the high school level. Stand-alone programs that teach only history pedagogy are extremely rare. Instead, degree candidates learn how to instruct high school students in all areas of social studies, including history, civics, geography and sociology. These programs generally take four years to complete and lead directly to state teacher certification.

Applying to one of these programs often requires a dual-application process. Applicants first apply to the history or social studies department. After being admitted and completing a certain amount of general education classes, students then apply separately to the educational department or school. This second application process requires the standard transcripts and test scores as well as state and federal criminal background checks.

The curriculum of these programs feature a core set of pedagogical courses, along with general education coursework. All programs feature one or more semesters of student teaching at an affiliated high school under direct supervision. Some core course titles include:

  • Historical methodology
  • Writing history
  • Political science
  • European history
  • American history

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Doctor of Philosophy in History

History Ph.D. programs prepare individuals to teach at the college or university level. Degree candidates choose a historical concentration, such as medieval history or antebellum American history. This chosen concentration determines the core courses needed as well as serving as the topic of the doctoral dissertation. In addition to core courses, degree candidates enroll in history courses covering the length and breadth of historical knowledge. These programs take 6-7 years to complete.

Individuals applying to a Ph.D. in History program submit all undergraduate and graduate transcripts along with graduate standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and an admissions essay. A few programs accept applications from individuals possessing only a bachelor's degree.

Doctoral programs in history require degree candidates to become competent in at least one foreign language, which they demonstrate via an exam given in the last semester of the program. A doctoral dissertation is another degree requirement, with students receiving course credit for a portion of the dissertation research and writing. Coursework may include:

  • Historiography
  • Historical methods of interpretation
  • Pedagogical methods
  • Statistical analysis of history
  • Academic publishing

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for high school teachers were expected to increase six percent from 2014 to 2024. Professionals in the field earned a median salary of $57,200 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov).

The BLS reported that employment opportunities for college and university professors should increase by 13% from 2014 to 2024. Doctoral degree holders may enjoy the best job prospects during this time. The median salary for postsecondary history teachers was $69,400 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

All states require public high school teachers to be licensed, a process that requires completion of an accredited teacher education program and student teaching experience. Many states also require applicants to complete a competency exam in history or social studies.

Students who want to instill their love of history into students should consider becoming history teachers, either at the secondary or postsecondary level. Programs are available at the bachelor's and doctoral level.

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