History Teaching Degree: Help Future Generations Understand the Past

History Teaching Degree

History and social studies teachers guide students at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels, as they learn about the history of their country and the world. A history teacher’s job is to help students understand important events, time periods, and inventions that have shaped our current society. Depending on the state in which you teach, you may also be required to teach your students about state history. If you love to learn about the past and would like to use that information to help improve the future, pursuing a history teaching degree may be the right choice for you.

Degree Requirements to Become a History Teacher

History teachers teach elementary, middle school, high school, and college students.

Elementary & Secondary School History Teachers

To qualify to teach students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, you typically need to obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree in history and a sate teaching certification. In order to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program you must first earn your high school diploma or GED.

College History Professor

Teaching history at the college level will likely require a master’s or doctoral degree in history. Graduate programs will require students to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline prior to admittance. It takes two years to earn a master’s degree and three to five years to earn a doctoral degree. PhD programs typically contain a strong research component.

History Education Degree Curriculum

While pursuing a history and social studies education degree, you will be required to take core courses in the subjects you are likely to teach in the classroom, as well as courses in specific teaching methods. Some core classes you may have to take include the following:

  • Curriculum, instruction, & content literacy methods
  • Classroom life & management
  • Modern Europe
  • Classical & Christian Europe
  • American national government
  • Methods of teaching social studies
  • Classroom assessment
  • Secondary methods of educational technology
  • Introduction to African history
  • The medieval world
  • History of Chinese civilization
  • The ancient world

Teaching Certification

All states require elementary and secondary school teachers at public schools to be certified, but requirements vary from one state to another. In order to receive certification, teachers need to undergo a period of fieldwork known as student teaching. Student teaching involves working with a mentor teacher and gaining experience teaching students. In some states, history teachers may be required to obtain a master’s degree after earning their teaching certification.

Jobs for Social Studies Education Degree Holders

Personality & Responsibilities

History and social studies teachers may work in either public or private schools. They must be patient and have strong communication skills in order to engage students in learning. The responsibilities of history teachers might include planning lessons, assessing students, grading students’ assignments, communicating with parents about students’ progress, preparing students for standardized tests, and developing and enforcing classroom rules. They typically work during normal school hours and may spend their evenings or weekends grading papers or preparing lessons. Many teachers will have their summers off.

Employment Growth

Although there are expected to be declining student-to-teacher ratios and increased enrollment in schools at all levels in the next decade, the projected employment for teachers will be largely dependent on government and local funding. Growth at the elementary to secondary level will vary by region and will be best in the South and West.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that positions for elementary and middle school teachers will increase by 12% by 2022 and that high school positions should increase by 6%. At the postsecondary levels employment of professors as a whole is on the rise, but will vary by discipline. Positions for history professors should increase at a rate of 14%, which is about as fast as average.


In 2012, the median annual salaries for teachers were as follows:

Enrolling in a History and Social Studies Education Degree Program

Studying history helps us better understand our own culture and other cultures around the world. Knowledge of history is also essential to understanding societal change and being a good citizen. If you find the field of history fascinating and enjoy working with young people, consider pursuing a history teaching degree today.