Social Studies Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

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M.A. with Initial Teacher Certification (38 Points)

M.A. in Social Studies with Initial Teacher Certification (38 points)

This program requires a minimum of 38 points and an integrative project. It is designed for those with little or no experience teaching secondary social studies. Successful completion of this program of study leads to the M.A. degree and recommendation for New York State Initial Certification (grades 7-12). Student teaching is undertaken in cooperating middle and high schools, in the New York Metropolitan area. A committee of social studies faculty and cooperating professionals from the schools to which students are assigned supervise and evaluate the student teacher’s work.

In order to complete all degree requirements successfully, this program typically demands two terms of the academic year and two summer sessions, which can be taken in the same summer.

Degree Requirements

Download Degree Handbook

Download Cooperating Teacher Handbook

 The 38 points should be distributed as follows:

Degree Checklist

Social Studies Core Courses (9 points):

Required courses:

  • A&HW 4036 The teaching of social studies
  • A&HW 5037 Advanced methods of social studies curriculum

 Students should also take one of the following:

  • A&HW 5030 Diversity and the social studies curriculum
  • A&HW 5035 History of the social studies since 1880
  • A&HW 5530 History of American social thought

 Social Studies Content Courses (10-12 points):

In consultation with an advisor, students should select courses to round out their knowledge of the subject matters taught in secondary schools. Content courses taken at Teachers College include attention to both content and pedagogy. Courses can also be taken at Columbia University. 

 Professional Development Courses (6-9 points):

To satisfy the college’s breadth requirement students must take three Teachers College courses (for this purpose a course is defined as one in which 2 or 3 points are earned) outside the major program. Selected with advisor approval.

 Student Teaching (10 points):

  • A&HW 4530 Seminar for student teachers in social studies*
  • A&HW 4729 Observation in the social studies
  • A&HW 4730 Supervised student teaching in social studies**

*Students enroll for 2 points in both the fall and spring.

** Students enroll for 3 points in both the fall and spring.

 Further Requirements:

Students must complete an integrative master’s project. They must also satisfy the New York State certification requirement for study of a language other than English. (For additional requirements, please refer to the Teacher Education area of the Academic Resources section of this bulletin.)


38-Point Masters Program for Initial Certification in Social Studies


As an undergraduate, I majored in a social science other than history (economics, political science, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, international relations, etc.).  Am I eligible to apply to the program? 


Yes, you are eligible to apply to the program.  However, if you are admitted, you may be required to complete additional coursework in order to qualify for certification. These courses may be taken prior to matriculation or co-requisite during your study at Teachers College.  You will be advised upon admission about this issue.


The state of New York requires 30 credits in social studies in order to be certified, 21 of which must be in history.  The remaining nine credits must include at least one course in economics and one course in civics / political science.  Courses in other social sciences can also count toward the remaining required credits in social studies.  Courses taken in both undergraduate and graduate programs count toward these requirements.  Any AP or IB social science courses listed on your college transcripts also count toward the certification requirements.


Students have the opportunity to earn up to 12 social studies content credits during our program.  These 12 credits can include history courses, economics courses, and civics courses.  Any additional social studies credits needed for certification must be completed in addition to the coursework required for graduation from Teachers College. 


Additional social studies and/or history credits required for certification can be earned at Teachers College or any other accredited college or university.  Students also have the opportunity to earn credit toward certification by passing a CLEP exam ( 


Are there any other credits besides history that would be helpful to have taken as an undergraduate or before applying to the program?


Candidates are required to have three credits in English, math, science, and a language other than English.  If not earned before being admitted to the program, the candidate will need to earn these credits before they can be certified.  Candidates can earn these credits from any accredited college or university or by earning a passing score on a relevant CLEP exam ( 


Through AP and/or IB testing in high school I was able to be place out of science and foreign language in my undergraduate program.  Do these classes still count toward certification?


As long as these courses appear as credits on your college transcript, they can count toward the certification requirements.


Would you be willing to look at my unofficial transcript before I apply to the program?


We only review transcripts as part of an official application to the program. 


What do you look for in a candidate’s personal statement?


The personal statement helps us assess how well your interests, motivations, commitments, and experience fit with the mission, values, and demands of the Program in Social Studies.  The statement is also evidence of your writing ability and potential. We want to see that candidates have a sense of who they are, as well as a sense about how they would fit within the program.  We look for strong writing, ideas that are well developed, and a commitment to teaching all students.


Are there any NY State exams that I must take before submitting my application? 


We do not require that any exams be taken before applying or being admitted to the 38-point masters program for initial certification in Social Studies.  However, during the course of the masters program for initial certification, students will take four certification exams required by New York State: (1) edTPA – The Educative Teacher Performance Assessment, (2) the Academic Literacy Skills Test, (3) the Educating All Students Test, and (4) the Revised Content Specialty Test.


The website mentions that an interview is recommended as part of my application.  Is the interview held before or after I have completed my application?


Students will be invited to attend an open house where they will meet with program faculty after applying to the Program in Social Studies.  These sessions provide a comprehensive look at the program and feature remarks from faculty members and current students.  Prospective students will participate in a group interview and a mini-lesson representative of coursework in the program.  The Open House also includes a session with representatives from the Financial Aid Office and a campus tour.


While we strongly encourage candidates to attend the open house, we recognize that is not always possible.  In the event a candidate cannot attend the open house, the program will contact applicants for individual interviews over Skype.


Is it possible to obtain dual certification in both secondary social studies education and special education at Teachers College?


Individuals can receive dual certification in New York State, although the requirements can change from year to year.  The best option is to contact the program through which you are interested in earning the additional certification.  Information about Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) can be found at:  Information about the Applied Sciences of Learning and Special Education can be found at:  You can also contact the Teachers College Office of Teacher Education ( for additional information regarding dual certification.  


Is there a recommended GPA for acceptance into the 38-point Masters program for Initial Certification in Social Studies?


Typically, we expect students to have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA.  However, applications are reviewed holistically so a GPA lower than the threshold does not preclude you from being considered or


What is the timeline for completing the program?  Is it possible to complete the MA in Teaching as a part-time student?


Students in the 38-point program typically complete their degree in one calendar year, which includes Fall, Spring, Summer A and Summer B semesters (each 6 weeks in duration).  The two summer semesters can be taken in one summer, or divided between two summers (e.g., Summer B in the first year and Summer A in the second year). 


Though the majority of our students attend full-time, there are some who choose to complete the program as part-time students.  Typically, part-time students complete their coursework during the first year and their student teaching during the second year.


Are graduate assistantships available?  Can I work while I’m completing the program?


Students are strongly discouraged from working while completing the program because of the extensive time commitment for coursework and student teaching.  There are multiple options for financial aid that the Financial Aid Office ( would be able to explain.


I am currently completing a Masters Degree in a different program at Teachers College.  Could I count any of these courses toward the 38-Point Masters in Social Studies With Initial Certification?


If you are transferring between programs at Teachers College, Columbia University, some classes may count toward a Masters degree in social studies (with advisor approval).  However, if you have already graduated from another program at Teachers College, those courses cannot count toward a second degree.


If you have additional questions that were not answered above, please e-mail our program secretary, Kate Swed, at


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