Frequently Asked Questions | Teaching of Social Studies | Arts and Humanities

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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Please view our Frequently Asked Questions section below for more information about our 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 (

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 (

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 being accepted.

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.

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.

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, Grace J. Choi, at

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