Be a History/Social Studies Teacher

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Teacher and Astronaut Christa McAuliffe once said, “I touch the future, I teach.” 

History learning is at the center of how schools educate young people for the future. By exploring the past, teachers provide students with the skills and perspectives they need to take charge of their lives and to shape their futures.  Every one of us is a history-making individual whose choices and decisions matter in our democratic society. By becoming a history/social studies teacher, you can participate directly in building a more fair, just and productive future for everyone in this country and world.

Ready to get started? Fill out this form and an advisor will get in touch with you about the admissions process.

History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future.

Robert Penn Warren


How to prepare to be a History/Social Studies teacher

The History Teacher Education Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst prepares students to teach history, government, civics, geography and economics in middle and high schools, grades 5 - 12. Our graduates have become teachers, department chairs, school administrators, lawyers, museum educators, community organizers, activists and policymakers.  

Our program combines academic study in history and related social science fields with field experiences and teaching internships in local schools. We stress the importance of not just covering, but uncovering and discovering curriculum standards. We foster social justice and multicultural learning in our courses. We utilize digital tools and interactive technologies to promote active learning and student-centered instruction.


What you need to know to be a History/Social Studies teacher

Schools are seeking teachers who can inspire and engage students in the study of academic content while building the skills and dispositions for being an active participant in our nation’s democratic system of government.  


Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the job market for teachers?

School enrollments in the United States are continuing to increase. In fall 2019, 50.8 million public school students attended prekindergarten through grade 12, and that figure is projected to surpass 52 million by 2027.  American schools now enroll a majority of minority students. In 2019, there were 23.7 million White students and 27.1 million non-White students, distributed as followed: 7.7 million Black students, 13.9 million Hispanic students, 2.7 million Asian students, 0.2 Pacific Islander students, 0.5 million American Indian/Alaska Native students, and 2.1 million students of two or more races.

All of these students need teachers. There were 3.7 million teachers in fall 2019, and that number is projected to rise to 3.9 million by 2027 (Bustamante, 2019).  But many observers believe there is a current and growing teacher shortage; the Economic Policy Institute forecast a shortage of some 200,000 teachers by 2025. These numbers suggest that teaching could be a fine career choice for you.

How do I get teaching or teaching-related experience as an undergraduate student?

Gaining experience working with younger students is an excellent way to prepare for a career in teaching. Most history/social studies candidates take Education 497I: Tutoring in Schools, a four-credit course where undergraduates go to local schools and tutor culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Working with youth in summer camps, after-school programs and community organizations is also strongly encouraged.

Should I get a second major or an academic minor as part of my undergraduate program of study?

History/social studies teacher candidates are encouraged to develop wide-ranging undergraduate programs of study that can include a second major, one or more academic minors, or certificates of study in areas such as Latin American Studies or International Relations. Many candidates also pursue an Education Minor to gain background on teaching and learning in K-12 schools. Study Abroad programs are also ways for candidates to explore different cultures and languages while providing a background for history/social studies teaching in schools.

Subject Matter Requirements

Students who are becoming a history/social studies teacher must meet two sets of requirements:

  • What the state of Massachusetts requires for history teachers
  • What the National Council for Social Studies requires for social studies teachers

History teacher candidates typically major in history, African American history, political science, legal studies, or sociology.  As part of their program of study, students are required to fulfill the following Subject Matter Requirements.

Suggested UMass courses to fulfill requirement:

Non-Western Area Studies

(Two 3-credit courses)

  • HIST 110 Problems of World Civilization before 1500 *
  • HIST 111 World History II*
  • HIST 114 History of Chinese Civilization: Ancient Origins to the End of the Mongol Era
  • HIST 115 History of Chinese Civilization: Early Modern to the Present 
  • HIST 116 History of East Asian Civilization: Japan
  • HIST 120 Latin American Civilization: The Colonial Period
  • HIST 121 Latin American Civilization: The National Period
  • HIST 130 Middle Eastern History I
  • HIST 131 Middle Eastern History II
  • HIST 160 History of Africa to 1500
  • HIST 161 History of Africa since 1500**
  • Any upper level or graduate non-Western area studies course

(Also consult the 390 and 600 series of Special Topics courses and the 490 and 700 series of Seminars.)

*All University of Massachusetts History majors are strongly recommended to take History 110 and History 111
**All University of Massachusetts History majors must take at least two courses (100-level or upper level, in any combination) to be selected from the following areas: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, World.) 

European History

(Two 3-credit courses)

  • HIST 100 Western Thought to 1600 (or HIST 102H same, Honors)
  • HIST 101 Western Thought since 1600 (or HIST 103H same, Honors)
  • HIST 140 European History, 1500-1815 (or HIST 142H same, Honors)
  • HIST 141 European History, 1815 to Present (or HIST 143H same, Honors)
  • Any upper level or graduate European history course

(Also consult the 390 and 600 series of Special Topics courses and the 490 and 700 series of Seminars.) 

Pre-1500 History

(One 3-credit course)

  • HIST 100 Western Thought to 1600 (or 102H Honors equivalent)
  • HIST 110 Problems in World Civilization I
  • HIST 112 Intro to World Religions
  • HIST 114 History of Chinese Civilization: Ancient Origins to the End of the Mongol Era
  • HIST 130 Middle Eastern History I
  • HIST 160 History of Africa to 1500
  • HIST 180 Western Science and Technology I: From the Greeks to the Scientific Revolution
  • HIST 300 Ancient Greece
  • HIST 301 The Roman Republic
  • HIST 302 Early Middle Ages
  • HIST 303 Later Middle Ages
  • HIST 304 Late Middle Ages/Early Renaissance, 1300-1494
  • HIST 425 History of Christianity
  • Any graduate pre-1500 history course

(Also consult the 200, 300 and 600 series of Special Topics courses and the 400 and 700 series of Seminars.)

*All University of Massachusetts History majors must take one of the above courses or the equivalent. The list of appropriate pre-1500 history courses is updated each semester by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. 

United States History

(Two 3-credit courses)

  • HIST 150 Development of American Civilization to 1876 (or HIST 152H same, Honors)
  • HIST 151 Development of American Civilization since 1876 (or HIST 153H same, Honors)
  • HIST 154 Social Change and the 1960s
  • HIST 388 U. S. Women’s History to 1890
  • HIST 389 U. S. Women’s History since 1890
  • Any other upper level or graduate United States history courses
  • AFRO-AM 132 Afro-American History, 1619-1860
  • AFRO-AM 133 Afro-American History, Civil War to 1954

(Also consult the 200, 300 and 600 series of Special Topics courses and the 400 and 700 series of seminars.) 

Methods of Historical Research

(One 4-credit course)

Each semester a variety of courses are offered that involve research and writing. This pro-seminar is numbered as History 450. The History Department offers several sections of this course each semester, with each section being about a different historical topic, taught by History faculty who are experts in their field. Any one of these will meet this requirement.*

* All University of Massachusetts History majors must take one of these pro-seminars. The pro-seminar fulfills the junior year writing requirement.

Electives in History

(Four-Six 3-credit courses)

In consultation with advisor.


Resources for History and Social Studies Teachers

History and Social Science Curriculum Framework. Massachusetts Department of Education, 2018.   

Wiki: resourcesforhistoryteachers

  • Multicultural and multimodal learning activities linked to the learning standards Massachusetts History & Social Science Curriculum developed by the History Teacher Education Program here in the College of Education

Building Democracy for All:  Interactive Explorations of Government and Civic Life

  • e-Book featuring learning activities for the Massachusetts 8th Grade Civics Curriculum that can also be used with high school and AP Government classes


The College of Education offers the following two pathways to history teacher licensure at the master’s degree level:  

  • a one-year intensive teacher residency pathway where candidates teach in a school for an entire school year while taking the courses they need for a master’s degree and teacher license. These are Bridges to the Future and 180 Days in Springfield.
  • a two-year pathway where candidates take 12 credits of graduate coursework in history or a related field while completing the education courses needed for a master’s degree and teacher license. This is called University to Schools.


This programs leads to initial teacher licensure in Massachusetts. Because of reciprocity agreements between states, you may be able to transfer your license to another state. However, the College of Education at UMass Amherst makes no guarantees that this program meets teacher licensure requirements in any state other than Massachusetts. If you are seeking licensure in another state, click on the link below for the program of your choice for more information.  For assistance in determining whether this program will be appropriate for you, send your inquiry to the program contact identified in the program description. Access to your state’s licensing agency is available on the Teacher Licensure Agency Directory.


For initial inquiries, and to begin the admissions admissions process, please fill out the "Get Started" form.

For all other questions about this program, contact the program advisor: Robert Maloy, Senior Lecturer,