Secondary Education Certification

Secondary Education Certification Master of Arts Teaching (M.A.T.) - Social Studies

About Social Studies 7-12 Teaching Certification

Foster informed citizenship with teaching certification and a master's degree.

Whether you have a background in social studies or are embarking on a new career, PennWest California's graduate degree program in social studies education enables you to complete your Level I teaching certification for grades 7-12 and obtain your master's degree in five semesters.

Secondary education graduate courses are held online and during a two-day on-campus residency, so you can earn your degree even if you work full time.

Gain confidence as a classroom leader.

  • Take core courses in the latest pedagogical methods and learn best practices for teaching social studies.
  • Extensive fieldwork and student teaching develop your skills and help you stand out in the secondary education job


Strong Reputation: PennWest California was founded as a teachers college, and we've been producing top-quality Pennsylvania educators for more than 160 years. All core professors in this program have doctorate degrees and most have years of real-world secondary education teaching experience.

Top Accreditation: This  degree program is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In addition, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) accredits PennWest California. CAEP promotes excellence in educator preparation through quality assurance and continuous improvement. See CAEP reporting measures of program impact and outcomes.


Students that need additional coursework to fulfill the Pennsylvania Department of Education Requirements may need to take on-campus courses.

average annual salary for secondary education teachers in Pennsylvania. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
weeks of full-time student teaching in a real classroom.
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Degree Benefits

Core pedagogy courses will give you mastery of the latest practices and theories in social studies education while expanding your subject-area expertise. You'll also gain extensive hands-on experience through classroom observations and student teaching.

  • Study social studies curriculum development techniques and how to use the Standards Aligned System (SAS).
  • Learn top strategies in classroom management.
  • Master classroom technology for teaching social studies.
  • Deepen your knowledge of history, anthropology, U.S. politics, geography and other related topics.
  • Gain real-world teaching experience.
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Graduate Outcomes

Graduates of this program are prepared to teach secondary education social studies, history and related subjects at public or private schools. They also find jobs as social studies program coordinators, evaluators and curriculum specialists. Program alumni employers include dozens of schools across the country.


Curriculum, Admission Requirments, and Related Programs

Our rigorous courses are constantly evolving to equip you with the most up-to-date theories and practices in the field of social studies education. Professional graduate degree program classes are delivered online and during a short summer residency. All students are required to have current school clearances to participate in field experience and sign up for courses.



Course Credits
Required Courses
MSE 641  Orientation to 7-12 Education 3
MSE 642  Standards-Based Instruction in 7-12 Education 3
MSE 643  Content Area Literacy 3
MSE 644  Instructional Strategies in 7-12 3
MSE 645  Technology Integration in 7-12 Education 3
MSE 646  Assessments and Interventions 3
MSE 647  Classroom Management in 7-12 Education 3
MSE 654  Methods of Social Studies Teaching 7-12 3
MSE 661  Student Teaching 9
Total Credits 33

Undergraduate Content Course Requirements

Certification requirements for the Pennsylvania Department of Education include appropriate certification testing. A minimum of 30 credits of content area coursework is required. These courses may be taken at the undergraduate level. Students must demonstrate college coursework with a grade of C or higher in:

  • U.S. History 1
  • U.S. History 2
  • Early western civilization
  • Later western civilization
  • History elective
  • Non-western history
  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • American government
  • Sociology
  • Psychology

Note: Pennsylvania Department of Education requirements are subject to change.

Chapter 49-2

Chapter 49-2 requirements (12 credits) mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education must be met in order to receive certification. Courses may be satisfied with previously taken undergraduate or graduate courses, subject to approval of the program coordinator. Undergraduate 49-2 courses cannot be accepted for the graduate special education add-on certification program for students who later complete that program. If not already completed, the following courses are needed in addition to the requirements above:

  • ESP 610  Special Education Foundations and Collaboration
  • ESP 701  Introduction to Behavior Analysis
  • ESP 613  Evidence-based Practices in Secondary Inclusion
  • EDU 650  Supporting the English Language Learner

Student Teaching

Applications for spring student teaching are due October 1. Applications for fall student teaching are due April 1.

Student teaching requirements include:

  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher for all courses, including undergraduate content course requirements
  • A grade of C or higher for all required courses
  • Completion of all required courses prior to student teaching
  • Required clearances
  • No incomplete (I) grades
  • Passing of required Praxis tests
  • TB tests
  • Liability insurance
  • Education requirements, such as seminars and portfolios

Program Notes

  • The summer courses require a two-day residency in July.
  • Clearances are required at all times throughout the program and must be updated every July.
  • LiveText Watermark software is required for this program. 



Admission Requirements

Regular Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.80 or higher (Students with a GPA below 2.80 may apply for conditional admission)
  • Official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution

Conditional Admission Requirements

  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements:
    • Bachelor's degree with a GPA under 2.80 will be reviewed for a decision

Provisional Admission:
Applicants who have provided unofficial documentation of test scores, prerequisite courses, transcripts or lack of letter(s) of recommendation may be admitted provisionally.

This policy also applies to undergraduate students who apply for graduate admission pending bachelor degree completion. Upon receipt of all official documents, a student will be changed from Provisional Admission to either Regular Admission or Conditional Admission. Provisional Admission students may take classes for one term but will not be eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

Program Requirements

    • Depending on the area of certification chosen, the department will provide guidance if any foundation undergraduate courses need to be completed before applying for student teaching
  • Clearances:  Students are responsible for updating clearances annually through the Office of Field Experience.  In addition, clearances must be on file before applying for student teaching  - Acts 24, 34, 114, and 151

How to Apply:

School of Graduate Studies and Research
PennWest California
Box 91
250 University Ave. 
California, PA 15419 

For additional information:
Phone: 724-938-4187

Out of State Students:
All students who will be seeking certification outside of Pennsylvania are responsible for securing and following the certification requirements in the state in which they intend to apply for certification.

Related Programs


A social studies teacher from PennWest California stands in front of a map.

Professors with First-Hand Knowledge

Study best practices in social studies teaching with our experienced faculty. For example, Dr. Michael Perrotti has 15 years of teaching experience in public schools, including time serving as chair of the social studies department.

A social studies teacher in front of the classroom.

Course Spotlight: Teaching of Social Studies

Coordinate your knowledge of the social studies disciplines (history, geography, civics and government, economics, anthropology, psychology and sociology) with a range of teaching strategies for grades 7-12. Emphasis is given to the design, delivery and assessment methods that meet Pennsylvania academic standards for social studies education.

A PennWest California student rides his bike on campus.

On-campus Summer Residency

Get face-to face instruction, interact with your peers and teach sample lessons during an intensive two-day summer residency for PennWest California secondary education graduate students.


Social Studies Certification Faculty

Dr. Marcia Hoover
Professor; field coordinator, Department of Secondary Education and Administrative Leadership

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Dr. Connie Monroe

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Dr. Susan Morris-Rutledge
Associate Professor and ESL Program Coordinator

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Dr. Michael Perrotti
Education Department Chair; University-Wide Curriculum Committee Chair; Associate Professor

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Michael Ulderich
Assistant Professor

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Please Note: All students who will be seeking licensure/certification outside of Pennsylvania should consult the State Authorization web page for more information.