Bachelor of Social Science in Secondary Education Social Studies

School of Behavioral Sciences and Education

The Secondary Education Social Studies major prepares students to meet the requirements to be certified for the Social Studies Instructional I Certificate as established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The major prepares students to teach history, government, economics, geography, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. This program is recognized by National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS).

Students are challenged to prepare for teaching assignments at the middle and high school level, and in diverse settings characterized as rural, urban, and suburban. The art and science of teaching in secondary schools is undergoing significant transformation as new technologies, time allocation for instruction, and new instructional strategies are impacting the delivery of social studies instruction.

For a B.SOSC. degree in Secondary Education Social Studies, a minimum of 123 credits is required.

Special Admissions Information

Admission Requirements

Applicants should have completed most of their first two years of college with a cumulative grade-point average to meet or exceed the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s required minimum GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale).  In addition, students must have a grade of "C" or better in six credits of college-level mathematics (MATH or STAT prefixes), three credits of college-level English literature, and three credits of English composition. The Office of Enrollment Services at Penn State Harrisburg is responsible for evaluating prior college work.

Students accepted into the Teacher Education Program must show the certified results of “no record” from these clearances before being allowed to enter schools for observation and student teaching:

  • FBI Clearance Fingerprint check
  • Act 151 PA Child abuse history clearance
  • Act 34 Request for criminal record check

Please read the clearance information page for more details about the required clearances

Entry to Major Requirements

Entry to the Secondary Education Social Studies major requires the students to meet or exceed the state's minimum GPA of 3.0. Students must complete, with a grade of "C" or better, six (6) credits of college-level mathematics (MATH or STAT prefix), three (3) credits of college-level English literature, and three (3) credits of college-level composition.

Candidates must provide evidence of taking the PAPA (Pre-Service Academic Performance Assessment) and submit their scores for the three modules in Reading, Writing and Mathematics.

A Career in Teaching Social Studies

The Secondary Education Social Studies major will prepare students to teach social studies in secondary schools grades 7 to 12. As secondary school teachers, they will delve more deeply into subject matter introduced broadly during the elementary years. The Occupational Outlook Handbook, provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides the following description of secondary teaching responsibilities: Teachers prepare presentations and must adapt to individual student needs; they assign readings in textbooks; use exercises to develop skill proficiency; listen to oral presentations; assess students’ progress; they also must provide discipline and maintain an environment conducive to learning; they work closely with students, parents and other teachers and counselors; they may oversee study halls and homerooms; and supervise extracurricular activities.

Job Outlook

The job market for teachers varies by geographic area and by subject specialty. Many inner cities and rural areas have difficulty attracting enough teachers, so job opportunities are better in these areas than they are in suburban areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment for secondary teachers is expected to be excellent through 2010. Enrollment of secondary school students is expected to grow throughout most of the projected period. Competition for positions is expected to be high.

Secondary Education Social Studies students should graduate with organizational, administrative, and communications abilities and an excellent background in the social studies. Other career areas requiring these skills include: public relations, sales, social work, employee training and development, social service, and employment counseling.


The Pennsylvania Department of Education approves this major, and students who successfully complete the requirements and are recommended by the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education will be certified for either the Citizenship Education or Social Science Instructional I Certificate as established by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Certification requirements for teachers vary by state.

Student Organizations

The Future Secondary Teachers Club and the International Affairs Association provide excellent opportunities for student involvement and growth. In addition, students demonstrating academic excellence may consider membership in Kappa Delta Pi and Pi Gamma Mu.

Accreditation and Licensure

This program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), whose "performance-based system of accreditation fosters competent classroom teachers and other educators who work to improve the education of all P-12 students. NCATE believes every student deserves a caring, competent, and highly qualified teacher."

Penn State Harrisburg had an overall passing rate of 94% for all Praxis tests as compared to a statewide passing rate of 93%. (2011-12 Praxis Exam Pass Rates)

Teacher Education Forms and Handbooks

A repository of forms and handbooks related to clearances, state certification testing, and other essential program documents

This page is not a part of the official Penn State University Bulletin.