Teaching Certificate Social Studies 7-12

** This program is no longer accepting applications. Interested students should apply for our Master of Arts (MAT) in Teaching - Social Studies Education program. For questions, please contact soeinfo@pitt.edu**

Develop a career teaching social studies with the Pitt School of Education's Instructional I program in Social Studies Education. This intensive two-term program pairs rigorous coursework with substantial classroom time to prepare graduates with both the theoretical knowledge and the real-world experience that they will need to forge successful teaching careers. 

Quick Facts

  • Program Duration: Eight months over two terms (Fall, Spring)
  • Time Commitment: Full-time 
  • Term of Enrollment: Fall 
  • Course Requirements: 30 credits  
  • Application Deadline: January 15. Late applicants are encouraged to apply and will be considered based on available space in the program.
  • Admissions Requirements: GRE Exam Not Required

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Program Details

The Instructional I program in Social Studies Education offers students a rigorous course of instruction in teaching Social Studies topics in grades 7-12. The program satisfies the requirements for earning a Pennsylvania Instructional I Certification. This intensive, two-term program combines rigorous coursework with substantial hands-on teaching experience to give graduates both the theoretical grounding and real-world skill they will need to embark upon their teaching careers.  

Our program is focused on research-based best practices that support all children to learn and is committed to fostering practices that further social justice.


Degree Requirements:  

Student Teaching

During the school year, students complete their student teaching in a local school. Students are placed for an entire school year under the supervision of a mentor. In the fall, students spend approximately 10 hours working with their mentor teacher. In the spring semester, students in the Instruction I program are full-time in their school sites, culminating in a full take-over of teacher responsibilities for two weeks in the late spring. Students observe, analyze, and practice basic teaching skills in different grade levels and subject fields. 

Placements occur in a number of districts around the University of Pittsburgh, including Pittsburgh Public Schools, and many local suburban districts. Placements are made by the University, based on student interests and commuting information. During the time in the placement, a Pitt supervisor will visit a minimum of five times per semester; these observations provide direct and specific feedback for improvement and make sure all students are on track to successfully graduate the program and obtain their certification. 


The Instructional I in Social Studies Education satisfies the requirements for a Pennsylvania Instructional I Certificate, pending: 

  • earning a passing score on the national PRAXIS II Exam; 
  • completing the PA Statewide Evaluation Form for Student Professional Knowledge and Practice (PDE 430); and 
  • demonstrating satisfactory performance in courses and the student internship 

For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education certification website


Entrance to the Instruction I in Secondary Social Studies Education requires students to have completed coursework in the following areas. 

Area 1: Content Prerequisites (15–18 credits) 

This area requires a minimum of 5 three-credit courses. Courses must directly address content in the following topic areas. A single course may satisfy more than one of these required foci. If regional, period, and/or topic specific courses are used to meet these prerequisites, up to 3 additional credits will be required in order to meet content expectations. 

  • U.S. History; 
  • Western European History; 
  • World History (non-Western); 
  • Ancient History; 
  • Geography; and 
  • World Cultures 

Area 2: Civics (3 credits) 

The course must focus on general themes of political science, particularly those related to democracy, civic engagement, American political systems, or related topics. 

Area 3: Economics (3 credits) 

A course in basic or advanced Economics is required 

Area 4: Sociology and Social Foundations (3 credits) 

This prerequisite may be satisfied by a course in either the humanities, social sciences, or education that examines how socially constructed categories create advantages and disadvantages in social or educational institutions. 

Examples include courses that explore the history, nature, or implications of: 

  • classism and capitalism; 
  • heterosexism, homophobia, genderism, and sexism; 
  • racism, xenophobia, and ethnocentrism; 
  • religious oppression; 
  • ableism; and/or  
  • other, interrelated forms of subordination 

All students must also complete Foundations of Special Education (3 credits) before entering the program. 

In addition, applicants to the program are expected to provide documentation of 30 hours of experience working with K–12 children. These hours can be fulfilled by obtaining experiences with children through: 

  • summer camp; 
  • Sunday school; 
  • Hebrew school; 
  • tutoring; or 
  • other volunteer or paid work with children 

**Due to the challenges associated with COVID-19, the admissions committee will consider this requirement on a case-by-case basis. Please speak to your Admissions and Enrollment contact with any concerns you may have in meeting this requirement.** 

Applicants may wish to try the interactive online transcript review feature to track their progress online. Graduate enrollment managers are available to work with you to streamline the admissions process and make sure you have all the courses you need. 

Career Pathways

The majority of our graduates go on to become Social Studies teachers in secondary settings. Many also teach classes in civics, economics, or global studies in their schools.

Some of our graduates ultimately decide to return to school and obtain either their masters or doctorate degree, focused in various areas of educational practice and research.