Best Online Master’s in Social Studies Degrees

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Become an important part of history with one of the nation’s best online master’s in social studies degrees.

Do you want to teach young minds the significance of civic engagement? Can you see yourself in the classroom, leading dynamic lectures on everything from U.S. history to globalization? Then a master’s in social studies degree may be the best move for you.

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What kind of online master’s in social studies degree should you get?

Depending on the program, you could graduate with licensure, certification, or advanced specialization. Though some programs won’t lead to licensure, you can still find yourself teaching. Some of these programs specialize in curriculum development, literacy counseling, and more.

At College Choice we’ve been sure to note those programs that ensure entrance into the classroom and those that prepare you in other ways.

Whichever program you choose, all of these degrees can be completed fully online.

Online education is a flexible and affordable way to advance your education and career. For that reason, be sure to check out College Choice’s Best Online Colleges and Universities.

How much money do people make with an online master’s in social studies degree?

With an advanced degree in social studies you will be prepared for a range of careers. And while it’s no secret that teachers are among the most underpaid profession in the nation, you have reason to be optimistic.

On average, a high school teacher makes close to $60,000 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Instructional coordinators make closer to $64,000 a year and curriculum developers can make up to $97,000 a year.

What can you do with a master’s degree in social studies?

Though an advanced degree in social studies can lead to classroom instruction, notably in grades 6-12, there are many reasons to earn this degree and many ways to apply it.

Upon graduation you will find yourself fully prepared to work in an array of settings. These programs can help you become a literacy specialist, a curriculum designer, a youth tutor, and much more.

What are the requirements for an online master’s in social studies degree?

These are all two-year programs that require a set of core classes followed up by electives and specializations. So you will start your degree taking coursework that covers civic education, politics, world and US history, and global perspectives.

From there each program varies a bit in emphasis and scope. While some require student teaching hours, others require capstone research projects. We’ve been sure to note the nuances and requirements of every program.

What are the best online master’s in social studies degrees?

These five programs share one important thing in common: they offer the nation’s best online social studies degrees.

In determining the best, we first looked at every program across the nation offering the degree online. From there we considered key factors such as school reputation, retention rate, the early salaries of graduates, and tuition costs.

This exhaustive research helped us narrow down the 5 best online master’s in social science degrees.

Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.


See our rankings methodology page.

  1. New York University

    New York, NY




    Located in Greenwich Village, New York University is a private school committed to research. It has campuses throughout the world as well as a global campus. Across all campuses, NYU is home to more than 50,000 students who are enrolled in one of the university’s many colleges and professional schools.


    At NYU you can earn an MA in Teaching Social Studies with certification in grades 7-12. It’s important to note that some on-campus requirements apply. But there’s also online coursework that you pair with immersive, daily teaching. Additionally, you will enroll in modules with topics such as:

    • What Learning Environments Are Out There?
    • How Do I build a Culture of Achievement for My Students and Myself?
    • What Special Education Process and Policies Am I Responsible For?
    • How Do I Teach Reading and Writing in My Discipline?


    For those who want a hands-on learning experience, it’s hard to do much better than NYU. You will literally teach all day then study online at night. You’ll be the lead teacher in the classroom too, applying what you learn at night to the class the next day.

  2. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

    University Park, PA




    Penn State’s World Campus, also known as “Penn State Online” is 20 years old. It is one of the country’s longest standing virtual campuses. Indeed, Penn State started offering distance education courses in the nineteenth century! Today, thousands of students receive an education from Penn State’s global campus that is identical to that offered on campus.


    Penn State’s global campus offers a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction degree with an emphasis on Social Studies Education. Designed for practicing educators, this program is notably interdisciplinary. Students work closely with faculty members to study those areas of instruction and social studies that are of most relevance to their careers. Classes cover:

    • Civic Education
    • Democracy Education and Democratic Pedagogy
    • Place and Community
    • Global Education


    Looking for a flexible, multi-disciplinary program? This could be the one for you. Penn students are encouraged to explore topics, methods, and theories across departments. Whether you want to pair social studies with language, cultural theory, or literacy studies, Penn will help you find a way.

  3. University of Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh, PA




    The University of Pittsburgh is a research university with strengths in many academic areas, from the humanities to medicine. Pitt is organized into 17 colleges and schools and has nearly 30,000 students. Located in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, Pitt often partners with Carnegie Mellon, the area’s medical centers, and the Carnegie Museums.


    Pitt’s online School of Education offers an M.Ed. in Secondary Social Studies degree. This program provides a comprehensive introduction to instruction and learning. As a Pitt online student you will participate in research projects, study pedagogical theory, and apply your knowledge to social studies practices. You’ll also take coursework covering:

    • Psychological Perspectives on Education
    • Social and Cultural Perspectives on Education
    • Social Studies Pedagogy
    • Research Methods


    Though an online student, you won’t feel like one! Pitt ensures you work closely with faculty who also teach on campus. You will also have access to all the same resources and services as campus students, including digital library archives, academic advisement, and career counseling.

  4. SUNY Buffalo

    Buffalo, NY




    The Buffalo member within the State University of New York System is a large research institution with more than 30,000 students. SUNY Buffalo is organized into 13 colleges that proffer academic and professional degrees in everything from the arts to medicine, engineering, and education.


    When you earn a master’s degree in social studies at SUNY Buffalo you will graduate prepared to become a social studies teacher. But you will also be trained to become a tutor in youth-focused programs, a literacy specialist, a curriculum developer, or a training and education professional. The SUNY curriculum includes classes such as:

    • Introduction to Social Studies Education
    • Seminar in the Teach of Social Studies
    • Teaching the Exceptional Learner in the Regular Education Classroom
    • Research in Social Studies Education


    SUNY Buffalo is ranked among the top 100 best schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Even more, its graduate education programs are ranked fifteenth in the nation. This program is not only well-ranked, affordable, and flexible, it’s also known for its emphasis on mentoring. Students work closely with faculty as well as industry leaders.

  5. University of Missouri-Columbia

    Columbia, MO




    The University of Missouri is a large research-based university located in Columbia. It is a land-grant institution with more than 30,000 combined undergraduate and graduate students. Mizzou is organized into 20 academic colleges through which it offers more than 300 programs of study.


    The College of Education and the University of Missouri offers an M.Ed. in Social Studies Education. Housed in the Department of Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum, you can anticipate a degree focused on curriculum building and learning theory. This 30 hour program is fully online and covers everything from technology in social studies to civic education. You’ll take classes such as:

    • Patterns for Instruction in Social Studies
    • Secondary Social Studies Curriculum
    • Issues in the Social Studies Classroom
    • Inquiry into K-12 History


    A member of the elite Association of American Universities, Mizzou is a top-ranked public school. The College of Education is one of the oldest schools in Mizzou, having been founded in 1868. Today it is known for being one of the best schools of education in the nation. Likewise, the online graduate education programs are ranked thirty-sixth nationally by U.S. News & World Report.

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