History/Social Studies Major

Advising Guidelines

The History/Social Studies major is designed to provide the academic major and content knowledge necessary to earn a Social Studies teaching endorsement at the Secondary level. It is not the sum total of what students must have to earn a Washington State teacher certificate, for they must also successfully complete a teacher education program that includes a number of education-related classes, exams, etc.

Western's teacher education program is completed separately from the academic major through the Woodring College Secondary Education program. It may be completed through one of three routes: as an undergraduate, as a post-baccalaureate following completion of the BA in History/Social Studies, or through a Master's in Teaching program.

Students must realize that declaring this major does not automatically qualify them for admission to the Woodring College Secondary Education program or to teach in the public school system. It does provide more than the minimum requirements in the academic concentration than the state mandates, which from our perspective is a good thing. In order to qualify for a Social Studies endorsement through the Department of History, students must complete the equivalent of the History/Social Studies major. Beginning September 1, 2005, students must also successfully pass the WEST-E/Praxis II subject knowledge test.

The Major Requirements

The History/Social Studies major is essentially the "History Major" plus a Social Studies component that is "welded" into a single unit. This major leads to a teaching endorsement in Social Studies when accompanied or followed by a professional teacher education program.

The History component of the major requires:

  • 60 total credits
  • 30 credits must be upper division
  • No more than 12 of the total credits may double count for GURs
  • 3 courses must be in US History, 2 in European, and 2 from other areas as defined in the catalog (including ancient)
  • Hist 391 Pacific Northwest History or its equivalent from another institution is required and may not be counted toward the US History component.
  • History 499 is required and may not be counted in any of the "fields"

The Social Studies component of the major requires:

  • 30 total credits in Social Studies (anthropology, economics, geography, political science, psychology, sociology)
  • Students may count any number of these as GURs (the 12 credit limit only applies to the History component of the major)
  • One course or its equivalent is required in the following:
    • Human or cultural geography (EGEO 201 at WWU) - not physical geography, though this may be counted toward elective credits
    • Introduction to Political Science or International Politics (POLS 101 - Government and Politics in the Modern World, at WWU
    • American Government (POLS 250 - The American Political System, at WWU)
  • Two courses in economics. Either:
    • Macro and Micro Economics (ECON 206 and 207 at WWU) or
    • ECON 446 and 447 (economics for teachers, which Woodring prefers)
  • Additional electives to reach a total of 30 credits in the social sciences. These electives should be relevant to the student's long-term goals or some area of focus and expertise. (In the former, developmental psychology might be a good idea or the sociology of the family, and in the latter any coursework that would help the student develop a distinctive profile for employment as a teacher.)

In both the History and Social Studies components of the major, no grade of less than a "C" may count toward the major. Students must maintain a GPA of 2.5 or better within the major. However Woodring College requires students to maintain a GPA of 2.75. Realistically, students with a 3.0 or higher are more likely to gain admission than students with a 3.0 or lower. They may calculate this using the grade calculator available online through Academic Advising. Students with marginal grades should have done this prior to meeting with an advisor for the final major evaluation.

In the major, students should seek to distinguish themselves from others in the "pack" through a strong academic record and various possible specializations that might make them better candidates for a school district. As many schools have curricula in World History, Asian History, and Ancient History, these are several likely areas for additional concentrations. Students should take advantage of the department's strengths outside U.S. and European History and should consider African, Middle Eastern, Canadian, Latin American, and Asian History to broaden their profiles. In short, while students need grounding in US and European History, these are not the "be all and end all" of their undergraduate studies in the academic major. It is also clear that schools will often assign new teachers to geography, civics, economics, and/or other social science classes. It can be most helpful to have more than the minimum preparation in those areas.

Relationship of History/Social Studies Major

Education programs in other colleges and schools

  1. This is an academic major so the focus is on history and social studies. Students interested in teaching at the secondary level (high school) cannot major in education, but must complete an approved academic major that qualifies for a teaching endorsement.
  2. This major does not automatically qualify students for certification by the state, nor does it guarantee acceptance into any Secondary Education program. It prepares them only in the academic areas. (Redundant, but worth repeating!)
  3. Students must apply separately, outside the History Department, to the Woodring College of Education Secondary Education teacher certification program or a similar program at another school.   Students must check with the specific program as to requirements. Although History faculty are conversant with teacher education requirements at Western, students must consult with WCE Teacher Education Admissions or like individuals at other institutions regarding professional teacher education programs.
  4. Students graduate with an academic major in History/Social Studies. This is the responsibility of the History Department, and students must satisfy all the requirements of the major to graduate.
Page Updated 05.18.2012