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Frequently Asked Questions About The History/Social Studies Teaching Program

 I want to be a history and social studies teacher.  What do I need to do?

  1. If you are an undergraduate student, you must complete the History/Social Studies Teaching major, be admitted to the Professional Education Program, and complete all of its courses and requirements.  You must also complete all other University requirements for graduation.  Forms required to declare the History/Social Studies Teaching major can be obtained in the Department of History.  Details about admission to the Professional Education Program can found in Black Hall 101.

    If you have already graduated, you are considered a post-baccalaureate student and the path toward teacher certification is slightly different.  Please see the relevant question and answer below.

  2. I already have a degree, from Central or elsewhere, in history, political science, geography, economics, or in one of the other social sciences.  Can I obtain a teaching endorsement?

    Absolutely.  In most cases, the route to a social studies teaching endorsement will be shortened, sometimes significantly so.  However, because you already have a degree, it is imperative that you begin the process by requesting a credit evaluation from either the Certification Office in the College of Education or from the History/Social Studies Teaching Program coordinator in the Department of History.  It is very likely that many of the courses you took for your major can be applied toward your social studies teaching endorsement.  A credit evaluation will determine exactly which additional courses you must take in order to receive certification.  As a post-baccalaureate "certification-only" student not seeking a degree, your transcripts will be measured against the state requirements for social studies endorsements, not against the History/Social Studies Teaching major.  Though the requirements are similar, they are not necessarily identical.  It is for this reason that a personalized credit evaluation, completed by the offices noted above, is essential.
  3. Once I have declared the History/Social Studies Teaching major, do I need to be admitted to any other programs?

    Yes.  You must also be admitted to, and complete, the Professional Education Program in order to earn a History/Social Studies Teaching degree.  Details for admission to the Professional Education Program may be found in Black Hall, Room 101.
  4. Do I have to have a certain GPA to be in the teaching program?

    Yes.  In order to be admitted to the teaching program, students must have a GPA of 3.0 in their previous 45 quarter credits.  (Students with a GPA of 2.8 may be considered for conditional admittance if additional requirements are met. Details about conditional admittance may be found in Black Hall, Room 101.)  Additionally, in order to graduate with a teaching major, all students must have a GPA of 3.0 in their last 45 quarter credits.  Finally, in order to count toward certification, all courses required for the History/Social Studies Teaching major and Professional Education Program must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.
  5. Which WEST-E exam do I need to take and when should I take it?

    In order to be certified to teach, all students MUST pass the WEST-E exam in Social Studies (#028). Although your Social Studies endorsement will allow you to teach history, the WEST-E in History is NOT sufficient for an endorsement in Social Studies.  Thus, be sure to take the WEST-E in Social Studies (Test Code 028).

    You must register for this exam prior to applying for student teaching.  However, in order to increase the odds of success on the exam, it is generally recommended that you not take it until most or all of your history/social studies coursework is complete.

  6. In what order should I take the History/Social Studies Teaching major courses?

    In general, there are very few prerequisites for courses in the History/Social Studies Teaching major.  However, when you take some of the courses is still very important:
    •      HIST 302, Introduction to History:  HIST 302 MUST be taken before HIST 481 and you must be of sophomore or junior standing to take it.  This course teaches the research and writing skills necessary to most successfully complete other upper-division (300- and 400-level) courses in history.  Thus, you should seek to take it as soon as you have completed most of your 100-level American and world history courses and before you enroll in upper-division history courses.  HIST 302 is generally offered fall, winter, and spring quarters.

    • HIST 421, Methods and Materials for Secondary Social Studies:  You are required to have been fully admitted to the Education program and you must be at least of junior standing to take this course.  However, it is also HIGHLY recommended that you have taken the introductory methodology course in Education, EDCS 311, as HIST 421 builds on skills learned in that course.  Generally speaking, students who are most successful in HIST 421 take it during their senior year just before student teaching.  HIST 421 is usually scheduled twice during each academic year.

    •      HIST 481, Understanding History:  To take this course you must be of senior standing and have completed HIST 302. Since it is a capstone course—a course designed to measure your history skills at the end of the program—it also makes sense that you have taken most of the other history classes required by the major.  HIST 481 is generally offered fall, winter, and spring quarters.

    All other classes may be taken when they fit into your schedule.  In general, it is best to complete most of the lower-division courses before enrolling in upper-division courses, but it is not required.  In some cases, it is valuable to keep one or two 100-level social studies courses untaken as they are very easy to schedule when you become a junior or senior and have fewer electives from which to choose.

    In general, try to avoid quarters where you have more than two history courses scheduled.  A good mix of classes (one or two history, one or two education, and one or two social studies) generally works best.

    Finally, be aware that while there are very few prerequisites on the History/Social Studies side of the program, there are VERY strict prerequisites on the education side.  Be sure to explore fully all requirements of the Professional Education Program so that you are familiar with these prerequisites.

  7. I’m already close to earning a non-teaching degree in history, political science, geography, economics, or in one of the other social sciences, but have changed my mind and want to become a teacher.  Should I switch my major to History/Social Studies Teaching immediately?

    Not necessarily.  The answer is a bit complicated. 

    For financial reasons, it may make the most sense to continue to completion your existing major and then come back to Central as a post-baccalaureate “certification-only” student.  The reason this may be true is because in the State of Washington (and in some other states), your placement on the teacher’s salary schedule is partly dependent on how many credits you have earned beyond your first bachelor’s degree.  Thus, if you switch majors now to become a History/Social Studies Teaching major, you will graduate fully qualified to teach, but you will start out at the “BA+0 (credits)” level on the salary schedule.  If, instead, you finish your non-teaching degree and then come back to pick up your certification after you graduate, you will end up with additional credits beyond your B.A. 

    As an illustration, say it takes an additional 45 credits to pick up certification as a post-baccalaureate student.  In your first year of teaching, you would be placed not at the “BA+0” level, but instead at the “BA+45” level.  In most school districts around the state, this amounts to, on average, an additional $3000 in salary, every year, for the rest of your career.  On the other hand, if not far along toward a non-teaching major, the quickest, most efficient, and the cheapest route may be to switch to the History/Social Studies Teaching major immediately.  True, you would graduate without credits beyond your first bachelor’s degree, and thus earn less in salary.  However, the cost of obtaining your degree and certification—in terms of both tuition and time in school not earning a salary—might be significantly less as well. 

    As you can see, it really comes down to how far along you are toward a non-teaching major.   Regardless of what decision you make, be aware that there may be financial aid consequences.  Some students become ineligible for certain types of financial aid as soon as they earn their first bachelor’s degree.  Check with a financial aid counselor if in doubt.

  8. In tough economic times, what can I do to make myself a competitive applicant for history and social studies teaching jobs?

    History and Social Studies is one of the most competitive endorsement areas in middle and high school teaching.  Consequently, planning early in your program to be a competitive applicant is very important.  Aside from maintaining strong academic record, which is always important, there are a couple of ways to make yourself more competitive:
    1.   Pick up an endorsement in another teaching area.  Although a social studies teaching endorsement already allows you to teach history, geography, economics, civics, world problems, and sociology (just to name the more commonly taught social studies classes at the middle and high school levels), it is still very helpful to be able to teach in a different area entirely.  English/Language Arts is perhaps the most sought after complementary endorsement, especially at the middle-school level, but endorsements in any other area will increase your competitiveness on the job market.
    2.    Have a genuine interest in, be prepared to, and ideally have some experience in, leading extracurricular activities, including athletics.  Teachers in the K-12 environment must contribute to their schools and students outside the classroom.  Participating in related activities on the college campus and, better yet, volunteering to work with students in extracurricular activities in the K-12 schools are good ways to build your resume in this regard.
  9. Should I get my masters degree right away?

    The answer to this question can be complicated. 

    On the one hand, a master’s degree definitely has its advantages.  In addition to providing a more substantial foundation of knowledge that may be very useful in the classroom, having a master’s degree can help you earn significantly more in salary.  In Washington, assuming you haven’t already earned credits beyond your bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree is worth about $7000 per year.

    At the same time, getting K-12 teaching experience first will tell you what type of graduate degree you might want to pursue.  As noted above, a master’s degree in history (or other social studies field) will certainly provide you with a greater foundation of knowledge that can be very useful for a career in the social studies classroom.  However, should you eventually choose to become a principal or school counselor—a path taken by many teachers after they have been in the classroom for a few years—you will need to earn a master’s in school administration or school counseling.  In short, it’s really hard to know what you will want to do for the long term, and thus what graduate degree to pursue, until you have had some experience as a professional educator.

    Finally, often asked is, “Will having a master’s degree price me out of a job?”  No.  Because the state reimburses school districts for teacher salaries, there is no disadvantage to the district for hiring teachers with advanced degrees.

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