As one of four key curriculum areas in education, social studies leverages knowledge of the academic disciplines (history, sociology, anthropology, political science, economics and geography) to contribute to the development of reflective, competent, concerned and civically engaged citizens. Never have the aims and goals of the social studies been more imperative and far-reaching than they are today. In our increasingly globalized and digitized society, it is important for students to understand the historical context of our traditional notions of democracy, as well as how to envision a new future. Within this context, we teach social studies researchers to guide our study of society and to provide educative experiences that enable all students to participate more fully and more authentically in a democracy. This includes preparation for post-secondary education in history and the related disciplines, as well as in the skills necessary for civic life – including critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration.
In addition to a rigorous course of study, our doctoral students have opportunities to:
- Collaborate on research initiatives with program faculty
- Attend and present at national conferences
- Teach social studies education courses
- Work with teacher candidates
- Take advanced graduate courses in history
Our graduates will be prepared to engage successfully in research, teaching and service, and to contribute to the field of social studies. Individuals seeking admission to this program should have a strong background in social studies education and a desire to be prepared to conduct original research in the field.
Students in our doctoral program benefit from our long tradition of expert faculty – including the late Peter Martorella who was one of the leaders in social studies education within our field. We continue to honor Peter with the Martorella Student Award, providing a scholarship to one graduate student majoring in social studies teacher education each year. Marsha Alibrandi and Candy Beal also guided the development of the current concentration in social studies education in the C&I PhD. Since 2006, John Lee and Meghan Manfra (2008) have continued to build on this tradition, successfully recruiting and supporting new doctoral students. We have a strong faculty with national reputations in our field. Two faculty members have published notable textbooks – Beal, Bolick and Martorella’s Teaching Social Studies in Middle and Secondary Schools (5th Edition) and Lee’s Visualizing Elementary Social Studies Methods.
Our vision of the future for social studies education represents a challenging task. We are fortunate to have committed faculty, enthusiastic students and accomplished graduates who work for transformative change in our field. We invite you to join us in this work.
Likely Career Opportunities for Graduates
- Tenure track positions in social studies education
- Research positions
- Directors of educational institutes (e.g., Center for Economics Education)
- Curriculum specialists for LEAs or state departments of instruction
Course of Study
Our doctoral program consists of 30 hours of study, not including research methods.
Course descriptions can be found in the university course catalog.
Social Studies Specialty Courses
- ECI 525: Contemporary Approaches in the Teaching Of Social Studies
- ECI 526: Theory and Research in Social Studies Education
- ECI 530: Social Studies in the Elementary School
- ECI 524: Theory and Research in Global Learning
- ECI 729: Digital History and Pedagogy
- ECI 820: Doctoral Seminar: Research on Social Studies Teaching and Learning
Advanced Graduate Courses in History or the Social Sciences
- HI 548 American Women in the 20th Century
- HI 534 Theory and Practice of Digital History
- HI 508 Emerging Technologies and Society
- HI 555 History of the Civil Rights Movement
- HI 557 Twentieth-Century US Intellectual History
- HI 563 Topics in History and Memory
Social Foundations of Education and Contemporary Contexts
- ECI 501 Foundations of Curriculum
- ECI 700 Curriculum Theory and Development
- ECI 500 Theory and Practice In Teaching Diverse Populations
- ECI 547 Knowledge Construction: Implications for Multicultural Education
- ECI 517 Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Learning Environs
- ECI 551 Teaching/Learning Approaches for Emerging Adolescents
*NOTE*: For doctoral students either part-time or full-time who are working on their dissertation.
Writing the dissertation requires a major commitment of time and effort on both the part of the doctoral student and the faculty advisor. There should be consultation between the student and the dissertation chair about what is expected to be accomplished, and how much time is to be invested before the student registers. The College of Education strongly recommends that students who are registering for dissertation research (895) or preparation (899) register for at least 3 semester hours per semester, when appropriate.
Current Faculty and Research Interests (listed alphabetically):
- Candy Beal social studies curriculum development, middle grades education, social studies and global education
- John Lee digital historical resources, new literacies, College, Career and Civic Life Framework for Standards in Social Studies
- Meghan Manfra digital history, technology integration, action research for the professional development of teachers
- Beth Sondel critical theory, effects of privatization and market-based reform on the social justice and democratic purposes of schooling
- Patricia Marshall
We are proud of our recent graduates. We include a list of them here to illustrate the range of research conducted by our students and the career opportunities available (listed alphabetically):
- Daniel Kelvin Bullock, Ph.D. (2013) Real World Engagement: A Case Study of a Teacher’s Implementation of Project Based Learning in Social Studies – K-12 Social Studies Specialist, Durham Public Schools.
- Jennifer Davis-Doyle, Ph.D. (2013) North Carolina Textbooks in the 19th Century: “To Interest and Instruct the Boys and Girls of North Carolina.” – Adjunct Assistant Professor of History, Campbell University.
- Megan List, Ph.D. (2012) Historical Thinking in Information Rich Environments: An Exploration of Eighth Grade Students’ Actions Locating and Analyzing Digital Historical Sources – Assistant Professor of Social Studies Education, Youngstown State University.
- Jeff Probert, Ph.D. (2013) Impact of Computer Gameplay on Student Learning and Standardized Test Scores: An Action Research Case Study Utilizing Civilization IV: Colonization with High School Students in a United States History Course – Teacher, Beaufort County Early College.
- Elizabeth Saylor, Ph.D. (2015). Preservice Elementary Teachers’ Perspectives of Feminism — Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Georgia.
- Crystal Simmons, Ph.D. (2015). A Critical Race Theory Content Analysis of a High School African American Social Studies Curriculum — Assistant Professor, SUNY Geneseo.
- Kelvin Spragley, PhD. (2009) Exploring congruity of curriculum and instruction policy positions between the North Carolina Association of Educators and its teacher members – Assistant Professor of History, Louisburg College.
- GRE Scores
- Three Letters of Recommendation
- Statement of Purpose
- Writing Sample
We strongly encourage, but do not require, that applicants have at least three years of K-12 teaching experience. We also highly recommend that potential applicants contact program faculty to set-up phone or face-to-face interviews.
Current social studies doctoral students and research interests (listed alphabetically)
- Seth Brown (Teacher leadership, social studies curriculum and development)
- Rebekah Cole (Gifted education and curriculum)
- Robert Coven (Modeling social studies concepts, visualization, digital humanities)
- Chris Dague (Critical theory, AP social studies curriculum, action research)
- Stephen Day (Economics education, curriculum frameworks
- Jeff Greiner (Social studies teaching and learning)
- William Keating (Middle grades social studies)
- Evan Long (Teacher education, national standards)
- Charlotte Roberts (elementary social studies education)