Social Studies Education

Our Programs

The Social Studies Education program at Rutgers Graduate School of Education offers a range of degree programs designed to prepare new social teachers, help experienced social studies teachers improve their practice, and expand the knowledge of people interested in social studies education.

Ed.M. with Certification Programs

For students interested in becoming certified social studies teachers, there are two pathways. The five-year teacher education program in social studies education, designed exclusively for Rutgers undergraduate students, leads to a master's degree and initial New Jersey K-12 social studies certification. The post-baccalaureate program in social studies education is a 45-credit program for students who have already received their bachelor degree and are interested in earning a master's degree and initial New Jersey K-12 social studies certification.

Ed.M. Program

For students seeking to expand their understanding of social studies education without earning a certification, we offer a 30-credit master's degree program in social studies education.

Doctoral Study

Dr. Justice and Dr. Rubin mentor doctoral students in the Ph.D. program in Theory, Organization and Policy and the Ed.D. programs in Education, Culture and Society and Teacher Leadership.

Current doctoral students are working with Dr. Justice and Dr. Rubin on such topics as the history of teaching in New York City, civic rights policy in Prince Georges County, Maryland, civic learning in post-conflict Guatemala, teaching about Islam in high school, elementary and middle school approaches to teaching about Sept. 11, 2001, social studies teachers' responses to the Common Core Curriculum Standards, the impact of an anti-bias curriculum on elementary students, and using youth participatory action research to train civic educators.

Our Faculty

Benjamin Justice, Ph.D.

After graduating from Yale College with a BA in history and a teaching certificate, Benjamin Justice began his career as a public school social studies teacher in Greenwich, Connecticut. Inspired and perplexed by the ways in which race and class privilege played out in an elite suburban public school, he decided to pursue graduate study at Stanford University in the history of American education. While at Stanford he worked as a university supervisor for the Stanford Teacher Education Program, observing and instructing pre-service teachers in Bay Area high schools. Dr. Justice joined the Rutgers Graduate School of Education faculty in 2002, taking charge (with Beth Rubin) of the Social Studies Education Program and teaching courses in history of education and social studies. He is an affiliate faculty member of the History Department, where he teaches in the global history M.A. program.

Dr. Justice's research focuses on the history of education in the United States, examining the ways in which the state interacts with citizens through institutions such as schools, prisons, faith-based organizations, policing and the military. He also writes on social education through popular film. He is currently completing a book with Colin MacLeod (University of Victoria, Canada) entitled, Have a Little Faith: Religion, Democracy, and Public Education in the United States. His last book, The Founding Fathers, Education, and "the Great Contest" was given the 2014 Critics Choice Award by the American Educational Studies Association. 

Beth C. Rubin, Ph.D. 

After earning her masters of arts in teaching from Brown University, Beth C. Rubin, taught social studies in a variety of northern California secondary schools. Teaching in a bilingual middle school, a racially diverse urban high school, and an affluent suburban high school sparked the questions around educational equity, classroom practice, and civic learning and identity that still concern her today. In her doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley’s program on social and cultural studies of education, Rubin developed a sociocultural, interpretive approach to the study of issues in education and expertise in preparing educators for urban settings. Dr. Rubin came to Rutgers GSE in 2001 where (along with Ben Justice), she runs the social studies education program, teaching courses in social studies teaching methods, urban education, civic education, and qualitative research. She co-founded and runs (with Dr. Thea Abu-El Haj) the GSE’s Urban Teaching Fellows program. 

Dr. Rubin is interested in how young people develop, both as learners and as citizens, amid the interwoven contexts of classroom, school, and community. A recent Fulbright award winner, Dr. Rubin is currently investigating how civic learning and identity take shape in post-conflict Guatemala. Her research team is conducting an analysis of youth participatory action research as a strategy for training new urban teachers to educate students for civic engagement.  Dr. Rubin’s recent book, Making Citizens: Transforming Civic Learning for Diverse Social Studies Classrooms describes how social studies teachers can integrate meaningful civic learning into their history classrooms. 

Featured Graduates

Heather Dunham is a 2008 graduate of the social studies education program, and a member of the first cohort of Rutgers GSE Urban Teaching Fellows. A tenured teacher at Shull Middle School, Heather runs after an after school youth participatory action research project that builds on work she was part of originating as an Urban Teaching Fellow.