MEd in Secondary Education Degree: Humanities Emphasis

Master of Education in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Humanities (Leads to Initial Teacher Licensure)Initial Program – Leads to Initial Teacher Licensure

Offered By: College of Education

Inspire Young Minds by Teaching Humanities

The Master of Education in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Humanities ITL degree program at Grand Canyon University can prepare you to work toward becoming a licensed secondary education teacher (grades 6–12) with a specialty in teaching humanities. If you enjoy being a part of helping guide your students through exposure to history, other cultures, literature, languages and other humanities education, this degree may be right for you.

The study of humanities and social sciences can vary widely in scope and may include the following areas:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Civics
  • Languages
  • English literature 

As a humanities education teacher, you may have the opportunity to help students: 

  • Ask questions about the world 
  • Understand diversity and the human condition 
  • Contemplate contemporary society through a historical lens 
  • Cultivate writing and reading skills 
  • Learn to think creatively 
  • Become informed and critical citizens 

In this master’s in secondary education degree program, you will study how to teach grades 6–12 subjects, including English, social studies, history and education psychology. The program emphasizes technology and diversity in education, as well as modern teaching methods and strategies to improve student achievement in the 21st century classroom. 

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Cultivate Curiosity in Students with Humanities Education

Teaching humanities in high school and middle school can prepare you to connect with your future students and help them with life beyond school. Humanities education is important for all, as it explores fundamental questions about who we are, where we are in life (theoretically speaking), and how we got there.1 Humanities courses often require students to develop critical thinking skills, to engage in thoughtful reflection and to recognize that the world is a diverse place that is full of different perspectives. GCU’s faith-integrated curriculum incorporates a Christian worldview, which cultivates an ethical and moral approach to education.

As a humanities educator, you will be taught the skills needed to, in turn, equip your students in middle school or high school with the tools they need to move forward in life with curiosity. It’s available through online classes or on-campus in the evening. Your coursework will conclude with a full-time, 15-week student teaching course. 

The opportunity to earn your education degree in humanities online or on campus via evening courses can provide flexibility and convenience. If you’re already engaged in teaching humanities in high school or middle school, you can continue to meet the obligations of your teaching career while furthering your own education from virtually anywhere. 

GCU’s online courses are accessible via our digital learning platform, which connects learners to highly qualified instructors who are knowledgeable in their fields. The online coursework teaches you to build competencies while also providing opportunities to engage in academic discussions with your peers online.2

The main difference between an initial licensure and non-licensure lies in their intended outcome. Initial licensure programs are designed for individuals pursuing careers that require professional licensure, whereas non-licensure programs are tailored for those pursuing fields where licensure is not mandatory or the student already has their license.

A program that leads to licensure, such as this master’s in secondary education degree, may be ideal if you are looking to earn your initial teaching license and may already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-teaching field. When you pursue an education degree with initial licensure, the knowledge and skills you are taught can prepare you to work toward earning a teaching certificate by completing practicum/field experience and passing the state exam for teaching licensure.

The non-licensure version of the master’s in secondary humanities degree program is shorter in duration, as it does not include the 15-week student teaching component and has 33 total credits as opposed to 41. This program may be a good fit if you already have a teaching license and would like to advance your career qualifications. 

Please note that candidates who take this pathway cannot obtain an Institutional Recommendation (IR) from GCU. This program does lead to teacher certification. Practicum hours, state exams, student teaching and an institutional recommendation from GCU are required. 

Teach Middle and High School Humanities with Your MEd Degree

Upon completing your education degree in humanities, whether through online or on-campus studies, and obtaining your teaching license, you'll be prepared to pursue teaching roles at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. This applies to a range of subjects within public or private educational institutions. Teachers may be designated to a certain area based on their subject matter specialty. 

Institutionally Accredited Courses for Advancing as a Humanities Teacher

This institutionally accredited and Arizona State Board of Education-approved program is designed specifically for adult learners who would like to build on their knowledge to deepen their understanding of educational methodologies and practices. Professionals in their respective fields lead courses with the goal of creating knowledgeable humanities teachers by sharing their own knowledge and experiences in secondary education, humanities and educational psychology. 

All courses meet the standards from the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) and the International Society of Technology Educators (ISTE). You will also participate in secondary education field experiences that guide you through 100 hours of practice-based and observational experiences. These experiential learning opportunities prepare you to practice applying concepts, theories and research in classroom settings. 

GCU Offers a Non-Licensure Version of This Program

Individuals may choose to opt for the non-licensure version of this MS in teaching humanities program to enrich their practice and contribute to the discourse on humanities in education without the commitment to licensure requirements. This non-licensure version may be ideal for established educators who want to deepen their understanding of humanistic approaches to education without pursuing licensure. Offering flexibility in curriculum choices and focusing on advanced scholarly research, this option gives professionals the opportunity to tailor their studies to their interests and career goals. 

MEd in Secondary Education: Humanities Emphasis FAQs

Whether you’re already teaching humanities in the classroom and thinking about advancing your own education, or you’re just beginning a career in teaching, you’ll have plenty to think about as you plan your career path. Use the following answers to frequently asked questions to guide your decision-making process about your future career in humanities education.

Total Credits: 41
Online: 6 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $605 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

If you firmly believe that children deserve an education that values critical thinking and creative thought and that embraces a diversity of worldviews and perspectives, then perhaps becoming a humanities educator is the right career path for you. Humanities teachers have opportunities to instill skills transferrable across industries in the rising generations. As a humanities educator, you can serve as an inspirational presence in the classroom — someone who nurtures and encourages students to strive toward their full potential. 

In high school or middle school settings, humanities educators cover a diverse range of subjects falling under the humanities umbrella. This includes human culture, history, literature, philosophy and the arts. Some of the subjects that a humanities educator might teach can include:3

  • Creative writing
  • Cultural studies
  • Art and music appreciation
  • Philosophy
  • World languages
  • Social studies
  • Critical thinking

Licensure requirements for educators interested in teaching humanities can vary by state. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, middle and high school teachers typically need a bachelor’s degree to teach, while some states also require a teaching license.4 Be sure to research the requirements for teachers in the state in which you plan to practice. 

Additionally, some states require a major in a specific content area, such as an education degree that emphasizes history education and all public school teachers need a teaching license or certification. Some public school teachers are required to earn a master’s degree.4

Prepare to share your passion for humanities education and inspire the rising generations of students. Apply today for enrollment in GCU’s master’s in secondary education with a humanities emphasis.

If seeking licensure or certification, applicants to the program are responsible for contacting their state department of education for licensure requirements and program approval. In addition, fingerprint and background clearance is required.

1 Mintz, Steven (2021, Aug. 30). Why We Need the Humanities in Today’s Career-Focused World. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved on August 10, 2023. 

2 Excluding observational and practice-based experiences, and student teaching.

Lesley, Younge (2020, May 3). What is a “Humanities” class? Teacher Lesley. Retrieved on August 10, 2023. 

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023, Jan. 10). How to become a high school teacher. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved August 3, 2023. 

Course List

41 credits
Degree Requirements:
41 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

Teacher candidates will survey the philosophical, historical, and sociological influences upon which secondary educational theories and practices are constructed and explore a variety of the common issues, trends, and opportunities that professional educators encounter in the field. Emphasis is placed on deepening understanding of personal biases and accessing resources to promote ethical practice, build strong relationships, and uphold the expectations of the profession. Candidates will prepare for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University by developing and strengthening the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the College of Education. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Candidates examine the United States Constitution, and the constitution of the State of Arizona. From this foundational review, candidates will explore application of the United States Constitution and the constitution of the State of Arizona in educational contexts. Practicum/field experience hours: 3. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will survey how early adolescents and adolescents grow and develop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and across the cognitive, social-emotional, and physical areas. This survey of the seminal concepts, principles, theories, and research related to the development of adolescents will allow candidates to build foundational knowledge for constructing learning opportunities that support individual students’ development, acquisition of knowledge, and motivation. Emphasis is placed on creating a collaborative environment to enhance student learning and well-being. Practicum/field experience hours: None. Fingerprint clearance not required. Prerequisite: SEC-502.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are introduced to the educational needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities and their families, including the definitions, characteristics, prevalence, causes and educational approaches to these disabilities and disorders. Teacher candidates will identify cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional patterns of learning and development for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Teacher candidates also survey the special education process involving the application of various laws and regulations. Practicum/field experience hours: 6. Fingerprint clearance not required.

Course Description

This course is designed to allow the teacher candidate the opportunity to learn techniques involved in the successful engagement and management of a learning environment. Major emphasis is placed to the establishment of a realistic discipline plan to manage student behavior, as well as engagement and management techniques and strategies to maximize instructional time, classroom procedures, and physical space. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SEC-501 or SEC-502 or approved enrollment in the Graduate Certificate of Completion Canyon L.E.A.P. to Teach, Secondary Education.

Course Description

Various orientations to curriculum development and assessment are investigated and elements of model curricula are examined specific to the areas of Humanities. Emphasis is placed on understanding current structures and trends in middle and high schools, as well as critical issues, as these relate to curriculum and assessment. Course content is strategically planned to enable participants to make informed curriculum decisions in Humanities classrooms to meet the needs of a diverse student population. Also emphasized is the alignment of educational objectives to standards and building both formative and summative assessments, including rubrics to analyze student learning. This course focuses on the principles and practices involved in curriculum design for Humanities classrooms. Teacher candidates develop their own curriculum unit. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates will investigate multiple methods of assessment that support student engagement, monitor student progress, and guide decision-making, specifically to Humanities classrooms. Candidates will build foundational knowledge regarding formal and informal assessment strategies for planning, evaluating, and strengthening instruction to promote continuous intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development of each student. Practicum/field experience hours: 10. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates explore research-based strategies for delivering differentiated reading instruction to promote reading proficiency. Language and literacy development is examined to inform assessment, remediation and intervention practices to support middle to high school readers and ability levels, including students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. Using this foundational knowledge, teacher candidates will select, adapt, and use research-based instructional strategies and interventions with attention focused on reading in academic curricula to advance learning for adolescent students. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

This course is designed to foster application of proven teaching and learning methodologies for both instructor and student in order to make appropriate and data-driven decisions about all aspects of teaching. Major emphasis is focused on planning instructional objectives and lessons, assessing objectives, and developing teaching methodology that encourages problem solving, active participation, and assessment. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required. Prerequisite: SEC-515 or SEC-516 or SEC-517.

Course Description

In this course, teacher candidates examine the fundamentals of the legal, historical, and educational foundations of Structured English Immersion (SEI) and other instructional programs for English language learners. Theoretical principles of language acquisition and the role of culture in learning are examined. Methods of assessment are identified and analyzed. Teacher candidates identify strategies to promote English language development and improve student achievement. Through Universal Design for Learning they plan, deliver, and evaluate standards based instruction for English language learners. Practicum/field experience hours: 15. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates examine a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students to develop a deeper understanding of the major concepts contained within Social Studies, English Language Arts, and the Arts through modes of inquiry from the integrated study of history, geography, the social sciences, reading, writing, oral language, and their influences that build skills to apply knowledge in meaningful ways. Teacher candidates integrate instructional content, academic functions, formative and summative assessments, media and technology to engage learning. Teacher candidates apply their foundational knowledge of reading, language, and child development to teach reading, writing, speaking, viewing, listening, and comprehension skills to middle and high school students. Candidates also help these students successfully apply their developing skills to different situations, materials, and ideas. Practicum/field experience hours: 11. Fingerprint clearance required.

Course Description

Teacher candidates are engaged in the student teaching experience that includes practical classroom experiences, research, analysis, and teaching to support the creation of a Student Teaching Evaluation of Performance (STEP). Fingerprint clearance required. Fingerprint clearance required.

Program Locations

GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.