Master of Education (MEd) in Secondary Education: Humanities Emphasis

Master of Education in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Humanities (Does Not Lead to Initial Teacher Licensure)Initial Program – Does Not Lead to Initial Teacher Licensure

Offered By: College of Education

Prepare to Teach Humanities in Grades 6-12 Classrooms

The Master of Education in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Humanities Non-Initial Teaching Licensure (NITL) degree at Grand Canyon University can elevate your academic credentials for teaching humanities in grades 6–12 classrooms. This graduate-level education degree is designed for working teachers who already hold a teaching license or certificate in their state and who wish to enhance their academic qualifications and effectiveness in the classroom. With a broad approach to humanities subjects, the curriculum is well-suited for those who wish to teach any humanities course — from history to creative writing.

Pursue Your Master of Education: Humanities Emphasis From GCU

These online or evening graduate courses are geared toward students who aspire to enhance their teaching skills and have an interest in the study of humanities and social sciences. 

Experienced faculty will focus on the topics of technology and diversity in the classroom while teaching you how to integrate humanities into grades 6–12 subject matters, including English, social studies, history and psychology. Humanities educators teach a wide range of topics, such as understanding human behavior, human experience, contemporary society and diversity, that may encourage you to become a knowledgeable and impactful contributor in secondary school settings.

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As a modern university that prioritizes accessibility, GCU is pleased to offer humanities online courses while you continue to meet your current professional obligations. With our interactive digital learning platform, you can access your coursework from virtually anywhere while still benefiting from the same quality of instruction and curriculum as our on-campus students. GCU’s online program may be ideal for working professionals who need a convenient, flexible degree program. 

Teachers who live within commuting distance to our campus in Phoenix may wish to join an evening program cohort. Explore key concepts of this MEd program with the benefit of face-to-face instruction and in-person peer discussions that may expose you to a broad range of perspectives. Most evening program cohorts meet one evening per week, leaving the rest of the week available for completing coursework and meeting your other obligations.

Opportunities to Advance Your Skills in Teaching Humanities

You will be taught to develop an understanding of the following competencies in humanities education:

  • Philosophical, historical and sociological influences that construct secondary educational theories and practices
  • Adolescent growth, learning patterns and developmental variations
  • Educational needs of students with mild to moderate disabilities
  • Techniques for classroom engagement, management and discipline
  • Curriculum development and student assessment specific to the humanities classroom
  • Application of teaching and learning methodologies and instructional strategies to develop a deeper understanding of humanities concepts
  • Evaluating and promoting effective pedagogy in adolescent literacy
Total Credits: 33
Online: 6 weeks
[More Info]
Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $590 per credit [More Info]


The Master of Education: humanities emphasis requires 33 credit hours to completion, as well as a minimum of 100 practicum hours. These classes include topics such as:

  • The methods of providing structured English immersion in secondary education settings
  • The psychology of adolescents, exploring their cognitive, socio-emotional and physical growth
  • Techniques and tools for middle and high school teachers
  • The developmental patterns of students with mild to moderate disabilities, and special education processes and laws

To learn more, visit the admissions page for more information on GCU’s admission and program requirements. 

Because this program does not include a student teaching capstone, it does not lead to an Institutional Recommendation (IR) from GCU to obtain certification. Completing practicum hours within the courses is a requirement to prepare to teach in grades 6 through 12. 

Insight Into Humanities Coursework and Subjects 

This institutionally accredited program is developed to maximize learning opportunities for working professionals and to expand on competencies that teachers are expected to have obtained during undergraduate coursework. Humanities graduate courses are taught by faculty members who are knowledgeable in their respective fields, including secondary education, humanities and educational psychology.

Throughout your humanities courses, you will have opportunities to apply research, concepts and theories in practical settings. Secondary educational field experiences can build upon your learning and provide guidance on a minimum of 100 hours of observational and practice-based experiences. This program does not lead to licensure.

Career Paths for MEd in Secondary Education: Humanities Emphasis Graduates 

This master’s program with a humanities emphasis may be ideal for educators who have already earned their teaching license with the completion of a bachelor’s program. This non-licensure degree in education for humanities can prepare you to continue teaching one or more subjects at the secondary level in public or private schools (where alternative certification is accepted), such as:1

  • Language arts
  • English
  • History
  • Philosophy
  • Social studies

Teachers may be assigned according to their subject matter specialty. This Master of Education: humanities emphasis may also be appropriate for teachers who wish to pursue employment as a professor at community colleges and similar institutes of higher learning that accept master’s and/or doctoral degrees.2

GCU Offers Institutionally Accredited Education Programs 

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has continually accredited GCU since 1968. The College of Education shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies. As an institutionally accredited university, GCU is proud to stand by the quality of our education and the competence and dedication of our instructors. 

Additionally, all humanities courses are designed to align with standards set by the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) and International Society of Technology Educators (ISTE). 

Master of Education (MEd) in Secondary Education: Humanities Emphasis FAQs

Before you take the next step in your education and career path, you may wish to conduct some background research on degree and career pathway options. GCU has assembled some frequently asked questions and answers to help guide your decision-making process.

A Master of Education degree program that leads to initial teacher licensure is typically designed for those who may have earned a bachelor’s degree in an area other than education and do not have a teaching license or certification but wish to pursue it. Upon completion of a degree program that leads to licensure, you may then apply to receive your teaching license through your state. In contrast, a non-licensure MEd program is designed for working teachers who already hold a teaching certification or license and who wish to enhance their teaching skills and knowledge. A non-licensure MEd program does not contain the in-classroom teaching experience component necessary to obtain a teaching license.

Note: If a candidate already holds a bachelor’s degree or certification in the same specialized degree area (such as humanities), this non-initial licensure version of the initial licensure program is not an appropriate degree program for practicing teachers looking to further their career, knowledge or skills as they already hold a certification in the area covered by the program.

There is a broad range of humanities subjects to choose from. When teaching humanities, you might decide to focus on history or social studies, or you might prefer to teach English and language arts. Other examples of humanities courses taught in secondary schools may include philosophy, creative writing and religious studies. Humanities courses typically focus on qualitative analysis, promoting critical thinking skills and creativity.3

The humanities are important because it aims to provide us with an understanding of human culture and experience. It can help us develop critical thinking, creativity, empathy and communication skills. Moreover, studying humanities can broaden our worldview and foster appreciation for diversity and inclusivity. Humanities can play a vital role in shaping our personal and societal values and contribute to the advancement of our civilization. A humanities education can:4

  • Share the voices, values, traditions and broader cultures of generations past
  • Provide a lens through which we can examine the big questions in life, such as “What does equality truly mean? What is the purpose of human life?”
  • Encourage civic participation and cultural engagement
  • Empower us to make informed decisions in everyday life by encouraging the examination of new ideas and perspectives
  • Spark sustained curiosity about the world we live in and the people with whom we share it
  • Help us explore new ideas without preconceived biases
  • Drive our imaginations
  • Recognize that despite differences among groups of people, we all share common ground

There are many branches or categories of humanities in education. These can include:4

  • Law
  • Languages
  • Philosophy
  • Religion and mythology
  • International relations
  • Gender and women’s studies
  • Multicultural and regional studies
  • Popular culture
  • Art and music

Enjoy opportunities to improve your teaching skills so that you can more effectively inspire the young minds of tomorrow as a humanities teacher. Apply today for enrollment in GCU’s evening or online master’s: humanities emphasis degree program.

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 BestColleges (2023, May 24). What are the humanities? Retrieved Nov. 20, 2023. 

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023, Sept. 6). How to become a postsecondary teacher. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved Nov. 20, 2023. 

3 National Endowment for the Humanities (2013, Dec. 11). The humanities belong to everyone. Retrieved Nov. 20, 2023. 

4 Gale. (n.d.). Humanities and social sciences. Retrieved Nov. 20, 2023.

Course List

33 credits
Degree Requirements:
33 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

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

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.


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.

GCU Evening Student

Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* 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.

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