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Social Studies Major

Social Studies combines the depth of the history major with the breadth of insights gleaned from the social sciences. In this way, students will not only study history, but will also examine aspects of anthropology, sociology, psychology, and geography.

The resulting integration ensures a broad knowledge base and strong research skills. Graduates will be well prepared for graduate school and work in research, government, politics, and education. Most importantly, our professors are committed to mentoring their students in college academics and the Christian faith.

Alumni Profiles

Read about these Bethany alumni who majored in Social Studies during their time at BLC.

Careers in Social Studies

The Social Studies major allows students to gain a broad perspective on the human condition as taught through the various social sciences and history. This prepares students for a variety of careers by providing them with transferable skills in critical thinking, scholarly research, and effective communication, while also fostering a well-rounded perspective in which to understand past events in relation to present lives.

Social Studies Majors frequently pursue the following careers:

  • Education Teacher/professor, program administrator, admissions counselor, museum education coordinator
  • GovernmentLegislative aide, foreign service officer, lobbyist, policy advisor
  • Museum Archivist, museum guide, historic preservationist, living history interpreter
  • ResearchGrant writer, information specialist, library specialist
  • Pre-lawAttorney, paralegal, legal researcher
  • Media Communications director, public relations officer, journalist


Students majoring in social studies or history (related major) have the option of completing an internship during the course of their study. The faculty work closely with students to determine the best internship arrangement for their academic and career goals.

In recent years, student interns have conducted research and assisted in the development of museum displays at the Blue Earth County Historical Society.

Other students participated in research, writing, and editing for the Evangelical Lutheran Synod Historical Society, culminating in the publication of a 450-page anthology: Telling the Next Generation: The Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s Vision for Christian Education, 1918-2011 and Beyond (ELS Historical Society, 2011).

Mission Statement

The social studies major allows students to systematically study not only history but also a variety of disciplines in the social sciences that complement history. History, by its very nature, is interdisciplinary, and this is most clearly expressed in this social studies major.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • To identify the values and goals of important people of the past as they sought to influence their world.
  • To identify chief characteristics of past world civilizations.
  • To explain the roles of people, ideas, institutions, and actions in shaping historical developments.
  • To apply critical thinking skills to the analysis of primary and secondary sources, including both written and visual media.
  • To summarize the human and physical geography of major world civilizations, from ancient times to the present.
  • To formulate a broad, historical perspective on world history, in order to become an historically informed participant in present-day American and global civic life.
  • To polish with professional competence a work of formal academic writing, including documentation in the accepted style of the discipline, and to present a summary of one’s research orally.
  • To demonstrate an ability to integrate multiple social studies disciplines (e.g., economics, political science, sociology, psychology) into the study of history.

Students should declare social studies as their intended major as early in their college career as possible by filing a Declaration of Major/Change of Advisor form with the registrar. The student should simultaneously switch to an advisor in the History Department. The advisor will provide the student with an application for formal acceptance into the major, which generally occurs at the end of the sophomore year.
Students must complete at least two history and two social science courses from the required lower division courses with no less than a “C+” in each course. Students must also have a GPA of 2.0 or above. Students will be notified of formal acceptance into the major by the chair of the History Department, who will also notify the registrar.

Students who seek state licensure for secondary level (grades 5–12) teaching of social studies must first meet all requirements for “Entry into the Education Major” (see education major) as well as all requirements for the social studies major. These students are required to take the courses listed below with an asterisk (*) and must pass them with a “C+” or better.

The Social Studies major consists of 48 credits, 12 of which simultaneously fulfill General Education Core Requirements. Thus, the net credit load is 36. This allows students ample time to pursue a minor or even a second major.

Lower-Division Electives (18 credits)

Upper-Division Electives (21 credits)

Choose one:

Choose one:

Choose two thematic courses:

Choose two event courses:

Complete two additional electives:

  • One additional Upper-Division Elective 3 cr.
  • One additional Lower- or Upper-Division Elective 3 cr.

Capstone Sequence (6 credits)

Choose one:

Recommended Religious Studies Electives

When completing the Religion component of the General Education Core Requirements, students majoring in Social Studies are encouraged to consider these courses as strong complements to the subject matter of their major.

The minor in social studies requires 21 credits, distributed as follows.

Lower-Division Electives (9 credits)

Choose one:

Choose one:

Choose one:

Upper-Division Electives (12 credits)

Choose one:

Choose one:

Choose one:

Choose one:

To view the most recent course list and requirements for the elementary education major, please consult the Academic Catalog.

Senior Seminar Project

Students majoring in social studies produce a senior thesis during the final semester of their college career. This capstone project involves research, writing, and an oral defense, similar to a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. In HIST493 Senior Seminar I and HIST494 Senior Seminar II, each student works closely with a research advisor. Two other professors also read and comment on the student’s thesis. If the student produces a research paper of exceptional quality, it will be filed in the senior seminar papers collection of the college library.

True to the interdisciplinary nature of the social studies major, students must incorporate not only historical methodology but also other techniques drawn from one or more of the social sciences: economics, geography, political science, psychology, or sociology.

In recent years, social studies majors have successfully defended senior thesis papers on the following themes:

  • The NAACP’s Impact on Three Civil Rights Organizations: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Black Panther Party
  • The Evolution and Impact of the British Invasion
  • The Battle of the Bulge: Bastogne and the German Objective
  • May It Please Mr. Madison, the Supreme Court Has Incorporated Your Fifth Proposal: An Examination of the Adoption of the Bill of Rights and Incorporation Doctrine
  • The Early Christian Church: A Reflection of Society
  • The Berlin Crisis of 1961: The Threat of Nuclear War and the Almost Annihilation of Mankind
  • Joseph Stalin: A Man’s Portrayal and Its Effects on a Nation
  • Creating a Robber Baron: Intellectual Movements, Personal Beliefs, and John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
  • A Historical Perspective on King Arthur from the First and Last Days of His Life
  • Longships upon the Liffey: The Viking Settlement in Dublin during the Ninth Century
  • A History of Professional Wrestling and How World Wrestling Entertainment Became One of the Top Businesses in Sports Entertainment
  • From Roosevelt to Roosevelt, American Progressivism Takes Root: The Progressive Era’s Unraveling of the American Constitution
  • Latvia: Behind the Dark Shadow of the Iron Curtain into the Light of Freedom
  • Grunge: Kurt Cobain and Grunge’s Lasting Legacy

Next Steps

Interested in studying at Bethany? Scheduling a campus visit is a great way to see what we have to offer. You can meet professors or sit in on a class too! Contact our admissions office to learn more.