Program Details

Adolescence Education: Social Studies (7-12) [SSA] M.S.Ed. - Geography Concentration (Graduate)

Geography Department
Scott Anderson, chair
Old Main, Room 138
Fax: 607-753-4114


How do the earth’s physical features affect our lives, our economies and our societies" What’s the impact of location on the world’s people, cultures, education and business" In what ways are geography and history related" Help inspire the next generation of geographers when you study for the M.S.Ed. in adolescence education: social studies (7-12) - geography concentration at SUNY Cortland.

Program Highlights

Under the guidance of a dedicated faculty mentor, you will enjoy small graduate-level reading and writing seminars in geography augmented with online components. As you immerse yourself in the writing, scholarship and history of the profession, you will explore the expanse of human geography and develop a research paper addressing one of its many aspects, including cultural, historical, economic, political, feminist or urban, among others.

You may focus on topics such as the effects of the Erie Canal on the growth of New York state and the nation, the Underground Railroad, mapping Civil War battles, the northward movement of African-Americans during the Great Migration, alternative energy or environmental issues.

Through course work that combines content and pedagogy in courses such as Maps in the Classroom, Historical Geography, Teaching the Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa, Teaching the Geography of New York State, Teaching Geography through Film or GIS in the K-12 Classroom, you’ll enhance your instructional skills and your professional expertise.

If you hold an undergraduate degree in history, the study of geography rounds out your educational background. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in geography, our history-oriented courses increase your competence in teaching social studies in middle schools and high schools.

Our flexible scheduling offers you classes that begin at 4:20 p.m. to accommodate your work schedule.

Culminating Experiences

In addition to completing any specific requirements for state certification, you’ll write a culminating master’s thesis or sit for a written comprehensive exam based on work taken in the concentration and on your professional education.

Career Potential

The M.S.Ed. in adolescence education: social studies (7-12) - geography concentration from SUNY Cortland provides you with the terminal master’s degree required for professional certification to teach social studies, history and geography in the public schools of New York state. In addition to teaching at the secondary level or pursuing a Ph.D., your expanded career options include working in libraries and museums, public services, social work, urban planning, state and federal civil service, business and political science.

Graduate Admissions

Evaluation Policy

At the State University of New York College at Cortland, we seek a diverse and academically strong student body. Our admission policy and practice will not discriminate on the basis of age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, national origin or marital status.

Required Materials

  1. Completed online Graduate School Application – Apply Now
  2. Official transcripts from all institutions of higher learning attended to be forwarded directly to SUNY Cortland Graduate Admissions Office
    Note: candidates for admission must present evidence of bachelor's degree conferral prior to the start of their academic program.
  3. A resume, submitted online with the application
  4. A statement of educational and professional goals, submitted online with the application
  5. Two letters of recommendation with at least one from an instructor in your undergraduate social science major or concentration, submitted online with the application
  6. Documentation of an initial/provisional certificate, or a certificate of qualification for initial or provisional certification, in adolescence/secondary or elementary social studies issued by the New York State Education Department

Admissions Criteria

Minimum admissions criteria include:

  1. A minimum of 18 credit hours in geography or history and a minimum of 21 credit hours combined in geography and history.
    For candidates with exceptional circumstances, this requirement may be modified. Please contact the department's graduate coordinator.
  2. Evidence of satisfactory completion of the three-credit-hour Fall 2011 New York state requirement of a course on the subject of teaching students with disabilities.
    This requirement may be met concurrently with graduate study.

Preference will be given to candidates with the following:

  1. An overall undergraduate grade point average of 2.5 or above on a 4.0 scale
  2. An overall undergraduate grade point average of 2.7 or above in a social science major


Fall semester applications: July 1
Spring semester applications: Dec. 1
Summer semester applications: April 1

Applications submitted after the deadline may be considered on a space availability basis.
Please contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 607-753-4800 to check availability.

Program Requirements

Note: It is best to check with the History Department for changes to the requirements stated below.

A. Geography Concentration: 18 credit hours

1. Research and Writing Seminar: 3 credit hours

  • GRY 640 - Seminar in Geographic Techniques (3 cr. hr.)
2. Trends in the Discipline: 3 credit hours
  • GRY 600 - Trends in Human Geography (3 cr. hr.)
3. Courses Combining Content and Pedagogy: 9 credit hours

Select nine credit hours of geography courses at the 500 level from the following:

  • GRY 520 - Maps in the Classroom (3 cr. hr.)
  • GRY 524 - GIS in the K-12 Classroom (3 cr. hr.)
  • GRY 529 - Special Topics in Geography (1-4 cr. hr.)
  • GRY 545 - Teaching Geography Through Film (3 cr. hr.)
  • GRY 581 - Teaching the Geography of New York State (3 cr. hr.)
  • GRY 585 - Teaching the Geography of Sub-Saharan Africa (3 cr. hr.)
  • GRY 595 - Independent Study in Geography (3 cr. hr.)
4. Electives: 3 credit hours

Select three credit hours of geography at the 500 or 600 level.


Proof of completion of state-mandated workshops:

  • Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting (CARR)
  • Dignity for All Students Act (DASA)
  • Safe Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) workshops

B. Cognate Social Science: 6 credit hours in history or geography

Students concentrating in geography must choose a history course combining content and pedagogy at the 500 level; and an elective course in history at the 500 or 600 level.

C. Professional Education: 6 credit hours

1. Select one of the following:

  • EDU 670 - Foundations of Education (3 cr. hr.)
  • EDU 671 - Issues in Foundations of Education (3 cr. hr.)
2. Select an additional education elective from the following, or with consent of advisor:
  • EDU 524 - Democracy and Social Education (3 cr. hr.)
  • EDU 531 - Creativity in Curriculum and Instruction (3 cr. hr.)
  • EDU 548 - The Adirondack Classroom (3 cr. hr.)
  • EDU 551 - e-Learning and the American Classroom (3 cr. hr.)
  • EDU 630 - New Media in the Classroom (3 cr. hr.)
  • EDU 640 - Conflict and Controversy in Social Education (3 cr. hr.)
  • EDU 647 - Social Education in the Digital Age (3 cr. hr.)
D. Culminating Activity: 1 credit hour
  • GRY 687 - Culminating Master's Experience (1 cr. hr.)
  • Students who do not successfully complete GRY 687 must register for GRY 697 Extension of Graduate Culminating Activity (1 cr. hr.).
Additional Requirements

Three credit hours on the subject of teaching students with disabilities.

Total Credit Hours Required: 31