Social Studies

Social Studies is the interdisciplinary study of citizenship and government, economics, geography, history, and other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities in which students develop the content, concepts, skills, and dispositions necessary to be informed and engaged citizens in the contemporary world.

Distance Learning Resources

Please visit the Student Instruction COVID-19 Resources webpage to find resources for providing student instruction via distance learning. On this page, you can also subscribe to email alerts to stay up to date with Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) distance learning resources.

2020-21 Social Studies Standards Review Information

Application Deadline Extended until June 30, 2020 for Social Studies Standards Reviewers

As required by state law, the 2010 Minnesota K-12 Academic Social Studies Standards are being reviewed and revised during the 2020-21 school year. The Social Studies Standards are reviewed only once every 10 years, so it is important to establish a highly qualified, diverse committee that understands best practices in social studies and the range of student needs across our state.

Are you interested in serving to review and revise Minnesota’s Social Studies Standards?

Apply for the Standards Committee! If you prefer to apply by phone or email, or for more information about the standards review process, please contact Filiz Yargici.

Before applying, please read the 2020-21 Social Studies Standards Committee’s Guiding Assumptions and the Minnesota K-12 Social Studies Review Committee Timeline. Serving on the committee means a commitment to the full-day committee meeting, as well as some work between these meetings. 

  • Applications are currently being accepted until June 30, 2020. Committee members will be announced on July 10, 2020 on the Social Studies webpage

Standards, Assessments and Graduation Requirements

State statute requires all students to satisfactorily complete all Social Studies Standards and their corresponding benchmarks in order to graduate (Minn. Stat. § 120B.024, subd. 1(5)).

The Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies 2011 sets the minimum statewide requirements for K-12 student achievement in the disciplines of citizenship and government, economics, geography, and history. Although the standards in this document are organized by discipline, they may be delivered in an interdisciplinary context.

  • For grades K-8, there are grade-specific standards for each of the four main disciplines.
  • In grades 4-8, there is one lead discipline for each grade level.
  • The high school social studies standards are banded and must be taught within the grade span of 9-12. Schools may offer courses in additional disciplines including anthropology, psychology and sociology.
  • Additionally, social studies students in grades 6-12 must complete the Literacy in History/Social Studies Standards included in the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts (2010) (pages 80-90).

Graduation requirements for social studies state that all students are required to satisfactorily complete three and one-half (3.5) credits of social studies, including U.S. history, geography, government and citizenship, world history, and economics sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in social studies. Read more about requirements on the Graduation Requirements webpage.

The 2011 Social Studies Standards will be reviewed in 2020-21 and every 10 years thereafter (Minn Stat. § 120B.021, subd 4(f)).

Civics Test Requirement

In 2016, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law requiring Minnesota students in public schools to pass a civics test. The test consists of 50 out of the 100 questions in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Naturalization Test. The 50 questions are selected by Learning Law and Democracy Foundation, in consultation with civics teachers, and are posted on the Minnesota's Legacy website. Schools or districts determine how to administer the test questions and the logistics for recording the results, which are not reported to the Minnesota Department of Education. Students must pass 30 of the 50 questions, and may be given the questions as often as necessary to pass. Passing this test is not required for graduation. Read the Civics Test Questions FAQ for more information.


The Minnesota Department of Education works in collaboration with the Minnesota Center for Social Studies Education (CSSE) to provide professional development on social studies standards implementation, best practices, and research-based instructional strategies for K-12 educators.

Doing Social Studies Video Series!
This video series supports implementation of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards for Social Studies.

  • The grades K-5 videos provide benchmark-by-benchmark explanations along with suggested instructional strategies for educators and activities for students. 
  • The grades 6-12 videos offer effective social studies instructional strategies.

Standards and Related Information