Social Studies

Social Studies is the interdisciplinary study of citizenship and government, economics, geography, history, and other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Social Studies empowers learners to become inquisitive, informed, and engaged members of society who use critical thinking, inquiry, and literacy to prepare for college, careers, and civic life.

Social Studies Standards are Currently Being Reviewed and Revised

In accordance with Minnesota Statutes, Minnesota’s academic standards are reviewed and revised on a 10-year cycle. During 2020-21, the department is in the process of facilitating a review of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies.

Second Draft Public Comment Open Through August 16

The second draft of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards is available for public comment beginning Friday, July 30, 2021. A questions and answers document is also available, which provides information about the standards review and revision process, and updates in the second draft.

Minnesotans can use the public comment survey to provide feedback on the second draft. The survey allows you to provide comments on individual standards and benchmarks, and/or on the draft as a whole. If you are unable to use the survey, you can send your comments via email to Note that you will receive an automatic reply, and your comments will be shared with the committee. You can also send comments via postal mail, postmarked by August 16 and sent to:

Minnesota Department of Education
1500 Highway 36 West
Roseville, MN 55113

This public review and comment period will be open July 30 through 4 p.m. on August 16, 2021.

Social Studies Standards are Being Reviewed and Revised by Minnesotans

In accordance with Minnesota Statutes, Minnesota’s academic standards are reviewed and revised on a 10-year cycle. During 2020-21, the department is facilitating a review of the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies. The standards are being revised for Minnesota public schools, by Minnesotans. The Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards for Social Studies review and revision is being conducted by a committee that includes 36 members from across Minnesota with varying perspectives and backgrounds. Minnesota Statutes outline who must be represented on the committee, including parents, currently licensed and in the classroom teachers, licensed school administrators, school board members, post-secondary institution faculty teaching core subjects, and business community members. The committee began meeting in September 2020.

Next Committee Meeting is Tuesday, August 17

Our students’ education is at its strongest when Minnesotans are engaged in the planning process. During the standards review process, all committee meetings are open for the public to observe. The next meeting is on Tuesday, August 17, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Watch the August 17, meeting. The link to the meeting will not go live until the scheduled time.

Past 2020-21 Meetings

Social Studies Standards Committee Meeting Questions and Answers 3-25-21

Watch this Page for Updates on the Revision Process

Watch this page for information and updates on the revision process, future public comment periods and meetings. With the extended time period to provide time for feedback, review, and revision, the final draft of the standards will not be completed until fall of 2021. The full standards review process is extensive and standards will not be implemented until 2025, at the earliest.

More Information on Social Studies Standards Review Process

Current Social Studies Standards, Assessments, and Graduation Requirements

The Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies were adopted in 2012 and were to be implemented by the 2013-14 school year. 
Graduation requirements: State statute requires that all public school students in Minnesota satisfactorily complete all Social Studies standards and their corresponding benchmarks in order to graduate (Minn. Stat. § 120B.024, subd. 1(5)). 

Students are also required to satisfactorily complete three and one-half (3.5) credits of social studies, encompassing at least U.S. history, geography, government and citizenship, world history, and economics sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in social studies.
  • A one-half credit of economics taught in a school’s agriculture education or business department may fulfill a one-half credit in social studies if the credit is sufficient to satisfy all of the academic standards in economics (Minn. Stat. § 120B.024, Subd. 2(a)).
Grade-specific benchmarks in grades K-8 are mandated by law. Thus, they must be addressed in the specific grade where they are assigned. The Social Studies Standards contain grade-specific standards for each of the four main disciplines.

The high school social studies standards are banded and must be taught within the grade span of 9-12.

At any grade level, the benchmarks from multiple disciplines can be combined to facilitate integrated, or interdisciplinary, learning experiences.

The standards represent the minimum requirements; schools may offer courses in additional disciplines including psychology, sociology, archaeology, and anthropology.
Assessments: Minnesota does not have a test in social studies. According to state statute, the Commissioner is forbidden to develop statewide assessments for academic standards in social studies, health and physical education, and the arts (Minn. Stat. § 120B.30, subd. 1a).
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 United States Custom and Immigration Services (USCIS) 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 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for more information.

Resources for Instruction and Learning

The Minnesota Center for Social Studies Education (CSSE) is a collaboration of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the following statewide organizations to promote excellence in social studies education. CSSE supports educators with social studies standards implementation, research-based instructional strategies for K-12 educators, resources, and opportunities for professional development:

Standards and Related Information