Social and Cultural Pedagogy, MA

Move beyond formal school curricula and expose yourself to nonformal and informal types of learning and public pedagogies that have the potential to make a real-world impact across a variety of social contexts and settings.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: MA Social and Cultural Pedagogy

The MA in social and cultural pedagogy is a two-year program designed for educators with professional experience who seek to develop real-world skills and practical knowledge to help them accomplish specific career goals.

The first of its kind in North America, the program focuses on the study of learning beyond schooling, delving into research, theory and practice for nonformal education across cultures, ages and education levels. This is an interdisciplinary program in social and cultural pedagogy in which students work with communities to address and solve complex societal problems by analyzing social structures and cultural dynamics and by planning, implementing and evaluating social and educational strategies in a variety of areas, with a focus on nonformal and informal education. Each student creates a highly individualized and transdisciplinary path of study, taking classes tailored to meet their specific goals.

A master's degree in social and cultural pedagogy provides educators with the skills they need to create positive change in nontraditional educational settings, including early childhood education, museums, nongovernmental organizations, and adult and community education, among others.


Students work closely with a mentor to complete required coursework, determine the best electives to pursue for the students' individual plan of study goals, and successfully complete and defend the culminating experience. Students will complete either the applied Project program track or Thesis program track, dependent upon their personal research and advise from their self-designated faculty committee chair.

A minimum of 30 hours is required. 

Courses and electives

Students take 30 credit hours, choosing between a thesis or an applied project.

The core program courses include:

  1. Research Methods
  2. Foundations of Social Transformation
  3. Social and Cultural Pedagogy: Theoretical and Practical Issues

Students who elect to complete the applied project option must take 18 credit hours of elective coursework to reach the required 30 credit hours for the program.

At a Glance: program details

  • Location: Tempe campus
  • Additional Program Fee: No
  • Second Language Requirement: No


Students select between the Applied Project program track or Thesis program track.

Applied Project track:
The applied project typically consists of a study (often a participatory action research project) with applied results that can contribute to the improvement of social pedagogy practice. The applied project could assist the needs of an existing organization, but it could also be a response to solve a problem identified by the student, without necessarily being connected to a specific organization. The applied project should identify the problem to be addressed, and include a brief literature review on the topic, an analysis of the situation, and conclude with recommendations. The output of the applied project could be a report, but it could also be a video, a curriculum proposal, an evaluation, a website, or other formats. For written reports, the estimated length of the applied project is around 7,500-10,000 words. The student will present and defend the applied project in an oral examination, attended by their chair and committee member(s).

Thesis Track:
The thesis option is recommended for students who intend to pursue a doctoral program or conduct research in the future. It is an academic exercise that could be theoretical or research-oriented. The thesis should address questions relating to social pedagogy, and/or social and educational dynamics. The length of a master's thesis for this program is typically around 25,000 words. The 25,000-word count does not include endnotes and references. The student will present and defend their Thesis in an oral examination, attended by their chair and committee member.

Degree Requirements

Required Core (9 credit hours)
JUS 500 Research Methods (3)
SST 501 Foundations of Social Transformation (3)
SST 510 Social and Cultural Pedagogy: Theoretical and Practical Issues (3)

Electives (15 or 18 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (3 or 6 credit hours)
SST 593 Applied Project (3) or
SST 599 Thesis (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students who elect to complete the applied project option must take 18 credit hours of elective coursework to reach the required 30 credit hours for the program.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, in any field, from a regionally accredited institution recognized by ASU.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor' degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. statement of purpose
  4. resume
  5. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of current residency. TOEFL scores are required for applicants whose native language is not English.

Applicants should supply a two- to three-page application letter (writing sample) in which they explain why they want to study in this program and why they feel well prepared to succeed in this graduate program.

The resume should describe prior educational history, related work or volunteer experiences.

Core Courses ( 9 credit hours)

SST 510 Social and Cultural Pedagogy (3 credits): engages students with the academic literature and scholarly debates on social and cultural pedagogy, reviews practical lessons from the field, and provides an overview of different areas of intervention and professional practice. Considers the historical, local, and international dimensions of social and cultural pedagogy, and illustrates with selected case studies. Encourages the study of social and cultural pedagogy using a critical and interdisciplinary perspective.

SST 501 Foundations of Social Transformation (3 credits): introduces the foundations of social transformation and social change. Looks at social transformation through an interdisciplinary lens and explores the connections between the objective and subjective factors that enable or inhibit social transformation in different contexts.

JUS 500  Research Methods (3 credits): theories and methods of qualitative and quantitative research.

Electives (15 credit hours)

MA students are required to complete five electives courses (15 credits). Electives courses should be chosen in collaboration with a faculty advisor. A faculty advisor will help direct the student’s elective choices to ensure they focus on a common theme and ultimately help inform the student’s thesis or applied project. 

Students who elect to complete the applied project option must take an additional 3 credit hours of elective coursework to reach the required 30 credit hours for the program.

Choose 5 courses from the list below

American Indian Studies

  • AIS 502 American Indian Studies Research Methods
  • AIS 503 Contemporary Issues of American Indian and Alaska Natives
  • AIS 508 Indigenous Language Revitalization
  • AIS 516 Concepts of Power and Indigeneity
  • AIS 524 Indian Control of Indian Education: Tribal Colleges and Universities
  • AIS 598 Tribal Community Planning


  • COM 494 Applied Coaching Communication 
  • COM 691 Communication for Social Change: Theories and Praxis
  • COM 691 Facilitating Intercultural Dialogue
  • COM 691 Rhetoric and the Public Sphere


  • BLE 536 Education for Social Transformation
  • EDA 591 Paulo Freire seminar
  • EDA 505 American Education System
  • EDP 540 Theoretical Views of Learning
  • EPA 565 Topics in Critical Education Policy
  • EPA 691: Educational Ethnography
  • GLE 501 Global Thinking in Education


  • ENG 584 Teaching Internship in Florence and Eyman State Prisons
  • ENG 598 Topic: Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy
  • ENG 656 Studies in Cross-Cultural Discourse

Indian Education

  • IED 510 History of American Indian Education
  • IED 530 Language/Literacy Indigenous People
  • IED 598 Research in Indigenous Schools and Communities
  • IED 535 Community-based action research

Justice Studies

  • JUS 550 Gender, Race and Economics
  • JUS 588 Justice and the Mass Media
  • JUS 591 Disney, Culture and Society
  • JUS 591/ECD 591 Social Policy and Critical Advocacy
  • JUS 591 Youth and Justice
  • JUS 633 Community Research
  • JUS 691 Critical Indigenous Methodologies
  • JUS 691 Futures of Justice: Theoretical Perspective on Utopia
  • JUS 691 Humanities Behind the Walls
  • JUS 691 Theories of Public Pedagogy
  • JUS 691 Theory and Research on Culture & Disability
  • JUS 691 Writing for Publication

Nonprofit Leadership and Management

  • NLM 510 Foundations of Nonprofit Management
  • NLM 520 Financial Management in Nonprofit Organizations
  • NLM 540 Strategic Nonprofit Human Resource Management
  • NLM 545 Volunteer Resource Management
  • NLM 560 Leadership and Ethics
  • NLM 562 Social Entrepreneurship
  • NLM 565 Grant Writing in Nonprofit Organizations
  • NLM 572 Community and Social Innovations
  • NLM 570 International Non-Governmental Organizations

Public Affairs

  • PAF 504 Public Affairs Economics
  • PAF 505 Public Policy Analysis
  • PAF 548 Women, Politics, and Public Policy
  • PAF 565 Theories and Practices of Democracy
  • PAF 566 Participatory Governance and Civic Engagement
  • PAF 574 Diversity, Ethics and Leading Public Change
  • PAF 591 Affordable Housing and Sustainability
  • PAF 591 Policy, Leadership and Value Systems
  • PAF 591 Sex & Public Policy
  • PAF 591 The Art and Strategy of Building Community: Social Services, Social Engagement, Social Change

Studies in Social Transformation

  • SST 428 Critical Race Theory
  • SST 590 Reading and Conference
  • SST 591 Art Activism as Pedagogy
  • SST 591 Building Community through Film: Pedagogical Moves through Film Making
  • SST 591 Education for Sustainability
  • SST 591 Education and Social Transformation
  • SST 591 Film as Social Pedagogy
  • SST 591 Culture and Education
  • SST 591 Mixed Race Identity
  • SST 591 Peace Education
  • SST 591 Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation of Social Pedagogy Programs
  • SST 591 Prison Education
  • SST 591 School-Community Relations
  • SST 591 Social Change Through Human Connection
  • SST 591 Social Media as Social Pedagogy
  • SST 591 Social Pedagogy and Popular Education
  • SST 591 Sports Pedagogy
  • SST 591 The Craft of Teaching in Post-secondary Education
  • SST 591 The Practice of Social Pedagogy: Innovative Approaches
  • SST 591 Transformational Leadership and Embodied Activism
  • SST 591 Youth and Adult Education
  • SST 598 Digital Activism
  • SST 598 Social Policy and Critical Advocacy
  • SST 598 Youth Participatory Action Research
  • SST 691 Critical Pedagogy, Education and Digital Media
  • SST 691 Quantitative Methods for Qualitative Researchers
  • SST 691 Seminar: Teaching for Social Transformation

Social Work

  • SWG 562 Global Social Welfare
  • SWG 579 Critical Incidence Stress Management
  • SWG 591 Aging: A Social Work Perspective
  • SWG 591 Community Inclusion of People with Disabilities
  • SWG 591 Immigrants and Refugees
  • SWG 591 Introduction to Mental Health Services
  • SWG 591 Mental Health and Aging
  • SWG 591 Spirituality and the Helping Professions
  • SWU 626 Crisis Intervention
  • SWG 655 Quality of Life: Development of Mindfulness
  • SWG 656 Treating the Whole Person
  • SWG 682 Community Participation Strategies

Women's Studies

  • WST 501: Foundational Feminist Thought
  • WST 502: Gender Research Methodologies
  • WST 602 Mapping Intersections of Gender
  • WST 603 Engendering methodology
  • WST 691 Biopolitics
  • WST 691 Feminist Pedagogies
  • WST 691 Feminist Phenomenologies

Other Classes

  • ART 442/542 Art and Community
  • ASB 591 Museums in Community
  • CDE 598 Home Impact on Children's Development
  • CED 523 Psychological Tests
  • CMN 531 Communication and Social Change
  • CRD 610 Sustainable Communities
  • DCE 554 Graduate Dance Pedagogy 
  • DCI 691 Critical Theory in Education
  • DCI 691 Ethnography and Language Policy
  • EXW 598 Topic: Health Promotion and Program Evaluation
  • FAS 598 Family and Social Policy
  • HDA 510 Seminar in Socially Engaged Practice
  • HSD 598 Topic: Equity in Climate Action
  • MGT 545 Becoming Leaders Who Matter
  • MGT 591 Ethical Leadership
  • MHL 691 Music and Sustainability
  • OGL 563 Leading Social Change
  • PSY 563  Prevention Planning and Evaluation in Service Settings
  • SOC 598 Family and Social Policy
  • SOS 514 Human Dimensions of Sustainability
  • SOS 530 International Development and Sustainability
  • SOS 591 Sustainability and Social and Family Welfare
  • SOS 598 Transformational Sustainability Entrepreneurship
  • THP 514 Projects in Community-Based Drama
  • THP 582 Theater for Social Change
  • TSS 507 Theory and Method of Transborder Studies: Culture, Language and Learning

Culminating experience (6 credit hours)

Students complete the degree with a culminating experience; either a thesis or an applied project.

Applied Project Track: 

Students must complete 1 additional seminar elective (3 credits) and SST 593 Applied Project (3 hours) 

Thesis Track: 

SST 599 thesis (6 hours) 

Financial Support

Through the Western Regional Graduate Program students who are residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the U.S Pacific Territories are eligible for in-state tuition. For more information about WICHE and its member states, please visit For complete instructions and application for WRGP/WICHE, click here

The Graduate Education Fellowship is available to five incoming Master’s students in the School of Social Transformation, which provides up to $10,000 of support to academically successful students who are Arizona residents or underrepresented in their discipline. 
When funds are available, student worker grader positions are awarded on a semester basis to master’s students. Graduate and teaching assistantships are not typically available to master’s students.


Not only did I enjoy the diversity of the students in the Social and Cultural Pedagogy program, I also gained new insights into local and global issues I knew little about. Because each student is pursuing their own area of interest—from civics education, to foster children’s rights, to museum education, and more—you get exposed to a wide variety of concepts and ideas. It’s also exciting to be part of the growing study and practice of social and cultural pedagogy in North America…we are pioneers!

Dana Keller 
Social and Cultural Pedagogy MA Alumni
President, Social Pedagogy Association

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Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

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Program Contact Information

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