Online Master’s in History Choosing a Program and Embarking on a Career

find programs

For individuals with a passion for history, there are numerous career options available. Some professions call for an undergraduate degree and several years of experience while others require a master’s or doctorate degree. This guide explores the path of a graduate level student who chooses to pursue an online master’s degree in history because of the flexibility an online learning program provides. It looks at common questions asked by prospective students such as: Which schools offer master’s degrees in history online? What are the benefits of online programs in history? How can you tell if a program would be a good fit?

Let’s discover the answers to these questions and more by examining online history programs in-depth. We will also hear from students who have already used this degree as a tool for achieving professional success.

Top Online Master's in History

Thanks to advancements in technology, the virtual classroom has seen a significant upswing in popularity over the last decade. As colleges and universities incorporate the trend, the possibility of earning an online master’s in history entirely online has become a great option for those looking to continue their educations while remaining in the work force. The schools below offer this option, and have been ranked based on our criteria as the best for students looking to earn an online master’s in history.

SCORE:  98.68 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Kansas

Emporia State University offers an online master’s degree in history for students interested in becoming historians. There are four concentrations including public history, thesis, non-thesis and social sciences education. Upon completion of this degree program, students should leave with a knowledge of facts and theories within the field and have the ability to demonstrate their commitment to excellence through a variety of oral and written forms. Working in concert, faculty and students develop an environment that can lead to exceptional skills in writing, research and thinking. Students are able to move on to additional studies in archival work, teaching and public history.

  • MA in History (Public History)
  • MA in History (Social Sciences Education)
  • Master of Library Science (Archives Studies)
SCORE:  98.12 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Virginia

Offering three different online degrees in Church History, the M.A.R., M.Div and M.A. in Theological Studies programs at this university are all well suited to students with an interest in biblical and church history, offering slight variations within each.

While the M.A.R. is ideal for students planning to pursue ministry opportunities, the M.Div. will appeal to those continuing towards doctoral level historical research. The M.A. in Theological Studies – Church History, on the other hand, is designed for students seeking to understand Christian historical context and is required in order to work within Christian education or missions. These distance programs vary in length. For example, the M.A.R. is the shortest with 33 hours, while the M.Div requires 93.

  • MED in Teaching and Learning (History)
  • MA in Religion (Church History)
  • MA in Theological Studies (Church History)
SCORE:  98.05 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Alabama

Unlike most other online MA programs in history, this is a 12-course, 36-hour degree. Offering thesis and non-thesis tracks, students can choose a route based on their future career goals. While students seeking continuing education will prepare and defend a traditional primary research-based thesis, the terminal non-thesis coursework allows for research in varied subject areas and is completed via comprehensive examinations.  Both options are available within the American and European histories emphases offered. Students with prior graduate credits from other accredited universities are allowed to transfer up to 12 hours, providing they are of “B” grade or higher.

  • MA in History (American History with thesis)
  • MA in History (European History with thesis)
  • MA in History (American History non-thesis)
SCORE:  96.79 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Indiana

Offering both MA and MS online degree programs in history, ISU caters to a wide range of professional and academic aspirations. Students intending to pursue a doctorate are best suited to the MA, while the MS caters to those seeking professional careers, including high-school teachers, museum curators, librarians, researchers or historic site specialists.

Students can expect to finish in three to five years of part-time online study. Courses tailored to individual goals are encouraged, with concentrations in U.S., European and world history forming the backbone of the program. The online library and research facilities are particularly impressive, including a collection on the American labor movement. This program is not open to international students.

  • MA in History
  • MS in History
SCORE:  96.34 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: New Hampshire

Offering three online MA programs focusing on American, military or public history, the degrees at SNHU are designed for students of all backgrounds who are passionate about history.  In addition to not requiring a GMAT or GRE score for admission, students are able to finish within 15 months if following a schedule of two courses per 10-week term. The program is very focused on building skills designed to meet real world needs while also impressing on students the value of historical reflection and scholarship. Completion of coursework includes the option for either a significant project or long-form research paper.

  • MA in History (American History)
  • MA in History (Military History)
  • MA in History (Public History)
SCORE:  94.2 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Missouri

The online MA program at MSU prepares students for careers in education, law, government and more, or for continuing doctoral studies. Candidates enrolled full-time are able to complete the degree in two years, with six hours of coursework spread over fall, spring and summer semesters. Part-time study is also easily negotiated.

Specialization areas include U.S. and world history, while specific global studies are also encouraged and offered with flexible scheduling. A strong emphasis is placed on developing historians’ skills for both continuing historical enquiry and usefulness in a wider professional development and career context.

  • MA in History
SCORE:  93.94 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Kansas

The MA in history offered online by PSU is available to undertake via two tracks. For those with aspirations to continue into a doctoral program or advanced professional careers, the thesis route requires the completion of significant in-depth original research. The course work route is more holistic in nature, requiring papers, portfolios, internships, comprehensive exams and individual work. This track is more suited to those seeking licensure as a high school or community college teacher. While students have freedom to choose their topics and pace of study, the university does note that online students could find the course offerings limited.

  • MA in History
SCORE:  93.26 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Louisiana

LTU offers an MA in history that can be fully completed through the Global Campus program, though online students are not currently able to follow the thesis track. For candidates intending to pursue doctoral work, two substantial research papers completed during the degree can be substituted as evidence of thesis-level work.

Rather than a thesis, online students complete three comprehensive exams at the end of their coursework. Individualized study is available, and every student selects a major specialty concentration during the first semester. Interdisciplinary studies outside the discipline of history can also account for up to six of the 33 hours necessary for graduation.

  • MA in History
SCORE:  92.75 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: California

The online MA in history offered by NU is made unique by providing two coursework tracks. For students seeking the advanced research, analytical and writing skills of professional historians, the research track culminates with the presentation of original research via a traditional thesis or a web-based multimedia project.

Candidates with less interest in doctoral or continued research are encouraged to pursue the teaching track, centering on a portfolio presentation of recent and classic scholarship relating to teaching goals. With emphases in American, European and world history, students can build either track to meet specific needs. Those pursuing the degree full-time can finish in two years.

  • MA in History
SCORE:  92.7 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Tennessee

The online MA in history at UM is an excellent option for students seeking a wide range of topics. Capitalizing on its location and faculty expertise, specializations include African-American and Southern; global; modern European; women, gender and family histories and Egyptology. Special topics are also announced occasionally with many different time periods highlighted.  The department is dedicated to adding courses and emphases to allow for a rigorous and engaging learning environment. For students with graduate credits from other institutions, UM allows up to 12 hours to be transferred. A thesis option is available with the expectation of the final project being approximately 16,000-25,000 words.

  • MA in History
SCORE:  92.1 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Louisiana

Students earning a Master of Arts in History degree from the University of Louisiana-Monroe spend 30 hours learning about various aspects of military, Civil War and United States history. The program’s 30 credit-hours are spent in classes like History of Warfare, The Makers of Europe and Civil War Military History. Specific areas of specialization include United States history, European history and the military. Students in this program aren’t required to complete a thesis. A minimum score of 900 on the GRE is required for admission to the program, as is a minimum 2.5 GPA.

  • MA in History
SCORE:  92.01 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Arizona

Arizona State University offers an online master’s degree in history, which aims to deepen their student’s historical knowledge and understanding through the development of core skills that are applicable in a large number of settings. Upon graduating from the program, students should leave with the enhanced ability to analyze and research information, plan projects, organize their data, write coherently and speak effectively. Those who are interested in careers as professional historians, as K-12 educators, in law, in archival settings or in public service can benefit from this degree program.

  • MA in History
SCORE:  90.92 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: Yes STATE: Georgia

As the only university offering a fully online MA degree in historic preservation, SCAD is an excellent option for students seeking to work in specialized historic settings as museum curators, historic site specialists, preservationists or archaeologists. Students gain an appreciation for the past while understanding how to preserve historical elements in the modern era and how to navigate relationships between communities and existing structures within them. The program has been recognized by many historical entities including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Institute of Architects and the International Downtown Association, among others.

  • MA in Historic Preservation
SCORE:  86.13 CAREER COUNSELING: Yes JOB PLACEMENT: No STATE: Tennessee

Austin Peay State University has an online master’s degree in history with a specific concentration in military studies. Students also have the option of receiving their certificate in security studies. This degree program is available completely online, and upon completion, students should walk away with the ability to think analytically and strategically. In addition to studying subject matter ranging from diplomacy to religious beliefs, courses will also cover tactics, culture, as well as examinations of other areas of military history. This master’s program is open to any student who has completed their bachelor’s degree.

  • MA in Military History (optional Security Studies certificate)

Exploring the Online Master’s Degree in History

Online master’s degree programs in history allow students a convenient way to access a wealth of knowledge. It is possible for students to expand on previous learning while also narrowing their focus in preparation for a rewarding future as a scholar or historian. Certain students may opt for a program presented in an asynchronous format, which allows them to set the pace for submitting assignments and exams. Other students may prefer a synchronous format, which combines the advantages of online learning with real-time peer and instructor interaction. For students who want a more realistic college experience, this can be a good option. No matter which type of format is preferred, graduate history programs typically offer a rigorous curriculum. It is helpful to understand which elements to look for in a strong online master’s degree program.

Let’s take a look at four important components of an online master’s in history:

Librarian and research support

Students need access to a wide variety of historical resources in order to achieve success in a graduate program. Government documents, newspapers and online catalogs are all critical research tools. Make sure the program you choose includes online access to these materials, preferably at times of day and night that work best with your schedule. Also look for schools that have an online librarian on staff to supply research support on a regular basis.

Faculty credentials and accessibility

As a discipline, history covers an extremely large span of time. For that reason, it is imperative that online programs provide historical study through lecturers and researchers specializing in a variety of historical periods. In addition, faculty members should have doctoral or terminal degrees and/or several years of real-world experience. Ideally, faculty members would be available for mentorship, and have the contacts to be able to assist students to land internships and gain entry to professional organizations. Smaller class sizes can improve the chances that students will be able to collaborate with faculty.

Hands-on study for historians

Although online access to historical resources is important, in order to turn out well-rounded historians, online programs should also offer opportunities for hands-on study. Digital copies of published documents can serve as scholarly resources but only a fraction of the historic material pertinent to any topic has been uploaded into digital archives. According to the American Historical Association, prospective online graduate students should target schools that offer applied study internships at libraries, archives, historic sites and government institutions, where students can work directly with books, manuscripts and other research materials.

Variety of program options

History is a broad field. Historians can specialize in everything from Ancient Greece to Tudor England to U.S. Cultural History. With so many career options, prospective history students it can be overwhelming to choose a specialization. Before making an enrollment decision, prospective students may want to discuss the degree and concentration options open to them with an academic counselor. By selecting a school that allows you to focus on a very specific area, you are also more likely to find staff and faculty who can steer you in the best direction when embarking on your career after graduation.

These are four characteristics to keep in mind when researching master’s in history programs. In addition, prospective students should take a detailed look at each school’s courses and key milestones.

Concentrations & Coursework

Understanding the necessary components of an online history master’s degree program can make a big difference in a student’s future success. However, it is just as important to understand the process of specialization. As a student, you will want to follow the best path for your future career, whether you are interested in American history, public history or another area. Let’s examine four of today’s most popular history concentrations and see a few possible paths graduates of these specializations can take:

American History

An American History concentration explores the major political, cultural, social and economic shifts in American society and the ways in which they relate to people in the 21st century. Basic topics and methodologies include early American encounters, the Civil War era, World Wars I and II and the Cold War. Students improve their analytic, research and writing skills throughout the program. After graduation they are scholars of American history and can apply their knowledge to a number of different careers in history, government and education.

Postsecondary Teacher

Teaches history courses beyond the high school level, conducts research and publishes scholarly papers.

Historical Researcher

Conducts research about the past and interprets associated documents. Collects data from archives and libraries as well as from oral histories and presents it in raw documents, summary reports or articles.

Librarian

Helps people locate information and conduct research for personal and professional purposes. Special librarians, or information professionals, work in museums and government agencies to collect and organize materials.

Archivist

Preserves documents, photographs, maps and other records and helps people obtain them. Employees of the National Archives preserve U.S. Government records and make them available to the public.

Economist

Studies the production and consumption of goods in order to develop and apply relevant theories and concepts. Economists conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends and develop forecasts.

High School Teacher

Instructs students about national, state, local and global history. History teachers help students synthesize new knowledge about historical events, people and places with past lessons from earlier grades.

Public Interest/Advocacy

Advances the interests of the public by investigating complaints as an elected or appointed official. Advocacy encompasses a range of activities such as litigation, lobbying and public education.

Global History

As a broad concentration, Global History covers processes that transcend regions, nations and even any single civilizations. Students study processes such as colonialism and imperialism, ideologies, religion, science and technology, women/gender, popular culture and demography among others while learning about Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. These online master’s programs include classes such as historiography, American education, U.S. foreign relations and more. Students are exposed to a global perspective useful for careers in foreign relations, education and government.

Librarian

Helps people locate information and conduct research for personal and professional purposes. Special librarians, or information professionals, work in museums and government agencies to collect and organize materials.

Archivist

Preserves documents, photographs, maps and other records and helps people obtain them. Employees of the National Archives preserve U.S. Government records and make them available to the public.

Political Scientist

Studies the origin, development and operation of various political systems. Political scientists research political ideas and analyze information such as political issues and trends.

State Historic Preservation Officer

Administers the national historic preservation program by maintaining data on historic properties, reviewing National Register of Historic Place nominations and consulting with federal agencies.

Historical Consultant

Performs research for clients that include individuals, nonprofit agencies, public and private corporations and institutions. Historical consultants work on projects in areas such as archaeology, architectural history, historic preservation and litigation.

Anthropologist

Researches and studies humankind from the past to the present day. Anthropologists work in a wide range of settings, including the government, educational institutions, corporations and nonprofit associations.

Public History

With a concentration in Public History, graduate students learn to create historical preservation and outreach initiatives that integrate deep content knowledge, technological savvy and business acumen. As part of a master’s of history degree program, Public History provides a foundation in methodology, management and the interpretation of historical records and artifacts. After graduation, students are able to seek employment with museums and historical societies, neighborhood or community history projects, cultural preservation programs and federal research projects.

Archivist

Preserves documents, photographs, maps and other records and helps people obtain them. Employees of the National Archives preserve U.S. Government records and make them available to the public.

Curator

Oversees specific collections for a library, museum or other cultural heritage institution. Curators are responsible for selecting and documenting material and may publish research about the collection.

Political Scientist

Studies the origin, development and operation of various political systems. Political scientists research political ideas and analyze information such as political issues and trends.

Sociologist

Examines groups, cultures, organizations and institutions to discover connections between society and social behavior. Sociological research is useful to administrators, educators, and lawmakers when solving social problems and formulating public policy.

State Historic Preservation Officer

Administers the national historic preservation program by maintaining data on historic properties, reviewing National Register of Historic Place nominations and consulting with federal agencies.

Historical Consultant

Performs research for clients that include individuals, nonprofit agencies, public and private corporations and institutions. Historical consultants work on projects in areas such as archaeology, architectural history, historic preservation and litigation.

Anthropologist

Researches and studies humankind from the past to the present day. Anthropologists work in a wide range of settings, including the government, educational institutions, corporations and nonprofit associations.

Teaching

The Certificate of History can be earned in combination with a master’s degree in history. Coursework such as Readings in U.S. history, Teaching in History Survey and other graduate level history classes can count towards the Certificate and the master’s degree. Graduates can pursue careers in high school, post-secondary education and other fields with this credential.

Postsecondary Teacher

Teaches history courses beyond the high school level, conducts research and publishes scholarly papers.

Historical Researcher

Conducts research about the past and interprets associated documents. Collects data from archives and libraries as well as from oral histories and presents it in raw documents, summary reports or articles.

Librarian

Helps people locate information and conduct research for personal and professional purposes. Special librarians, or information professionals, work in museums and government agencies to collect and organize materials.

High School Teacher

Instructs students about national, state, local and global history. History teachers help students synthesize new knowledge about historical events, people and places with past lessons from earlier grades.

Postsecondary Teacher

Teaches history courses beyond the high school level, conducts research and publishes scholarly papers.

Historical Researcher

Conducts research about the past and interprets associated documents. Collects data from archives and libraries as well as from oral histories and presents it in raw documents, summary reports or articles.

Librarian

Helps people locate information and conduct research for personal and professional purposes. Special librarians, or information professionals, work in museums and government agencies to collect and organize materials.

Archivist

Preserves documents, photographs, maps and other records and helps people obtain them. Employees of the National Archives preserve U.S. Government records and make them available to the public.

Curator

Oversees specific collections for a library, museum or other cultural heritage institution. Curators are responsible for selecting and documenting material and may publish research about the collection.

Anthropologist

Researches and studies humankind from the past to the present day. Anthropologists work in a wide range of settings, including the government, educational institutions, corporations and nonprofit associations.

Economist

Studies the production and consumption of goods in order to develop and apply relevant theories and concepts. Economists conduct research, collect and analyze data, monitor economic trends and develop forecasts.

High School Teacher

Instructs students about national, state, local and global history. History teachers help students synthesize new knowledge about historical events, people and places with past lessons from earlier grades.

Political Scientist

Studies the origin, development and operation of various political systems. Political scientists research political ideas and analyze information such as political issues and trends.

Sociologist

Examines groups, cultures, organizations and institutions to discover connections between society and social behavior. Sociological research is useful to administrators, educators, and lawmakers when solving social problems and formulating public policy.

Public Interest/Advocacy

Advances the interests of the public by investigating complaints as an elected or appointed official. Advocacy encompasses a range of activities such as litigation, lobbying and public education.

State Historic Preservation Officer

Administers the national historic preservation program by maintaining data on historic properties, reviewing National Register of Historic Place nominations and consulting with federal agencies.

Historical Consultant

Performs research for clients that include individuals, nonprofit agencies, public and private corporations and institutions. Historical consultants work on projects in areas such as archaeology, architectural history, historic preservation and litigation.

Reviewing the specializations in online master’s degree in history programs helps students narrow down their choices. Another way to learn about an online master’s program is by checking out its course list. You can identify which classes are offered, what they entail and how they help complete your degree. The table below provides a snapshot of real courses from several history master’s degree programs around the U.S.:

Historiography

This course covers themes and approaches that have been influential in the historical profession since the mid-20th century. Students have the opportunity to develop skills in historical analysis and writing. During the course, the instructor will lead discussion of key canonical terms in order to improve scholarly communication.

Historical Methods

Important methodologies and theories of history are covered as the course examines the transformation of the historical profession over the last 150 years. Students are exposed to historical writings, their assumptions and the theoretical framework of their interpretations. Students will also embark on an informed construction of their personal philosophy of history.

Public History Strategic Management

Students have the opportunity to augment their existing framework of historical knowledge to include business acumen necessary for a career as a public historian. During the course, students learn skill sets of project management, budgeting and finance, legal competencies and other essential considerations. Other areas to be discussed include intellectual property, fundraising and donations and motivation within volunteer organizations.

Digitization of History

This course focuses on the scholarly, theoretical, institutional and practical issues involved in the digitization of our shared cultural heritage. Students explore what is at stake, both locally and systemically, for institutions and individual scholars who create, share and use digital surrogates for literary and historical documents.

Archival Management

In-depth examination of the essentials of records and knowledge management in diverse organizational settings. This course relates organizational theory to the history and development of record-keeping systems, electronic-records management and the advent of new technologies and the place of records and knowledge management in the information professions.

U.S. Foreign Relations 1913-Present

The role of the U.S. in the world from 1913 to the present day, including the creation of the American empire, emergence of the U.S. as a superpower and the Cold War. Students discover how policies and beliefs in the U.S. affect its place in the international community.

Museum Collection Management

Because museums preserve and share their collections with the world, collection managers play an essential part in overseeing art, history, science and live specimens. This course provides a foundation of management principles that are applicable to most types of collections from the acquisition to the evaluation, care and storage and finally to loans and exhibitions.

New American Nation

Investigation and review of American history from 1763 to 1800 with special emphasis on historiography of the Revolution, creation of a republic and efforts to define the new nations. This survey course begins with the adoption of the constitution and continues through the Jacksonian Era of the Common Man.

The Gilded Age and the Progressive Era

Examination of the social, political, economic and cultural changes that occurred in the United States from the end of Reconstruction through World War I. By exploring topics such as urbanization, consumerism, immigration, big business, social reform, progressivism and more, students receive a foundation in this important period of history.

The Online History Master’s Timeline

Students are attracted to online master’s degrees in history for a variety of reasons. Some need to balance school with work and family responsibilities. Others want the freedom and flexibility that comes with online learning. No matter why students want an online education, they need to know the steps involved from start to finish. The timeline below examines the necessary steps associated with earning an online master’s in history, from completing your application to graduating and entering the workforce.

Year 0

Applying to a graduate degree program can seem challenging, but with a little preparation you will be able to handle all of the required tasks. Following each step is the best way to ensure your materials packet is received on time and includes all of the necessary documents. Because schools set individual application deadlines, make sure to clearly mark down all of these dates when you research different programs. In addition to submitting your grades and test scores, history master’s programs typically ask for you to send in essays and letters of recommendation. You will also need to attend an online or Skype interview. Review the following list to stay on track during the application process.

Before you begin, decide whether an online master’s in history program is the best option for your individual needs. If you earned your bachelor’s degree on campus, you may want to explore assessment tools that can help you make a final decision about whether online is right for you.

Keep a calendar with all of the application deadlines. There will be multiple dates to remember, including testing deadlines and final dates for the submission of key items to the college for review.

Research all of your financing options. A master’s in history degree can carry a wide range of price tags. Meet with an advisor who can assist you as you examine funding options. Also check with your company or business to see if there is a tuition-reimbursement program open to you.

Arrange for official transcripts to be sent to the history departments at your chosen schools by any colleges you previously attended.

Have testing agencies forward standardized test scores by the deadline.

Choose which professors, employers or other professionals you will ask for letters of recommendation. Consider this step carefully, because the right recommendation can push the scales in your favor when it comes to offering you a spot in an online history master’s program.

Complete and proofread all essays and submit them by the correct deadlines. Leave yourself plenty of time to edit the documents.

Year 1

The initial year of an online history master’s often focuses on the basic program requirements. All students might take preliminary courses such as Western Civilization and Historiography because they apply to most concentrations. These courses are typically scheduled early in the curriculum. As the first year progresses, you can begin to think about which concentration you want to pursue. If you already have an interest, you can begin to take the required courses toward the end of the year. Also review the graduation requirements so that you don’t miss an important course. You don’t want to have unfinished requirements, which can be expensive to make up.

Year 2

By the second year you will have chosen an area of concentration, such as American History, Global History or Teaching. As you begin to complete coursework in this area, you will be inching closer to graduation. Begin to line up internship opportunities as early as possible to ease the transition later on. Also be aware of any thesis-related courses you need to take and make finishing them a priority so that you can present to a thesis committee or other professional panel. Although most online master’s in history programs take two years, there are other options available. You may find a program that takes three years or enroll in an accelerated program that can be finished in one year of full-time study.

Master’s in History: An Insider Perspective

Earning a master’s degree in history comes with myriad challenges that students may or may not realize upon enrollment. Although programs vary from college to college, getting the inside scoop from a graduate can help future students better prepare themselves and current students clear those mid-program hurdles. Wes Ricketts, who holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in history, has three pieces of advice for anyone seeking a history degree at the graduate level.

Research ALL program requirements on day one (or before)

I saw too many people fail to meet the requirements on time and, therefore, needed an extra quarter or two to finish up. Either they didn’t have enough writing seminars (as opposed to reading seminars), or they didn’t pass their language equivalency exam. In history, you need academic proficiency in a foreign language related to your specialization. Some students were so consumed with their thesis or their paper portfolio (thesis alternative) that they let the language requirement linger and eventually got burned.

Take advantage of summer

Although summer is great for taking a break from academics, it can also help you get a leg up. How? First, read early. During your first quarter or semester, you likely have a required intro course to take. Ask the department or the professor for the reading list. Familiarize yourself with it so you have an advantage over your peers, many of whom will be deer in headlights. Second, during the summer between your first and second years, take a class. It can be just one, but doing so can take a load of pressure off during your final term when trying to finish your thesis or study for your language exam.

Talk to professors

I couldn’t believe how many students never really talked to their professors. While I don’t mean brown-nosing, professors often divulge key elements of the reading material that you should pay special attention to. This can save you tons of time and help when exam time comes around. Also, many don’t mind conversing with graduate students because you’re discussing the material more in-depth.

The Affordability of an Online History Master’s Degree

The cost of an online history master’s degree is an important consideration for prospective students who question: Can I afford it? Where can I find funding? However, numbers show that online master’s degrees in history can be quite affordable, even yielding a good return on investment (ROI) after several years. Let’s take a look at how the cost of a program might compare to future salary potential.

Weighing the Costs

The most costly piece of a master’s degree program is tuition. Each program is different, but tuition is generally paid by the quarter, semester or credit-hour. Tuition can vary widely by institution with public universities on the lower end of the scale and private schools costing slightly more. However, when researching online history master’s programs, it’s important to look at the big picture in terms of cost. For example, a 60-credit program with a fee of $300 per credit-hour would cost $18,000. But that is not the entire financial expense. A full budget should include tuition, fees, room and board and other living expenses, whether seeking a campus-based or online master’s in history program.

The Payoff

Earning an online master’s in history doesn’t guarantee a higher wage, but it can improve your marketability. The BLS notes that many employers prefer to hire applicants with a master’s in history, especially when an internship or other onsite work experience is part of the degree program. Here’s how salaries for historians stacked up in 2014:

Top 10 % $97,930
Median (50%) $52,480
Bottom 10% $27,020

The U.S Census Bureau released data in December 2014 from its American Community Survey (ACS), which was used by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicators project to determine how an advanced degree affects earnings. An advanced history degree was related to a 53 percent earnings boost, the largest lift of any discipline other than “area, ethnic and civilization studies.”

The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project also analyzed the ACS data, with a focus on median annual earnings over the course of a career and lifetime earnings. History graduates are above the median for all disciplines, with peak annual earnings of $86,000 at about 34 years into their careers.

Additionally, a 2013 report by Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment, and Earnings from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce, also based on the ACS, found history majors had one of the lower unemployment rates among humanities disciplines for college graduates and an even lower unemployment rate of 3.7 percent among graduate degree holders.

Growth Industries for Historians

The government expects six percent growth in employment for historians from 2012–2022. That is five percent lower than all other occupations combined. However, workers with practical skills or hands-on work experience in a specialized field such as collections, fundraising or exhibit design are expected to have the best job prospects. Students who graduate with an online master’s in history may find the healthiest job prospects (or advancement opportunities) in these areas:

Industry
GROWTH IN HIRING
Curators
13%
Social scientists and related workers
11%
Archivists and museum workers
11%
Historians
6%

Unusual Career Options with a Master’s in History

Anthropologist, sociologist and economist may not be the first careers you think of for history graduates. But there is still a clear connection between knowledge of history and working in these professions. However, there are so many career opportunities for graduates of online master’s in history programs, that there may be jobs you haven’t considered. Here are three professional paths that involve skills gained by earning a history masters, but are somewhat outside the norm.

  • Journalism

    Journalists gather information and present it to the public. Research skills learned while a student of history provide a useful background for print, broadcast or Internet journalism. Journalists need to use a variety of sources and understand how to verify them. Additionally, they must think analytically and write clearly. These are all fundamental skills gained during an online master’s in history degree program.

  • Law

    Although attorneys must graduate from law school and pass the bar exam before practicing, an additional degree master’s in history can be very useful, as there is a significant historical component to the law. Furthermore, students in masters-level history programs must learn how to think and write critically, which is useful both inside and outside of a courtroom. There are numerous law specialties from which to choose, some of which are broader than others. For example, business law covers topics such as taxation, management, economics, labor issues, arbitration and more. On the other hand, advertising law has a much more narrow scope.

  • Genealogy

    By conducting research into the genealogical background of individuals and families, genealogists are able to establish descent from a specific ancestor or identify forebearers. Genealogists are hired to trace lineage and family history for medical needs, religious purposes and many other reasons. Sometimes a genealogist specializes in a particular group of people, such as Scotch or Irish clans. Genealogists can be certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) or become accredited by the International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.

Search Tool

Search School Name
State
GOGRAD Rating
TUITION
School type