The study of the past is imperative to our progress. That is why, to this day, those who study history are a key fixture in society. In the past, many prominent leaders have taken to the study of history, including John F. Kennedy, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Richard M. Nixon. You, too, can follow in their footsteps with a master’s degree in history.
Today there are many different masters in history, including online ones. An online program gives you the flexibility to work a full-time job or have time for other obligations while completing a degree. These online programs usually follow the same type of meticulous curriculum as in-person degrees.
A few possible career paths after receiving an online history program are history professor, historian, or researcher. This guide will inform you of admissions, cost, length, and everything else you need to know about an online history degree.
Online Master’s in History Admissions Requirements
A bachelor’s degree in history or a related field is required to pursue a master’s in history degree. Depending on the program, you may also need a GRE test score. Applicants may also need to complete a writing sample that includes a personal statement and research papers. Letters of recommendation may also be required.
Choosing a university to complete an online program is an essential step in the process. The first and foremost factor to consider is the accreditation of the institution. The US Department of Education reviews schools’ educational programs and student services to determine their accreditation status. A school’s accreditation can have an impact on your career. Tuition assistance, credit transferability, and job opportunities can depend on whether the school you attend is accredited.
Popular accredited institutions include the University of Louisiana, the University of North Carolina, and Liberty University. Additionally, on this site you will find several more accredited colleges. These online programs will prepare students for a variety of careers in the field of history.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Master’s in History Online and How Much Does it Cost?
Typically, a master’s degree can be completed in two years, depending on the number of credit hours that you can fit in each semester and whether you are in a full-time or part-time program. You will need to complete 30 to 37 credit hours to graduate with a master’s in history degree.
The cost of a master’s degree in history can depend on a variety of factors. The per-credit cost for prospective students can be anywhere from $275 to $575. However, the financial rate can fluctuate depending on in-state or out-of-state tuition. The good news for online students is that typically universities will honor in-state tuition no matter where you may be studying. An online degree might have extra charges that in-person programs do not have, such as technology fees. Overall, the total tuition rate for a master’s in history ranges from $7,000 to $28,000.
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If you are enrolling in a full-time program, then financial aid is offered by many online colleges. Furthermore, federal financial aid might be available if the online school holds regional accreditation from an agency approved by the US Department of Education.
Choosing an Online History Degree Program
You will also have to choose between a thesis or a non-thesis route for your master’s program. If you are aiming to continue your education with a Ph.D., then the thesis option is recommended. While both the thesis and non-thesis routes require research, the thesis option will give you more research experience.
The thesis option will have you completing a substantial thesis project that spans several semesters involving intensive research methods. The non-thesis option, on the other hand, involves more class time. Non-thesis programs have six more hours of electives than thesis programs. Even in a non-thesis program, a project will need to be completed to graduate.
Online History Degree Coursework
The core courses for an online master’s degree in history typically are historiography, historical methods, and historical research. These are the fundamentals of any history degree that teach how historians before you have interpreted history. You may also take supplemental history classes that include Renaissance Europe and Modern China, among others. These courses will prepare you for a career as a historian or to teach history.
In addition to these courses, you may be required to complete a capstone project at the end of your degree. A capstone project is an assignment that encapsulates what you have learned throughout your degree. For example, if you are pursuing a teaching career, your capstone project might be writing a lesson plan.
History Degree Concentrations
While a bachelor’s degree is the broad study of history, a master’s degree is an opportunity to expand on a specialization that interests you. There are many specializations that you can choose from. Since history is a very extensive topic, concentrations allow you to understand better a topic that you might ultimately pursue a career in.
First, a history degree is divided into fields. After deciding on a field, you will choose the theme that you would like to focus on while earning the degree. Examples of common fields are ancient history, Asian history, European history, Latin American history, African history (often divided further into Northern African, Sub-Saharan African, or African-diaspora history), Russian and Eastern European history, United States history and global history, to name a few.
Fields will vary depending on the institution that you choose. These fields allow you to focus on the area, location, or subject of your choosing. Some institutions may allow you to select more than one focus, especially if the subjects overlap.
After selecting your field of interest, you can delve further into the topic by choosing a theme. Some common themes are business history, the Atlantic world, cultural history, empires, international or diplomatic history, religious history, and social history.
Through coursework, internships, fellowships, and research you will gain expertise within these concentrations. Deciding what you want to study, and what work you would like to do, before enrolling will help you pick the best concentration. This is useful when it comes time to select a school, as you can narrow down the list of programs by researching which universities offer your specific interest.
Additionally, take time to look at the faculty members that lead the programs as they will be the ones who will guide you through your research. The more that you hone in on what you want your degree and career to look like, the more successful that you will be during your studies, and beyond.
What can You Do with a Master’s in History?
Graduating with a master’s in history does not mean that you must become a professor, although this is definitely an option. Many career paths open up with a master’s degree in history, such as archivist, curator, historian, and of course, professor.
An archivist works to appraise, process, catalog, and preserve records that have historical significance. They also coordinate educational programs, including tours and workshops. Additionally, they can work with researchers on topics and items that are applicable to their collections. A master’s degree is required to become an archivist. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for an archivist is $49,850, and the career is expected to grow by 9 percent by 2028.
A curator, also known as a museum director, directs the acquisition, storage, and exhibition of collections. They also administer research projects and educational programs. A master’s degree is required in art history, history, archaeology, or museum studies. Curators have administrative and managerial responsibilities. The median pay for a curator is $54,570, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Historians learn about the past by studying historical documents. They research, analyze, interpret, and write about the past through the study of these documents. A historian requires higher education that includes a master’s degree and, in some cases, even a Ph.D. It is also recommended that an internship is completed during the studies. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a historian is $63,680, and the number of jobs in this career path is expected to grow by 6 percent by 2028.
A history professor teaches students history through lesson plans. There are many different opportunities for history teachers, including elementary, high school, and postsecondary teachers. To teach at a college level, you must have at least a master’s degree. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that history professors have a median salary of $79,540 with prospective job growth of 11 percent by 2028.
Salary and Job Outlook
Graduating with a master’s in history will give you the upper hand when applying for positions in the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be intense competition among those vying for jobs within the field. From 2016 to 2026, 200 new openings for historian positions will be generated, a 5 percent growth. Openings for archivists, curators, and museum workers are expected to grow by 4,200 or 13 percent. A master’s degree or a Ph.D. would be hugely beneficial when securing employment in the industry.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, historians earn $55,000, with the lowest-paid bringing in $28,050 and the best-compensated earning $103,000. Archivists, curators, and museum workers, on average, make $49,850. The lowest salary for these positions is $28,330, and the highest $87,760. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that post-secondary history teachers have a median wage of $79,540, with the lower end of this being $40,480 and the higher coming in at $174,960.
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Resources for History Students and Professionals
It is recommended to join a professional association while earning your master’s degree. Through conferences and meetings held by these organizations, you can learn more about what fields you might be interested in. Here are a few organizations and resources that will be helpful while earning your degree:
American Historical Association: This is known as the largest professional organization for historians. Their online network connects historians across the world. A networking opportunity arises at their annual meeting with sessions that feature a variety of fields in history.
Organization of American Historians: Members of this organization come from the government and private sector. University professors, high school teachers, archivists, museum curators, public historians, students, and scholars have access to an online directory, career center, teaching tools, and a searchable database that features over 1,000 journals, anthologies, and indexes on various history topics.
Career Karma: One of the most useful resources in starting a master’s program is Career Karma. Career Karma can help you choose what university, field, and degree might be best for you.
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