Professionals with a bachelor's degree in history enjoy diverse career options. Graduates can work in roles such as museum curator, archivist, writer, and teacher.
Additionally, many history graduates go on to earn a graduate degree to prepare for roles such as lawyer, historian, and librarian. History graduates enjoy above-average earning potentials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors make a median salary of over $62,000 per year, while high school teachers typically earn over $60,000.
The flexibility of an online history degree program allows students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. This format also lets students attend programs throughout the country without relocating.
Choosing an Online Bachelor's in History Program
Prospective students researching bachelor's in history programs should consider several factors to find the best program for their needs, such as available courses and concentrations, cost, and delivery format. For example, students should think about their career goals before choosing a school to ensure that their program offers courses and concentrations aligned with their target career.
What Can I Do with a History Degree?
Additionally, prospective learners should research a program's costs beyond tuition, such as technology and book fees. Students should also learn whether a program offers tuition discounts for in-state learners or charges all online students the same tuition rate, regardless of residency.
A program's delivery format also impacts a student's experience in a program. Some programs offer courses in an asynchronous format, which means classes do not require set meeting times. This format may appeal to busy students who prioritize flexibility. Synchronous programs offer more opportunities to connect with professors and fellow students, but do not offer as much scheduling flexibility.
What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in History Program?
Students pursuing an online bachelor's degree in history typically take classes in areas like premodern and modern history and Western and non-Western history. Students can often tailor an online history degree to match their interests by pursuing concentrations in areas like American history, Asian history, or ancient history.
Online History Degree Courses
- World History
Many history programs divide world history surveys into two courses, with the first focused on ancient and medieval history and the second focused on modern history. Students learn about the development of settled communities and the first civilizations in regions like Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, and China. World history classes also explore the rise and fall of empires, trade connections between parts of the world, and conflicts that cross regional boundaries. Modern world history classes cover topics like imperialism, colonialism, and population growth.
- U.S. History
U.S. history courses provide an overview of the development of the United States, from its colonial roots through the modern era. Some programs divide U.S. history courses into colonial history, U.S. history from the American Revolution through reconstruction, and U.S. history since the late 19th century. U.S. history classes often cover political, military, cultural, and social history. Learners study topics like the legacy of slavery and the Civil War, the expansion of the U.S., and American imperialism.
- Historical Writing
In historical writing classes, history majors learn how to present historical material through scholarly writing, such as research papers, essays, and theses. Students also learn how to use historical sources in their writing, including primary and secondary sources. Students may read essays written by respected historians and complete writing assignments featuring different topics, source bases, and goals. Many historical writing courses cover citation styles and research methods.
In a research class — sometimes called historical methods — history majors learn how to conduct historical research. Learners examine how to identify and cite appropriate sources, and they may read historical writing to better understand the types of research that historians conduct. Students may culminate the course with a research project.
- Critical Theory
Critical theory classes investigate the historiography of topics through a theoretical lens. Topics may include gender theory, cultural history, Marxism, poststructuralism, and social history. Students may complete reading assignments and write essays analyzing historical theories.
Online History Degree Concentrations
- Asian History: An Asian history concentration focuses on Chinese, Japanese, and Southeast Asian history. Students may take classes on topics like ancient history, the political development of different Asian regions, and the culture of Asian countries. Students may also study Asia's military, economic, and environmental history. In addition to covering Asian history, this concentration connects Asian history with the broader world, exploring topics like the Silk Road, the Opium Wars, and World War II. Students may specialize in a particular era or region.
- European History: A European history concentration covers medieval, early modern, and modern European history. Students may take classes on the Renaissance, European colonialism, and the political history of Europe. Courses may also cover the impact of the Crusades, the development of modern states like Germany, and conflicts between European powers. Many programs also incorporate classes on the history of science, women's history, and/or military history. Students may specialize in a particular country (e.g., France or Britain) or time period (e.g., the medieval era).
- American History: A concentration in American history focuses on the development of the U.S. from the colonial period to the modern era. Learners study the wars that defined American history, including the American Revolution, the Civil War, and World War II. Courses also cover the creation of the Constitution, the diplomatic history of the U.S., and the growth of the U.S. as a world power. Many programs include coursework on urban history, environmental history, and military history. Students may specialize in a particular era.
- Roman History: A Roman history concentration focuses on the growth and decline of the Roman empire, from Rome's foundation (traditionally dated to 753 BCE) to Rome's fall in the fifth century CE. Learners study the transition from a republic to rule by an emperor, the expansion of Rome's territorial boundaries, and conflicts with rivals like Carthage. The concentration also covers the decline of the western Roman empire and the continuation of the Byzantine empire. Additionally, students learn about the ancient world, including Sumeria, ancient Greece, ancient India, and ancient China.
Online Bachelor's in History Careers
Earning an online history degree prepares graduates for roles such as archivist, museum curator, high school teacher, and writer. The following section covers several common careers and potential salaries for history graduates.
Archivists process and preserve permanent records and documents that hold historic value. They authenticate, appraise, and preserve historical documents and classify archival records to make them accessible. Archivists also manage electronic records systems. Many archivists coordinate educational programs — including workshops and classes — and work with researchers to identify relevant material in the archival collection.
Archivists can work with diverse records, including manuscripts, photographs, maps, video, and sound recordings. As part of their training, archivists may take courses on paleography or the study of handwriting. Archivists may specialize in a particular era or aspect of history.
High School Teachers
High school teachers educate students on topics like mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies. Teachers with a history degree often teach subjects like U.S. history, world history, European history, U.S. government, and civics. They plan lessons, present material to students, and assess student learning through assignments and exams. Teachers also enforce classroom rules and supervise students during class.
Outside of the classroom, teachers meet with colleagues, grade assignments, and prepare teaching materials. Teachers at public schools must hold a teaching license. Licensure requirements vary by state but generally include a bachelor's degree, completion of a teacher training program, and passing scores on teaching exams.
Postsecondary teachers — also called college professors — instruct undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of academic disciplines. History professors often teach general education courses and classes in their history specialty. They design syllabi, write and present lectures, and assess student learning through examinations and papers.
Many history professors also conduct research and present their work. They may publish academic books and articles, serve on committees, and present research at conferences. Tenure-track professors generally need a Ph.D. in history, but some two-year institutions may hire candidates with a master's degree.
Curators, Museum Technicians, and Conservators
Curators, museum technicians, and conservators work in museums to preserve materials with historic value and create exhibitions to educate the public. Curators — also called museum directors — oversee museum collections, manage research projects, and represent museums at conferences and public events. Museum technicians — also known as collections specialists — care for objects in a museum's collection. They also maintain records on collections and answer questions from the public about collections.
Conservators handle and preserve artifacts and specimens at museums. They may also conduct historical and archaeological research, including documenting findings and treating objects to limit deterioration.
Writers and Authors
Writers and authors create content for books, websites, magazines, advertisements, scripts, and other media. They select a subject and conduct research on the topic before drafting their thoughts, stories, and/or ideas. After creating a draft, many writers and authors work with editors to conduct revisions and create a polished final draft.
Writers and authors often specialize in a type of writing, such as novelists who write fictional books. Playwrights and screenwriters create scripts for plays, movies, and television shows, while copywriters craft advertisements promoting goods and services.
Accreditation for Online Bachelor of History Degrees
Prospective students considering an online history degree should always check a school's accreditation status. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high academic standards. Liberal arts and research institutions generally hold regional accreditation — considered the best type of accreditation for a history major — while technical and vocational schools often hold national accreditation.
Accreditation benefits history majors in several ways. For example, only students at accredited schools can receive federal financial aid, and many employers prefer candidates with an accredited degree. Credits earned at an accredited institution are also more likely to transfer to other schools. Additionally, many graduate schools only accept students who hold an accredited undergraduate degree.
History Professional Associations
History students and graduates can take advantage of professional organizations to support their studies and advance their careers. Many professional organizations offer benefits like professional development, networking, and financial aid opportunities. The following section covers a few top organizations for history majors.
The largest professional society for people who teach and study American history, OAH dates back to 1907. The organization promotes excellence in American history teaching and presentation. Members receive access to the Journal of American History and discounts on Chronicle of Higher Education memberships.
Through OAH's career center, members can post resumes and connect with job opportunities. OAH membership is accessible to U.S. history teachers, public historians, and museum professionals working with American history collections.
A professional association for history professionals, AASLH offers membership opportunities to museum directors, historical society volunteers, genealogists, archivists, and history teachers. Members can access a searchable library of resources — including articles and webinars — and an exclusive job board.
Members also receive access to History News magazine, networking opportunities through affinity communities, and continuing education resources like online courses and workshops.
NCPH promotes and encourages collaboration between historians and public audiences. The organization offers professional development opportunities, history education resources, and a quarterly newsletter. Members receive access to The Public Historian journal and an annual conference with networking opportunities.
Museum professionals, public historians, historical consultants, academics, and curators rely on NCPH for its professional advocacy and resources. Students benefit from NCPH's student resources, including a public history employer report and tips for getting a job related to public history.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a bachelor's in history?
A bachelor's degree in history examines different historical periods, including medieval history, U.S. history, and world history. These programs build strong critical thinking, research, and writing skills.
How long does it take to get a bachelor's in history?
Generally, an online history degree takes four years of full-time study to complete. However, students with prior college credits can complete the degree in less time.
Is a degree in history a BA or BS?
Most history programs offer this degree as a BA, which includes foreign language requirements. However, some online programs offer a BS in history.
What are the careers in history?
History graduates can work in fields like education, business, and law. With a bachelor's degree, graduates can pursue roles such as museum curator, writer, archivist, and teacher.