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Best Online Master's in History 2021

Best Online Master's in History 2021

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Students passionate about history and culture can pursue a variety of career opportunities after earning a master's degree in history.

A master's in history is a research-focused graduate program that usually requires 30-60 credits and takes around two years to complete. These programs may examine different fields, such as economics and sociology, as they relate to historical events, cultures, individuals, and movements.

History is an expansive field, including everything that has occurred over time, so students have innumerable options for personalization. Learners can study topics like legal history, historic preservation, history of a specific country or culture, historic literature, or the history of medicine.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), historians earn a median annual salary of $63,680, and jobs are projected to grow 6% between 2018-2028.

This page ranks the best online master's in history programs. It also covers other important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers for graduates.

Top 10 Online Master's in History Programs

#1 Florida International University Miami, FL
#2 Louisiana Tech University Ruston, LA
#3 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#4 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA
#5 University of North Alabama Florence, AL
#6 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC
#7 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
#8 Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ
#9 Liberty University Lynchburg, VA
#10 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO

The Best Online Master's in History Programs 2020

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4

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania 

Slippery Rock, PA Apply Now

About this school

SRU, a public university founded in 1889 and today part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, serves more than 8,500 students each year.

SRU offers a fully online master of arts in history. With just one required course in historiography, the 30-credit program allows students to determine their own direction. Students choose courses from three broad geographic areas: U.S., European, and world history. Courses include U.S. Foreign Policy, Women in History, and Political Violence in Latin America. All students must pass a comprehensive final exam.

Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts, a letter of intent, and a one-page analytical essay.

Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
70%
5

University of North Alabama 

Florence, AL Apply Now

About this school

Founded as LaGrange College in 1830, UNA became a teacher's college in 1872 and now welcomes more than 8,000 students.

UNA offers a 100% online master of arts in history. This generalized program with an emphasis on American history offers both thesis and non-thesis tracks. Those aiming for a Ph.D. usually choose the thesis track while students with more hands-on career goals take the non-thesis route. All students take core courses in historiography and methodology, U.S. history to 1877, and world history since 1815.

Thesis students enroll in thesis defense in their final semester. Non-thesis students must complete six hours of directed research and pass a comprehensive final exam.

Applicants need a 2.75 undergraduate GPA with a history major or minor or 24 credits in history. Required GRE scores must meet minimums in two of three areas: Verbal 146, Quantitative 140, and Analytical Writing 3.5. Other requirements include three recommendations, an application essay, and a minimum four-page writing sample.

University of North Alabama is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
46%
Percent Receiving Loans
58%
6

University of North Carolina Wilmington 

Wilmington, NC Apply Now

About this school

A public research university founded in 1947 and now part of the University of North Carolina system, UNCW welcomes more than 17,000 undergrads and graduate students each year.

UNCW offers an online master of arts in history. Designed for professional educators, the 30-credit program provides a broad overview of United States, European, and global history. The lockstep curriculum includes such topics as the British Empire, local and regional history, and the internal combustion revolution. All students must pass a final capstone course.

Admission requirements include undergraduate transcripts, a 500-word essay, and a writing sample such as a research paper. GRE scores are not required during the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina educators, including librarians and museum educators, receive preference.

University of North Carolina Wilmington is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
46%
7

University of Louisiana at Monroe 

Monroe, LA Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1931 as a public university and part of the University of Louisiana system, ULM enrolls approximately 8,400 students annually.

ULM offers a 100% online master of arts in history. The online non-thesis program requires students to take research methods, 27 elective credits, and comprehensive oral and written exams. Course options include Biblical Lands, the Holocaust, and Voodoo, Hoodoo, and Conjure.

Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 with at least 18 credits in social sciences or humanities, nine of which must be in history. Applicants must also submit a writing sample of no more than 10 pages.

University of Louisiana at Monroe is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
44%
Percent Receiving Loans
40%
8

Arizona State University-Skysong 

Scottsdale, AZ Apply Now

About this school

A public university founded in 1885, ASU graduates more than 20,000 students annually.

ASU offers a fully online master of arts in history. The 30-credit program covers topics such as historical methods, North American history, and public history methodology. All students must pass a final capstone experience. Many graduates go on to careers in education, museums, or state or federal agencies.

Applicants need an undergraduate GPA of 3.3 with at least 18 credits in history, social science, or the humanities, along with three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a resume, and a writing sample of no more than 35 pages.

Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Graduation Rate
14%
Percent Receiving Loans
55%
9

Liberty University 

Lynchburg, VA Apply Now

About this school

A private evangelical Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell in 1971, Liberty infuses its curriculum with a Biblical perspective. The university welcomes more than 100,000 primarily online students each year.

Liberty offers a fully online master of arts in history rooted in the wisdom gained from exploring the past. All students take core courses in historiography, historical methods, and American Christian heritage, plus electives in topics such as the Protestant Reformation.

Applicants must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The university does not require standardized testing.

Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
50%
Percent Receiving Loans
60%
10

Missouri State University-Springfield 

Springfield, MO Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1905 as the Fourth District Normal School, MSU went through several names before adopting its current moniker in 2005. Today the university has more than 26,000 students.

MSU offers a hybrid or 100% online master of arts in history. The highly flexible program allows students to choose from three tracks: American studies, global area studies, or U.S. and world history. Those interested in teaching may add a secondary education sub-track. All tracks offer both thesis and non-thesis options. Non-thesis students must complete a seminar paper and oral presentation. All students take research and primary source seminars. Courses range from Women in Islam to the American West and History of Fascism.

Applicants must have a 2.75 undergraduate GPA (3.0 preferred) with 24 credits in history preferred, submit three reference letters and a writing sample. Those holding current teaching certifications in social studies must submit a copy.

Missouri State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Graduation Rate
54%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
11

Eastern Illinois University 

Charleston, IL Apply Now

About this school

A former teachers' college founded in 1895, EIU caters to nearly 7,500 students.

EIU offers an online master of arts in history for teachers focused on advanced U.S. and world history studies. The 32-credit program requires an initial one-week summer residency on campus, with all other requirements available online. All students must take historiography and proseminars in American history, premodern history, and modern world history, along with an independent study and a capstone directed-study project. Note that the program does not lead to teacher licensure.

Applicants must have a 2.75 undergraduate GPA with at least a minor in history or its equivalent. Applicants must also provide email addresses for three recommenders, a resume, and a statement of professional goals.

Eastern Illinois University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Graduation Rate
58%
Percent Receiving Loans
55%
12

Sam Houston State University 

Huntsville, TX Apply Now

About this school

A public university founded as a teaching college in 1879, SHSU today welcomes more than 21,000 undergrads and graduate students each year.

SHSU offers a hybrid or fully online master of arts in history. The program offers both thesis and non-thesis options, and all students must select one of three thematic tracks: rights and identity, war and violence, or encounters and exchanges. Sample course titles include Film and War in America, European Diplomatic History, and Cross-Cultural Interactions. Non-thesis students must complete a seminar course culminating in an article-length paper and orally defend a portfolio of written work.

Requirements include undergraduate transcripts showing at least 18 credits in history, GRE scores, an 8-10-page writing sample, two letters of recommendation, and a cover letter.

Sam Houston State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
52%
Percent Receiving Loans
48%
13

Norwich University 

Northfield, VT Apply Now

About this school

A private military academy founded in 1819 and known as the birthplace of ROTC, Norwich serves approximately 4,000 students per year.

For Norwich's online master of arts in history, all students must attend a one-week residency on campus at the culmination of their program, but all coursework is available online. The program offers four separate concentrations.

Public history students take classes such as museum studies and amphibious warfare. The American history track examines topics such as the late Agrarian era, and race, gender, and the U.S. Constitution. World history includes directed readings and non-Western military history. The legal and Constitutional history track features topics such as Western legal traditions and military thought and theory. All tracks complete a capstone or thesis.

Requirements include an undergraduate GPA of 2.75, a resume with three references, a letter of intent, and an admissions essay or scholarly research paper.

Norwich University is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Graduation Rate
62%
Percent Receiving Loans
52%
14

Pittsburg State University 

Pittsburg, KS Apply Now

About this school

A public university founded in 1903, Pitt State serves approximately 7,400 students each year.

Pitt State offers an online master of arts in history with three options: thesis, applied research, or concentration coursework. All students take historical research and historiography, seminars in American history and world history, and 18 credits of electives. Thesis students and applied research students dedicate three credits to the relevant research project, while concentration coursework students take an additional course in their area of interest.

Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts showing at least 24 history credits with a GPA of 3.0, along with a personal essay.

Pittsburgh State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Graduation Rate
53%
Percent Receiving Loans
55%
15

Troy University 

Troy, AL Apply Now

About this school

A public university founded in 1887 as Troy Normal School, Troy serves more than 16,000 students.

Troy offers a fully online master of science in social science, history concentration. The non-thesis program delivers core courses in social sciences, research methods, and social theory. Concentration students then take 18 history credits or a seminar in comparative revolutions and nine elective credits in any social science such as psychology or anthropology. All students must pass a comprehensive final exam.

Applicants must have a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.5 or a GPA of 3.0 in the final 30 credits of the bachelor's degree, along with one letter of recommendation and official GRE or MAT scores.

Troy University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
43%
Percent Receiving Loans
63%
16

Western Kentucky University 

Bowling Green, KY Apply Now

About this school

A public university founded in 1906, WKU welcomes more than 18,000 students each year.

WKU offers an online master of arts in history. The flexible program requires all students to take just one core course: historiography. Students then select a concentration in pre-modern Europe, modern Europe, pre-Civil War United States, post-Civil War United States, or the non-Western world. Sample course titles include Hitler and Nazi Germany, The History of Science, and A Cultural History of Alcohol. Students may choose a thesis or non-thesis track, and all must pass a comprehensive written and oral exam.

Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0, including at least 18 credits in history, and a GRE verbal reasoning score of 153. Additional requirements include a sample research paper and a brief personal statement.

Western Kentucky University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
45%
Percent Receiving Loans
42%
17

University of Memphis 

Memphis, TN Apply Now

About this school

A public research university founded in 1912, UofM serves more than 21,000 students each year.

UofM offers a fully online master of arts in history. The highly flexible program allows students to take courses across various concentrations, such as European or U.S. history, with no more than 24 credits in a single concentration. Although the online program does not normally provide a thesis option, students may choose this track with a professor's permission. Sample course titles include the High Middle Ages and History of the American family. All students must pass a comprehensive final exam.

Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA in at least 18 credits of history or closely related courses, along with a satisfactory overall undergraduate GPA. Requirements also include transcripts, a writing sample, a statement of purpose, and two recommendation letters.

The University of Memphis is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
48%
Percent Receiving Loans
55%
18

University of Nebraska at Kearney 

Kearney, NE Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1903 as the Nebraska State Normal School, UNK now serves more than 6,000 students within the University of Nebraska system.

UNK offers a fully online master of arts in history. Students may choose a thesis or non-thesis track or a public history track that includes an internship. Sample course titles include Medieval Warfare, History of Global Pandemics, and Death and Cemetery Culture.

Applicants must have 18 undergraduate credits in history or a closely related field, with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.25 (or submit GRE scores). Requirements also include a research paper, letter of intent, and two letters of recommendation.

University of Nebraska Kearney is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Graduation Rate
58%
Percent Receiving Loans
44%
19

Wayland Baptist University 

Plainview, TX Apply Now

About this school

A private university founded in 1908, WBU now serves approximately 5,000 students per year from its 14 global campuses.

WBU offers a 100% online master of arts in history. Thesis and non-thesis options cover a broad spectrum, including gender, environmental, and record-management courses. All students must take historiography and historical methods, along with choices including Social and Intellectual History, the History of Warfare, or History of Science and Technology. All students must pass a comprehensive final exam.

Applicants must submit transcripts from every college or university attended.

Wayland Baptist University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
24%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
20

Jackson State University 

Jackson, MS Apply Now

About this school

A public historically Black college or university (HBCU) founded in 1877, Jackson State welcomes more than 7,000 students each year.

JSU offers an online master of arts in history. Students may choose between a thesis or a research project. Those planning to pursue a Ph.D. typically select the thesis track, while those wanting more hands-on learning choose the research project.

All students take historical criticism and historiography and a historical research course. Students then carve their own path, choosing from topics such as oral history, sexuality in the U.S., and history of disability, ending with a written comprehensive exam.

Requirements include official transcripts, immunization records, a 3.0 GPA, a statement of purpose, and three recommendation letters. Those with lower GPAs must submit an academic writing sample for case-by-case consideration.

Jackson State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Graduation Rate
43%
Percent Receiving Loans
70%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Master's in History Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

What Is an Online Master's in History Degree?

Master's in history programs cover advanced history topics and typically include concentrations in areas such as ancient, American, military, art, and public history. Unlike undergraduate programs, master's curricula often focus exclusively on the student's concentration.

Regardless of concentration, most history master's students examine research methodologies and learn to differentiate among primary, secondary, and non-scholarly sources. Degree-seekers also learn to analyze and interpret sources for insights on past events. Most students also complete a final project or thesis on a topic relevant to their concentration.

Choosing an Online Program

With so many online master's in history degrees available, students may wonder how to narrow their choices down to just a few options. While the list of programs may feel overwhelming at first, many learners use a process of elimination to create a smaller pool of potential programs.

One of the most important things to consider is the focus of your potential program. Because history encompasses so many eras and subjects, each school offers different courses and research interests. For example, degree-seekers interested in American studies should seek out programs where faculty members are well versed in this subject. Students should also review available concentrations, since this can provide a better sense of the strengths of the department. Learners should also research electives and core curricula.

In addition to core and specialized coursework, most online master's in history degrees require a culminating thesis. These documents usually range from 20,000-40,000 words, exploring a time or topic in history using primary research and independent thought.

How To Choose Your Major

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in History Program?

Offerings vary by program, but the following sections highlight courses and concentrations commonly found in online master's in history programs.

History Concentrations

Modern History

This concentration focuses on history from 1750 to the present. Major events include the Industrial Revolution, both world wars, the Russian Revolution, the Civil Rights movement, decolonization, and the Cold War. Coursework may focus on any part of the world.

European History

This concentration examines the history of the European continent. Students examine the shifting borders of nations and empires across centuries. Topics include wars, pandemics, cultural and social shifts, and modernization. Learners also examine colonialism and foundations of modern governments.

Women's History

This concentration focuses on the role of women throughout history, with special emphasis on power shifts and social dynamics. Students examine how individuals and cultures have viewed a woman's place in society over time.

History Curriculum

Historiography

Usually taken during the first year, this course examines trends in historical research, helping students understand how historical theories and frameworks connect to professional practice as a historian.

History of Modern Medicine

This course assesses how the idea and practice of medicine developed over time, focusing on advancements made in the last two centuries.

American Post WWII

This course analyzes how the U.S. has developed since 1945. Topics include the nation's role as a global superpower, the Cold War (including Korea and Vietnam), and the ongoing struggle for equality for all citizens.

History Professional Organizations

History students and graduates can take advantage of professional organizations. Many organizations offer benefits like professional development, networking, and continuing education opportunities. Professional organizations may also offer funding for research, information on available careers, and student discounts.

American Historical Association

AHA is a nonprofit organization that hosts a yearly meeting with exhibitors and career development opportunities. The association awards fellowships, grants, and prizes for historical endeavors and publishes books, pamphlets, and journals. Members can search for careers through the AHA Career Center.

American Association for State and Local History

AASLH offers professional development webinars, workshops, and classes. The association also hosts a yearly meeting. The group's Career Center offers resume feedback and job listings for history professionals.

National Council on Public History

NCPH provides information on available careers and professional development workshops. The website also delivers resources for K-12, undergraduate, and graduate history education. NCPH publishes a journal, newsletter, and blog on historical topics and hosts a yearly meeting.

History Careers

Historians

Historians study past events, civilizations, and individuals. They may focus on particular eras or topics, such as Ancient Rome or art history. Historians may work in museums, write nonfiction books and articles, or present historical findings through educational lectures. These positions typically require at least a master's degree. Employers may also insist on field experience. Beneficial traits for historians include critical thinking, communication, and research skills.

Median Annual Salary

$63,680

Projected Growth Rate

6%

College Professors

College history professors instruct college students on historical topics. They design lessons, deliver lectures, and assess student learning through exams and projects. They may also advise departments on curriculum changes and publish scholarly articles. Some institutions may require a doctorate for these positions, while others hire master's graduates. Professors benefit from strong communication, public speaking, and research skills.

Median Annual Salary

$79,540

Projected Growth Rate

11%

Political Scientists

Political scientists examine the structures, trends, and impacts of political decisions. They may advise political figures, assist with creating new policies, and deliver presentations on political issues and concepts. More than half of political scientists work for the federal government. Employers usually insist on a graduate degree for these positions. These professionals need strong research, analytical, and communication skills.

Median Annual Salary

$122,220

Projected Growth Rate

5%

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's in History Program?

Most history master's programs take about two years of full-time study to complete.

What Can I Do With a Master's in History?

Graduates with a master's in history can work in roles like political scientist, college professor, and historian.

Can You Get a Master's in History Without a Bachelor's in History?

Many master's in history programs do not require a bachelor's in history for admission, though they usually do require a bachelor's degree of some kind.

Is a History Degree Hard?

History master's degrees are typically challenging yet rewarding, leading to a variety of high-level careers.