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History Professor: Education Requirements and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a history professor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and necessary degrees to find out if this is the career for you.

If you are interested in a career as a history professor, you will need to complete both a bachelor's and master's degree in history. You will also need a doctorate if you want a tenured position. History professors spend their time combining classroom work with research.

Essential Information

History professors create lesson plans, lecture students and proctor exams. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, history professors research historical subjects and might be required to publish scholarly papers, articles and books.

Students interested in becoming history professors often begin by earning a bachelor's degree in history. The minimum education requirement for a history professor is a master's degree with a concentration in history. A doctorate is usually required for tenure-track positions. Many postgraduate students also serve as teaching assistants while completing graduate school.

Required Education Master's degree
Other Requirements Fieldwork or research seminars might be required for graduation
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 13% (for all postsecondary teachers)*
Median Salary (2015) $69,400 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education Requirements

Teaching at two- or four-year colleges and universities requires at least a master's degree in the field for non-tenure, part-time or temporary positions. Coursework for the master's might cover topics such as history of different geographical areas, major historical events and the history of different cultures. During a master's degree program, students typically focus on a specific history topic. Coursework is usually a combination of classroom study, lectures and research. Many programs require a thesis upon completion, and some programs might include mandatory fieldwork or research seminars. Working as a teaching assistant enables graduate students to gain first-hand experience teaching at the college level.

Most tenure-track professor positions at four-year colleges and universities require a doctorate. Students usually earn a doctorate in a specialization, such as twentieth century, medieval or military history. A doctoral candidate must complete a dissertation in a topic related to their major, which must be unique and contribute new ideas to the field of history. Many postgraduate students also serve as teaching assistants during graduate school and gain first-hand experience teaching at the college level.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), history professors earned a median annual salary of $69,400 as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Those working at four-year colleges and universities received an average wage of $80,230 annually, which was higher than the $66,660 earned by those employed at junior colleges.

The BLS projected that job opportunities for postsecondary teachers, including history professors, were expected to increase by 13% between 2014 and 2024. This growth was attributed to an expected increase in enrollment at colleges and universities.

History professors with master's degrees have spent time studying a specific history topic, and have usually completed a thesis, research or fieldwork. Those with doctorates have completed dissertations, and many have gained experience as teaching assistants. Jobs for postsecondary teachers are expected to increase at an above average rate from 2014 to 2024.

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