American History Education Options: Degree and Certificate Program Info

American history is offered through bachelor's, master's and post-master's certificate programs. Studies mainly consist of the country's involvement in both national and foreign wars, first American settlers, democracy and politics, and historical figures.

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Essential Information

Both undergraduate and graduate programs that examine American history are available. As a course of study, American history covers everything from the early development of the country to the current state of U.S. culture and politics. Some programs concentrate on American Studies such as Women in U.S. History or American Indian history.

Prerequisites required for a bachelor's degree include a high school diploma or equivalent. A bachelor's degree and GRE scores are typically required for the master's degree. A master's degree in history or a related area of study, such as anthropology or sociology is required for the graduate certificate program. Foreign language knowledge and a thesis or comprehensive exam is required for the master's degree.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History

Designed for those who are interested in gaining a body of knowledge in American history, the bachelor's degree program in history combines the study of people, culture and events that shaped American history, including insight into events that propelled the nation into wars, historical leaders who influenced politics and societal change, as well as scientific discoveries that helped to define generations. Other focus areas are the modern age, language and literacy, the industrial revolution and technology. Minors in history are available, as well as related degree programs in American studies.

Coursework comprises a wide range of subjects, from the American economy to the Civil War. Other topics that might be discussed include:

  • World civilization
  • Slavery
  • Historiography
  • Feminism
  • Progressivism

Master's Degree in American History

Master's degree programs in American history include studies in American government, African American history and the Civil War, with a major focus on how people and cultures in America have evolved over time. Students may be required to learn a foreign language and develop theories for analyzing historical events and assessing the future of modern American society. Many programs culminate in a graduate thesis project or comprehensive examination.

Graduate history courses prepare students to produce original works of academic scholarship and apply historical knowledge to the understanding of people and events that defined American culture. Course topics include:

  • European settlers
  • American Revolution
  • Racism in America
  • Communism
  • The Cold War

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Post-Master's Certificate in American History

Generally a 15-credit program for students who hold master's degrees, this certificate program covers American history topics like the history of women in the United States and the relationship between America's allies and foreign enemies. The program also consists of studies in the American Presidency, economics and involvement in World Wars I and II.

American history courses include studies in some of the country's most important historical documents, from the New Deal to the Declaration of Independence. Other topics include:

  • Federalism
  • Democracy
  • Vietnam War
  • Internationalism
  • Harlem Renaissance

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Historians held 3,010 jobs in the U.S. in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the number of jobs in this profession was expected to grow 2% between 2014 and 2024 ( The BLS reported that the median annual salary of a historian in 2015 was $55,800. During that time, local government had the highest level of employment for historians, according to the BLS.

Popular Career Options

Those who complete these programs might go on to careers in fields such as politics, law and education.

Graduates of the bachelor's program find jobs at museums, non-profit organizations, political offices and more. Some popular career titles for graduates are:

  • Campaign worker
  • Congressional aid
  • Lobbyist

Graduates of the master's program and beyond exist in a variety of industries and settings, including education, research and politics. Job titles for graduates are:

  • History teacher
  • Museum curator
  • Politician

American history certificate programs exist at all levels of post-secondary education. Historians research, analyze and interpret the past from primary and secondary sources. Careers can range from teachers to museum curators or working in the government.

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