History Education: Overview of Adult Education Programs in History

Whether you're a hobbyist or want to start a career, history education courses and degree programs are available at colleges and universities. Read about the types of classes available, and get degree program requirement information.

Here we discuss the different levels and types of history programs available to interested students. We also look at some of the specializations, courses and career options at the degree levels.

Program Information

If you need to learn more about history to pass the GED or prepare for college, or if you love history and can't get enough of it, you can choose from a variety of education options. Courses and seminars are offered in a wide variety of places - not only colleges, community colleges and universities but also libraries, museums and national and state parks. You can also choose to enroll in an on-campus or online degree program in history. Programs are available at levels from the associate's degree to the PhD. Students can also find programs or courses that focus on particular time-periods in history or particular historical events. More information is detailed here.

Programs At a Glance

GED preparation

  • These secondary education programs vary in length based on student's skill level and previous high school credits.
  • These programs are offered on-campus.

Hobbyist classes

  • Hobbyist courses vary in length and level based on the course provider.
  • These classes are typically on-campus or on-site at places like historical sites.

Undergraduate history degree

  • Associate's degree programs take 2 years to complete, while bachelor's programs take about 4 years.
  • These programs can be found on-campus and online.

Graduate history degree

  • Master's and doctorate degree programs are available and take anywhere from 2 to 6 years to complete, depending on the degree.
  • These programs are available on-campus and online.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • American History
  • Ancient Studies
  • Asian History
  • Classical Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies
  • Cultural Resource Management
  • European History
  • Historic Preservation
  • History of Science and Technology
  • Holocaust Studies
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Museum Studies
  • Public History and Archival Administration

Coursework for Adult Education Programs in History

Adult learners have a variety of options to study history, and should choose courses based on their needs and goals. GED preparation courses cover topics that test takers may be quizzed on during the history portion of the exam. College degrees in history are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Individuals who are interested in history as a hobby can take classes and participate in workshops at historic sites and history centers, as well as online.

GED Preparation Classes

History is an important component of the social studies section on the GED high school equivalency test. GED preparation classes intended to cover everything that would have been taught in high school history classes (an overview of US and world history, ancient and modern) are offered at community colleges and in evening classes held at other community centers such as public libraries. Students typically have access to practice exams and can work individually with tutors.

Classes and Seminars for Hobbyists

History is a very popular hobby for many people. Some choose to reenact famous battles through the playing of war games, others prefer to dress up and reenact historical periods such as the Middle Ages, the Old West and the Civil War. There are even teams who dress for and play 'vintage baseball' circa 1890. Many of these hobbyists love to attend or even present classes and seminars where they can learn, or help others learn, more about their beloved historical periods. Conferences, forums and workshops in various topics in history also provide access to acclaimed scholars, curators and other professionals in that area. These classes are often offered at public libraries, museums, and of course historical sites, many of which are listed as state or national parks or monuments.

Undergraduate Programs

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in history are available for those who want a comprehensive background in history or wish to focus on a specific historical period. History programs at the associate's degree level usually are general and cover the areas of world history, Western civilization and United States history. Electives are sometimes available in state history and the history of other countries and civilizations. Most associate's degree students go on to pursue a bachelor's degree in preparation for a career in the field.

A bachelor's degree in history can lead to a career in fields that include journalism, government, education and law. This type of program usually starts out with history courses in Western civilization or world history. Students then go on to study topics that might include United States history, historical methods, Asian history, wars, historical writing, anthropology, international relations, and political science. Students also enhance their writing and research skills throughout their courses.

Graduate Programs

Master's and doctoral degrees in history are also available. Master's programs sometimes feature tracks in teaching and specific historical eras. Dual-degree programs are available that enable students to earn a degree in library science as well as history. Some programs have additional requirements, like foreign language proficiency. These programs often cover United States history, historical methods and world history, as well as any specialization courses. Thesis and non-thesis tracks are available, and students may have to complete comprehensive exams.

Doctoral programs in history often involve selecting a field of study, such as the history of Europe, Asia, North America or Africa. In addition to completing core and thematic courses, students may need to learn foreign languages, as well as participate in research, teaching assisting, seminars and workshops. Research is typically conducted in the summers, and students also participate in seminars focused on professionalism in the field. Other common requirements include comprehensive examinations in history, a dissertation and a dissertation defense. Graduates may teach history at the university level, do research or work as historical writers.

Students can study history in preparation for the GED, as a hobby or in pursuit of an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Many of these programs are available online for adult learners, and students can choose from a variety of topics or time-periods in history to study.

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