Online History Graduate Degree Program Options

Essential Information

A number of graduate programs in history are offered fully online, most commonly preparing graduates to teach history at the secondary and community college level. While online doctorate programs are scarce, online master's degree programs cover a wide range of topics, from the colonial period to the civil rights movement. Students who complete these programs are awarded a Master of Arts (MA) in History.

Students in an online master's degree program may be able to choose between thesis and non-thesis tracks, and in some cases, they may elect to take some campus-based courses. Occasionally, students can choose a concentration, like American history, public history or military history. Online PhD programs are not likely to be offered. Before starting an online program, students must equip their computers with QuickTime Player and Adobe Reader.

Graduates of history master's degree programs may apply to campus-based doctoral degree programs in history, or they may seek employment in areas like historic preservation, archival work or teaching. Individuals who want to teach at the high school level need to complete a teacher education program, including an internship, to qualify for certification; prospective teachers should contact their state licensing board for requirements.

Master's Degree Program in History

An online master's degree program in history typically provides students with a broad overview of both U.S. and non-U.S. history, focusing on aspects of cultural, economic and political history. Areas of U.S. history explored might include the American Revolution, the civil rights movement, the great depression and American Indian history. In addition to U.S. history, aspects of European, Asian and Latin American history are generally covered. Emphasis is often placed on the development of advanced research skills, as well as the interpretation of primary documents and the ability to effectively communicate historical material.

Information and Requirements

Online graduate degree programs in history are typically offered as a Master of Arts in History and are generally around 36 credits. Courses in many programs are commonly offered on a rotating basis, meaning the degree can take up to three years to complete if all courses are taken online. Master's-level history programs commonly include both a thesis and non-thesis option, with the non-thesis option requiring completion of additional coursework. Prospective students are typically required to hold a bachelor's degree, which should include a minimum number of credit hours in history.

Lectures and course materials are generally delivered via Blackboard, where students can communicate with fellow students and professors via discussion boards, as well as access grades, assignments and course materials. Computer requirements may include a DVD drive, Webcam, microphone and software, such as QuickTime Player and Adobe Reader.

Master's-Level History Courses

Online master's degree programs in history often provide students the flexibility to build an individualized course of study based on their interests. Certain topics are typically covered, however.


An online historiography course examines a variety of historical writings, including from authors in ancient times to today. Emphasis is placed on theories of historical research, as well as various philosophies of historians.

Civil Rights Movement

This course focuses on the history of the American civil rights movement in the 20th century. Topics covered include prominent individuals and organizations within the civil rights movement, as well as court cases, such as Brown v. the Board of Education.

Women's History

The women's history course concentrates on women's history and gender equality throughout U.S. history. Areas of study commonly include the social history of women, legal rights of women, women in the workplace and the political history of women.

Career Information

An online master's degree in history is generally designed to prepare graduates to teach history at the high school or community college level. It is also useful for middle or high school history teachers looking to meet certain certification requirements or simply improve their historical knowledge base. Additional areas of employment may include jobs with libraries or museums, as well as jobs in historic preservation, professional research, records management and public history. Individuals interested in pursuing a doctorate degree in history should generally pursue the thesis option at the master's-level.

Prospective graduate students who are interested in history can enroll in an online Master of Arts program in the field. These programs provide advanced courses in a wide range of time periods, and students may have the option to conduct independent research and write a thesis in a particular subject of interest.

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