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Distance Learning Masters Degree in History: School Overviews

Read on to see what master's-level history programs entail, and learn about a couple of schools offering online programs in this field. Explore the coursework covered in a graduate history program.

As exciting as a master's degree in history might sound, you don't want to jump into an online program without doing your own research on potential programs. Let's review your options for graduate programs in history, including areas of focus, degree requirements, and specific schools with relevant offerings.

How To Choose An Online Master's Degree in History

An online history master's degree program can prepare students for a variety of options as educators, archivists, museum curators, researchers or doctoral students. Multiple public and private universities and colleges offer distance learning options in this field of study. Programs may provide an option to concentrate in a particular time period or geographic location; other programs may be entirely devoted to a particular sub-field in history.

Students pursuing a master's degree in history must have a bachelor's degree prior to enrollment and, in some cases, have completed undergraduate study relevant to this particular field.

Area of Focus

Most history programs, especially at the graduate level, allow students to focus on a specific subject of particular interest. Specializations are generally offered in a time period or specific region, such as American history. Other potential study tracks include certain events or ideas, such as military history.

Thesis or Seminar

Students enrolled in a master's degree program in history generally must choose between a thesis track and a seminar track (also referred to as a course work track).The thesis option is ideal for students intending to pursue a doctoral program or advanced professional careers, and is also suitable for those wishing to complete a single, comprehensive research project. Seminar tracks, on the other hand, require extensive course work in subjects related to a student's concentration. Other learning methods in this track include portfolios, internships, exams, and research papers.

Online Master's Degree in History

Master's programs typically take about 18 months to two years to complete, but this varies based on a student's enrollment status. Although most schools offer history programs with fully online coursework, some schools require students to attend a campus-based residency. While the coursework varies by concentration, a few topics can include the following:

  • World History from 1800-1991
  • The American Revolution
  • Research Methods in History
  • Women's History
  • The Agrarian Era

Schools with Online Master's Degrees in History

Arizona State University offers an online Master of Arts in History. No special requirements are mentioned, although it is mandatory that you have previously earned a bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, from an accredited university. As of May 2017, the cost is $542 per graduate credit at ASU. Pittsburg State University in Kansas has an online master's degree that offers students one of two tracks: a thesis, which is strongly recommended to anyone planning to continue their education to the doctoral level, or a seminar option, which requires enrolling in two separate seminars in history. Finally, the University of Massachusetts in Boston recommends their online MA in history to aspiring doctoral students as well as potential secondary education teachers who want to maximize their knowledge of history. All three of these universities offer their programs completely online, with no campus visitation needed for classroom purposes.

Many factors should be taken into consideration when pursuing an online master's degree in history. Taking into account their career aspirations and desired specialty area, in addition to researching required prerequisites and program details, can help students make an informed decision.


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