Masters Degree Programs in History

Whether you're seeking a career in academia, museology or research, a master's degree program in history will offer a comprehensive study of the field. Find out more about these programs and how you can put your degree to use after graduation.

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Essential Information

Some master's programs combine history and other disciplines, such as education, while others are designed as pathways to doctoral programs. You'll also be equipped to seek out certifications that may further aid you in pursuit of your career of choice. Master's degree programs in history typically cover ancient and modern world history, including discussion of how past events have affected the present. Many graduate history programs examine how history has impacted gender and race relations, politics and society. Students learn to put historical events into context, gather data, write reports and share information with scholars and the general public.

To enter into a graduate degree program in history, a bachelor's degree is needed. Other prerequisites to admission may include letters of recommendation and submission of GRE scores. It is commonly required that students in master's degree programs complete a thesis prior to graduation.

Master of Arts in History

Graduate programs may offer concentrations in American, European, African American, East Asian, environmental, military or public history. Many history master's degree programs also require proficiency in a foreign language and declaration of a minor field of study. Typical master's program coursework includes:

  • American colonial history
  • Latino history in the U.S.
  • History of the Renaissance
  • History of the French Revolution
  • African and Middle Eastern history
  • History of Imperial China

Master of Arts in History with a Concentration in Teaching

A master's degree program in history with a teaching concentration focuses on training instructors to teach history at the secondary and undergraduate levels. Some institutions offer tuition aid through the Teaching American History grant program for educators who intend to teach history and wish to pursue a master's degree. Some students may also pursue a dual master's degree in history and education. While early curriculum is similar to that of a Master of Arts in History program, later semesters focus on teaching specific historical topics to high school students or undergraduates. Some programs may require completion of a specified number of credit hours in education. Coursework may include:

  • Historiography
  • Advanced historical research and quantitative methods
  • Teaching history at the college level
  • Public history and historic preservation
  • Archival methods
  • Editing for historical writing

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( predicted 13% job growth for postsecondary teachers from 2014-2024, due to an expected increase in college enrollment. As of May 2015, postsecondary history teachers earned a median salary of $69,400 per year.

Popular Career Options

Historians are often employed by government agencies, academic institutions, historical preservation organizations and museums. Some individuals work as museologists and preservation advisers. Other popular job titles may include the following:

  • Teacher
  • Historical consultant
  • Researcher
  • Archivist
  • Writer
  • Curator

Continuing Education

Some master's programs in history are designed to lead into Ph.D. programs. Doctoral programs typically take 5-8 years to complete. Certification, such as that offered through the Academy of Certified Archivists, might benefit historians seeking employment with libraries, museums or other archiving institutions. History teachers at public high schools must obtain licensure from their state board of education. On the college level, many employers require that tenure-track faculty and professors have a doctoral degree. According to the American Historical Association (, there are more than 150 doctoral history programs in the United States.

A master's degree program in history will teach students to think critically about historical events from ancient to modern times. Graduates may pursue further education or move on to careers in fields such as teaching and museums.

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