A Master of Arts in History is the most available online graduate degree program in the field. Online programs are generally pursued part-time, so participants can fulfill existing employment responsibilities. With this in mind, history students pursuing a master's degree are usually allowed three years to finish their studies. Prospective students may need to know a foreign language in order to gain admission.
Students in these programs can often pursue concentrations in American history, ancient history, global history or European history. Thesis and non-thesis track programs are available.
Master's-level history students learn how historical thought has developed and been interpreted through time. Instructors emphasize the correlation between theory and evidence in the reconstruction of events, and students compare different historians, their schools of thought and their research methods. In addition, some programs may require applicants to demonstrate proficiency in a secondary language.
Concentration in a specific area of history generally calls for a completion of at least 21 credit hours of courses unique to that area. Additionally, in all concentrations, students participate in an area-specific seminar, which is conducted by way of video or teleconferencing. Examples of course content for particular concentrations are listed below.
- The American Revolution
- The U.S. Civil War
- U.S. Constitutional History
- Pop Culture through U.S. History
- African-American History
- History of American Women
Ancient or Classical History
- Greek Civilization
- The Roman Empire
- Medieval Europe
- The Renaissance
- Ancient Warfare
- The Enlightenment
- The Napoleonic Era
- Europe in the 18th and 19th Centuries
- The Machine Age
- World War I
- World War II
- World Revolutions
- History of Technology
- History of Science
- History of Religion
- Latin-American Culture and History
- Asian Culture and History
Non-Thesis Track Programs
Non-thesis tracks are often considered terminal degree programs, since students pursuing this path are more often interested in gaining practical knowledge of the field for teaching or related employment options. These programs generally call for a total of 30-36 credit hours. However, depending on the school, students must pass a final comprehensive examination or complete an applied research capstone project under faculty supervision.
Thesis Track Programs
Thesis track master's degree programs are often designed for those interested in pursuing additional studies at the doctoral level. Students who choose the thesis option are only required to complete 24-30 credit hours of course work. Writing, presenting and defending an approved thesis fulfills the remainder of required hours.
Students completing online programs typically study at their own pace, though assignments usually have deadlines. They may utilize e-mail, virtual discussion forums or chat rooms as part of the learning process. Supplemental resources, such as video files or PDFs, may be uploaded to a collaborative learning environment to further assist students throughout their course of study.
In addition to teaching, historians may find employment as curators or directors of museums, historical sites or archives, or as political analysts, editors, publishers or freelance consultants. Although most historians work in research and analysis in local, state or national government agencies, they may also be well-suited for private sector employment because of their broad critical thinking training.
Aspiring historians can get an online master's degree in the subject. Students can choose between thesis and non-thesis tracks, and they can choose a specific concentration area based on their individual interests.