Master’s in History Programs Guide

Are you ready to find your fit?

If you have an inquisitive mind and a curiosity for the past, a degree in history might be the right choice for you.

A history degree will help you to focus your studies on a particular era in history and to pursue the topics about which you are the most passionate. While a bachelor’s degree in history is often sufficient to get started, earning a master’s degree will skyrocket you to career success. You will improve your earning potential and enhance your opportunities for advancement. You can pursue a range of careers, including those as a curator, academic, or archivist.

However, if you want to earn a master's degree and are already employed, it can be difficult to find the time to do so. An online degree will make pursuing further education both affordable and convenient so that it fits perfectly into your busy lifestyle.

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What kind of history degree should you get?

When you are employed with a degree in history, you may be required to start off at an entry-level job in a museum or another related setting. As a result, your starting salary may not be terribly high – meaning you will want to pursue a master’s degree that is not only of high quality and convenience, but is also affordable.

Furthermore, if you are already working, you probably don’t want to have to leave your current job to pursue your studies. Even if you aren’t working, earning a master’s degree is a major time and financial commitment. Earning an online degree will allow you to complete your studies without having to leave the security of your home or current job.

Online degrees offer value and affordability. If you are unsure whether a history degree is right for you – or if you are looking for other affordable online programs – be sure to check out our ranking of Best Online Colleges and Universities for a more in-depth look at all of the options that are available to you.

How much money do people make with a master’s degree in history?

Because there are so many career pathways you can pursue with a master's degree in history, salaries vary widely. In general, historians earn about $61,140 per year, with the highest paid individuals working for the federal government – these individuals have an earning potential of nearly $100,000 per year! Other high-paying fields include professional services, state government, and local government positions.

Organizations that employ historians show strong competition. Individuals with master’s degrees or PhDs have significantly higher chances of finding jobs, as do those with practical skills or hands-on experience. The growth rate for historians is about six percent, which is slightly lower than the national average.

What can you do with a master’s degree in history?

After graduating with your master’s degree in history, you have a range of career options. You can conduct research for governments, nonprofits, historical associations, and other organizations. You will rely on a number of sources, such as governmental records, newspapers, interviews, and manuscripts. You may work to present, preserve, or interpret history, either for a report or for a specific group.

You could pursue a number of careers, including those as an archivist, curator, or museum worker. With a few additional courses in related specialty areas, you might also pursue a job as a political scientist, an anthropologist, a teacher, professor, or even a writer.


What are the requirements for a master’s degree in history?

A master’s degree in history will strengthen your skills in areas like historiography, research, and writing. You will gain specialized knowledge of particular periods of history, and also gain skills in areas like document preservation and archival management. Most programs do not require you to have prior work experience in order to enter the discipline, but most will require a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

While some online master’s degrees only accept undergraduate coursework from nationally or regionally accredited universities, others are less rigid in their admissions requirements. Most programs will require a GPA of at least 2.5, as well as the submission of GRE scores.

What are the best online master’s degrees in history?

There is no single best online master’s degree in history for everybody, but the best degree will be the one that provides the closest match to your personal and academic goals. You should be able to study in the format that is most convenient for you, and an online degree offers just that. You can study when you have free time, accommodating your work schedule while pursuing a degree at the same time.

The absolute best programs in history will be both affordable and of high quality. When we compiled our list of the best online master’s in history, we examined the academic quality of each school. We also looked at the school’s return on investment, which is a strong indicator of affordability, as well as factors like student satisfaction and program reputation among employers.

We always want to make sure that our lists of the best schools are as comprehensive as possible so that we can guide you toward a rewarding (and affordable) career. If you want to learn more about how we compile our final list, be sure to check out our methodology page, where you can get a closer look at how we crunch the numbers.

Our last step in presenting the best master’s degrees in history is to narrow down the final list so that it includes only the best options. Our list includes not just the schools with the best programs, but also those that offer convenience and value. Check out our top picks as you take the next step toward an exciting career.

  1. Norwich University

    Northfield, VT




    Captain Alden Partridge was the founder of this small private university established in 1819. Norwich University is proud to be the country’s first private military academy. In the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains in Northfield, VT, this school also has a vibrant online campus. The school has several colleges, including the college of the Liberal Arts, Professional Schools, National Services, and of course, Graduate and Continuing Studies. There are two online graduate degrees in history: one is a Master of Arts in History and the other is a Master of Arts in Military History.

    Program Features

    Regardless of the degree pursued, history majors can complete their studies in as little as eighteen months. The Master of Arts in History is available with two potential concentrations in World History or American History. All classes are small, each capped at 15 students, to provide all students with personal support and individualized instruction. Students will take classes such as:

    • Directed Readings in History
    • Introduction to History and Historiography
    • American Colonial, Revolutionary, and Early National History
    • 20th Century America
    • World History from 1800 to 1991


    Because Norwich University has a rich military history, the graduate programs strongly resonate that past. This university was the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, so all courses and programs are well-structured and contain elements of the university’s military past. Coursework is delivered asynchronously, with most classes lasting eleven weeks. A one-week residency is required on campus in Vermont, which exposes students to some of Norwich University’s dynamic culture and storied past.

  2. University of North Carolina Wilmington

    Wilmington, NC




    A public, coeducational university in Wilmington, NC, this university was established in 1947. Originally known as Wilmington College, this university was designed to serve a community of World War II veterans and remains a veteran-friendly university with its accessible online programs. The school, today part of the University of North Carolina System, offers programs that are tailor-made for military personnel as well as other busy distance learners. The online Master of Arts for History Educators is designed for aspiring archivists, high school teachers, and museum educators.

    Program Features

    This program is nationally recognized and consists of 30 credit hours of study. It can be finished within just a couple of short years when learners take two courses per semester and engage in a pair of on-campus summer programs. Classes are entirely online and asynchronous in nature. A sample schedule might include:

    • Historical Archaeology
    • Historiography and Methodology
    • U.S. Colloquium
    • Modernization and Revolution in the Non-Western World
    • Care and Management of Historical Collections


    With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 12:1, the level of student and faculty engagement in this program cannot be surpassed. Through their studies and interactions with faculty, students gain a deep understanding of contemporary research practices, as well as methods of inquiry for historical problems. Students may complete a capstone project in lieu of a thesis, allowing most candidates to graduate in just 24 months. Tuition starts at just $4,720 per year for in-state students.

  3. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

    Slippery Rock, PA




    A comprehensive public university located in Slippery Rock, PA, this university is just an hour from Pittsburgh and was established in 1889. This school offers nearly 200 different academic programs, including a dynamic Master of Arts in History. This degree is available entirely online and consists of 30 credit hours of study. It provides learners with advanced education in World, European, and American History, giving them the training and qualifications necessary to pursue exciting careers or doctoral study.

    Program Features

    All courses in this program are taught by highly qualified faculty members with terminal education in history. Online courses are affordable and flexible and are designed for learners who hope to pursue careers in fields like law, government, private business, industry, or even education. Required and elective courses include:

    • Renaissance and Reformation
    • Hispanic American History to 1815
    • The United States in the Twentieth Century
    • Material Culture and Historical Interpretation
    • History of Medicine


    This degree culminates in a comprehensive examination that includes the history of three different geographic regions. This prepares students to go directly on to doctoral study or to enter into the workforce. With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 22:1, the level of engagement with scholarly professionals in this program simply cannot be surpassed. Graduate tuition starts at just $15,363 and the curriculum of this program is designed so that students are never required to visit campus.

  4. University of Massachusetts-Boston

    Boston, MA




    A public research institution located in Boston, MA, the University of Massachusetts-Boston was added to the University of Massachusetts System in 1964. This school provides over 200 different undergraduate, graduate, and certificate degrees through its many schools. Among them is the College of Liberal Arts, which is home to the rigorous online Master of Arts in History. This degree is incredibly hands-on, requiring students to complete a number of supervised writing and research projects.

    Program Features

    All courses in this program are taught by the university’s tenured faculty. Students will complete nearly 300 pages of reading per week as they engage in flexible online classes. It is designed both for potential Ph.D. candidates as well as aspiring secondary-school teachers and prepares students for any career in history. With small class sizes of just 16 students on average, the attention to student success at the University of Massachusetts cannot be overlooked. A sample schedule might include:

    • Research Methods
    • Topics on the History of the American Revolution
    • Topics in Atlantic History: Indigenous Histories and Historiographies
    • Age of FDR: Depression, War, and the Birth of Modern America
    • Theory and Practice of European Fascism


    This school is both convenient and affordable, offering a low tuition rate of just $1,725 per course. Students who are attending the university from certain portions of New England may be eligible for additional tuition discounts. The school is regionally accredited with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Most students can complete their studies in less than two years, as there are no residency requirements. Thirty credit hours of study are required in this degree, which emphasizes research methodology.

  5. University of Louisiana at Monroe

    Monroe, LA




    The University of Louisiana at Monroe was established in 1931 and is a comprehensive state university in Monroe, LA. This school is home to nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, who enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of just 21:1. The school is home to three separate colleges as well as a graduate school. The College of Arts, Education, and Science houses a dynamic Master of Arts in History that is designed for busy adult learners. This degree is just one of the university’s 33 completely online programs.

    Program Features

    Courses are offered in 16-, eight-, and four-week chunks. All students in the online program may waive the thesis requirement, instead of completing comprehensive examinations to complete their degrees. Students must take 18 credit hours of Humanities and Social Sciences courses prior to admission. Once enrolled in the graduate program, students may choose from three concentrations in Military History, United States History, or European History, and will take classes within those disciplines such as:

    • Contemporary History
    • U.S. Military History, 1865-Present
    • Colonial Latin America
    • The Rise of Southern Nationalism, 1846-1861
    • The Makers of America


    This university offers competitive financial aid and affordable tuition rates to in-state and out-of-state students alike. Most learners pay an average of just $802 per credit hour. Online candidates have access to the same resources as on-campus students, including library services, mentorship programs with alumni, counseling services, academic advising, and even community events. 30 credit hours of study are required for graduation, in addition to a comprehensive oral and written examination.

  6. Western Kentucky University

    Bowling Green, KY




    Western Kentucky University is located in Bowling Green, KY, and was established in the early part of the 20th century and originally existed as a teacher training institution. In 1966, after obtaining full university status, the school began to offer a range of graduate programs. Now available online, the Master of Arts in History is granted through the university’s History Department as a fully asynchronous, non-thesis program.

    Program Features

    The university allows students to experience the culture of Western Kentucky University via an online graduate orientation and campus tour, and then all courses are offered via Blackboard. This degree includes a range of degree options, allowing students to choose between multiple program concentrations. A sample schedule might include classes in the following areas of concentration:

    • Pre-Modern Europe/World (Ancient World to Early Modern Europe)
    • Modern Europe (Enlightenment to Present)
    • Non-Western World
    • Pre- Civil War United States (including Civil War)
    • Post- Civil War United States


    With a student-to-faculty ratio of just 18:1, the level of interaction and student engagement in this program simply cannot be surpassed. The three-year program offers courses on a rotating basis so that students can complete their degrees quickly and efficiently and most students are able to graduate in as little as two years. Students have access to a range of services, including library and career services. Candidates can also access scholarships, work-study programs, endowments, grants, and loans via the online platform.

  7. University of Memphis

    Memphis, TN




    A prominent research institution in Memphis, TN, the University of Memphis houses a whopping 21,000 students and offers a range of graduate and undergraduate degree programs. The College of Arts and Sciences is home to a dynamic Online Master of Arts in History. This program is flexible and specifically tailored to satisfy adult students who desire convenience and affordability – in addition to academic rigor. With 33 credit hours of required classes divided into 11 separate courses, this program can be completed from any location.

    Program Features

    Designed for learners who seek to become educators, governmental employees, or lifelong learners, this degree is available with both a thesis and non-thesis option. Class sizes are small, with an average student-to-faculty ratio of just 14:1. Learners may transfer in up to 50 percent of their required credits from another university, allowing for flexible degree completion. Required and elective courses include:

    • Russia to 1917
    • World Since 1945
    • Egypt of the Pharaohs
    • Arab Israeli Conflict
    • Jacksonian America


    This degree is unique in that it offers an exclusive degree concentration in Egyptology. Although this concentration requires additional coursework, it is an opportunity that is singular to the University of Memphis and makes it an attractive option for students interested in this discipline. The average part-time cost per credit hour is only $479, making this an affordable option for online learners. All students work closely with faculty members to complete their degrees, with faculty members serving as both program and thesis advisors.

  8. Louisiana Tech University

    Ruston, LA




    Louisiana Tech University is located in Ruston, LA, and is a member of the University of Louisiana System. The school is a four-year research university with a selective admissions process and is home to nearly 13,000 students from all fifty states and 60 different countries. The school offers a range of baccalaureate associate, master’s and doctoral degrees, many of which are available entirely online. The College of Liberal Arts and the School of History and Social Sciences offer a Master of Arts in History that is available both on-campus as well as online.

    Program Features

    This program can be completed with either a thesis or non-thesis track. It consists of 30 credit hours of study and requires prospective students to have completed at least 21 undergraduate credit hours in history. This degree is designed for students who are interested in terminal study in history, as well as in advancement in areas that require significant skills in historical research. It may also be pursued by aspiring secondary-school educators. With a small enrollment of 1,391 students and a student-to-faculty ratio of just 24:1, this school offers a close-knit learning environment and astounding attention to detail. A sample schedule might include:

    • Historiography
    • Historical Research and Writing


    It is one of the most military- and veteran-friendly schools on this list, serving students at Barksdale Air Force Base and allowing these individuals to earn a degree in a flexible, no-nonsense way. Tuition starts at just $714 per credit hour, making this an affordable option for students from all locations. Additional fellowship and scholarship opportunities are available, with awards of up to $7,000 available to offset the already low cost of online tuition.

  9. Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA




    A private, Christian university of liberal arts located in Lynchburg, VA, Liberty University is classified as a Carnegie doctoral research university. It also has the distinction of being the fifth largest university in the country and the world’s largest Christian university. With 550 programs spread out among 17 colleges and schools, Liberty offers a whopping 300 online degree programs. The online Master of Arts in Religion and Master of Divinity offers a concentration in Church history, while the online Master of Education in Teaching and Learning also has a concentration in History as well.

    Program Features

    These degree programs are highly specialized and provide students with a thorough overview of topics like American history, world history, modern European military history, and more. Required courses include a range of electives, each customized to meet a student’s individual career plan, as well as core courses like:

    • Historical Methods and Interpretation
    • American Christian Heritage
    • Protestant Reformation
    • History of American Political Parties Since 1896


    Despite Liberty University’s large graduate enrollment of nearly 30,000 students, the online program concentrations in history remain close-knit. The average student-to-faculty ratio is just 19:1, and with a population of over 250,000 alumni worldwide, the school offers exceptional career connections to students upon graduation. This school was one of the first providers of quality distance education, having sent VHS tape recordings of lectures to learners all over the country. Today, the online campus is more modern, with all courses offered via Blackboard.

  10. Arizona State University-Tempe

    Tempe, AZ




    Arizona State University is a well-respected public research university with headquarters located in Tempe, AZ. This school has several campuses along with the main center in Tempe and also offers a range of online programs, including an online Master of Art in History. Over 100 different graduate and undergraduate programs are offered entirely online, with all classes led by the exact same qualified faculty that teach on-campus. This high-quality university is home to nearly 10,000 graduate-level learners and somehow still maintains a small student-to-faculty ratio of 23:1 – an impressive figure in itself.

    Program Features

    This degree is offered through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Classes are taught by award-winning faculty members who are dedicated to students success. It is designed for busy adult professionals in addition to current or aspiring K-12 teachers. Students may pursue a thesis or non-thesis option, but all students will learn how to plan research projects, communicate effectively, and analyze historical data. Students will take classes such as:

    • Historical Methods
    • North American History
    • Global History
    • Early American History
    • Civil War Era


    This flexible program features fall, spring, and summer admission, and prepare students to work in varied settings such as those in national parks, for nonprofit organizations, or even in education environments. Candidates never need to visit campus in order to complete their studies and can complete courses in seven and a half week chunks. Ten total courses are required in this degree, with all courses offered asynchronously. Tuition is affordable, with a flat-rate of $637 per credit hour regardless of residency.

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