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History graduate degree programs offer comprehensive and interdisciplinary exploration of historical events through social, political, economic, and religious lenses. Graduates develop an in-depth understanding of cultural nuances through research and analysis, and their critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving skills qualify them for various career paths.

Most graduate history programs require between 30 and 45 credits, with tuition averaging $20,513 annually. Many programs offer online, part-time, and hybrid course delivery methods that accommodate student needs and circumstances.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that history degree holders earn a median annual wage of $63,000 and mainly pursue educational, legal, and management occupations. Graduates often pursue careers as historical researchers, lawyers, university faculty, public policy analysts, and archivists, earning a median annual between $72,890 and $145,760 across several career options.

How to Choose a Master’s in History Program

Choose your area of study

A master’s degree in history helps students develop advanced skills in researching and analyzing historical events concerning politics, economics, technology, social evolution, and intellectual development. Within institutions’ humanities departments, Master of Arts in History degree programs practice critical thinking to understand events, cultures, and attitudes of history and how they manifest and influence modern society.

Graduates typically pursue a variety of roles across academic and professional fields, such as professor, teacher, historian, archivist, curator, and preservationist. History graduate programs also develop critical thinking, communication, and other skills that transfer to many professions.

Most programs also offer specializations or concentrations that can influence students’ education and career tracks. Consider career objectives, personal interests, and other factors to choose a well-aligned program and specialization. History specialization options generally categorize subfields according to specific geography or eras and may include:

  • Ancient history
  • Medieval history
  • Science and technology
  • Medicine
  • Global history
  • Latin America
  • South Asia
  • Ottoman Empire and the Middle East
  • Modern Europe

Research schools and programs

Visit program and school websites to learn more about curriculums, concentrations, and other details. Contact admissions counselors or program representatives for additional insight or recommendations. School websites, counselors, and social media can also direct you to further informational sources, such as in-person or virtual campus tours, information sessions, and other events for prospective students.

Prioritize regionally accredited schools throughout your research. Search for schools in the Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs and Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which determine educational quality standards to assess and accredit institutions and programs. Accredited programs are eligible for federal student aid funding, and credits from these programs can transfer to other accredited schools. Most master’s programs also require applicants to earn their undergraduate degree from an accredited school, and employers may require accredited education from job applicants.

Prepare for tests and applications

Each institution has its respective admission requirements and processes, but most require the following:

  • Application form and fees
  • College or university transcripts
  • Letter(s) of recommendation from professors or employers
  • Personal essay
  • Statement of purpose
  • Current resume or CV highlighting relevant experience
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • TOEFL scores (for students educated in a non-English language)

Some admissions require historical analysis essays to demonstrate students’ abilities in critical thinking, academic writing, and historical comprehension. Students typically must have an undergraduate degree in history or a related field. If their educational background lacks history, they may need to complete certain historical undergraduate courses or demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional role before they gain admittance to the program.

Select your program

Schools and programs offer varying experiences, resources, and opportunities. To select a program, refer back to your career and educational goals and consider other essential parameters for the success of your education to choose a program. For example, course delivery and logistics are often more important for students with careers, families, and other obligations outside of school that necessitate a flexible academic schedule with part-time, online, or hybrid options.

Consider other factors when selecting your program, such as:

  • Tuition cost
  • Location
  • Graduation requirements
  • Final project or thesis
  • Faculty
  • Completion time

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Degree costs entail more than just tuition. Contact your institution’s financial aid office and program advisors to confirm tuition and fees and request information for other estimated expenses.

Graduate students typically fund their education with a blend of savings, loans, and other financial aid, and they may have access to history fellowship or assistantship roles that cover tuition or offer a stipend or salary.

Students should apply to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) regardless of financial circumstances. This government program awards students loans, grants, scholarships, and other financial aid based on their demonstrated need. Graduate students may apply for direct unsubsidized loans and grad PLUS loans. Institutions and private organizations may also offer funding based on merit or need, and employers may provide tuition assistance benefits for students enrolled in accredited programs.

Best 50 Accredited Master’s in History Degree Programs

Best Master’s in History Degree Programs_2024 badge

Columbia University

Stanford University

Harvard Extension School

University of Pennsylvania

University of Wisconsin - Madison

University of Texas at Austin

New York University

Brown University

University of Virginia

Indiana University - Bloomington

University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign

University of California, Davis

University of Minnesota

Georgetown University

William & Mary

Missouri State University

University of Memphis

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Youngstown State University

Tufts University

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Louisiana Tech University

Western Kentucky University

Ashland University

University of North Carolina Wilmington

George Washington University

Loyola University Chicago

Arizona State University

University of North Florida

Seton Hall University

Discover More Options

How we rank schools

We surveyed many master’s in history programs, including those that offer online, on-campus, and dual-mode courses. Most of these programs award Master of Arts (MA) degrees.

All the programs included on the list are regionally accredited, and many have received national accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Attending an accredited program ensures the quality of the coursework and a broad acceptance of the degree from other schools and employers.

We evaluated each program based on flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect From a Master’s in History Program

A Master of Arts in History program develops student perspectives and understanding of historical events. With a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach, students employ evidential, comparative, and theoretical frameworks to cultivate critical-thinking skills and historical insights.

Students typically choose one or more specializations in which they complete discipline-defining research and present either a final thesis, capstone research project, or portfolio of written work. Programs may also require students to complete internships or research practicums and to work with a mentor throughout their degree.

Most programs require between 30 and 45 credits, which students satisfy by completing core and elective seminars and directed reading courses. Depending on graduate requirements, study pacing, and other factors, most history graduate programs take about two years.

Potential courses you’ll take in a master’s in history program

  • Professional Study of History. This course introduces and discusses history as a profession and explores traditions and philosophy in historical writing, techniques, and analytical tools from past and current historians. Students may gain experience in digital historian methods such as mapping, visual research presentation, and publishing.
  • History of Gender. Gender history examines the development of gender and sexuality and uses classic research methods, theoretical frameworks, and new approaches to explore transnational gender perspectives. Studies may study how gender and sexuality intersect with social, political, and economic transformations.
  • Environmental History. This course surveys the themes, legal frameworks, and social movements in ecological history. Topics may include industrialization, urbanization, and agriculturalism.
  • Early Modern British History. Students examine early modern England’s social, cultural, and political history, including the Renaissance, the Reformation, the British Civil Wars, and the transformation of the Church. Students consider primary sources and secondary works as they analyze topics such as class conflict, radical religion, and science.

History Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to a master's in history degree program?

Most institutions and programs have an online admissions portal that guides applicants through the process and outlines any required documents or information, such as transcripts, test scores, and essays. Admissions counselors can also provide guidance, confirm deadlines, and offer insight to optimize the application process.

How much does a master's in history degree cost?

Master’s program tuition averages $20,513 yearly. Remember that private and out-of-state institutions usually have higher tuition than public or in-state schools. To better understand your financial picture, create a budget that reflects your total costs, such as books and materials, housing, and other expenses. Scholarships, grants, loans, and other funding can also affect your upfront and total costs.

How long does it take to earn a master's in history degree?

Most graduate history degree programs require between 30 and 45 credits and completion of internships, capstone projects, and thesis. Students can typically satisfy these requirements within two years of full-time study.

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