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Historians have a broad range of employment possibilities, and job growth is steady at 4% through 2031. According to 2021 data, the median salary for historians is $63,940 annually, with 300 projected job openings each year. Historians employed by social advocacy organizations can expect to earn a salary of about $115,110. Those used by civic organizations tend to garner annual wages of around $45,790.

Tuition and required fees for master’s degree programs in 2020-2021 for public and private schools averaged $12,394 and $26,621, respectively. Most online programs for a master’s degree in history are completed within two years for full-time students, with an average course load of 30 to 37 credit hours.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in History Program

Choose your area of study

A master’s degree in history offers a broad selection of concentrations, such as archiving, sociology, museum administration, library science, political science, postsecondary education, and various research-oriented fields of study.

There are several master’s degrees in history you can choose from. Some of the more popular degree programs include:

  • Master of Arts in History
  • Master of Arts in History With an Emphasis in Education
  • Master of Science in Historic Preservation
  • Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS)
  • Master of Arts in Medieval Studies
  • Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Research schools and programs

The exciting thing about online programs for a master’s in history is that students aren’t confined to one career path. As you research schools and programs, consider your long-term goals and future career opportunities. If you are leaning toward a career in academia, an emphasis on teaching and research would be a good choice. If you hope to work for museums or libraries, an emphasis on archival and preservation studies may be a good focus.

Prepare for tests and applications

A bachelor’s degree in history is typically preferred for admission to an online master’s program, but a related undergraduate degree (e.g., sociology, philosophy, or social studies) may be acceptable. Many graduate schools have a minimum required grade point average, but admissions teams may waive this requirement if you have related fieldwork experience or impressive standardized test scores.

Some, but not all, master’s programs also require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as part of their admissions standards. In addition, since history is a field of study that requires a strong aptitude for research and writing, your program may ask for a sample history research paper. These requiremnts, along with undergraduate transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation, should be submitted with your application.

Select your program

Since you are looking for an online program, chances are, you may not have the opportunity to visit school campuses physically. Therefore, reaching out to your school’s online student services may be helpful. The responsiveness of the department and the level of support offered will help you determine if the school is fully prepared to service its online students.

As you research schools and their curricula, keep your future goals in mind and ensure they match your school’s programming offerings. Similarly, check into faculty mentorship or peer advisor programs. Strong academic support for online students can make a world of difference.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

The first step in financing your degree is contacting your school’s financial aid department. The people there can inform you of payment plans, scholarships, or other tuition assistance programs that may be available to you. You can also find out if you are eligible for federal assistance by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

If you will remain employed full-time while attending school, ask your employer if tuition reimbursement is available. Similarly, it’s wise to learn as much as you can about tax benefits for education. Every little bit can go a long way and make a big difference in your financial planning.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in History Programs

Best Master's in History Programs 2023

Liberty University

Louisiana Tech University

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Indiana University

Florida International University

Eastern Washington University

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Southern New Hampshire University

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Indiana University Kokomo

Norwich University

Arizona State University

Sam Houston State University

Johns Hopkins University Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Sciences

Slippery Rock University

Fort Hays State University

Wayland Baptist University

Indiana State University

Eastern Illinois University

University of North Alabama

Pittsburg State University

University of Massachusetts

Missouri State University

University of Memphis

Western Kentucky University

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Jackson State University

Troy University

Harvard Extension School

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How We Rank Schools

This list features some of the best online master’s in history programs at top colleges nationwide. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. The programs on our list have been accredited by reputable organizations, such as the Higher Learning Commission and Middle States Commission on Higher Education, that assess colleges’ and universities’ objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation, as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online Master’s in History programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in History Program?

History students should have a strong reading, writing, and research aptitude. Because of the breadth of knowledge covered in history programs, students can customize their curricula to specialize in an area of personal interest. For example, public history students may choose courses that prepare them to speak publicly in museums or historical societies. On the other hand, students hoping to teach in public schools may focus on areas like elementary education.

Students in an online program earning their master’s in history will complete coursework in historical research, historical methods, and historiography. Some programs will require a capstone or thesis project toward the end of your studies. Overall, the program may take up to two years to complete for full-time students and between three and five years for part-time students. The number of credit hours will vary with each program, but the average is between 30 and 37.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online program to earn your master’s degree in history

  • Historiography. This core course focuses on critical contemporary approaches to current issues in methodologies, history writing, and current issues in the field.
  • Teaching History. Students explore the landscape of higher education, participate in debates, lead discussions, and learn how to advise students and evaluate their work. This course surveys the pedagogy and practice of history teaching.
  • Introduction to Historical Museum Work. Students study historical agencies and museums, which often include field trips and laboratory work.
  • Administration of Archives and Manuscripts. This course is an overview of the history and development of basic archival theory and methodology. Students learn the principles of collecting and organizing historical manuscripts and archives.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in History?

Career outlook

An online master’s degree in history opens doors to a wide range of career opportunities, combining the study of the past with valuable skills that are applicable in various sectors. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for historians should grow by roughly three percent over the next decade. The median annual salary for a historian is $64,540 a year, but historians in some areas can earn far more. For example, those employed by social advocacy organizations earn a median salary of $115,110 annually.

Career paths

A master’s degree in history equips you with critical thinking, research, writing, and analytical skills. These skills are highly transferable and sought after in numerous professions. Here are some of the promising career paths available to individuals with an online master’s in history:

  • Education administrator — works in schools, colleges, and universities overseeing academic programs
  • Research analyst — gathers, analyses, and interprets data to provide insights for decision-making
  • Writer or editor — writes historical non-fiction, academic publications, or content for museums and other organizations
  • Public historian — engages with communities, schools, and the public to make history accessible and relevant
  • Government and policy analyst — studies historical trends and data to inform policy development, evaluate government programs, or analyze legislative proposals


Earning Potential: $37,280-$123,260 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in history or Ph.D. in history

Historians study and interpret the past through rigorous research and analysis. They examine historical documents and artifacts in order to understand and explain historical events and trends. Historians use critical thinking and research skills to uncover hidden narratives, identify causes and effects, and provide context to historical phenomena. They often publish their findings in books, articles, or online, contributing to our collective understanding of history. Historians work in various settings, including academia, museums, archives, government agencies, and as independent researchers, specializing in specific periods, regions, or thematic areas to uncover and share the stories of the past.


Earning Potential: $31,820-$98,500 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in history, library science, or a related field

Archivists are responsible for preserving and managing historical records, documents, and collections. They catalog and maintain archives to ensure their accessibility and preservation for future generations. Archivists employ specialized techniques to safeguard delicate materials, including manuscripts, photographs, and digital records. They assist researchers in locating relevant materials and facilitate access to historical resources. Additionally, archivists often play a critical role in acquiring new collections, appraising records, and ensuring compliance with archival standards and best practices. Their work helps safeguard cultural heritage, supports historical research, and contributes to the preservation of our collective memory.

Museum Curator

Earning Potential: $31,820-$98,500 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in history, museum studies, or a related field

Museum curators are responsible for the curation, management, and presentation of museum collections. They select and acquire artifacts, artwork, or historical objects, ensuring their preservation and relevance to the museum’s mission. Curators design exhibitions and plan educational programs, and they may be called to interpret the significance of the collection for visitors. They conduct research to deepen the understanding of the objects and collaborate with conservationists to maintain their integrity. Curators also engage in fundraising, collection development, and public outreach. Their role involves making history, art, or science accessible and engaging to the public.

Online Master’s Degree in History Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online program for a master’s degree in history?

The best way to start the application process is to contact an admissions counselor at your chosen school. Admissions counselors will look at your educational background and long-term goals to help you choose the best course of study.

Typical graduate admissions will request the following materials:

  • Writing sample or research essay. Because history is a research-heavy field, your admissions team will likely want to see that you possess strong writing and research skills.
  • Official transcripts. These inform the admissions team of your grade point average, the amount of coursework you’ve completed, and the rigor of your undergraduate work.
  • Letters of recommendation. Generally, colleges request two to three letters from your professors or supervisors who can attest to your scholarship.
  • GRE scores. Even if your school doesn’t require GRE scores, it gives you better odds of winning competitive scholarships or fellowships.

How much does an online master’s degree in history cost?

Most online master’s in history programs range from $250 to $715 per credit hour. Therefore, students should expect to pay between $7,000 and $28,000 in total tuition. Other factors such as state residency and any technology or software requirements can play into tuition costs. Be sure to ask your admissions counselor and financial aid office to itemize any add-on costs outside of the per-credit cost of the program.

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

Depending on how many credits you can complete per semester, most full-time students finish their online programs and earn their master’s degree in history in two years. Some schools offer accelerated programs, and many undergraduate students take advantage of dual-pathway programs that allow them to simultaneously enroll in multiple master’s courses while completing their bachelor’s degree to finish their master’s degree in less time.

Most students earning their master’s in history online are required to complete between 30 and 37 credits, on average. Part-time students may take longer to earn their degrees, but most colleges expect the program is completed within five years.

Is an online master's degree in history worth it?

An online master’s degree in history provides a solid foundation for a variety of rewarding careers in fields such as academia, research, museums, and education. Graduates with advanced historical knowledge and research skills are well-equipped to contribute to the preservation, interpretation, and understanding of our collective past and make meaningful impacts in diverse sectors.

Although a historian’s salary varies widely depending on the organization they are working for and other factors, six-figure salaries are possible. The BLS reports, for example, that historians employed by the federal government earn a median salary of $106,830.

Earning your degree online can be an excellent choice for many students. Online programs allow students to balance their studies with work, family, or other commitments. This flexibility is particularly valuable for adult learners. Online programs eliminate geographical barriers, making quality education available no matter where you live throughout the country. They can also lead to financial savings, as the student does not need to pay for transportation or on-campus housing.

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