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Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

Historians have a broad range of employment possibilities, and job growth is steady at 3% through 2032. According to 2023 data, the median salary for historians is $72,890 annually, with 300 projected job openings each year.

The average tuition and fees for a graduate degree program is $12,596 at public schools and $28,017 at private schools. 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

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

  • Master of Arts in history
  • Master of Science in historic preservation
  • Master of Arts in medieval studies
  • Master of Arts in Holocaust and genocide studies

Many programs also allow you to select a concentration and focus your studies on a particular niche in this field, such as archiving, sociology, museum administration, library science, political science, postsecondary education, and various research-oriented fields of study. If you already know what you would like to do after you graduate, look for programs that closely match these career goals. For example, if you hope to work for museums or libraries, a concentration in archival and preservation studies may be a good focus.

Research schools and programs

You should only apply to institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

To learn more about any accredited schools that you’re interested in, you can visit the school’s website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Application requirements vary by school and program. 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 departments 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. You may also be required to submit undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement with your application.

Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

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 a school’s online student services may be helpful. The responsiveness of this department and the level of support offered will help you determine if the school is fully prepared to service its online students. Similarly, check into faculty mentorship or peer advisor programs. Strong academic support for online students can make a world of difference.

Before making your final decision, review your needs and goals again. Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Do you want your program to be as online as possible, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a fair amount of in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer? Your school should accommodate your scheduling needs and learning preferences.

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 financing options 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 institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education. 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 admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and the 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 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, 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 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 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:

  • Historian — Research, analyze, and write about historical figures, events, and movements.
    • Median annual salary: $72,890
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 3%
    • New job openings projected: 300 annually
  • Archivist, curator, or museum worker — Archivists authenticate and preserve historical documents and objects, while curators and museum workers acquire, maintain, and prepare items for collections and exhibits.
    • Median annual salary: $57,120
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 10%
    • New job openings projected: 5,000 annually
  • Political scientist — Research political subjects, monitor current events, and provide analysis to organizations such as government agencies, political parties, and labor unions.
    • Median annual salary: $132,350
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 7%
    • New job openings projected: 600 annually

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, the admissions department will likely want to see that you possess strong writing and research skills.
  • Official transcripts. These inform the admissions department 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?

The average tuition for graduate degree programs is $20,513 per year. 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?

Most students earning their master’s in history online are required to complete between 30 and 37 credit hours of coursework. Full-time students can typically meet this requirement within two years, and some schools offer accelerated programs that allow you to earn your degree even faster. Part-time students may take longer to earn their degree, but most colleges expect the program to be 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, 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 $109,050.

Online programs allow students to balance their studies with work, family, or other commitments. This flexibility is particularly valuable for adult learners. Online programs also eliminate geographical barriers, making quality education available no matter where you live.

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