Best Online Master's in History Programs

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A master's degree in history online offers students the possibility of higher salary earnings. Expanding your knowledge in the field can prepare you for career advancement. Historians with an advanced degree earn, on average, $55,100 annually with salaries upward of more than $90,000. Take a look at the best online master's in history programs along with information about the typical degree path of an online history graduate student.


Pursuing an online master's in history is an excellent way to advance your career. You'll receive opportunities to strengthen your skills in writing and research while becoming an expert in the process of historiography. Students gain knowledge of various periods in history and acquire specialized skills in archival management and document preservation. Graduates of online master's in history programs typically earn more than with a bachelor's degree alone and find employment in schools, museums, and more.


No prior work experience is required to begin your online master's in history. Eligibility requirements for most programs include a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0 and GRE scores. Some programs only accept undergraduate work from regionally or nationally accredited institutions. Other common admissions requirements include a statement of purpose, a resume, and three letters of recommendation.


The flexible online format caters to working professionals. While some programs require students to attend full-time, others allow part-time enrollment. A typical full-time load consists of two courses, and although coursework is time-consuming, it is possible to work full-time and pursue a degree full-time. Students complete coursework when it is convenient for them. Some programs require an online presence at specified times, and this usually occurs in evenings to accommodate work schedules.


An online degree has numerous advantages, including direct access to course materials and the ability to complete work during any time of the day. Online courses also provide opportunities for professional networking. Most online course delivery systems are downloadable to your mobile device, and online students have access to campus resources, including technology support and online research materials.

See Methodology
Rank School Name Ranking Score Location Description
1 Harvard University RANKING SCORE 83.62 COST % Enrolled Online 13% LOCATION Cambridge, MA

Applicants to Harvard’s online master’s degree in history program must take three prerequisite, web-based classes. If the learner pass them with a B or better, the school admits them, and they get to use the credits toward the 36 needed to graduate. To give every distance learner the Harvard experience, the university requires that students take three classes on its historic campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The master’s in history consists of 12 graduate courses, including a proseminar, five history classes, one history seminar, two general electives, and three classes related to the required thesis. Students customize the program by choosing their own coursework, and they must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA while working through the curriculum. The school allows degree seekers to complete the program within five years. Most professors conduct classes asynchronously, though some courses include real-time components.

Harvard charges a flat-rate tuition for its online programs, and the school offers distance learners financial aid options.

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2 University of Nebraska at Kearney RANKING SCORE 68.75 COST % Enrolled Online 96% LOCATION Kearney, NE

Kearney offers an online master’s in history with thesis and non-thesis tracks. The non-thesis track acts as a terminal degree, and Kearney recommends it to students interested in teaching up to the community college level. The thesis track caters to those hoping to pursue a doctorate in history. UNK also offers a public history option for the MA degree that informs students about the creation and distribution of history for public audiences. This option prepares students for careers with state, county, and local institutions, including curators, historical interpreters, historical preservationists, consultants, museum directors, government historians, oral historians, cultural resources managers, and numerous other positions.

Coursework follows the traditional 16-week semester, and students progress through the 36-credit curriculum asynchronously. Degree candidates take at least six credits in U.S. history and six in non-U.S. history. Distance learners enrolled in the non-thesis track must compile a comprehensive academic portfolio to earn their diploma. Everyone must take Kearney’s signature courses in public and/or digital history. Students take up to 12 credits of coursework as a non-degree student before enrolling in the program.

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree and at least 18 hours of undergraduate history or humanities courses. The university only requires the GRE from applicants with a GPA of less than 3.25.

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3 Norwich University RANKING SCORE 62.14 COST % Enrolled Online 99% LOCATION Northfield, VT

Norwich University, situated in the Green Mountains of Vermont, is the oldest military college in the nation. The school only offers graduate programs in an online format. In a 2014 survey, 93% of Norwich University Online alumni--many of them leaders in business, government, and the military--stated they would recommend the program.

Building on its own institutional history, Norwich offers a self-paced master of arts in history with a choice of two tracks: American history or world history. This is an 18-month, 36-credit program consisting of six courses, which are taught one at a time. The program fosters a supportive, personalized environment by offering small classes of no more than 15 students. Courses are taught by expert faculty who all hold doctorate credentials. Both professors and the school's dedicated distance learning librarian provide extensive research assistance. Most of the online history master's degree can be completed remotely, but the program concludes with a week-long capstone residency and an optional thesis or capstone paper.

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4 University of Massachusetts-Boston RANKING SCORE 60.48 COST % Enrolled Online 36% LOCATION Boston, MA

Boston’s only public university offers an online master’s degree in history that emphasizes research, writing, and analytical growth. The 30-credit program prepares graduates for careers in teaching and research and lays the foundation for Ph.D. studies. Each semester, the university accepts 15-20 new distance learners into the program, which allows them to keep the class sizes small and promote interaction between students and professors.

Most professors format their classes in an asynchronous format. The university notes that students should expect to read between 250 and 300 pages and write 25 pages each week.

Applicants must submit college transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample. The university does not require the GRE but does recommend it. Candidates possess a 3.0 overall GPA and a 3.3 in any undergraduate history courses. UMass Boston prefers applicants with a history background, but it will consider others from a related field.

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5 Liberty University RANKING SCORE 60.29 COST % Enrolled Online 96% LOCATION Lynchburg, VA

Liberty offers an online history master’s degree from a conservative perspective. The Lynchburg, Virginia, institution built its 36-credit curriculum around two core courses: America’s Christian heritage and historical methods and interpretation. Students choose a thesis or a non-thesis track and can pursue their degree entirely online.

The program provides distance learners with a broad overview of American and European history that is taught with a military emphasis. In addition to the two core classes, degree seekers complete 30 elective credits, which includes 21 history credits. Learners must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and earn at least a C or better in core coursework. The university allows students to transfer up to 18 credits from a qualifying program.

Liberty’s history department teaches all coursework asynchronously in accelerated eight-week sessions. The program's eight start dates allow students even more flexibility. The university offers a reduced tuition rate to veterans.

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6 Arizona State University-Tempe RANKING SCORE 59.16 COST % Enrolled Online 95% LOCATION Tempe, AZ

Arizona State University offers more than 150 degree and certificate programs, including an online master’s in history. Students in the program develop research, planning, analytical, and communication skills while exploring content in the broad fields of North American and global history. The curriculum is ideal for working professionals, such as K-12 educators and journalists. The program requires students to earn 30 credits. Most students obtain their degrees in two years.

Courses include historical methods and dynamic content and research-based courses that include the Civil War, the Sixties, the Cold War, early American history, and environmental history. The diverse faculty challenges and inspires students and provides a unique online experience, complete with lively discussions, studio-produced videos, and work with archival materials.

ASU delivers coursework in accelerated, seven-and-a-half-week sessions and formats classes asynchronously. The university offers six start dates per year. Preferred applicants possess at least 18 hours of undergraduate coursework in history or other humanities disciplines, a minimum GPA of 3.3, and a strong writing sample. The program does not require GRE scores.

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7 University of North Carolina Wilmington RANKING SCORE 57.83 COST % Enrolled Online 42% LOCATION Wilmington, NC

UNCW enrolls students from across the country, but most are based in North Carolina at either public or private institutions. The Wilmington campus enrolls over 1,800 graduate students each year and boasts the highest transfer student graduation rate in the UNC system.

UNCW's master's in history degree, one of nine online master's degrees available, is designed specifically for strengthening the professional practices of history educators. The MA for history educators is a two-year program consisting of two online courses taken sequentially each semester. It also includes two one-week, on-campus Summer Institutes, the school's unique annual workshopping conference. The Summer Institute is the only required in-person participation. The program culminates in a hands-on capstone project, focusing on teaching practices, lesson planning, and comprehensive exams – as opposed to a traditional thesis. To maintain a streamlined admissions process, UNCW gives preference to applicants who teach in North Carolina, at either public or private institutions.

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8 Sam Houston State University RANKING SCORE 57.36 COST % Enrolled Online 63% LOCATION Huntsville, TX

Sam Houston State, located in Huntsville, Texas, serves more than 20,000 students and offers more than 40 degrees online, including a master's degree in history that combines American and world history with the latest historiographical theories and research.

Offered entirely online, Sam Houston’s MA in history gives students the choice of two formats: a 30-credit thesis track or a 36-credit non-thesis track. Distance learners can customize their degree plan by adding a minor. The curriculum includes intense writing demands, and at the end of their studies, degree candidates must pass a written and oral comprehensive exam.

Applicants should submit undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, two letters of recommendation, and a scholarly writing sample. The university accepts up to six transfer credits toward the program.

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9 Missouri State University-Springfield RANKING SCORE 56.53 COST % Enrolled Online 44% LOCATION Springfield, MO

Missouri State, a comprehensive public research institution based in Springfield, offers an online master’s in history with three concentrations: American history, the U.S. and the world, or an area that the student chooses. Students pursue the degree entirely online, and Missouri State recommends the U.S. and the world track for distance learners. Teachers can also enroll in a sub-track that mixes education courses in with history classes.

The school offers the web-based degree in a two-year format, and the university conducts most courses asynchronously. The history department recommends that students begin their studies in the summer, when it offers the program’s foundational course: historiography and the historical method.

The department requires applicants to possess 24 credits of undergraduate history courses. It judges candidates based on their collegiate record, work experience, GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation. Online learners pay in-state tuition.

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10 Louisiana Tech University RANKING SCORE 56.20 COST % Enrolled Online 47% LOCATION Ruston, LA

Located in Ruston, Louisiana Tech is a comprehensive, selective admissions research university promoting a technology-driven and interdisciplinary teaching, learning, and research environment. Louisiana Tech's Global Campus initiative upholds these standards with highly interactive course material in its six graduate programs, one of which is the MA in history.

Louisiana Tech combines the online master's in history with a teacher certification, making the program ideal for students who aspire to teach social studies at the secondary level. The degree program itself has two options: thesis (30 credit hours) and non-thesis (33 hours). Concentration options correspond with designated faculty's areas of specialization, which include everything from popular culture to Latin America. Graduate classes are small, usually consisting of eight to 12 students. Applicants need a GPA of 2.5 or higher and out-of-state applicants may be eligible to pay in-state tuition through the Bulldog Out-of-State Fee Scholarship.

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11 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania RANKING SCORE 55.98 COST % Enrolled Online 73% LOCATION Slippery Rock, PA

Slippery Rock is a teacher training college located in western Pennsylvania, providing undergraduate and graduate education to over 8,500 students. As well as its commitment to intellectual development, leadership, and civic responsibility, Slippery Rock's key focus lies in sustainability; the school was named by the U.S. Department of Education as the first four-year Green Ribbon School in the state.

SRU offers affordable online options for adult learners, including a master of arts in history degree. This 30-credit program emphasizes U.S., European, and world history, preparing students for doctoral programs or diverse careers in law, government, education, business, and the military. All coursework, including theory, practical, and objective training, is taught online and exclusively by faculty who hold history Ph.Ds. The program takes 24 months to complete, and incorporates unique subject areas such as material culture and historical interpretation, opium and 19th century international trade, and Pennsylvania history.

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12 Ashland University RANKING SCORE 54.56 COST % Enrolled Online 74% LOCATION Ashland, OH

The online master’s in history at Ashland looks at American history through its government and institutions. The small, private Christian university designed the 32-credit program with social studies teachers in mind and offers the degree in hybrid format. Students complete most of their credits at home, but they must travel to Ashland, Ohio, for mandatory summer sessions. Learners elect to take a thesis, capstone project, or comprehensive exam.

Ashland’s master of arts in American history and government combines real-time videoconferencing classes during the school year with week-long summer residencies. The university also offers an MA with a specialization focused on teaching and American government that students can pursue entirely online. Transfer students may apply up to six credits towards their degree.

Applicants must submit collegiate transcripts that show a minimum 2.75 GPA. Some students may enroll on a conditional basis, and the university accepts applications on a rolling basis.

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13 Eastern Illinois University RANKING SCORE 54.06 COST % Enrolled Online 36% LOCATION Charleston, IL

Eastern Illinois, established in 1895 as a teacher’s college, offers a master’s degree in history online. The Charleston university’s online offering cater to K-12 teachers. The program features a five-day, on-campus residency where students meet their peers and professors before transitioning to online studies. Earning the degree does not lead to teacher licensure.

The online master’s in history program consists of 32 credits, and most distance learners earn their diplomas within three years. Students typically take a single course at a time and two in the summers; courses are usually taught asynchronously. Degree candidates complete three proseminars, an independent study, and a capstone project. They also enjoy a close relationship with their instructors, as the program has a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Applicants need at least an undergraduate minor in history. The university bases admission on academic track record, three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

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14 Emporia State University RANKING SCORE 52.82 COST % Enrolled Online 84% LOCATION Emporia, KS

Specializing in teacher education, Emporia State was the first public higher learning institution in Kansas. ESU offers programs in business, library and information management, and liberal arts and sciences. Thirty-one graduate programs with 33 concentrations are available both at the university's main Emporia campus, as well as online. The MA in history has two concentration options: public history and social sciences.

ESU's online master's degree in history consists of 12 hours of mandatory coursework – intro to grad studies, a readings seminar, and U.S. historiography – followed by the student's chosen concentration and internship options. To apply, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0, at least 12 hours of bachelor's coursework in history, and a writing sample or lesson plan, depending on their prospective concentration. Students with bachelor's degrees are also eligible to partake in teaching assistantships to teach introductory courses in geography, U.S. history, or world history.

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15 University of Louisiana at Monroe RANKING SCORE 51.62 COST % Enrolled Online 47% LOCATION Monroe, LA

The University of Louisiana at Monroe offers several degree-granting programs through its web campus, eULM, this includes a master’s in history online that prepares students for careers in law, politics, or academic life. The 30-credit program does not require a thesis or any on-campus visits.

Students in eULM's online history MA program tailor their studies to their interests by specializing in U.S., European, or military history. Most professors conduct their classes asynchronously.

Learners must pass a written and oral comprehensive exam to earn their degree. The university accepts graduate students who meet the following criteria: a minimum combined score of 900 on the GRE, a bachelor’s earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA, and at least an 1875 formula score. Applicants also need 18 credits of social studies or humanities courses at the undergraduate level, with at least half of those in history. Distance learners pay in-state tuition.

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16 University of Memphis RANKING SCORE 50.88 COST % Enrolled Online 37% LOCATION Memphis, TN

The University of Memphis is “Driven by Doing,” with an ethos that “the best way to learn is to simply do.” This motto carries through to its online college, UofM Global, which provides students with the same resources and opportunities as they would access on campus. By contrast, all online courses at UofM Global are entirely asynchronous and semester-based.

Graduate offerings include the fully online master of arts in history. The program encompasses all major geographic areas and time periods, but is strong in U.S. history, Asia, Medieval Europe, and women, gender, and family. As well as a full range of courses, students can participate in internships, graduate school workshops, and directed readings led by tenure and tenure-track faculty. UofM welcomes students in special circumstances to apply to its online history master's degree, including those who wish to transfer (up to 12) credits from prior college-level learning or previous students of University of Memphis returning to school.

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17 National University RANKING SCORE 49.70 COST % Enrolled Online 82% LOCATION La Jolla, CA

A nonprofit institution located in La Jolla, National University's goal is to invest in students with exemplary education, technologies, and services. The graduate student population at NU is more diverse than any other college or university in California; the university ranks top in the nation for awarding master's degrees to Hispanics, African-Americans, and women. In addition, the school is a leader in online education, with over 70 degrees and 1,200 courses available completely online.

One of these is the master of arts in history, which focuses on historical research, analysis, and writing. Prospective students, who are required to have a bachelor of arts in history or a closely-related discipline, can choose from either a research track culminating in a traditional thesis or a teaching option resulting in a master's portfolio. The online master's degree in history typically takes two years to complete. This covers 27 quarter units of core requisites, plus an additional 18 quarter units of electives.

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18 University of North Alabama RANKING SCORE 48.29 COST % Enrolled Online 82% LOCATION Florence, AL

The Department of History at the University of North Alabama offers a master’s degree in history online. The department boasts expertise in U.S., Latin American, and European history, but students can craft their own plan of study. The program does not include any on-campus visits, and most distance learners earn the 33 required credits in three years or less. Many classes follow an asynchronous format.

The university gives students the option of thesis or non-thesis tracks in its online master’s in history. Those who do not complete a thesis must pass a comprehensive exam. All degree seekers must prove their research skills through upper-division coursework or foreign language proficiency.

Applications should include undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, an essay, and a writing sample. Candidates must have earned a minimum 2.75 GPA or better on all previous college coursework and possess at least 24 credits in history. The university accepts up to 12 transfer credits.

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19 Southern New Hampshire University RANKING SCORE 47.76 COST % Enrolled Online 95% LOCATION Manchester, NH

Southern New Hampshire University serves 80,000 students through its online programs. The university offers a master’s in history online with three specializations: American history, military history, and public history. Students can also pursue a general track, earning 33 credits in a program known for research, writing, and critical-thinking skills.

Online coursework is taught asynchronously. Most degree seekers finish their studies in 15 months, taking two courses every ten-week term. The curriculum features subjects like historiography, historical methods, and comparative history and research. Distance learners then add five classes and a capstone in their area of specialty.

The program welcomes candidates from backgrounds other than history and does not require the GRE. Applicants with GPAs lower than 2.75 may be accepted on a provisional basis. Admission is rolling, and the school offers five start dates per year.

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20 Pittsburg State University RANKING SCORE 46.13 COST % Enrolled Online 66% LOCATION Pittsburg, KS

Pittsburg State is a public institution, located in southeast Kansas, with a graduate enrollment of 1,200 students. The university has achieved a graduate placement rate of over 90% in some programs and an impressive return on investment, with tuition among the lowest in the region and starting salaries among the highest in the country.

Placing large emphasis on distance learning opportunities, Pitt State offers over 50 online graduate degree programs. The master of arts with a major in history comes with two options--thesis or seminar--to fit student goals. For example, a thesis is strongly recommended for students who will move on to pursue a Ph.D. PSU offers flat-rate tuition with two reduced rate initiatives: Gorilla Advantage, for students in selected counties around Kansas, and Gorilla Edge, for residents of Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas. All part-time students enrolled in the online master's in history program pay in-state tuition.

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21 Southwestern Assemblies of God University RANKING SCORE 43.66 COST % Enrolled Online 97% LOCATION Waxahachie, TX

Southwestern Assemblies of God University, located in the Dallas metropolitan area, is a private Christian college and seminary. The Waxahachie institution offers more than 50 online programs, including a master's in history that gives students the choice of thesis, non-thesis, and education tracks. The education track requires 33 credits; the other two require 30.

The curriculums, which are designed to be completed in two years, include core classes in historiography, research, and bible study. If students elect not to complete a thesis, they must complete a three-credit research project. Most faculty members format coursework asynchronously, and distance learners enjoy close interaction with professors and peers.

Applicants need 12 credits of upper-level courses in American and world history at the undergraduate level. The university also requires applicants to submit GRE scores.

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22 Fort Hays State University RANKING SCORE 43.35 COST % Enrolled Online 90% LOCATION Hays, KS

Fort Hays State offers its 15,000 students more than 50 online degrees. The school has two online master’s in history programs, including a non-thesis MA that equips students with practical skills in leadership, critical-thinking, analysis, and effective communication. The program emphasizes tolerance, objectivity, and research.

The curriculum requires 30-33 credits for completion, and instructors deliver most coursework asynchronously. Students must take advanced historical methods if they did not at the undergraduate level. Other requirements include two seminars, 21 credits of history electives, and a comprehensive exam. Distance learners submit a copy of their best paper to their adviser to demonstrate research skills.

Fort Hays boasts a flat tuition rate that is among the lowest in the nation. Candidates must submit proof of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 in the last sixty hours of coursework.

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23 Wayland Baptist University RANKING SCORE 41.62 COST % Enrolled Online 72% LOCATION Plainview, TX

Wayland Baptist University, along with its main campus in Plainview, Texas, provides faith-based education across 12 campuses in the Southwest, Hawaii, Alaska, and Kenya, as well as online. WBU's online Christian college strives for both flexibility and rigorous academic standards with a variety of online and hybrid programs.

WBU was one of the first universities to offer a master of arts in history completely online. The program includes 37 hours of ethnic, gender, environmental, regional, public history, and archival management courses. Students can study the master's in history online at their own pace, and they also have the option to produce a thesis on a topic of their choice as part of the core curriculum. As a Christian university, WBU offers history classes in unique areas such as church history, the intertestamental period, and baptist history.

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24 Troy University RANKING SCORE 40.63 COST % Enrolled Online 58% LOCATION Troy, AL

Troy, a public institution, offers a master’s degree in history online known for its flexibility. Students choose thesis or non-thesis tracks in American or European history and may add a secondary track in an area of interest. The program prioritizes writing, research, and analytical skills, and students take all 36 credits online.

Troy established its thesis track to prepare students for further graduate study. The non-thesis track is a terminal degree and requires candidates to complete research projects and a comprehensive exam. The university allows program participants to switch tracks, but it might require additional study. Students complete most coursework asynchronously.

Applicants from any academic background may apply, and the program does not require prerequisites. Students must submit GRE scores and collegiate transcripts that show a master’s or a bachelor’s earned with a 3.0 GPA for the last 30 semester hours.

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25 Jackson State University RANKING SCORE 40.60 COST % Enrolled Online 48% LOCATION Jackson, MS

Jackson State offers an online history master’s degree through its Department of History and Philosophy. The 36-credit program presents students with the choice of thesis or non-thesis tracks. The university recommends the thesis route for those hoping to continue to the doctoral level.

Jackson State’s program includes only a few core requirements, allowing degree seekers to create their own plan of study. Students complete one class in historical criticism and historiography and one in research. Non-thesis candidates complete an additional three credits of research. All students must pass the comprehensive exam. The university allows learners to take up to six credits in another discipline.

Master’s candidates must pass an English competency exam or take an extra writing class. Applicants must submit previous college transcripts and immunization records. Preferred students possess a master’s or a minimum 3.0 GPA at the undergraduate level.

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An online master's in history provides students with a solid academic foundation that prepares them for a variety of careers. Many history programs offer concentrations in areas such as American history, military history, and public history. While concentrations and their potential career paths vary by school, students can expect to find concentrations comparable to the ones listed below.


Concentration Description Careers this concentration prepares for
American History This concentration allows you to examine topics in American history and their influence on modern society. Students learn how to analyze and evaluate historical events across the span of American history, with courses including early American encounters and the Cold War. Students who pursue this degree path are prepared for careers in research, writing, and teaching.
Military History This concentration focuses on the political, cultural, and economic effects of war, and students examine the major global wars and military theory. Examples of course topics include the Russian revolutions, Chinese imperialism, and the era of the Civil War. Military historians are employed by Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Defense, museums, and schools.
Public History An emphasis in public history provides students with an in-depth understanding of the preservation process and interpretation of historical records. Students learn how to manage archives and museum collections. They also gain skills in documentary editing. Career opportunities include work in museums, archives, preservation programs, and governmental research.


While coursework varies between programs, the following courses are commonly found as part of online master's in history programs. This sampling of courses provides you with an idea of the curriculum you will encounter. Not all programs require a thesis, although it is strongly recommended for students who wish to pursue their doctorate.

  • Historiography: This course explores the study of history and historical writing. Students examine the social contexts in which history has been recorded and how current perspectives influence interpretations of historical events. Knowledge of historiography equips students with the skills needed to work in museums, schools, and research organizations.
  • Historical Methods: This course provides students with an overview of the methodological approaches used to conduct and interpret historical research. Students gain skills in analysis and evaluation. Careers that require these skills include teaching, writing, and researching.
  • Research Seminar or Thesis: History students develop a research proposal based on their interests. This course synthesizes the knowledge and skills acquired throughout the program, and students write a substantial body of work about their chosen topic. Skills in research and writing allow students to choose a number of career paths, including publishing and editing.
  • American Civil War: In addition to reviewing the recorded history of events during this era, students explore how their own cultural perspectives influence their understanding of the Civil War. Students examine the methodologies used to interpret the events during this period. This is a useful course for teachers, writers, and researchers.


Most online master's in history programs are 30-36 credits and take less than three years to complete. Full-time students can earn their degree in 15 months. Programs that require a thesis take longer to complete. Students may be required to enroll in a minimum number of courses. Some programs offer a completion track that consists of two courses per 10-week term, others offer single consecutive courses that are completed in eight-week terms.

Students pursuing their master's degree in history online complete their degree at an individual pace or as part of a cohort. Individually-paced programs usually have rolling admissions with several start dates. Completion of coursework is based on the student's personal needs. It's a flexible approach to degree attainment, particularly for working professionals. The cohort learning model emphasizes a community approach to learning; students are part of a group who progress through the program together.


  • Archivist Certification: Offered by the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA), the archivist certification exam ensures that students have the expertise to preserve and maintain historical documents. It consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, and the ACA has an online forum where students can form study groups. Students must earn their master's degree prior to taking the exam.
  • Small Museum Certification: The American Association for State and Local History offers a certificate training program for historians who work, or want to work in small museums. To become certified, professionals must complete five online courses. Coursework is completed at the learner's convenience. Topics include developing exhibits, museum education, and outreach.

The best online master's in history programs are offered by accredited universities. Accredited universities and programs participate in peer review processes and are held accountable by their accrediting bodies. Two main types of accrediting bodies exist in the U.S.: regional and national. Regionally accredited universities are members of one of six accrediting bodies across the U.S., such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Nationally accredited universities typically offer vocational or distance learning programs and are reviewed every three to five years. These accredited schools generally have lower tuition rates, but credits are not always transferable to regionally accredited schools. Public nonprofit universities are usually regionally accredited, while private for-profit universities are nationally accredited. Many online programs are accredited by the DEAC, which requires accredited distance learning programs to adhere to the commission's standards and policies. History majors who are interested in pursuing careers in teaching should keep an eye out for programs that are accredited by the CAEP.

Accrediting bodies are recognized by the Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). DOE is a federal organization that promotes student success and standardized education preparation. DOE recognizes accrediting bodies that apply for recognition and sets the standards to which they and their programs adhere to. CHEA promotes academic quality through its rigorous accreditor recognition process. Accrediting bodies recognized by these organizations demonstrate accountability and participate in self studies and peer reviews to maintain academic quality. The CHEAand the DOE provide exhaustive databases of accredited schools to help students find an accredited university that fits their needs.


An online master's in history equips students with many skills, including the ability to conduct thorough research. The degree also prepares learners for careers as historians, archivists, and curators. These occupations require strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Historians rely on writing expertise to present findings in articles and books. Students who choose to teach at the secondary or post-secondary level must be resourceful and patient. Writers and editors are detail-oriented and often engage in research. All of these occupations require creativity and insight, skills that are nurtured through an advanced program.

1. Historian: In addition to gathering historical data, historians write reports, examine historical artifacts to determine authenticity, and preserve materials for organizations, such as museums and visitor centers. Historians with advanced degrees focus on special topics in history and have career opportunities in higher education teaching and research.

2. Archivist, Curator, or Museum Worker: Archivists appraise historic documents, create systems to manage electronic records, and organize archival records. An advanced degree allows archivists to specialize in an era of history and develop expertise in a specific form of record keeping. Curators and museum workers design exhibits, conduct tours, clean ancient objects, and lead special research projects.

3. History Teacher: A history teacher plans lessons and adapts them to accommodate varying student needs. They also prepare students for standardized tests and evaluate their progress. High school history teachers generally instruct different groups of 9th-12th grade students. An online master's in history allows history teachers to work at universities and community colleges.

4. Writer: Historical fiction writers focus on an era in history and conduct research on historical events to provide factual information and foster authenticity. Historical nonfiction writers cover topics ranging from biographies of influential people to wars and social revolutions. Historians with advanced degrees write books and scholarly articles that are published in academic journals.

5. Editor: Editors examine texts to verify facts, correct grammar and punctuation, and work with publishers to develop story ideas. There are several types of editors, such as copy editors, assistant editors, and managing editors. Copy editors suggest revisions and oversee page layouts. An advanced degree in history prepares students for careers in academic editing.

Median Salary and Growth Rate by Career

Position Median Annual Salary Projected Job Growth (2014-24)
Historian $55,110 2%
Archivist, Curator, or Museum Worker $47,230 7%
History Teacher $58,030 6%
Writer $61,240 2%
Editor $57,210 5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Students pursuing an online master's in history can boost their marketability and potential earnings by completing an advanced degree. A recent report from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) found that individuals who pursued an advanced degree in history experienced salary increases of up to 51%. A graduate degree in history can provide students with economic advantages and provide them with a greater range of employability. Specialized skills in archival studies prepare students for certification training that can only be completed with a master's degree.


Historians find work in a variety of industries, and their salaries are influenced by factors including education level, years of experience, and employer type. The following table features salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and includes the annual earnings of historians across a sample of industries. The industries are listed in descending order with the highest paying employer type listed first.

Average Annual Salary for Historians by Employer Type

Historian Employer Type Average Annual Salary
Federal Executive Branch $93,340
Management and Consulting Services $65,310
Colleges and Universities $61,880
State Government $51,140
Museums and Historical Sites $48,780

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


Current students and recent graduates benefit from joining professional organizations. The organizations listed below provide students with networking opportunities, including professional mentoring, internship and career opportunities, and research grants. Annual conferences provide further opportunities for professional connections, and students gain access to the latest research topics in the field, such as forms of history, using history to build communities, and campus histories.

  • American Historical Association (AHA): Devoted to the advancement of historical study, AHA is the largest historian organization. Graduate students benefit from the association's career diversity initiative, which strives to broaden career opportunities for recent graduates.
  • Organization of American Historians (OAH): OAH offers several benefits to its members, including insurance programs that cover professional liability, automobile, medical, and more. Members of OAH have access to the organization's scholarly journal, a quarterly magazine, and teaching tools.
  • National Council on Public History (NCPH): As a student member of NCPH, you will have access to the council's publications, workshops, and career support. NCPH has several advocacy interests, and students have the opportunity to partner with organizations to promote history education.

Earning your master's degree in history online does not have to cost a fortune. Students have access to numerous federal grants and loans. To receive government help to pay for your education, you must complete the FAFSA. Students can participate in a work-study program or graduate assistantship. Many graduate assistantships waive tuition fees and provide students with a monthly stipend. Other opportunities are available in the form of private a href="" target="_blank">scholarships and grants specifically for history majors.


Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We've curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.


Students who pursue online degrees will be eligible for scholarships, grants and other financial aid that is unavailable to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Learn more about these financial opportunities for web-based learners.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in History of 2017
Rank School Location
1 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC
2 Norwich University Northfield, VT
3 Emporia State University Emporia, KS
4 Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania Slippery Rock, PA
5 University of Memphis Memphis, TN
6 Louisiana Tech University Ruston, LA
7 Pittsburg State University Pittsburg, KS
8 Wayland Baptist University Plainview, TX
9 National University La Jolla, CA
10 Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY