Online History
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Choosing an online history school can be a daunting challenge. Students interested in a history major may wonder about degree options, curriculum and potential professional opportunities. This guide includes a breakdown of history programs and courses, the time commitments for completion and different formats for web-based classes. The study of history is all about research, and this a great place to begin.

Online History Colleges

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Higher Education in History Schools

Students earning an associate degree typically take courses in U.S. and world history, with a variety of classes in state and local government, social science and specific eras of history to round out their majors. Undergraduate coursework in general education requirements like English can build a foundation for research papers in history classes. Bachelor’s degree programs in history drill down into core subjects like country origins, warfare and conflict, as well as the cultural, religious, economic and political forces that shape the world. Graduate students of online history schools delve deeply into their chosen area of study, focusing on topics such as law, ethics, economics, political systems, culture, race, gender, foreign language and environment.

Studying for an Online History Degree

A popular misconception about historians is that they work in isolation, slogging alone through their research pursuits. In reality, history majors learn in an interactive community of scholars. Although the abundance of required reading makes history well-suited to online study, research is often collaborative in nature, with team members bringing their passions and skills to shared projects.

Today’s online history schools are geared toward the inclusion of students. Courses feature built-in opportunities for interactions, some required and others optional. For example, group study and research are facilitated through email, live chat, Skype, streaming lectures and conference calls. Students take tests, submit assignments, share research findings and access library materials through virtual classroom dashboards. Prospective students need to determine whether web-based courses also involve scheduled times for participation or in-person attendance.

Program Highlight:
Online Bachelor’s Degree in History

Students pursuing an online Bachelor of Arts in history degree receive an interdisciplinary education. Curriculum spans many areas, such as sociology, anthropology, political science and economics, and how these impact the development of society, culture and political structures. Students gain valuable critical thinking, writing and research skills to prepare them for further studies or effective communication in the workplace, in arenas ranging from public administration to education.

Like most bachelor’s degree programs, an online degree in history requires about 120 credit hours. Students can complete the program in four to five years, depending on how many credits are taken each semester. In most distance learning programs, students can take classes entirely online for maximum flexibility.


Name: Brittney B.

Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in History

Mode: Online

What has been the best thing about distance learning at your college?

One huge benefit of distance learning is that it makes it possible for me to attend school and still work normal hours. The option to finish my degree online was one of the main reasons that I chose my college. I appreciate that the Blackboard system and the school’s web portal are easy to navigate. The biggest benefit has been the ability to fit school into my already busy work and family schedules.

What role has technology played in your online program and courses?

Technology is just as important as curriculum. I love the convenience of online classes, but the presentation and access has to work in order for the class to be beneficial. The Blackboard platform that we use has been great in this respect. I have taken a lot of classes online, and I plan to continue my education using online classes.

Did your online program help prepare you for life after graduation?

I think that the modern workplace is centered on the employees’ ability to be technologically literate. Taking classes online and learning to maneuver in different software programs for each class requires students to keep learning. The ability to learn new programs and remain flexible is something that is important to employers and makes an employee more marketable. To be successful in business, you have to continually evolve. I think distance learning is one way to keep up with the demands of the workplace as well as modern educational demands.

Online History Degrees: Associate’s

The associate degree in history provides students with an introduction to the study and analysis of events that have shaped human existence. During the first year, students take core undergraduate courses, such as English, mathematics, philosophy, sociology, economics and language or arts. The first courses in the major are mixed into the curriculum, with studies in world civilizations, U.S. history and political science.

The second year at online history schools includes more focused studies, such as major forces and changes in world civilization, U.S. history by the era, and elective courses in topics like the history of African-American, Hispanic, Middle Eastern or Asian cultures. Second-year students also complete their general education studies to prepare for graduation or transfer to a four-year history degree program. Here’s an overview of some of the typical courses that make up a two-year degree:

COURSE NAME overview
American History Provides a basic introduction to the key events in American history, as well as their effects on legal, cultural, political, social and religious institutions.
Historical Foundations Explores major topics in history and methods of study. Emphasizes history as a living discipline and as interpretations, not representations, of the events that shaped societies.
Western Civilization Provides an overview of the actions and forces that shaped Europe, including belief systems, political movements and socio-economic influences.
Research and Composition Teaches students how to conduct scholarly research and create effective papers that demonstrate the ability to synthesize findings into a cogent presentation.

Online History Degrees: Bachelor’s

Typically, history majors can complete their bachelor’s degrees in four years. Transfer students from associate degree programs who have completed core requirements may earn their bachelor’s degree in history in two years, depending on the school and the individual’s schedule and academic background. Coursework at this level takes an intensive look at U.S. and world history, dividing long eras into historical segments for analysis. Students enrolled in online history schools at the bachelor’s degree level may have a courseload similar to the following.

COURSE NAME overview
U.S. History: Pre-Columbian America through the Civil War Studies the origins of contemporary U.S. culture reaching back to pre-Columbian civilizations, the European societies that conquered them, the forging of a new nation and Western expansion up until the Civil War.
U.S. History: The Civil War to the Obama Presidency Provides a detailed inquiry into the forces that shaped the end of slavery, the development of an industrial state and foreign, political and economic policies leading up to the present day.
World Civilization up to the Fifteenth Century Delivers an overview of belief systems, institutions and disputes that formed major world and western civilizations, including the beginnings of colonial empires.
World Civilization after Columbus Studies the post-15th century development of the world through the present era, along with the events, beliefs and institutions that shaped the systems, nations, cultures and economies of the modern world.
History of the American West Explores the political and economic forces and governmental policies that led to the expansion of the American territories, conquest of Native Americans and settlement of the frontier.
Development of the American Urban Culture Studies the socio-economic policies and forces that created U.S. urban society and culture, including immigration, social policy, industrialization and housing systems.
American Political History Covers development and interpretation of the Constitution, federalism, political parties, voting and civil rights, and critical rulings by the Supreme Court.
U.S. and The Americas Provides a study of the Americas with an emphasis on the United States and its historical, military, economic and political engagement with its nearest neighbors, from the Civil War to the present.

Master’s Level Online History Degrees

Although it typically takes two years to complete a master’s degree in history, some students need a third year based on their academic emphasis and other commitments. Students choose a specialized area within the broad discipline of history, such as Pre-Colonial America or the Italian Renaissance. A comprehensive master’s examination, advanced research project or internship may round out program requirements. Individuals who intend to bridge into doctoral studies typically develop a research project into a scholarly thesis. Other courses may reflect career interests, such as research, publishing and teaching methodologies.

Online history school course requirements vary greatly by university, academic department focus and interdisciplinary policy. For example, the core requirements for a graduate focus in Post-Meiji Japanese history would be significantly different from a degree emphasizing Late Antiquity. The table below shows the wide range of master’s degree courses in history, as well as the depth of scholarly attention at this level:

Imperial Russia Studies pre-revolutionary Russia, including the use of power, structure of peasant society, influence of the Decembrists, populism, 1860s feminism, nationalism, the Crimean War and the decline of the nobility.
Race and Revolution in Latin America Studies the revolutions and struggles for social change in Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s. What were the impacts of Marxism, feminism and race on Central America, Cuba and Andean nations?
Digital Approaches to Research and the Teaching of History How does technology contribute to research and the resolution of disputes over history and interpretation? What are the practical uses for technology in archival research and teaching?
Italy and the Middle Ages Covers readings in English, Latin, French and Italian, using medieval Italian charters and collections. Sheds light on developments and debates about Italy from 500 to 1300.
History, Numbers, Numeracy Teaches quantitative history as economics, sociology and political science. Explores numerical methodology to deliver an understanding of the effective use of statistical practices.
Modern Chinese Historiography What topics do historians choose to argue over? Details major areas for investigation and debate in contemporary Chinese studies. Areas include the Cultural Revolution, modernization, rural growth and industrialization and Western influences.
American Business History How has doing business evolved from colonial times? Provides an overview of how early entrepreneurs changed the nation, along with the evolution of business laws and development of credit policy, trust busting, oligopoly and world trade.
The World of Herodotus Investigates the histories of Herodotus, comparing Classical Greece with the development of cultures in Egypt and the Near East.
Educational Practice Seminar Covers the theory and practice of teaching in grades 6-12. Interdisciplinary course for history graduates who are enrolled in teacher training.
Directed Research Students work in concert with academic mentors/advisors to research a graduate project in their historical specialization.

Online History Degree – Doctoral Level

Earning a doctoral degree in history is a demanding academic endeavor that can take up to five years or more. This achievement can prepare graduates to seek positions in university teaching, research or leadership roles in archival libraries, heritage facilities, foundations and museums. Depending on the academic program, students sit for one or a number of examinations, and are required to write and defend a dissertation illustrating years of focused research.

Most doctoral students must complete graduate-level courses, satisfy foreign language reading requirements and pass a qualifying examination to become a PhD candidate. Online history schools at the doctorate level typically include graduate seminars in the student’s areas of interest. The qualifying examination(s) may include an oral defense of a dissertation prospectus, as well as topics in the student’s major and minor specializations. At some point, students may devote their efforts to the full-time research, writing and revision of their dissertation.

Career Opportunities after Online History School

Historians can choose from an abundance of creative and occupational outlets after finishing college. Online history degree programs empower students with tangible skills as writers, researchers and analysts. Their critical thinking and problem solving skills are likely to be valued by employers throughout the public and private sectors. While only a small percentage of history graduates become professional historians, others find satisfaction in fields such as business, communications, education, information management, politics, public service, law and criminal justice. Below is a selection of career options pursued by today’s history graduates:

Featured Careers

  • Archivists

    Archivists organize valuable or significant historical materials, usually for museums. They develop or maintain classification systems and databases to facilitate and oversee access to archival materials. Additional responsibilities can include authenticating or appraising historical documents, and also preserving and maintaining materials and collections.

    Median Salary: $47,340

    Median Hourly: $22.76

    Est. Growth: 16.6%

    No. Employed: 5,640

    Minimum Education: Master’s

  • Curators

    The most known of the museum workers, curators coordinate the acquisition, storage, and presentation of exhibition materials. Outside of these duties, curators also handle business affairs: conferring with the board of directors, negotiating collection purchases and sales, designing and conducting tours or workshops, and composing documents such as grant proposal, articles, or publicity materials. While curators typically find employment at museums, they may also work at zoos, aquariums, historical sites, nature centers, or botanical gardens.

    Median Salary: $49,590

    Median Hourly: $23.84

    Est. Growth: 12.5%

    No. Employed: 10,370

    Minimum Education: Master’s

  • Historians

    With an expertise in history, historians spend their time researching historical documents and artifacts, then analyzing, interpreting, and presenting their findings to the public. They usually conduct this work for governments, businesses, nonprofits, historical associations, and similar groups. Historians divide their time between working in their primary offices and traveling to review historical sources or sites in person.

    Median Salary: $52,480

    Median Hourly: $25.23

    Est. Growth: 6%

    No. Employed: 33,40

    Minimum Education: Master’s

  • College History Teachers

    College history teachers instruct students in the field of history with a more advanced lesson plan than at the high school level. These educators develop instructional plans and curriculum that not only teaches students the foundation of history, but also meets college and department standards. As teachers, they work closely with students, ensuring that they understand course material through assessments such as papers, tests, and other college-level assignments. They also work closely with colleagues and faculty to modify curriculum as necessary. Some teachers conduct independent research outside of the classroom. Because this is a postsecondary education position, a mastery in history should be backed by a master’s or Ph.D. degree.

    Median Salary: $65,870

    Median Hourly: NR

    Est. Growth: 13.6%

    No. Employed: 23,590

    Minimum Education: Doctoral/Professional

  • Museum Technicians/Conservators

    Museum technicians and conservators ensure that museum materials are kept in optimal condition. Safety and preservation are their main goals. They make certain these precious and valuable items are cleaned and stored using the proper methods. Museum technicians and conservators also oversee the installation, preparation, and shipping of these materials.

    Median Salary: $38,220

    Median Hourly: $18.38

    Est. Growth: 7.1%

    No. Employed: 10,430

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Political Scientists

    Political scientists study the fundamentals of political systems. They analyze the effectiveness of governments and policies, study and predict political trends, and identify relevant political issues. Politicians and government workers rely on the research of political scientists to help them evaluate their decisions and create more effective political strategies.

    Median Salary: $102,000

    Median Hourly: $49.04

    Est. Growth: 21.3%

    No. Employed: 5,750

    Minimum Education: Master’s

  • Editors

    As an integral part of any publication process, editors make the necessary changes to content before publication. These revisions consist of fixing grammar mistakes and typos, rewording the text to fit a preferred style or theme, and verifying facts. Editors must have an expertise in the language with which they work, plus a working knowledge of the publication’s guidelines.

    Median Salary: $53,880

    Median Hourly: $25.9

    Est. Growth: -2.4

    No. Employed: 99,040

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • Writers/Authors

    Writers and authors is a broad category to describe any job position that involves writing, with different titles depending on the written material. For example, authors write original books, journalists write articles for periodicals (print and online), and copywriters create content for advertisements, websites, and inter-business materials. Other common writing positions include screenwriters for film scripts, TV writers for teleplays, lyricists for song lyrics, and bloggers for blogs.

    Median Salary: $55,940

    Median Hourly: $26.89

    Est. Growth: 3%

    No. Employed: 41,990

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s

  • College Area/Ethnic/Cultural Studies Teachers

    As with other college-level teachers, area/ethnic/cultural studies teachers instruct students in a more advanced lesson-plan than at the high school level. Topics include issues of race, ethnicity, and gender, as they manifest themselves across different cultures. In addition to preparing and presenting classroom materials, college-level teachers may need to conduct relevant research and publish their findings in respectable mediums.

    Median Salary: $67,360

    Median Hourly: $NR

    Est. Growth: 15.8%

    No. Employed: 9,710

    Minimum Education: Doctoral/Professional

  • Legislators

    One of the key positions in the law-making arm of government, legislators works with proposed legislation. Their responsibilities include analyzing the implications of proposals or bill amendments, debating these implications during floor sessions, and negotiating with political colleagues to come to an agreement. Legislators require an expertise in a specialized subject, so advanced education and keeping abreast of relevant news and events are integral parts of this job.

    Median Salary: $19,780

    Median Hourly: NR

    Est. Growth: 6.4%

    No. Employed: 56,760

    Minimum Education: Bachelor’s