Best Online Master’s in History Programs

ASO Staff Writers
Updated September 15, 2023
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Explore Online Master’s in History Programs, Timelines and Post-Grad Careers

Whether interested in working as an archivist, history teacher or writer, those who love history can lay a strong foundation for their careers by earning an online master’s degree in history. Master degree programs often provide a deeper understanding of historical events and the short- and long-term implications of these events. Find out more information below about online master’s degrees in history, including how to get admitted, what may be required for graduation and possible careers.

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Best Online Master’s in History

Those interested in acquiring advanced credentials in history may consider enrolling in an online master’s in history degree program. Online learning allows students to gain the area-specific information needed to excel in the field while maintaining other time commitments such as work and family. To help students find the best online master’s in history program, we have found the following ranking list of schools after carefully analyzing their statistics and offerings including placement services, cost of enrollment and class sizes. Check out the top schools for 2017 below.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
LocationChampaign, IL

Offering adults the chance to gain a critical understanding of the world is a major outcome of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign's master's history degree program. Instructors explore global history through a diverse lens. The university's history department publishes newsletters that students could have their work featured in. Faculty have had their work published in national and international periodicals. More than 50 faculty members teach and support students enrolled in graduate history classes. Workshops, discussion forums, dissertations, a thesis and visiting speaker events are part of the overall curriculum.

Norwich University
LocationNorthfield, VT

Norwich University confers two history degrees at the master's level. The school awards a Master of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in Military History degree. It takes about 18 months to complete the programs while enrolled in classes full-time. Class sizes are kept small. The importance of understanding how the past reveals signs that humanity is heading toward perilous times again is stressed. Many faculty members have a doctorate degree. World histories, American history and a capstone course are part of the curriculum. History majors are encouraged to speak with an admissions advisor before they register for classes.

Valparaiso University
LocationValparaiso, IN

Valparaiso University offers graduate students a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Concentration in History degree that can be completed on a part-time or fulltime basis. The core curriculum is comprised of studies in Humanities; Social Sciences, Natural Sciences; Fine Arts; and Religion, Culture and Value. The core seminars are part of a rounded program that includes six graduate electives. The final requirement for graduation is a capstone or research project, artistic endeavor, or travel/study segment in England, Germany, China or Mexico. Applicants to the program must meet requirements for a previous undergraduate degree and a passing English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test score.

University of Northern Iowa
LocationCedar Falls, IA

Past and contemporary histories are explored within the University of Northern Iowa's master's in history program. Public history is a focal point of the training. Internships, field excursions and practical, hands-on training are provided. The Master of Arts in History is a two year program that connects students with more than 20 faculty team members. Although students can choose from a range of electives, they must complete at least 30 credit hours in a combination of electives and core courses. Geographic, public history, human rights, women's' history and environmental history are areas of emphasis.

Western Kentucky University
LocationBowling Green, KY

Western Kentucky University’s graduate students in history may choose between the Master of Arts (MA) degree in History or Master of Arts in Education (MAE) program. The MA program is designed to prepare history teachers for the junior and senior college levels and to provide qualifying graduate work for students seeking a doctoral degree (PhD). Students in the MA program must choose between 24 hours of coursework plus a thesis or thirty-six hours of coursework without a no thesis. The MAE master’s program is designed to prepare secondary history teachers who are seeking certification credentials.

University of Memphis
LocationMemphis, TN

Students can choose from more than 250 programs of study at the University of Memphis. For graduate students pursuing a master’s degree, The Department of History specializes in the study of African, Ancient Egyptian, Asian, Russian or Latin American cultures. Students may also choose from concentrations in global history or women/gender issues in a historical context. The 33-class hours required for graduation are to be completed in two academic years for full-time students. Students can select thesis or non-thesis options for the degree. The MA in History degree can be completed on campus or online, although online students do not have a thesis option.

Wayland Baptist University
LocationPlainview, TX

For student convenience, the 37-hour Master's in History degree at Wayland Baptist University can be completed entirely online. The curriculum begins with a historical methods course followed by 27 hours of graduate history classes and a one-hour comprehensive exam prior to graduation. History students can choose to complete an original scholarly thesis or undertake additional hours of advanced courses. The program focus is on evaluating existing scholarship, the interpretation of primary documents, and preparing a theoretical response. Graduate students can choose to take all or part of the program at the Plainview campus.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
LocationMilwaukee, WI

The Master of Arts in History degree at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee is a two year program. Classes are held during all four semesters. History of Christianity, history of Rome, the Middle Ages, history of Greek civilization and history of religious thought are types of courses graduate history majors can expect to take. The overall curriculum provides students with an understanding of global cultures, practices, politics and histories. Places that students visit alongside faculty include museums, libraries, research facilities and government organizations. Students have up to seven years to take all required courses.

Emporia State University
LocationEmporia, KS

Four tracks can be selected within the University of Emporia's Master of Arts in History degree program. There is a thesis, a non-thesis, public history and a social sciences education track. Faculty and students examine domestic and global histories during classes. To get into the graduate program, students need at least an overall 2.75 GPA. The minimum GPA for undergraduate history classes is 3.0. Students can participate in assistantships and student history organizations like the Society of Public Historians and the History Honor Society. Places where history majors use their master's degree to serve include a museum, school, archives and corporate research units.

University of North Alabama
LocationFlorence, AL

When looking for a degree program, often times students need to consider their unique needs and goals. The search tool below can streamline the process of finding a school that offers an online master’s in history by comparing school type, location and size.

Earning an Online Master’s in History Timeline

Online degrees can be great choice for those who need flexibility as they juggle personal and professional commitments. Students pursuing an online master’s degree in history can typically expect to receive a similar rigorous education to their counterparts in traditional schools. Online students often learn advanced principles for evaluating history and often need to meet demanding requirements. See what the application process and a standard timeline for an online master’s in history degree looks like below.


When applying to an online master’s in history degree program, hopeful students may be expected to demonstrate their knowledge, skills and abilities through a number of steps described below.

  • Complete a History Bachelor’s Degree
    Programs generally look for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in history. However, programs may consider those with degrees in related disciplines. Students who have not earned a history degree may increase their chances of being admitted if they have a minor in history.
  • Grade Point Average
    Although the minimum grade point average depends on the program in which students apply, schools are typically look for those with a 3.0 GPA or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    Applicants may be expected to provide letters of recommendation from professionals like undergraduate professors.
  • Statement of Purpose
    Programs may want to know why prospective students are interested in studying history. A statement of purpose allows students to explain why they want to earn a history master’s degree and how they intend to use it for their career goals.
  • GRE
    Earning a satisfactory score on the GRE is usually required to be admitted into an online master’s in history program. However, the exact score that is required may differ from one school to the next.
  • Proficiency in English
    Students who have a first language other than English are generally required to take the Test of English as Foreign Language, or TOEFL, examination in order to demonstrate that they have the proficiency needed for a master’s degree program.
  • Academic Writing Sample
    In addition to the statement of purpose, schools may want to see that the prospective student is able to write an effective academic paper that includes a convincing analysis of a historical topic. The writing sample typically shows that an applicant can find appropriate source material, correctly use footnotes and properly format a bibliography.


The first year of the degree program generally helps students build on what they learned when they studied history in their undergraduate years. This year often helps to provide students with the advanced knowledge needed to complete the requirements of the program and pursue their chosen careers.

  • Develop Rhetorical Techniques
    Graduates often will need to know how to convince others that their analysis of a specific topic is correct. Students can learn how to create an effective argument about a topic in history as well as how to collect evidence that supports it.
  • Understanding Historiography
    Part of a historian’s job is to create written materials based on the research they do about an event. In order to do this effectively, they will need to understand how to write in a way that is free from bias and misinformation.
  • Gain Intercultural Perspective
    Historians study events that occurred in many different cultures, so it is important for them to understand history from the point of view of the people in that culture in combination with the Western perspective. This can provide a deeper understanding of history that can help graduates throughout their career.


During the second year of an online master’s in history program, students will often continue learning advanced concepts that can be put to use when conducting research. Some of the milestones of this year are explained below.

  • Comprehend Historical Trends
    Students can learn how to look at political and social trends in order to understand the historical context of a specific event. This may help historians appreciate what historical events meant at the time they occurred and how that differs from the meaning people give them today.
  • Conduct Original Research
    Students will typically learn how to run a research study from the creation of a hypothesis to the presentation of the findings. In addition, they may learn how to identify appropriate source material and effectively write and edit an article for publication in academic journals.
  • Apply Historical Theories to Workplace Settings
    Students will often intern at places like museums, government agencies, large businesses or non-profit organizations where they may use the writing, analytical and archiving skills they acquired during their studies.


Just like traditional programs, online master’s in history programs often require their students to complete a number of steps in order to graduate. Although specific programs have their own expectations, below is an example of requirements generally found in history departments.

  • Choose a Concentration
    Taking a cluster of courses on a specific area of history can help students gain the expertise they need to prepare for specific careers. Students may be able to choose a concentration based on the history of a geographic location, culture or time period.
  • Thesis
    Students may demonstrate their historical scholarship abilities by crafting an academic paper based on their own research. These papers are judged on the strength of the argument, research abilities, and writing and editing skills.
  • Comprehensive Examination
    History departments may require that students complete a comprehensive examination to validate mastery of the course material they learned during the program. Exams may be based on a program’s core classes, the student’s chosen concentration or a combination of both.
  • Foreign Language Proficiency
    Some schools want students to complete a foreign language requirement in order to get their degrees. To satisfy this requirement, students may have to take a certain number of foreign languages courses and pass an examination.
  • Minimum Grade Point Average
    A grade point average of at least 3.0 is generally expected of students enrolled in online master’s in history programs. However, as requirements may vary, please refer to your desired program for specification.

Where Can a Master’s in History Lead?

Graduates with an online master’s in history often can use their refined research and writing skills from their graduate studies to pursue a variety of rewarding careers that typically command healthy salaries. Whether they work in archives, museums or multinational corporations, history professionals often bear the responsibility to tell the stories of the past and ensure those stories are accurate and complete. Below are some common careers that history graduates can pursue along with their job descriptions, salaries and expected job growth.


Professor of History

History professors educate students on topics like Ancient Rome and the modern-day West. This job often entails preparing course materials, choosing textbooks and giving students extra assistance outside of the classroom. Also, history professors may conduct research that is published in academic journals or presented at professional meetings.

Mean Annual Wage$69,400
Growth Potential13%

Research Historian

Research historians generally review documents in order to analyze and interpret events in history. These professionals gather information from sources like books, archives, interviews, unpublished manuscripts and newspapers; make decisions about the authenticity and importance of source material; and write reports on their findings.

Mean Annual Wage$55,800
Growth Potential2%

Historical Writer

Historical writers research and write materials on different history-related subjects. Job duties often include activities such as choosing a topic, finding appropriate research materials, writing and revising drafts, and working with editors. Their work may appear in books, magazines or newspapers, either in print or on the internet.

Mean Annual Wage$60,250
Growth Potential2%

Source: BLS

Core Principles and Skills Learned in an Online History Program

Master’s in History

Doctorate in History


Additional Resources

Those in the history field can utilize resources to increase their knowledge, sharpen their skills and connect with other professionals. The following are some resources that can be used by students and professionals alike:

American Historical Association
The American Historical Association supports the work of historians by providing services to professionals like publications, mentoring, annual meetings and an online career center.

Oral History Association
Oral historians can benefit from the resources that this association provides, including the Oral History Review journal and the organization’s newsletter. In addition, the association offers workshops and an annual meeting where members of the field present their research.

Organization of American Historians
Since 1907, this group has promoted historical scholarship through its publications, professional development and advocacy services. Members of this organization include historians, archivists, museum curators, history students and educators.

Society of American Historians
This organization is made up of historians, independent scholars, documentary filmmakers and biographers. The group awards prizes for scholarly historical writing as well as distinguished historical novels.

The World History Association
The World History Association supports world history research and education as well as offers professional events and resources for historians.

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