Online Master’s Degree in American History

Pursuing an online masters degree in American history can be a great option for an individual seeking a career as a historian, curator, or postsecondary educator. The programs are designed for individuals who are seeking to build on an existing bachelor’s degree in history, or a related subject. Online master’s degrees in history help individuals gain expertise in the area of American history, while also teaching students to look critically at events that shaped our nation. In most cases, an online master’s degree in the field can be completed in approximately two to three years depending on the specific school, program, and the course load maintained by the student.

Classes for an Online Master’s Degree in American History

Students enrolled in an online masters degree program in American history are typically required to complete a great deal of reading and original writings. Courses will usually focus on a specific time period, or event in American history and each course will usually require students to complete as many as two to three books on the subject. In addition to studying past events, American history master’s students typically study how the country’s past has impacted our current way of life, as well as how it may shape our future. Some courses included in an American history master’s program may include:

  • The American Revolution
  • Sectionalism and the Civil War
  • Great American Texts
  • Research Methods
  • The American Way of War

Almost all online master’s degree programs in American history require students to complete a final thesis that demonstrates their mastery of the subject material. In most cases, the final thesis will be an original work of writing that the student could have published in either a historical journal, or as a book. The thesis should provide original insight into a specific area of American history, or how a specific event or person shaped American history and culture. In most cases, students will select their final thesis with the help with an advisor or advisory committee, and all students must successfully defend their thesis before the department board before being awarded their degree.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in American History

The three most common careers for individuals who possess a master’s degree in American history include historians, curators, and college educators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 57% of all historians are employed by either federal, state, and local governments. Historians conduct research on a specific event or topic before analyzing, interpreting, and presenting their findings. Unfortunately, job growth in the field is expected to be slower than average compared to all occupations, which will lead to only a limited number of new historian positions. Possessing a master’s degree is essential to becoming a professional historian as it is usually required for most positions.

Curators typically work for museums, or at historical sites, and usually oversee collections such as art or historical pieces in addition to creating and administering public viewings of the items in the institution. According to the BLS, job growth for curators is expected to be faster than average compared to all other occupations, at 25% through the year 2020. Most museums require curators to have at least a master’s degree in a related discipline of the museum’s specialty; however, some may prefer curators to possess a doctoral degree.

In addition to a career as a historian or curator, individuals holding a master’s degree in American history can also obtain a career as college or university professor. While the BLS predicts that jobs for college professors should increase by 17% through the year 2020, it may vary for those in the field of history. Similar to both historians and curators, college professors must possess at least a master’s degree to gain entry into the field, and will eventually be expected to earn a doctorate to continue teaching.

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