Turning your passion for history into a career can lead to many rewarding jobs in academia, libraries, museums, or historical organizations, or even the pursuit of a Ph.D. Whatever your plans are, a master’s in history can be an excellent step.
The curriculum of a master’s in history offers a broad perspective on the theories, methods, and principles underpinning human history. Most programs focus on research methods and the techniques and skills required to prepare for a research project and complete independent, original research. These skills have broader applications as well.
You can expect courses to offer perspectives on specific historical events, themes, cultures, and societies. Other core components include historiography and comparative history, teaching skills and methods to draw comparisons between different historical events, individuals, societies, and cultures.
Look for a curriculum that will give you a firm grounding in historical theories, methods, and practices first and foremost. Once you are assured of this, check that the curriculum covers any specialist areas that you want or need to cover. It’s also a good idea to check there are ways to tailor your areas of study to your specific preferences, and that there are no compulsory elements that are not going to be beneficial to you.
Typical core courses for a master’s in history include research skills, historiography, theory and concepts for historians, and advanced academic skills such as critical analysis, the development of original theories, and teaching methodologies.
Prerequisites vary from one institution to another, but there are generally no prerequisites to completing a master’s in history.
The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.
Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.
The majority of universities offering an online master’s in history provide the same course to students studying on campus or online. The only exception is elements that require certain equipment or visits to specific locations.
While each program will set its admission requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.
In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.
Master of Military History: This type of master’s degree focuses entirely on the history of warfare. It’s an excellent choice for those with a particular interest in military history, and anyone looking to pursue a career relating to the military.
Master of Art History: This program focuses on the history of art. It’s an excellent choice for budding artists, students looking to explore careers in artistic fields, and as a means of gaining a specialty with a particularly culture-related slant.
Master of Education: This degree is best suited to those looking to pursue a career in education, either as an educator or as a person responsible for educational policy or research.
There are several organizations and institutions that can be of great value to your research and career, including:
Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.
Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.
You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.
Accreditation demonstrates a school has attained a high level of excellence, as defined by standards set out by the accrediting agency. Attending an accredited program is extremely important for your career, as it ensures you get a quality education.
If you earn a degree from a program that is not regionally accredited, you may find employers do not hold your degree in the same standing as those from accredited institutions. It may also prohibit you from advancing your education further and studying for a doctorate at the institution of your choice.
There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.
For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.
The Master of History is typically associated with academic careers, such as teaching or research. However, in addition to the role of historian, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists related career roles like anthropologist, archaeologist, economist, geographer, teacher, sociologist, and writer. 
Key attributes to look for in a MAH degree include:
There are numerous national and state historical societies in the United States that history professionals and students may consider joining. Some prominent examples include:
Most institutions do not specifically require a bachelor’s degree in history or a related field. However, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, or an equivalent degree from a foreign institution, is typically required.
No, most institutions do not require any prerequisite courses for admission into their Master of History program.
Whether you will need to complete the GRE prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you have chosen. There are many programs that do not require a GRE. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.
Many students who choose to pursue a Master of History degree previously earned their bachelor’s degrees in history or a related field. This is not a requirement of most programs, but a foundation of knowledge or experience in the history field could be an asset to you. The most qualified non-history majors are usually those who have taken history courses in their area of declared interest.
Most Master of History programs require around 36 credit hours to complete, equalling about 18 to 24 months.
Most history programs involve a set of core courses that everyone must complete, after which students can choose to specialize their education to their interests via elective courses or concentrations.
Different programs offer different concentrations for those who wish to specialize their Master of History degree. Some concentrations you may find include:
Many history master’s programs do require a capstone paper that is built into one of the final courses. There is sometimes also the option to complete a thesis, which can give you the opportunity to examine a particular area of interest or expertise.
Most history master’s degree programs can be completed within 18 to 24 months.
Many institutions offer their full Master of History programs online.
Most institutions do not indicate on the degree that the MAH was earned online.
Yes, typically schools follow the same curriculum for their online programs as they do for their campus based programs.
Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees. The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and class itself. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets.
Graduates who hold a Master of History can work in a number of careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists several careers related to historian, such as anthropologist, archaeologist, economist, geographer, political scientist, sociologist, and more. These careers vary in salary with some as low as $47,000 per year and some eclipsing the $100,000 mark. 
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is a projected 2% growth in historian careers between 2014 and 2024.  This is slower than the average for all industries nationwide, meaning that if you hope to pursue a career as a historian, it’s imperative to bolster your academic resume and your credentials to stand out in the field.
The historian profession isn’t typically associated with high pay, but a master’s in history can nevertheless help you achieve some fairly lucrative careers.  However, many graduates benefit from a love of their chosen field, and they may go on to become teachers or professors. These roles often involve both teaching and research, allowing professionals to take on projects that align with their interests. In some instances, historians embark on projects like writing books, producing documentaries, or consulting.
No — attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.
Generally there are supplementary costs apart from tuition. The tuition does not usually include the cost of books or additional fees. These additional costs will vary from program to program.
The largest provider of student financial aid in the nation is the Federal Student Aid office in the U.S. Department of Education. It supplies college-level or career school students with loans, grants, and work-study funds. You can apply for federal financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA.
There are numerous other scholarships available, but you will need to research which opportunities you’re qualified to pursue. Many states, associations, websites, and businesses award scholarships based on specific criteria. Be sure to do your research and apply for any scholarships you’re qualified to be awarded. 
Start with a cost-benefit analysis based on the price of the degree and potential ROI. Weigh the full cost against the positive outcomes you expect as a graduate, which may include a boost in earning potential, upward mobility, or job satisfaction.
Accreditation helps determine if an institution meets or exceeds the minimum standards of quality set out by recognized regional or national accreditation agencies. A list of regional and national institutional accrediting agencies can be found at the U.S. Department of Education.
Accreditations are a strong indication of quality, but are also required for students who plan to apply for federal financial aid. Accreditation ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, professional associations, and other accredited institutions of higher education.
SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.
Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. 
Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if they are a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.
 Graham, G. (1997), ‘Chapter 1’, The Shape of the Past, University of Oxford.