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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: History

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for History

Arizona State University wins best online history master's degree program for value. According to, Arizona State University has a 6.4% annual return on investment without financial aid, and a 7.9% return on investment with financial aid. 72% of ASU's instructors hold terminal degrees, and classes have a student faculty ratio of 14 to 1. Norwich University also provides over $50 million in scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs, making an education with Norwich a worthy investment.

Featured Online Programs

Sam Houston State University wins for best online history master's degree program for flexibility. SHSU provides three plans for its online history master's degree program. Plan I is designed for thesis work and requires prior approval, Plan II is designed for students who prefer not to write a thesis, and Plan III is designed for students who wish to concentrate in history, but who also wish to take other courses in a related field. Students may access online course work from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Career Support
The University of Nebraska — Kearney's Career Services provides resume and cover letter information and tutorials, interview and networking tips, and job search links. The University of Nebraska — Kearney also provides links to Job Choices magazine and opportunities to meet alumni, job shadow, and attend career fairs. For these valuable resources, the University of Nebraska — Kearney wins best online history master's degree program for career support.

Financial Support
Sam Houston State University provides financial aid, scholarships, and work study opportunities for online students. Students may also access a net price calculator, financial aid informational videos, loan counseling, and other aid information through the school's financial aid website.. For this reason, SHSU wins this award.

Technology Support
Sam Houston State University provides live tutoring, both streaming and recorded audio and video, online bulletin boards, simulations and labs, and mentoring and workshops, all accessible from Blackboard and Pearson eCollege. Sam Houston State University also provides a smartphone application to access course materials and a digital library with access to a live librarian. Sam Houston State University has 24/7 tech support, and all courses are developed in-house by certified instructional designers. For offering these resources to online students, Sam Houston State University wins best online history master's degree program for technology support.

Student Engagement
Sam Houston State University helps online students engage in student organizations through OrgLINK, an organizational directory with over 230 registered student organizations. Students may connect with student activities through Facebook or Twitter, and access academic, counseling, student publications, and other student services online. Sam Houston State University wins best online history master's degree program for student engagement.

Disability Support
University of Memphis wins best online master's degree program in history for disability support. Student disability services at the University of Memphis coordinate with students and faculty to provide disability accommodations. Faculty and staff are trained for disability awareness, and disability information is not included on academic transcripts. The University of Memphis also has equipment and assistive technology to loan for disability services.

Library and Research Support
The Calvin T. Ryan Library at the University of Nebraska — Kearney provides access to online newspapers, government documents, online research catalogues organized by topic, search tools, and research guides. A Librarian is accessible for help 24/7, and students may also access peer tutoring and the writing center, where students may submit their papers online at any point in the writing process for assistance. The University of Nebraska — Kearney wins best online history master's degree program for library and research support.

Learning Support
The University of Nebraska — Kearney wins best online history master's degree program for learning support. The University of Nebraska — Kearney trains its students in historical study for the beginning of a graduate career, teaching, or further professional development with ten dedicated faculty members and a flexible program with thesis and non-thesis options of course study. Working students may take one course per semester while full-time students may take two to three courses each term, and may expect to write 45 to 60 pages of analytical essays for each course.

Faculty Credentials
Sam Houston State University wins best online master's degree program in history for faculty credentials. Sam Houston State University's online faculty training is financed by the school and is required to teach at Sam Houston State University. 72% of faculty members hold doctoral or terminal degrees, and several faculty members are available for mentorship.

Faculty Accessibility
The University of Texas at Tyler provides historical study through lecturers at leading professional conferences and researchers in several periods of historical focus. Students work with faculty to design their master's program around their own interests, and continue to collaborate with instructors throughout their courses. Students have greater access to professors as UT Tyler maintains a small class size, averaging 15 students per class. The University of Texas at Tyler wins the award for best online history master's degree for faculty accessibility.

Alumni Engagement
The University of Nebraska — Kearney is awarded best online history master's degree program for alumni engagement. The University of Nebraska — Kearney's Alumni Association provides online services for its members, including a job board and alumni finder. UNK Alumni serves more than 34,000 active alumni through alumni chapters with several events and programs for alumni participation.

Prior Learning Options
Norwich University accepts up to 12 transfer credits and may grant credit for work or certification depending on the program. Norwich University was also named a "Military Friendly School" by G.I. Jobs magazine, and provides several benefits including scholarships. Norwich University wins best online history master's degree program for prior learning options.

New Online Student Orientation
Wayland Baptist University provides Blackboard learning management system instruction, new student checklists, and other resources to ensure new students are prepared to engage in online classes. The Virtual Campus help desk will also aid any student at any time throughout their online education. Wayland Baptist University is awarded best online history master's degree program for new online student orientation.

Explore a Master's Degree in History

Those who earn a master's degree in history have the opportunity to both enhance their careers as historians and increase their annual earnings. Advancing historians get to build on their existing knowledge and experience while learning necessary critical analysis and interpretation skills. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), those with master's degrees earned a median weekly salary of $1,367 per week versus the $1,051 that those with only a bachelor's degree earned, meaning a master's degree could be a financially smart decision for historians.

A master's degree in history typically requires 36 class hours, or about a year and a half for full-time students. Nonetheless, the time it takes to fulfill a degree's requirements depends on whether students choose the full-time or part-time education path, and whether they enter into the degree with completed graduate courses deemed transferable by a given educational institution.

Class Curriculum

Master's students can expect to take classes that will touch on in-depth topics of history. Courses require the analysis of historical events along with a lot of online open discussions. Unlike undergraduate classes, graduate classes center mostly on forming personal views on said historical events, arguing to support those views, and accepting criticisms in an effort to better formulate students' arguments; many times, this helps students develop their thesis topic. Students will also learn useful research techniques that will enable them to understand and analyze historical data in relation to its context. Though courses and their requirements vary from school to school, here are some of the courses someone seeking a master's degree might take:

  • Historiography. This course teaches students the history of the discipline from its foundation through its establishment as a distinct academic and world discipline. It will also teach students the methods and techniques historians utilize in their practice to gain research, sources, and information about past events. Differing schools of thought on historian methods and practices will also be introduced and examined by students.
  • Global History. Students will study the history of the world in this course. The histories of religion, technology, science, and other disciplines as well as world wars, events, and cultures will be examined by students.
  • American History. Those taking an American history course will study America's history in depth. Many times, events covered include the American Revolution and other U.S. wars, women and African American histories, as well as popular culture throughout history.

Students working towards their master's in history can expect to complete assignments, research projects, analyses, and presentations regularly, some of which will be for classes that correspond with their chosen career's area of history. To say that this degree is reading-, writing-, and research-intensive seems an understatement, as students will spend much more time engaging in these activities than they did in their undergraduate program. Writing a thesis, or a very in-depth research paper, project, and presentation, is also a very common project students undertake at the end of their master's education.

Building a Career

After finishing a master's degree in history, students can expect to have developed sophisticated research, analysis, and writing skills that will help them in their careers as historians, teachers, and political analysts. Below are details about these careers, but no salary reports are guaranteed, as salaries differ based on location, economic demand, and other factors.

Making a median salary of $52,370 (BLS), historians spend their careers researching written documentation of past events, concepts, and people, and then analyzing those findings in an effort to develop a better understanding of those historical subjects. Many publish their findings in history books, magazines, and scholarly journals.

Teachers' salaries vary by the level of education at which they wish to teach. The BLS reports that elementary through high school teachers earn an annual median salary of $54,270, whereas history professors earn a median salary of $65,860 (BLS). The education sector is one that is expected to continue employment growth in the future, offering master's degree recipients the opportunity to make decent incomes as teachers.

Political analysts, aka political scientists, study the societies, cultures, political systems and affairs, resources, and other facets of countries around the world. The BLS reported that the median salary for a political analyst was $107,420 per year. According to the same source, the majority of political analysts work for the federal government and this career path is projected to see an 8% increase in employment through 2020; these factors along with its salary make this career choice attractive to many who possess a master's degree in history.