History Degree Programs: Unraveling the Past for a Brighter Future

Dive into the world of history degree programs and explore the benefits, opportunities, and guidance to help you make an informed decision on your academic journey.

History Degree

Imagine you’re a time traveler, stepping into a machine that whisks you away to different eras and places, uncovering the secrets of the past.

Studying history is like hopping aboard that time machine, offering you the keys to unlock the mysteries of human civilization. As you embark on this adventure, a history degree program serves as your compass, guiding you through the uncharted territories of the past.

Join us as we dive deep into the details of history degrees, and gain insights that will shape your future.

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What is a History Degree?

A History degree is an academic program that delves into the study of human civilizations, cultures, and events throughout time. It seeks to unravel the complexities of the past, analyzing historical occurrences and their significance in shaping our present-day world. 

Students pursuing a history degree develop critical thinking, research, and communication skills, enabling them to analyze and interpret historical documents, events, and artifacts.

Why choose a History Degree? As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Understanding the past is more important than ever in today’s rapidly changing world. History sheds light on human nature, societal trends, and the consequences of actions, guiding us in making informed decisions for a better future. 

A history degree cultivates intellectual curiosity, fosters empathy, and helps us appreciate the cultural diversity that shapes our global society. Moreover, the skills acquired through a history degree, such as critical thinking and effective communication, are valuable and transferable to various career paths.

What are the History Degree levels?

Navigating the realm of history degrees, you’ll encounter various degree levels to cater to your academic interests and career aspirations.

Each level offers unique opportunities to enhance your understanding of the past, aligning with your goals.

Let’s uncover the different degree levels in history, from certificate programs to doctoral degrees.

Certificate Programs in History

A certificate program in history provides a targeted and efficient introduction to the subject, generally lasting a few months to a year. Requiring around 12 to 30 credits, these programs touch upon essential topics, including significant historical events, periods, and cultures.

Perfect for those seeking a foundational understanding of history or complementing their existing degree, a certificate can open doors to entry-level positions in museums, archives, or research centers.

Entry requirements:

  • A high school diploma or GED.

Associate's Degree in History

An associate degree in history offers a more extensive exploration of the subject, taking approximately two years to complete. With a credit requirement of around 60 credits, this degree level broadens your historical knowledge by examining topics such as ancient civilizations, world history, and the history of specific regions or countries. 

Graduates can pursue careers in education, museums, or research institutions or choose to transfer their credits to a bachelor’s degree program. 

Entry requirements:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • A minimum GPA

Bachelor in History

A bachelor’s degree in history provides a thorough, in-depth study of the subject, spanning four years and around 120 credits. This degree level investigates historical periods, themes, and methodologies, equipping students with critical thinking and analytical skills. 

Graduates can explore diverse careers, including teaching, research, journalism, or positions in government and non-profit organizations. 

Entry requirements:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • A minimum GPA
  • Standardized test scores
  • Letters of recommendation

Master's in History

A master’s degree in history signifies an advanced level of study, taking one to two years to complete and requiring around 30 to 60 credits. These programs offer specialized concentrations, enabling students to focus on a specific historical period, region, or theme. 

Entry requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree in history or a related field
  • A minimum GPA
  • Letters of recommendation and a written statement of purpose

Ph.D. in History

A doctoral degree in history represents the apex of academic achievement in the field, taking four to six years to complete. Doctoral candidates engage in original research, culminating in a dissertation that adds new insights to the historical discipline. 

Graduates often pursue careers in academia, research, or policy-making, becoming experts and thought leaders in their chosen historical field.

Entry requirements:

  • A master’s degree in history or in a related field
  • A minimum GPA
  • A research proposal or statement of purpose

Disclaimer: The entry requirements for a degree in History may vary depending on your university and state. However, here we have outlined the general qualifications that are frequently asked for.

What specialties and concentrations can you find in History Degree programs?

As a history student, you’ll have many opportunities to dive deeper into what interests you through the various concentrations available. They will allow you to explore the fascinating stories and events that have shaped our world and can help you pursue your unique interests and career aspirations.

Selecting a history concentration enables you to immerse yourself in the depths of ancient times and grasp the enduring influence of the past on our current existence.

Let’s explore some popular historical concentrations

American History

American history is a captivating concentration that examines the United States’ development from its earliest beginnings to the present day. You’ll explore significant events, influential figures, and the diverse cultures that shaped the nation.

This focus area instills a comprehensive knowledge of the intricate connections among social, political, and economic elements that have molded the United States throughout its history.

Military History

The military history concentration delves into the strategies, tactics, and consequences of armed conflict throughout human history. You’ll study pivotal battles, technological advancements in warfare, and the impact of war on societies and individuals.

With this concentration, you’ll come to appreciate the complexities of warfare and its enduring influence on the world.

European History

European history offers a window into the rich tapestry of events, ideas, and people that shaped the continent. You’ll traverse time, exploring epochs such as the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, and the World Wars, investigating the political, social, and cultural forces that left enduring imprints on Europe and the globe.

This concentration instills a profound appreciation for European history and the intricate cultural tapestry that characterizes the continent.

Gender and Women's History

The gender and women’s history concentration focuses on women’s roles, experiences, and contributions and the impact of gender on societies throughout history. It studies themes like women’s rights movements, gender-based power structures, and the multifaceted relationships between gender, race, class, and ethnicity.

It will help you understand the complexities of gender and its influence on historical events, enabling you to view history more inclusively.

Economic History

Economic history delves into the evolution of economic systems, policies, and ideas and their effects on societies over time. It examines trade, industrialization, and financial crises, exploring the intricate relationship between economic forces and historical events.

By concentrating on economic history, you’ll acquire a distinct viewpoint on historical events, empowering you to evaluate the significance of economic factors in the development of societies and the world at large.

Courses & Curriculum in History Degrees

As you delve deeper into the world of history degree programs, the courses, and curriculum play a vital role in shaping your academic experience.

With an array of captivating classes, these programs provide a strong foundation in historical research and interpretation.

We’ll dive into the fascinating courses that await you, opening your eyes to the diverse topics that make history such a riveting subject.

Ancient World History

Travel back to the dawn of human civilization and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of ancient societies. This course explores the birth of culture, art, politics, and religion in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and beyond, illuminating the foundations of our modern world.

World Wars I and II

Witness the birth of the modern era as you delve into the most devastating conflicts in human history. This course examines the complex causes, key events, and far-reaching consequences of the World Wars, shedding light on their impact on the global stage.

American Military History

From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror, this course traces the evolution of American military strategy, technology, and leadership. Learn about the pivotal battles, leaders, and turning points that have defined the nation’s military history and shaped its global presence.

The Civil War

Journey into the heart of America’s most divisive conflict and explore the complex issues that led to the Civil War, the strategies employed by both sides, and the lasting effects on the nation’s social, political, and economic landscape.


Examine the expansion of European empires, the colonization of the Americas, Africa, and Asia, and the lasting impact of these global encounters. This course delves into the economic, political, and cultural forces driving colonialism, as well as the resistance movements that challenged it.

On-campus vs. Online History Degrees

As you embark on your academic voyage through history, an important decision awaits: choosing between on-campus and online history degree programs.

Each option offers unique advantages and challenges tailored to individual preferences, learning styles, and lifestyles. To make an informed choice, consider flexibility, interaction, learning resources, and personal commitments.

Let’s delve into the distinct features of on-campus and online programs, weighing their pros and cons to help you find the perfect fit.

On-campus History Degree Programs: A Classic Learning Experience

On-campus programs provide a traditional learning environment, fostering face-to-face interactions and a strong sense of community. These programs offer access to a wealth of resources, such as libraries, archives, and museums, as well as opportunities to engage with professors and fellow students.


Direct interaction with faculty and classmates

Access to on-campus resources (libraries, archives, museums)

Opportunities for networking and forming study groups

A structured learning schedule


Limited flexibility in terms of schedule and location

Potentially higher costs (tuition, housing, transportation)

Less accommodating for working professionals or those with family commitments

Online History Degree Programs: A Modern, Flexible Alternative

Online classes offer the convenience and flexibility of learning from anywhere with an internet connection, catering to diverse lifestyles and commitments. These programs often provide a variety of learning formats, such as recorded lectures, live webinars, and discussion forums.

 Some online programs even offer unique features, like virtual field trips to historical sites or access to digitized archives and resources.


Flexibility to accommodate work and personal commitments

Access to education regardless of location

Potentially lower costs (no housing or transportation expenses)

Self-paced learning


Limited face-to-face interaction with faculty and peers

Greater reliance on self-discipline and time management

Potential challenges in accessing resources or technical support

What to consider when choosing a History Degree?

After weighing the benefits and drawbacks of on-campus and online history degree programs, the next step is to identify the factors that will guide you in choosing the ideal program to suit your needs and aspirations.

Selecting the right history degree is crucial to ensuring a fulfilling and successful academic journey.

Let’s explore some essential aspects to consider, along with practical tips to help you make an informed decision.

1. Accreditation

Accreditation is a vital factor, as it guarantees the quality and credibility of a degree program. Look for programs accredited by recognized agencies to ensure your degree will be respected by employers and other educational institutions.

Actionable Tip: Research the accrediting bodies for history degree programs in your country or region and ensure your prospective schools are accredited by these organizations.

2. Curriculum and Concentrations

Consider the curriculum and available concentrations when choosing a history degree program. Select a program that aligns with your interests and career goals and offers a strong foundation in the subjects you’re passionate about.

Actionable Tip: Review the course catalogs for potential programs, and compare the available concentrations and course offerings to find the best match for your interests.

3. Faculty Expertise

The quality of a program’s faculty can significantly impact your educational experience. Look for programs with faculty members who possess expertise and experience in your areas of interest and firmly commit to teaching and mentorship.

Actionable Tip: Research the backgrounds of faculty members at your prospective schools, paying attention to their publications, research interests, and teaching philosophies.

4. Resources and Support Services

A robust array of resources and support services can enrich your learning experience and contribute to your academic success. Consider the availability of libraries, archives, research centers, and other academic resources, as well as support services like career counseling and academic advising.

Actionable Tip: Explore the websites of prospective schools to learn about their available resources and support services, and consider reaching out to current students or alumni to get their insights.

5. Affordability

It’s essential to consider the financial implications of pursuing a degree. Evaluate tuition costs, scholarship opportunities, and financial aid options to find a program that fits your budget and offers the best value for your investment.

Actionable Tip: Create a financial plan, taking into account tuition, living expenses, and other costs associated with your degree. Research scholarship and financial aid opportunities at each school and factor these into your decision-making process.

6. Alumni Success

The accomplishments and experiences of a program’s alumni can provide valuable insights into its quality and the potential career paths available to graduates. 

Actionable Tip: Browse alumni profiles on school websites, LinkedIn, or other professional platforms, and consider connecting with them to learn about their experiences and career paths.

What can you do with a History Degree?

Did you know that a history degree can open doors to an exciting world of diverse career paths?
Far from just being a degree for future history teachers or museum curators, a history degree equips you with critical thinking, research, and communication skills that are highly sought after in various fields.

Interestingly, some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk, have a genuine passion for history. Musk often looks to historical figures like Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison for inspiration when creating his groundbreaking innovations

Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), history majors can look forward to various promising career paths. According to projections, historians’ employment will increase by 4% between 2021 and 2031, which is approximately average for all occupations. 

On the other hand, employment of archivists, curators, and museum staff is expected to grow 12% between 2021 and 2031, faster than the national average.

Salary Potential

The BLS reports that the median annual wage for historians was $63,940 in May 2021, while archivists, curators, and museum workers earned a median yearly salary of $50,120 during the same period.

Pursuing careers in law, journalism, or public relations can also lead to competitive salaries that are on par with or even exceed these figures.

Top Jobs you can get with a History Degree:


Research and analyze historical events, people, and societies to understand better the past and how it has shaped the present. Historians often write articles, books, and reports to share their findings with others.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$63,940 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level



Preserve and manage historical documents, records, and artifacts for museums, libraries, and government organizations. Archivists also help researchers and the public access these valuable resources.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$60,050 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


Museum Curator

Oversee the collections of museums, art galleries, or other cultural institutions. Curators are responsible for acquiring, cataloging, and exhibiting artifacts, as well as organizing educational programs and special events.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$60,110 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


College History Professor

Teach history courses at the postsecondary level, conduct research, and publish scholarly articles and books. Professors also mentor students and participate in academic committees and conferences.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$88,640 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level



Manage library resources and services, helping patrons access and use materials effectively. Specialized history librarians often work with unique collections, assisting researchers with historical inquiries.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$61,190 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


High School History Teacher

Educate students in grades 9-12 about various historical periods, events, and cultures. Teachers create lesson plans, assess student progress, and help develop critical thinking and research skills.

Average Salary - Job Positions

Average Salary

$61,820 per year

College Degree Type Needed For Job Position

Degree Level


*Please be advised that the average salary provided by the BLS may deviate significantly from state to state and occupation to occupation, depending on various factors.

Popular Colleges with History Degree Programs

Choosing the right college is crucial for your academic success and future career in history. 

Picking a college with a strong history program can provide you with the resources, faculty, and networking opportunities needed to excel in your chosen field. 

These are five popular US colleges with highly acclaimed history degree programs:

Yale University

Yale’s history department is globally recognized, and its faculty includes Pulitzer Prize winners. Its history department offers a diverse range of courses and encourages students to explore various historical periods and themes. The university is renowned for its extensive library collections, world-class faculty, and vibrant intellectual community.

Harvard University

Harvard stands out as a top-tier institution for earning a history degree, boasting a sizable student body and an exceptional reputation. The program presents various course options, covering topics from ancient societies to contemporary social and political events. Harvard’s history program also benefits from the university’s vast library system and strong connections with prestigious institutions worldwide.

Princeton University

Princeton offers a good choice for students interested in a degree in history, featuring a moderately-sized student population and an overall top ranking. You can pursue various concentrations, such as American, European, or world history while taking advantage of the university’s extensive research resources and unique course offerings.

University of Pennsylvania

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) offers a robust history program emphasizing analytical skills, research, and writing. You can take advantage of numerous research and internship opportunities within and outside the university.

Columbia University

Nestled in the heart of New York City, Columbia University’s history curriculum is celebrated for its wide-ranging subjects and cross-disciplinary methods. Delve into various historical periods, regions, and themes, while benefiting from Columbia’s extensive library system and strong connections to cultural institutions throughout the city.

Featured Colleges

FAQ about History Degree Programs

Admission requirements for history degree programs vary depending on the institution and the level of study. Generally, you’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent for undergraduate programs. You may also need to submit transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement.

For graduate programs, you typically need a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related field, along with transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and possibly GRE scores.

A history degree helps develop valuable skills, including critical thinking, research, writing, communication, analysis, and problem-solving. You’ll also learn to effectively interpret and synthesize information, evaluate evidence, and construct well-reasoned arguments.

These skills are transferable to various professional fields and can significantly enhance graduates’ employability.

Internships and study abroad programs can provide unique opportunities to gain hands-on experience and explore the global dimensions of historical events. Internship possibilities include working at museums, historical societies, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or cultural institutions.

Study abroad programs can be centered around specific historical themes or locations, immersing students in different cultures and helping them develop a broader understanding of world history.

A history degree can be combined with other disciplines to create an interdisciplinary academic experience. Common complementary majors and minors include Political Science, Anthropology, Sociology, Economics, and Literature. This multidisciplinary approach explores the connections between history and other fields, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of complex societal issues.

There are several professional organizations for history students and graduates, such as the American Historical Association (AHA), the Organization of American Historians (OAH), and the National Council on Public History (NCPH). These organizations offer networking opportunities, conferences, workshops, and publications to help students and professionals stay informed about the latest research, trends, and career opportunities in the field.

Resources and support services for history students vary by institution but may include academic advising, tutoring, research assistance, and writing support. Some universities also offer specialized libraries, archives, or research centers dedicated to historical research.

Additionally, many schools provide access to online databases, scholarly journals, and other academic resources to aid students in their coursework and research projects.

While all these disciplines explore various aspects of human societies and cultures, they differ in focus and methodology. History primarily examines past events, people, and societies to understand their causes and consequences.

Political Science studies government systems, political processes, and power dynamics. Anthropology investigates human societies, cultures, and behaviors from a holistic and comparative perspective.

To prepare for a history degree as a high school student, you can focus on developing strong reading, writing, and analytical skills. Taking history courses, participating in history-related extracurricular activities, or volunteering at local historical organizations can also provide valuable experience.


  • History degrees involve studying human events, societies, and cultures, providing students with a deep understanding of the past and its impact on the present.
  • They offer various degree levels, from certificate programs to doctorates, each tailored to specific career goals.
  • Numerous specializations and concentrations are available in History degree programs, allowing students to focus on their areas of interest.
  • Both on-campus and online History degree programs have unique advantages and challenges; students should consider their individual needs when deciding.
  • A History degree can open doors to numerous career paths, including roles in education, research, government, etc.
  • Top-tier colleges and universities offer highly acclaimed History degree programs, providing excellent educational opportunities.

Ready to uncover the mysteries of the past with a History degree? Take the first step towards your bright future today!

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