What Can I Do with a Master’s in History Degree?

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Updated October 2, 2020

Master's in history degrees are surprisingly versatile for post-graduates to apply their social sciences background in various careers from education to politics. Whether taken on-site or online, master's degrees typically span 18 to 24 months full-time to instill the research, analysis, and interpretation skills required to study historically significant events or places. Delving into the past from ancient through medieval and post-classical periods will help historical masters hypothesize how our ancestors' lives shaped our own. Master's programs also include an in-depth thesis project that will show future employers your technical ability and strong work ethic. Here are four possible careers where graduate study in history can turn into present success.

Resource: 20 Best Affordable Online Master's in History Degree Programs


Historians are skillful, master's-level researchers who draw historical information from primary sources and artifacts themselves to draw conclusions about the past. Historians conduct the legwork to increase the public's knowledge of earlier times and give context on present issues. Some may also preserve historic buildings, authenticate antiques, build historical profiles of deceased persons, and pose theories in academic articles. They primarily work for the government, museums, research institutes, historical societies, nonprofits, and colleges. Historians will see jobs rise by 2 percent through 2024 for a mean annual wage of $60,990.

Museum Curator

Museum curators are directors who oversee the attainment, storage, and exhibition of historical collections with artifacts of significant scientific or cultural importance. Curators will perform various administrative tasks supervising exhibit design to ensure guests stay engaged, educated, and entertained for the museum's profit. They're found leading programs at children's, maritime, artistic, religious, natural science, municipal, technology, and even virtual museums. Museum curators are poised for 10-year job growth at 8 percent for 1,000 new jobs earning median pay at $53,360.

Social Studies Teacher

Social studies teachers with master's degrees can enlighten the young minds of middle school, high school, and junior college students with exhilarating content about the past. Teachers will plan historical lessons to deliver in full-class or small-group settings for better understanding about earlier generations. Their duties usually include grading students' assignments, preparing for standardized tests, creating progress reports, enforcing classroom rules, and organizing historical field trips. In grades 7-12, social studies teachers can foresee 6 percent job growth through 2024 for mean yearly income at $58,030.


Archivists are cataloging masters who preserve historic pieces like diary entries, rare manuscripts, photographs, and analog films in organized archives. According to the SAA, archivists strengthen our collective memory by retaining permanent records at universities, museums, hospitals, government agencies, libraries, and nonprofits. They'll handle the entire archival process from authenticating items through creating digital copies to setting policies for safe public access. Job growth for archivists is expected to hit 7 percent by 2024 for 500 new positions where the average annual salary is $54,570.

Continuing your historical study into graduate school pays off with more than just a brainier knowledge reservoir. Master's degrees are linked to better employment opportunities, career advancement, specialized field credibility, and self-confidence. The U.S. Census shows that master's degree holders also reap financial incentives for average pay that's 30 percent higher than the baccalaureate level. In addition to these four great careers, history masters graduates could become historic building inspectors, documentary editors, librarians, national park rangers, contract historians, heritage managers, civil service administrators, and archaeologists.

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