5 Key Courses in a Master’s in History Program

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Updated October 2, 2020

Master's in History Courses

  • Basic Research and Writing Course
  • Course Relating To Archives and Information Management
  • Specialization Courses
  • Internship
  • Research Seminar or Thesis

Any perspective student should be aware of five key Master's in History courses they can expect to take in just about every program. For many historians, it's almost required that they achieve a higher education level than just a bachelor's degree. Most careers require a master's degree or even a PhD. If you've received your bachelor's degree and are beginning to look into master's programs, it can be particularly helpful to know what kinds of history classes you will be expected to take.

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

1. Basic Research and Writing Course

No student will get very far in a history master's program without having a very solid foundation of research and writing. You have likely done a significant amount of writing and research in your history undergrad work, but basically every history MA program requires some sort of basic writing and research course. This will serve to get your feet wet and ease you into what will be expected of you in a graduate program. And because writing and research are so important to historians, it's always in your best interest to keep refining your skills.

2. Course Relating To Archives and Information Management

As an historian, you will likely have considerable dealings with archives throughout your career. Your career might even require that you be prepared for archival and information management, so it's critical all historians have some degree of familiarity with it. These history master's courses teach students about acquisitions, appraisal, preservation, outreach and more.

3. Specialization Courses

You will likely seek some kind of specialization in your education. Different eras or subjects are bound to be of more interest to you than others, and getting too general an education can make it difficult to secure a job in the area of your choosing. Therefore, you should carefully choose a quality history master's program that offers your desired specialization. Once you have been accepted, you need to design your curriculum with all general requirements as well as your specialization in mind. Master's degrees in history tend to be more specialized than undergrad programs anyway.

4. Internship

Internships are often required by these programs, and they are of great benefit to students as well. The presence of an internship requirement usually means the history master's program is of high quality and serious about preparing students to enter the field in the working world. Internships are designed to give students hands-on work experience in their chosen field. You can usually pick an internship that is in the specialization you are pursuing. For example, if you are specializing in archives and information management, your internship will be arranged at an archive. Some schools might arrange internships for you, while in other cases you will have to find, apply and get into one on your own.

5. Research Seminar or Thesis

No history master's degree would be complete without a significant final project, and different programs require different variations on the final project. For example, some will require a research seminar, which is essentially a final history course where you perform research in a group environment. A thesis project is more like an independent study. You will have to choose your topic, research it and write a substantial thesis that will be evaluated to determine whether you will be awarded your degree. If you choose the right topic this can even be more fun and interesting than stressful.

If your chosen career path requires a master's in history, it's important to understand what exactly that program will entail as you start getting serious about applying to master's programs. The key master's in history classes mentioned in this piece are pretty standard and hopefully have given you more of an idea of what to expect from any history master's program you might enroll in.

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