MA in History - Public History

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MA in History with a Concentration in
Public History

The older we get as a country, the more history we have to show for ourselves, and tell about ourselves. Public historians do the job of storytelling.

Working with architects, librarians, business people, government policy analysts, exhibit designers, communities and cultural institutions, public historians document, preserve and disseminate bodies of historical facts.

History (MA) Courses

HIS-501: Historiography
This course provides a deep-level exploration into the study of history and historical writing, focusing on the craft and profession of history and its relationship to society. The course contends with the changing nature of historical interpretations and arguments, and the role of historical meta-narratives in shaping one's understanding and experience of history. Students are asked to position and evaluate their own thinking in relation to various historical analyses, defending a preferred approach to a relevant area of interest.
HIS-502: Historical Methods
Historians use a wide variety of methods and approaches to the study, analysis, and evaluation of historical accounts and sources. This course offers students an opportunity to investigate various methodological approaches and the relationships between method, theory, and interpretation in historical research. Students will design an initial research proposal and articulate how a chosen methodology positions them appropriately to address the central issues and problems of their research.
HIS-510: Comparative History and Research
Comparative research is a valuable tool for historians to be able to discover possible historical and social connections across separate historical settings. This course introduces students to best practices, issues, and challenges of comparative history approaches. Central to the course is the development of effective research practices in comparative history: identifying appropriate sources, articulating the context and focus of a research project, and making an informed and supported argument. This course will use the topic of democratic revolutions to model comparative research.
HIS-520: Historical Lenses and Scholarship
What does it mean to focus on the economic issues of an historical event? What considerations of race, gender, class, or other lenses of difference can be made to illuminate the social and cultural experiences of people throughout history? The central focus of this course is to provide students with an exploration into various lenses of historical research and analysis and how these lenses can structure the types of questions an historian asks. The course uses the topic of transatlantic slavery to introduce several lenses that can be applied to future topics of interest to students. Students will integrate best practices for the production and writing of historical scholarship using a chosen lens (or lenses) of analysis.
HIS-501 and HIS-502
HIS-790: Research Seminar for Historians
The capstone experience integrates knowledge and skills developed in previous coursework with a focus on developing scholarship in a student's chosen area of specialization. This course focuses on helping students propose a topic for research, conduct preliminary research on primary and secondary sources, and develop a capstone research proposal. This course prepares students for the formal capstone submission in the subsequent capstone course. Students must have completed 24 credits in their program to enroll in this course.
Must complete 24 credits
HIS-792: Capstone for Public Historians
The capstone experience integrates knowledge and skills developed in previous coursework with a focus on developing the final capstone deliverable. Public historians will demonstrate the skills they have learned in conceiving of, maintaining, and managing content for public history organizations. Students will workshop and submit their final versions of their capstone in this course.


Public History Concentration

HIS-660: Introduction to Public History
Unlike many other areas of history, public history distinguishes itself in its application focus and community orientation. Public historians are charged with protecting our historically significant artifacts, cataloging our historical wisdom, and communicating our cultural narratives. In this course, the foundational principles and mission of public history are investigated and evaluated. Students assess the landscape of public history, including the major thinkers, controversies, emerging trends, and ethical demands. Finally, students must articulate a distinct identity for public history and situate themselves within that context.
HIS-501 and HIS-502
HIS-661: Public History Strategic Management
A public historian can expect to be responsible for a myriad of projects and tasks that require a marriage of historical knowledge and business acumen. In this course, students will augment their existing framework to include the skill sets of project management, budgeting and finance, legal competencies, and other pragmatic considerations that are essential for the public historian. Attention will be given to issues of intellectual property, fundraising and donations, interpersonal skills and people management, artifact care, and motivating volunteer organizations.
HIS-501 and HIS-502
HIS-662: Digitization of History
The potential and possibilities for preserving historical artifacts have been fundamentally transformed by digitization. The ability to design, plan, execute, and maintain digitization projects and repositories has become essential for public historians. In this course, students apply information system theories and utilize relevant technologies and tools to engage in the digitization process. An emphasis is placed on the need for public historians to take an adaptive and open-minded approach to technology, due to its capabilities for furthering the missions of public history.
Take HIS-501 and HIS-502

Select 2 of the following:

HIS-663: Documentary Editing
This course is one of three specialized offerings in public history collections management. The focus of this course is documentary editing, or the assembling of comprehensive document collections. Documentary editors must scrutinize, verify, and organize the resources upon which historical scholarship rests. This includes making the difficult, and potentially controversial, decisions about what is included and what is not. In this course, students engage in research, evaluation, transcription, annotation, and compilation of historical artifacts. The implications of documentary editorial decisions on future understandings of the past are assessed.
Take HIS-501 and HIS-502
HIS-664: Archival Management
This course is one of three specialized offerings in public history collections management. The focus of this course is archives, or the accumulation of historical records that have been set aside for future reference. Archivists must store, catalog, preserve, and retrieve archival materials that are considered to be of significance to a group. In this course, students apply the major theories of archival science to determine the authenticity, reliability, integrity, and usability of various records. Best practices for developing and maintaining archives are investigated. Additionally, the ethical considerations surrounding the care of records of social value are evaluated.
HIS-501 and HIS-502
HIS-665: Museum Collection Management
This course is one of three specialized offerings in public history collections management; the focus is museum curation. Today's museums are being challenged to alter their approach and redefine the museum experience to meet the intellectual curiosity of 21st-century patrons who crave contribution and participation over passive observation. In this course, students will evaluate the impact of these social dynamics on the field of museum science. Additionally, students will propose creative solutions to address new expectations without sacrificing the enduring principles at the core of a museum's mission.
HIS-501 and HIS-502

What You Will Learn

In our master's in public history program, you will learn to create historical preservation and outreach initiatives that integrate deep content knowledge, technological savvy, and business acumen to engage, educate and empower individuals and groups.

Your skill set will include methodology, management, preservation and interpretation of historical records and artifacts. This knowledge will lead you to museum and historical society or archival work, neighborhood or community history projects, historic and cultural preservation programs, and local and federal research projects.

Where You Can Go

  • Museums
  • Historical societies, small museums and other history organizations
  • Federal government — including the National Park Service, the Department of State Office of the Historian, and the Senate Historical Office
  • State and local government
  • Archiving 
  • Libraries
  • Historical consulting firm
  • Law firm

Admission Requirements

Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our five graduate terms. You can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials. To apply, simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options.  Your counselor can also walk you through the application process, which involves completing a graduate application ($40 fee) and providing undergraduate transcripts.

Additional requirements:

  • Undergraduate degree (can be in a discipline outside of the intended MA degree program).
  • Statement of Purpose: 200-500 words explaining why you wish to enter the program.
  • Writing Sample:  Minimum 3-5 pages (i.e. research paper, creative work, critical analysis of a literary piece, or work from previous academic studies).

Students with an undergraduate GPA below 2.75 are eligible for provisional acceptance. Based on your educational background, some Master of Arts provisional students may be required to take SNHU 501 – Introduction to Graduate Studies – which will provide students with the scholarly tools to be successful in their Master of Arts program of study. This policy is effective for new students enrolling for the 15TW4 graduate term starting April 27, 2015.

Contact Us

Phone: 888.387.0861