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Study History in a Historic City

The Master of Arts in History will prepare you to pursue a doctorate or a career in education, public service, and many other fields. In this program, you will develop a deeper understanding of how historians investigate and interpret the past while you explore the past with your own original research. In producing your own scholarship, you will sharpen your analytical skills, hone your research interests, and refine your writing and interpretation skills.

Our program is ideal for students interested in American or modern European history. However, the program also provides room for flexibility, allowing you to broaden your study, pursue your intellectual interests, and focus your expertise with elective coursework and research in public history, women’s/gender history, politics and foreign relations, Jewish history, and other areas of faculty specialization. We encourage our students to approach the study of the past through a critical and multidisciplinary lens.

Washington, DC

A Degree of Flexibility

This 30-credit program will develop your writing, research, and analytical skills while broadening your historical and historiographical knowledge. In the first semester, you will develop an understanding of the practice of history with a course on the Historian’s Craft. You will deepen your knowledge of US or European history with six credits of colloquium courses. You will then engage in the production of original scholarship with six credits of a research seminar. In addition to the Public History option for students interested in careers in museums, cultural tourism, community history, historic preservation, new media, and related professional fields, the program includes ample room for elective courses, so you can develop specialized expertise, expand your historical knowledge, and bring new perspectives to your work.

See MA Admissions & Degree Requirements.

Where History Is Made

Studying history in the nation's capital provides students with access to renowned museums and archives, such the Smithsonian, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress. Brimming with history, the DC area offers Civil War battlefields, the Capitol, Mount Vernon, the White House, and countless landmarks of the colonial period, Revolutionary War, Civil War, and more recent American history. A truly global city, Washington, DC, contains hundreds of embassies, cultural organizations, and enclave communities. DC is also home to smaller historical organizations, like the DC Historical Society and the DC Preservation League. As part of the Washington, DC Consortium, students at American University are able to take courses at colleges and universities throughout the DC metropolitan area, providing the opportunity to work with a variety of faculty in diverse programs and fields of study. Faculty and alumni connections with DC's most important historical institutions lead to internships and employment opportunities. Whether your interest is local, national, or global, this historic city undoubtedly has something for you.

Knowledgeable Faculty Dedicated to Your Success

Our history faculty makes national news, explores under-represented areas of history, and guides students, helping them grasp and generate scholarship. You will build strong collegial networks with your fellow scholars, including faculty, PhD students, and public history students. You will benefit from mentorship and close working relationships with professors who have headed the Organization of American Historians, predicted the outcomes of presidential elections, and written award-winning books and articles.

Explore the Possibilities

While many of our students go on to complete PhDs and pursue academic careers, the writing and research skills developed in this program can be applied to many positions. A solid background in history is an asset for education professionals at every level, from teaching to developing education programs for museums and cultural institutions. Our alumni hold positions with important institutions like History Associates, the National Park Service, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Smithsonian Institution — see Career Outcomes info for our recent graduates.

Our Alumni

Lonnie Bunch (BA History '74 and MA History '76), founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, speaks at AU.

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