Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees in History: 2016’s Top Programs

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Students in online history degree programs gain extensive knowledge of the far-reaching cultural, legal, political, and economic implications of various historical events. For those interested in how the past can shape one’s future, this guide provides comprehensive information on the different history degree programs that colleges offer, what to look for in an online program, and the jobs that graduates of such programs can obtain.

Overview of the History Field

There are many career options for those who earn online history degrees; however, the most common professions–historian and archivist–are extremely competitive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for historians are expected to increase by only six percent between 2012 and 2022, while archivists will see an 11 percent increase in job opportunities during that timeframe.

However, the American Historical Association reports that there are many other career paths for those with online history degrees. These graduates often get jobs as educators in schools and museums, researchers, and librarians. But the first step to any job is earning the proper degree.

Types of Online History Degrees

There are several options for students who want to earn an online history degree. From associate to PHDs, when students earn a degree online, they get all of the benefits of attending a brick-and-mortar school, coupled with the flexibility that allows them to juggle other responsibilities. The following are descriptions of online programs by level.

Two-Year Online Degrees

In most cases, students who earn associate degrees can choose to take history classes, but do not have the option to earn a history-specific degree. However, some schools do offer specific degree programs for students who plan to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.

Students who enroll in online associate degree, which take about two years to complete, get an overview of cultural movements and events and explore how they are affected by political and social factors of the time. The following are examples of courses that students can take in order to complete an online history degree on the associate’s level:

History of Western Civilization: This course explores the social, political, economic, and cultural aspects of Western civilization. Topics of this course include World War I and II, the rise of political movements like fascism, the evolution of military forces in different countries and the role that art plays in society.

World Civilizations: This course explores the philosophical, literary, political and societal contributions of ancient civilizations. Students study important historical events from Asia, Rome, Greece, medieval Europe and the Middle East.

Local History: Some schools will give students the opportunity to learn about their local communities. These courses teach information about the important historical figures of their region, as well as the politics, architecture, economic development and art of the local area.

History of Religion: This course explores religious movements throughout civilization, including important religious figures and the influence of the church on politics and society.

College of Southern Nevada
  • Enrollment: 53,482
  • Tuition: $2,700
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Nevada
  • Associate of Arts With History Emphasis
Troy University
  • Enrollment: 22,220
  • Tuition: $6,844
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Alabama
  • Associate of Science in General Education - History
Gulf Coast State College
  • Enrollment: 9,602
  • Tuition: $2,765
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Florida
  • Associate in Arts of History

Four-Year Online Degrees

In addition to gaining a broad overview of the field, students who earn online bachelor’s degree in history also cultivate a number of skills that will augment their historical knowledge and make them an asset in any workplace. For example, students learn how to write effectively, develop a convincing argument, present information logically, conduct research, and think critically.

A bachelor’s degree generally take four years to complete, and students can expect to learn about the cultures and events that have contributed to human civilization, the ethics involved in chronicling and interpreting historical events, and the social and political contexts that influence these events.

The following are some examples of courses that students can expect to find when they enroll in online history degrees at the bachelor’s level:

United States History: This course educates students on the long and tumultuous journey that the United States went through in becoming a nation. Topics covered in the class include the beginning of European settlements, the Civil War, the evolution of American politics, the process of drafting and ratifying the Constitution and how the Industrial Revolution affected American life.

Technology in Contemporary Society: This course gives students an overview of how different types of technological advancements have affected the course of history. Students learn about how technology changes people’s lives on both personal and professional levels; the effects of technology on law, education and politics; the cultural ramifications of technology; and the advantages of disadvantages of technology on society.

Roman Law and Society: Students in this class can expect to get an in-depth look at life during Roman times. Topics covered in this course include the evolution of Roman law and its influence on subsequent societies, the way the law affected day-to-day Roman life and how Roman law addressed issues like marriage, religion and slavery.

American Women’s History: This course covers the role that women have played throughout American history, from the early settlements to the present day. Students in this class can expect to learn about the contributions of women in the United States, the laws that governed how women were treated and the rights they held and the women’s movements throughout American history.

University of Maryland
  • Enrollment: 43,574
  • Tuition: $6,384
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Maryland
  • Bachelor of Arts in History
Arizona State University
  • Enrollment: 43,072
  • Tuition: $9,724
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Arizona
  • Bachelor of Arts in Art History
  • Bachelor of Arts in History
Columbia College
  • Enrollment: 29,890
  • Tuition: $6,739
  • College Type: Private
  • State: Missouri
  • Bachelor of Arts in History

Online Master’s Degrees in History

Those who want to deepen their understanding of history and its ever-reaching effects on society can pursue a master’s degree online. These programs typically take about two years of fulltime study to complete. Students gain in-depth knowledge on how the past can be applied to present-day events or evaluate the future, how to properly conduct historical research, and how to analyze the credibility – and biases – of those who have documented historical events. Learn about earning a master’s in history online.

Graduate Level Concentrations

History is a huge field, but many programs allow students to focus their studies on a particular area of interest to hone their knowledge for a specific career goal.

The following are some examples of specializations and concentrations students may be able to pursue when they enroll in a master’s degree program. Keep in mind that these can vary greatly from school to school.

American History: Students who want to get a deeper understanding of American life today often enroll in the American history concentration. The courses in this area cover the political, economic and social evolution of the country and give students the opportunity to critically apply the lessons of the past to the current climate. Some of the topics students in this specialty study include United States’ involvement in the World Wars, how America handled the Cold War, the early history of the country, the evolution of American law and the relationship between the United States and different cultural and racial groups.

Military History: Students who enroll in the military concentration learn about military theory and how wars affect the political, social, and economic aspects of a society. Courses in this specialty cover topics such as types of weaponry and their tactical military uses, the technological advances of weapons throughout history, military leadership and command and how military strategies are developed and executed. In addition, students in this concentration learn who won different wars and what missteps made by those who lose.

World History: In this concentration, students explore how the history of different societies can affect one another. From the dawn of civilization to the present day, this concentration looks at historical events worldwide as well as the development of history as an academic discipline. Topics may include European revolutions, World Wars I and II, the Ottoman Empire, the Reformation, military development in different countries, and exploration and trade.

Public History: Those interested in pursuing careers as archivists, historians, and librarians often choose to concentrate their studies on public history because it focuses on the preservation of the past and artifacts, as well as how it is presented to the community. Courses in this concentration cover topics such as how to catalogue historical documents, project management, budgeting, working with volunteer organizations, and museum collection management.

Online Doctorate in History

Individuals at this degree level generally want to pursue careers in academia, usually as a college professor. However, these graduates may also go on to careers as analysts, writers, or researchers. Those who earn an online PhD in history can expect to take courses that give them a deeper understanding of several areas, including American, European, African, and Latin American historical events.

Students who enroll in these programs can expect to finish their degrees in about four to six years, depending on the program and the individual student. In addition to coursework, program requirements may include a dissertation, a comprehensive examination, or participation in research projects.

The following is a sample of potential classes:

The Civil Rights Movement: This course explores the evolution of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Topics may include prominent past and present civil rights leaders, the role of women in the Civil Rights Movement, the advancements African Americans have made because of the movement, and what civil rights looks like today.

Nazi Germany: This class examines the social, economic, and political conditions that caused Nazism to rise in Germany. Students gain a deep understanding of the role Nazism played in World War II and the anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust.

The Cold War: Students in this course study the origins of the Cold War, how it influences American culture and politics, and the aftermath of this period. Subjects include Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Korean War.

Renaissance and Reformation: This course takes a closer look at the reformation and renaissance periods of European history, including the important historical figures in these movements. Some of the course topics covered include the Spanish Inquisition, how the use of money was outlawed for a time, and the conflict between Calvinists and Catholics.

Online School Spotlights

The following are some examples of schools that offer online history degree programs:

Southern New Hampshire University

SNHU offers online history degrees at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. This private nonprofit college gives undergraduate students a comprehensive liberal arts education while providing a historical understanding of societies throughout history. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, SNHU’s history department gives students the option to focus on a particular era or subject matter. For example, there are bachelor’s degrees available in American history, military history, Middle Eastern studies, and European history. In addition, students can earn a general studies bachelor’s degree and elect to concentrate on history.

At the master’s level, Southern New Hampshire University students can advance their knowledge of history while developing valuable research skills. Students in this online degree program can concentrate on American, military, or public history.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s distance learning component, UWM Online, offers a bachelor’s degree. In addition to having a choice of courses in American, European, and global history, students also have the opportunity to participate in historical research. Through the university’s Office of Undergraduate Research, students can work with professors on studies, gaining invaluable skills such as choosing a research topic, citing sources, developing a thesis and the arguments needed to support it, and producing a final research paper. Some examples of the department’s research projects include Medicine and Religion in Northern Africa, Early Christianity in Rome, African American History, Race and Law, and Gender and Politics.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers online bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Students in the undergraduate program learn about American and European history and the department particularly focuses on the Southwest and environmental history. On the master’s level, students get the opportunity to study comparative history, as well as learn historical research methods.

How to Choose an Online History Program

Not all online programs are created equally. When students are about to invest their time and money in a degree program, they need to do their best to ensure they choose one that will meet their needs and help them reach their goals. The following are some of the most important things prospective students should consider when evaluating online history degree programs.

Historical Focus

This field tends to be very broad, which can be highly appealing to some students. However, when choose a history degree program, students should consider what part of history really interests them. Every history department has a different focus, and those interested in pursuing a degree should select one that caters to the aspects of the field that they most want to study, as well as one that will help them achieve their career goals. For example, a student who is interested in getting an archivist job at an Asian art museum should look for a program that has a strong Asian history focus.

Research Opportunities

Strong research skills can be an asset in any career path, so it’s important that students who earn online history degrees get the opportunity to learn as much as they can about conducting historical research. Although many degree programs offer classes on research methods, some schools give students the opportunity to get hands-on experience conducting historical research, which allows them to examine past events and create a narrative about what happened in a specific period of time. This can help them get a broader view of history above and beyond what they learn in class as well as sharpen their research and critical thinking skills. Students who really want to explore how historical research is done should look for programs that allow them to work side-by-side with professors on research projects, where they help collect data, complete a literature review, and write up findings.

Faculty

Just as it is important for students to consider the coursework in an online history degree program, they should also consider who is teaching the courses. Students should carefully examine the background of the professors at the programs they’re considering. Some things they can look for include the research topics professors have been involved in and whether they have been published in esteemed professional journals, their professional experience in the field, and the focus of their studies when they were in school.

Out-of-the-Box Careers for Graduates

Although many graduates go on to work as historians, librarians, archivists, and teachers, there are a myriad of career paths available for those who complete online history degrees. History majors come to the workforce armed with many invaluable skills that employers want—such as research skills, writing abilities, and critical thinking skills—so even if these careers are a bit unconventional, they are examples of jobs that graduates can pursue.

Financial Analysts: It may seem like an unlikely career for a history major, but the attention to detail that these graduates gain from their studies make them good candidates for financial analyst jobs. In addition, their understanding of how historical events have shaped the economy puts them in a unique position to help their clients make informed investment decisions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this career is on the rise, with an expected growth of 16 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Writers: Historians are natural storytellers, so it makes sense that history graduates gravitate toward writing careers. Many become journalists, which allows them to combine their written communication skills with their strong research abilities. In other cases, graduates use the knowledge they gained to become fiction writers—and their studies can be particularly useful if they are writing stories that heavily rely on historical accuracy.

Paralegals: A history graduate who has an interest in law is a natural fit for a paralegal career. In addition to the research skills needed to do the job, history majors also have the organizational skills necessary to help attorneys file and organize legal documents; the communication skills needed to talk to clients and attorneys during the course of a case; and the writing skills required to draft reports. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that this career is growing faster than most occupations, and job seekers will see a 17 percent increase in opportunities in the coming years.

Finding the right online history degree program can be challenging. The following user-friendly search tool allows aspiring historians to peruse a mountain of data about schools, while filtering it to make the information as relevant as possible.

History Degree Search Tool

Online degrees in history are a perennial favorite given the wide spectrum of jobs open to graduates. With so many time periods and theoretical frameworks, not to mention degree levels, fledgling historians can easily become overwhelmed. In addition to sifting through these factors, the search tool below will take into account students’ needs for internships, program flexibility, cost for value, and research resources to find the best online history degree for individual student goals.

Degree Level:
Tuition:
Student Population:
School Type:
see map

Best Online History Degree for 2015-2016

From associate programs to doctoral degrees, a history degree is an ideal fit for the online environment. A quality online history degree pairs the actual history of events with the current political, social and cultural consequences using today’s technology. Programs should allow for student interaction in a virtual environment, where students can learn from one another dynamically. Career counseling, affordable tuition, full accreditation and internships in the field round out some of the offerings of the best online history programs. We used our comprehensive methodology to find programs that meet these and other criteria. Take a look at which colleges fit the bill in our list of the Best Online History Programs for 2015-2016 below.


Rank School Name Score Student-Teacher Ratio Financial Aid Cost More Info
1 Washington University in St Louis 97.64 8:1 55%

Graduates of Washington University in St. Louis's online bachelor of science in history can pursue careers in business, law and communications or go on to earn a higher degree. They learn how to challenge conventional wisdoms and analyze the thoughts and beliefs in today's world. Students can select from among an approved list of introductory and advanced courses, studying the topics of interest to them. A capstone experience, such as a research seminar or honors research project, demonstrates the student's mastery of the coursework. Online courses are developed with the busy adult in mind. Students must meet instructor-set deadlines, however they can access their class materials when it's convenient to them.

2 University of Memphis 97.61 14:1 97%

University of Memphis students may combine online and on-campus learning, or learn entirely online, in their bachelor of arts degree in history. Students work in 14-week semesters through a guided, cooperative learning program. UM encourages history students to study abroad and offers scholarship opportunities to help with funding. Faculty members actively research in the field and teach both online courses and traditional on-campus classes. Students are required to take four core classes and can choose their own upper division courses to tailor their degree to their own interests. An online student orientation helps students prepare for this rigorous program.

3 University of Illinois at Springfield 97.11 13:1 96%

With an online degree that's identical to its on-campus counterpart, the University of Illinois – Springfield's bachelor's in history provides a quality program using the latest technologies. Application requirements for the online program require a statement of intent discussing their ability to succeed, rationale for pursuing a history degree and an online degree and other experience that will help them in their endeavors. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and admission is competitive. UIS only accepts online students who live outside a 50-mile radius of the school, with the exception those with documented disabilities.

4 Liberty University 96.88 18:1 95%

At Liberty University, students have the option to earn an online Bachelor of Science in History degree. The program covers 120 credit hours, with courses taught from a biblical worldview. Upon graduation, students are prepared for careers as historians, history instructors, library assistants or museum directors. Areas of study include the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Reconstruction, American economic trends and World Wars I and II. Students have the opportunity to earn additional credit toward their degree through various options, such as through personal portfolio, professional training and life experience, self-paced course study or military training and examination.

5 University of Missouri-St Louis 96.79 16:1 95%

University of Missouri at St. Louis offers an online bachelor of liberal studies with a concentration in history that allows students to take interactive online courses with minimal mandatory class attendance. Students can earn their degree on a flexible schedule, allowing them to balance coursework with personal and professional responsibilities. Award-winning instructors teach the classes in this degree completion program and students can tailor their degree to meet their needs. Students access their coursework online and communicate with instructors and peers through email and discussion boards.

6 University of Louisiana at Monroe 96.64 23:1 96%

The University of Louisiana at Monroe's online bachelor of arts in history includes a background in both U.S. history and history across the globe. Students learn how to be historical researchers and analysts and they learn more about factual information in the past so they can improve upon the future. Students study regional geography, world civilization and government. A university seminar course helps to ensure students are successful by discussing the challenges students face in college life. Large international banks and U.S. corporations seek out graduates of ULM's program and 90 percent of graduates are employed within 60 days of graduation.

7 King University 96.13 12:1 92%

Offering a fully online accredited Bachelor of Science in History, King University aims to prepare students for exciting careers while also offering flexibility in learning. Graduates move into careers in a variety of fields, including education, historic preservation, church ministry, and museum curation. Topics covered include the Holocaust, the Reformation, and colonialism in Africa. Students also have access to numerous electives to focus their studies. Once completing degree requirements, students are eligible to seek secondary education licensure within the state of Tennessee. All students are required to pass a general education exam prior to graduation.

8 University of Central Florida 96.12 31:1 96%

History buffs can earn a bachelor of arts in history completely online at the University of Central Florida, which will give them the skills and background needed to work in law, education, international affairs or a similar career. The online degree is designed for students who do not live near campus. It's a flexible program, with students designing their own program based on their individual interests. Coursework includes classes like western civilization, world civilization and history classes in a number of geographic regions. Students submit a portfolio of graded, written work during their last semester to demonstrate their scope of work throughout the program.

9 Westfield State University 96.05 17:1 88%

Graduates of Massachusetts Community Colleges can complete an online degree in history from Westfield State University in as little as two years. Classes follow the traditional school calendar, however students may also take classes during the two summer sessions and an accelerated two-week winter session. WSU uses Plato as its online course management system and instructors have specialized training in how to teach online classes. Students who are not graduates of an MCC may also apply for the program provided they have sufficient transfer hours from an accredited institution.

10 Valley City State University 95.78 11:1 99%

Future history education teachers can earn an online bachelor of science in the field. This degree, which helps to fulfill the requirements for public school teaching, covers European, American, world and non-western history. Students are required to participate in student teaching, which includes 40 hours of introductory work, an 80-hour practicum, a cultural diversity practicum and a 12-week student teaching experience. Students should check with their own state department of education for teacher licensure information. Coursework is accessed via the Internet and on an interactive video network at locations across the state.

11 Granite State College 95.75 11:1 70%

With a focus on providing flexible learning environments for busy students, this Bachelor of Arts in History offers evening, online, hybrid, and weekend-intensives methods of study. Students explore and discover trends, patterns and differences across cultures, through time periods and within nations. Survey courses focus on specific periods of historical development, ranging from pre-history to present. Both American and world history topics are available as core coursework and electives, with emphasis placed on examining major trends that influenced multiple nations and regions. The program also aims to provide a seamless transition for students who already hold an associate level degree and aspire to complete a bachelor's program.

12 Mercy College 95.49 18:1 95%

The 120-credit online Bachelor of Arts in History offered by Mercy College offers coursework in American history, European history and African, Asian and Latin-American history. Electives include topics in history including the history of the Jewish people, woman radicals and reformers and woman rulers. History majors pursuing careers in teaching social studies at the secondary or high school level may apply to the Four-Plus-One Program, designed to allow majors to begin their graduate-level coursework during their junior year. Courses are counted jointly toward students' undergraduate and graduate degree and full-time students can complete the program in as little as four years.

13 Arizona State University-Tempe 95.40 23:1 91%

This online Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History aims to provide a high-quality art history education and prepare students for life-long careers in art galleries, museums, and art publication firms. Alumni have gone on to positions as art managers, archivists, curators, fine artists, museum technicians, conservators, and teachers of art-related disciplines. The curriculum offers a diverse range of courses designed to develop an understanding of the production, patronage, aesthetics, and consumption of art. Classes offered cover a wide variety of time periods, cultures and geographical regions through multiple methodologies.

14 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus 94.98 18:1 74%

An online bachelor's in world cultural studies from the University of Oklahoma gives students a leg up in the global business community. Students study foundation of ethics, conversational Chinese, Chinese culture and civilization and contemporary political thought. The accelerated course structure allows students to finish courses in eight weeks and take up to four courses each semester. Housed in the College of Liberal Studies, this program is designed for working adults who want to further their career with an in-demand degree. A variety of military student resources and general student support is available.

15 Drury University 94.66 19:1 84%

Students seeking a diverse spectrum of coursework are often drawn to Drury University's online Bachelor of Science in History. Students undertake numerous introductory survey courses paired with historiographical and research method seminars. As students move through the degree, they are allowed to take upper-level subject studies in American, African, Asian, European, and Middle Eastern history. Numerous courses include intensive writing components and aim to prepare graduates for professional careers in the field. The history major requires 36 hours of coursework, including classes in United States history to 1865; Medieval Europe; Hitler and Stalin; women in American history; the Lewis and Clark expedition; history of slavery; Arab-Israeli conflict; and the Cold War.

16 Columbia College 93.52 35:1 84%

Graduates of Columbia's Bachelor of Arts in History program go on to a variety of professional and educational opportunities. While some may opt for graduate or law school, others go on to work in teacher education, public service, and private sector careers that promote citizenship and personal enrichment. Core classes include topics related to Western civilization, world and American history, the historian's craft, and historical research and methods. Electives are vast and varied, including U.S. and the Vietnam war; American environmental history; history of the American West; American Indian history; African American history; modern Britain; the rise and fall of the British Empire; Christianity and the modern world; women and gender; and modern historiography.

17 Regent University 92.98 37:1 100%

The online, 120-credit-hour Bachelor of Arts in history program offered by Regent University teaches from a Christian perspective and prepares students for leadership in a global environment. Students are expected to develop essential skills in critical thinking, research, problem solving and communication skills. After graduation, students are prepared to enter careers in industries such as museums and historical organizations, information management or historic preservation. In addition to the core curriculum, students will study courses in American history, ancient, medieval and European history and non-Western history, with class topics focusing on historical events such as America in Depression, historical wars and civilization recovery.

18 Southern New Hampshire University 92.69 26:1 94%

Through the Southern New Hampshire University online program, Bachelor of Art degrees are available in American history, European history, Middle Eastern history or military history. Online classes provide students the flexibility to complete their degree at their own pace over six, nine-week terms per year. The American history major includes courses in African-American history since the Civil War and young America. The European history major follows ancient Greece and Rome and Europe's involvement in World War I and World War II. The Middle Eastern history degree studies Middle Eastern culture and conflicts, while the military history major explores the evolution of warfare beginning with the Civil War.

19 University of Maryland-University College 91.81 17:1 77%

Study history and geography while preparing for a career in law, politics, journalism or education with an online bachelor's degree in history from the University of Maryland – University College. Students learn the intricacies of interpreting and presenting historical knowledge while using writing and speaking skills to work with diverse populations. The program is available entirely online and students based in the Washington, D.C. area have an added benefit of various government-level internship opportunities. Students have access to technical support 24 hours a day and can also access student services such as the online library, tutoring services, career advisement and more.

20 National University 91.78 22:1 41%

The Bachelor of Arts in History and Master of Arts in History from National University are both offered completely online. Students currently registered in the bachelor's program with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and near program completion may apply to the bachelor's to master's transition program. For transition program students, the NU will waive up to two master's-level courses. The undergraduate program aims to engage students in the study of history, introduce students to cultures and promote the acquisition of historical knowledge Critical thinking, reading, writing and research skills are essential for students to succeed in this online program.

21 University of Houston-Victoria 91.59 17:1 96%

An online degree in history from University of Houston-Victoria prepares graduates for careers as writers, policy analysts, research historians, tour guides, or secondary teachers. Graduates of the bachelor's program are also equipped to go on to graduate work for careers in business, law and library science. An orientation to online courses is available to help students transition into online learning. A student success center helps to support students with a peer education program, testing services, writing assistance and subject-area tutoring. Students access class materials through Blackboard, the university's online course management system, and should log in several times a week to actively participate in discussion threads.

22 Ottawa University-Online 90.33 2:1 N/A

At Ottawa University Online, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in History completely online with no outside study or group work. Instructor-to-student ratio is 4:1 and transfer students may receive credit for up to 80 credit hours received from another institution. The history program prepares students with critical-thinking and problem-solving skills for careers in industries such as education, research, law, museums or archival positions. Coursework explores the relationships between society and environment, issues of war and peace and movements for social and political change. Classes include American Women's history, religion in American culture, the United States Constitution, regional geography and global issues in historical perspective.