History is the study of past events, peoples, and cultures. Historians collect, investigate, analyze, organize, and present information about the past for the purpose of gaining knowledge and perspective. The work of historians depends on their particular field of history, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
Social history is the study of regular people, their lifestyles, and the ways they coped with life. It includes the history of demographics, labor, gender, family, education, and urban and rural areas.
Intellectual history is the study of human thoughts, writings, and ideas over time. Intellectual historians try to understand past ideas within the context of which they were created, including culture, politics, and social norms.
Cultural history examines groups of people and human societies. Historians within this field study the customs, art, traditions, and events pertaining to a particular group throughout time.
Political history is the study of politics throughout a period of time. Political historians analyze leaders, events, movements, and ideas within politics to understand the development of political entities and thoughts.
Diplomatic history is the study of diplomacy and international relations between states over time. Diplomatic historians examine foreign policy, domestic and international forces, national identity, and political ideologies.
What Can I Do With an Online Degree in History?
Distance learning degrees in history can provide an educational background that is valuable in a variety of fields. An undergraduate degree in history can qualify students for field-specific positions as teachers, research assistants, museum technicians, or archivist technicians. An advanced degree, such as a master’s in history, is required for most positions as historians, curators, archivists, or conservators.
The BLS reports that kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers, such as history teachers, had a median annual salary that ranged from $47,100 to $51,180 in May 2008. In May 2010, the average annual wage for middle school teachers was $54,880 and $55,990 for secondary school teachers. In May 2008, historians’ median annual wages were $54,530, the BLS notes. During that same month, the median annual salary for curators was $47,220, archivists earned $45,020 annually, and museum technicians and conservators earned $36,660 each year, according to the BLS.
Those interested in teaching history to high school students may consider looking for a job in New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago, which tend to have higher salaries. Salaries in New York City average $58,036; salaries in Los Angeles average $53,119; and salaries in Chicago average $51,177, according to the online compensation site PayScale.com. Among the states with the highest employment of museum technicians and conservators, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and California had the highest average salaries, $55,800, $53,420, and $44,970, according to the BLS. The BLS also reports that among the states with the highest employment level of historians, Virginia, California, and Texas had the highest average pay. California, New York, and Massachusetts are among the states with the highest employment level and average pay for curators, as asserted by the BLS.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that obtaining an undergraduate or graduate degree in history still won’t guarantee a career within the field. Often job availability is dependent on factors like current job climate, location, and economy. As this is such a broad area of study, salaries vary greatly too, depending on employer, region, education level, and experience.
What Is It Like To Get An Online Degree in History?
There are various history degree programs that can usually be completed 100% online. For example, an online history course will likely be delivered through an online portal that a student can log into with a username and password. Acting as a virtual classroom, the portal allows the student to access the course syllabus, readings, tutorials, lecture notes, videos, slides, assignments, and discussions.
History courses at the undergraduate level may include historical studies, history and theory, U.S. constitutional history, European history, ancient Greek history, and readings on the American Revolution, the Renaissance and the Reformation, and the Civil War and Reconstruction. To give students a strong liberal arts foundation, these courses are usually accompanied by general education courses in English, humanities, mathematics, and sciences. A bachelor’s degree is required to be admitted into online master’s programs in history.
In graduate programs, online history classes can include American colonial history, nineteenth-century Europe, topics in Latin American History, historical methods, readings in history, or the emergence of modern America. Graduate programs may also give students the option to specialize in a particular area of history, such as art history or public history. To graduate, master’s candidates are usually required to complete a thesis, and those pursuing doctoral degrees may have to complete a dissertation.