The historian is more similar to a logical detective like Hercule Poirot than to the adventurous archaeologist stereotype of Indiana Jones. The most successful historians often create important works in their specific areas of expertise, such as popular culture or gender history. These unique individuals who are passionate about researching dates, databases, and trends, and are dedicated to their work, may seek out a top online master’s degree in history to advance their careers.
The paths of a historian and an archaeologist often intersect because the findings of each field contribute to a complete understanding of history. Historians often work at historical or archaeological sites, in museums, at historical parks, managing archives, or teaching future historians.
However, positions with higher levels of responsibility, such as a museum curator, archivist, or conservator, typically require a Master’s degree in History. While it may be challenging to find a fully online Master’s degree program in Archaeology, there are numerous options available for a fully online Master’s degree in History. In today’s world, marked by widespread lockdowns and closures of economies and educational systems, online learning has become the primary path for education, as trends indicate.
This article provides information on the advanced skills that online Master’s in History programs aim to develop in students, the costs of these programs, how they differ from on-campus programs, and their value for both the student and potential employers.
The modern historian will be as much at home in a museum or library as on his laptop. And unlike the archaeologist who has to dig up the earth to find what he’s looking for, the astute historian will know where to dig online, at libraries of antiquity or even at secondary source libraries. He would also be very comfortable and skilled in managing databases—using many complex, modern technologies available today.
One can take an online Master’s Degree in History from the best schools, including Johns Hopkins University, among other excellent options.
“The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE)” report of 2020 showed a stable but no dramatic increase in the number of fully online programs in 2019. “At community colleges, about 42 percent of online and blended associate programs were designated as fully online. For four-year schools, that count was 57 percent for bachelor’s programs, 73 percent for master’s degree programs, and 80 percent for non-degree graduate programs.”
Just a year late, when COVID-19 started changing the world—stopping economies dead in their tracks and throwing the global educational system into confusion, CHLOE reported a drastic increase in the number of institutions that offer fully online programs. “More than 80% of institutions relied primarily on either fully online (31%) or emergency remote learning (ERL) (50%) courses in Fall 2020.” (CHLOE 6: Online Learning Leaders Adapt for a Post-Pandemic World, 2021).
Online education is no longer just an add-on to traditional learning systems. It is the new normal. Old learning institutions—no matter how revered—but which refuse to evolve their learning platforms, are in danger of extinction, says The Smithsonian magazine, the official journal of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. It noted the recent closure of 800 engineering schools in India due to low enrolment.
But in the U.S., there is a steady adoption of online learning by schools. Over 37,063 unique programs in 137 different fields are now offered in online schools all over the country. In History, one can choose from over a hundred institutions offering 269 different online programs.
According to the CHLOE Report, there are even more Online Master’s Degree programs than Online Undergraduate Degree programs. And 75% of Online Master’s Degree Programs are fully online, rather than hybrid—or comprised of online as well as offline classes conducted in physical facilities. The same report notes that a significant number—40%—of students taking a master’s degree program, are completing it purely online.
Even Ivy League universities now offer online degrees at a fraction of their regular tuition rates. Harvard Extension School, which offers these online courses, accepts some 2,000 degree program students every year, as well as 13,000 non-degree students.
The popularity of online degree programs in History can be mainly attributed to its accessibility even to working students, allowing them to invest available time on expanding and upgrading their knowledge while attending to their current work roles.
Incoming college students will have to inquire with universities and colleges if the online Masters in History program they are offering is indeed fully online or is, in fact, a hybrid program.
Source: The Changing Landscape of Online Education, 2021
A study on ‘microcredentials’ shows the growing acceptance of these digital “diplomas” or “certificates.”
A college diploma printed on parchment paper is still a valuable document to bring to a job interview. Hiring managers see a bachelor’s degree as proof that one had the discipline and the commitment to complete a four-year program.
In “Educational Credentials Come of Age: A Survey on the Use and Value of Educational Credentials in Hiring” (2018), Gallagher came up with the following findings:
At the time of the survey (2018), the acceptability of microcredentials was reported to be increasing at a very slow, evolutionary pace. Then the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional, on-campus education and totally changed the educational landscape. The Director of AI English in Australia, Li Kang, observes, “Online learning is the future. And if there were no virus, that realization would have taken another few years but this has accelerated the process.”
“Digital badges, which are awarded by numerous entities (including as part of degree programs) follow as the most popular microcredential and the second-most commonly encountered in hiring.” (Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy, 2019). These digital credentials can more easily be shared between learning institutions and with prospective employers. The increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and paperless processes in recruitment is also a driving force behind this development.
It also goes without saying that when reputable schools like Johns Hopkins University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology get on the online degree bandwagon, the perception of and respect for online diplomas, in general, takes a drastic shift upwards.
These findings of the Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy survey is conclusive. “Online credentials are now mainstream.”
Universities all over the world now have online equivalents of their traditional degree programs. Among these:
|Traditional Grading||Standards-Based Grading|
|Grades are based on assessments, such as quizzes and projects.||Grades are based on learning targets and standards.|
|Assessments are converted to a percentage system.||Assessments are measured through criteria and proficiency levels.|
|Academic grades are mixed with points for attitude, effort, and attendance.||Academic grades are based on academic performance only. Credits for attendance and effort are not part of the grades.|
|All assessments are graded and recorded.||Only selected assessments are graded and recorded. Practice assignments are not recorded.|
|All assessments scores are averaged to come up with a final grade.||Only the most recent works of the students are graded and assessed based on how these meet learning standards.|
This being so, it should be clarified that recruiters will look at online credentials from various universities or institutions differently. The name and reputation of some institutions will invariably carry more weight than others.
So it’s important for incoming college students to do research and find out which institutions that offer online Master’s in History programs are more highly respected by hiring managers in different industries and sectors.
There are different types of history degrees that students can take either in the traditional brick-and-mortar school or online. There are excellent reasons why people take traditional degrees and even better reasons why people are now taking online Masters in History programs.
History would show that one reason why people do things the traditional way is that they don’t see any compelling reason to change. But today, there are technological innovations as well as compelling health reasons that push us to take a different route towards learning.
According to last year’s World Health Organization report on “Pandemic fatigue: Reinvigorating the public to prevent COVID-19, Policy Framework for Supporting Pandemic Prevention and Management,” four of these need urgent attention: the ever-rising trend of college education, the dropping costs of online education due to unprecedented growth of the EdTech industry, the prevalent unpredictability of the fate of on-campus education due to inconsistent government guidelines, and the increasing threat of new COVID-19 strains.
Online Master’s in History programs typically require 30 credit hours of academic work. Some institutions require between 32 and 36 credit hours. This can be completed between 1.5 years for some programs and up to three years in other online degree programs in History. Although some online Master’s in History programs are fully online, some might require a short period of residency (i.e. one week).
Source: HolonIQ (2021)
Different institutions would have different ways of structuring the learning programs. Some schools give students the option to enroll in a thesis-based program, a non-thesis program, or in an area of concentration, such as public policy.
Learners are allowed to delve into topics that are of special interest to them, such as Hispanic American history, history of medicine, political violence in Latin America, and U.S. foreign policy.
At the end of their program, students will complete either a thesis, a presentation paper, a capstone project, or a public history portfolio.
Beyond expertise in different knowledge areas, an online Master’s in History student will be equipped with analytical and critical thinking—indispensable investigative tools for the modern historian.
Graduates of online Master’s in History programs will be highly qualified to become museum administrators, head librarians, archivists, and educators. Some go on to become writers of landmark studies in their field of specialization.
It comes as a surprise to many, but according to the Law Schools Admissions Council, degree holders in History comprise 85% of law applicants who made it and were accepted into law schools. The history of jurisprudence is another field of History that a Master’s in History degree holder can possibly excel in.
Those who desire to become historical consultants for institutions or companies, or to qualify for scholarships and funding in their field of expertise should consider pursuing a doctoral degree.
Whether on-campus or online, a Master’s Degree in History will have the same curriculum and will develop the same set of analytical, advanced research, scholarship, and leadership skills among its graduates.
There will, however, be a marked difference in approaches, materials, and overall learning experience between a traditional/on-campus Master’s in History program and an online Master’s in History program, particularly in the following areas:
Traditional Master’s in History Programs have fixed, regular, weekly meetings at designated classrooms. This creates a certain rhythm that some students like.
Online Master’s in History programs are flexible. The student will be given a deadline by which time he would need to complete the required modules. He creates his own schedule and can take his classes five days in a row, then not take classes the following week. Students can take their online degree courses in History when home conditions are best for studying, when they have free time, or during days off at work. They don’t have to make the rest of their life fit their academic schedule. Instead, they can adjust their study time so that it dovetails with their other life goals and priorities.
There might be synchronous online class meetings that online Master’s in History program students need to take with the rest of the class every now and then. This could be meetings where collaboration is required among the members of a group working on a research assignment for an online Master’s degree course in History.
Most of the time, however, classes are conducted asynchronously.
For traditional schools offering Master’s in History Programs, a classroom can only fit so many students and enrollment to a course will be limited. Everything takes place in the classroom or at different school facilities. A class is held in an assigned classroom. This common venue can be a place for students to make friends.
For online Master’s in History program students, their ‘classroom’ is where they choose to be. It could be in a café, in a garden setting, or on a train. But they of course will be alone as they take the course. Some students actually prefer this.
But there are many ways for online students to connect. Some teachers allow the use of social media for students to communicate there. Depending on the school and the preference of the teacher, the class might use social media, a chat room, a messaging application, or a learning management system’s built-in chat application—the options are endless. These tools are also direct lines of communication between the instructor and the students. Students can freely ask questions at any time. The teacher is also free to respond right away, or later, depending on his or her teaching style.
In a traditional Master’s in History programs classroom, the pace would be totally controlled by the teacher. The syllabus and the length of the academic term move it forward. The class will advance at a specified time, regardless of the learning pace of the students.
Since class hours are fixed, minimal time management is required of students who only need to come to class as scheduled.
The opposite is true for an online Master’s in History program where the student sets the pace. He/she has total time-management responsibilities: budgeting time for one’s day-to-day responsibilities, for one’s profession (if he’s a working student), studies, health, personal relationships, etc. Most online students can complete their 30 credit units and earn their online Master’s in History Degrees in two years. Many finish it in less.
In the traditional Master’s in History program, the primary mode of instruction is the professor’s classroom lecture and demonstration. This is supplemented by readings and assignments. The teacher controls the interaction between the student and the teacher, and among students.
There are also group assignments. Some students find these group activities very stimulating and as an opportunity to show their best. The instructor uses oral recitation and examinations, conducted inside the classroom to gauge Masters in History students’ comprehension.
The primary learning material in on-campus classes would be textbooks and assigned readings (printed and e-books), as well as other teaching aids that the teacher may bring to class. When called for, the Masters in History class might go on field trips to historical places.
For Online Master’s in History programs, lectures can be live (synchronous) or recorded (asynchronous). Online whiteboards replace classroom whiteboards. Demonstrations and presentations are done online.
Learning materials are online (on Learning Management Systems/LMS, e-books, or on other educational technology systems). The boom in the EdTech industry provides the teacher with a wide array of teaching tools. For instance, he/she can use gamified learning content in the first session, show a teacher-created video in the next, and take students on a virtual tour of a historical site after that, and so on. PowerPoint presentations and pre-recorded videos would be the old-school way.
Resources are shared by the class on the cloud (i.e. Google Docs, Drive, etc.). Real-time collaboration tools allow multiple online Master’s in History program students to collectively write/edit a document.
An online platform is dynamic and so would be the content, compared to the traditional teacher’s lesson plan, which may have changed little over the last five years.
As with traditional Master’s in History programs, assignments and projects are assigned individually or to groups. Online group meetings are far easier to set up than face-to-face group meetings. The professor evaluates student comprehension through virtual recitation. Exams are conducted online, i.e. through an LMS or an examination software.
Source: Statista, 2021
In on-campus classes, teacher-student and student-student interactions are face-to-face. Interaction is live and discussions are spontaneous. Outgoing students find these classroom dynamics mentally and emotionally stimulating. But this can inhibit shy students, the physically challenged, members of minority groups, or the indigent who may feel embarrassed, discriminated against, or even bullied inside the classroom.
It’s also challenging for Master’s in History students to set time with their teachers for consultation. They may wait for the professor after classes or get in long queues outside the faculty room just to talk to him.
The online Master’s in History program student will become very familiar with having productive discussions virtually—via video calls, web conferences, chat, instant messaging, e-mail, discussion boards, and different cloud applications.
Since online methods allow for asynchronous interaction/discussion, students have more time to prepare their responses to teacher queries. Online, one’s disability, inhibitions, social status, or other reasons to not participate and be one’s best, become moot. Students can use avatars and project their hidden persona or be who they would like to be. In fact, in some online classes, students are encouraged to use different avatars to represent different roles.
Elearning executive Kenneth Chapman agrees that many students feel more comfortable participating in online discussions than in a physical classroom. This is because “Not all students have the confidence (or language skills) to freely express themselves in a traditional course setting,” he explains.
But an online college environment levels the field.
Since online and asynchronous modes of communication are available, consulting with teachers and collaborating with classmates is easy. Many LMSs schedule teacher-student consultations and even provide reminders.
Some of these advantages will have dollar values attached to them. Others, while having no monetary significance, are of much importance to students in certain walks of life, such as those who are working, single parents, or who reside in locations that are far from the learning institutions where they want to enroll. In the end, the prospective student should decide what is most important to him as he pursues his online Master’s in History program.
Over and above the tuition expenses, going to a physical campus often involves considerable additional expenses, including room and board, transportation, clothes for school, etc. Yale’s School of Management estimates this to be around 30% of tuition fees.
Because of lower costs associated with the operation of an online program vis-à-vis that of a campus-based program, an online Master’s in History program is able to challenge the prices of traditional college degrees.
A year’s tuition fee at Harvard costs $47,730. If one adds all the additional expenses (travel, room and board, textbooks, etc.) the cost goes up to $78,200. Compare this to the cost of getting an entire four-year online degree from Harvard Extension School at $49,500. With the minimal additional expenses typical of online education, an online degree would only be 15%-25% of the cost of Harvard’s traditional degree.
But each traditional institution will have its own price structure for its on-campus programs and its online programs.
The cost of traditional education varies widely, from college to college. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2021), the average tuition cost for four-year institutions is $28,123. But this can vary widely between public and private colleges ($10,000 to $37,000 up).
Historically, the cost of traditional education has consistently risen in the last 10 years. Online learning, however, is disrupting this trend. According to The Changing Landscape of Online Education report for 2021, close to 40% of four-year colleges generally have lower tuition fee rates for online programs.
COVID-19 has further decelerated this rising trend of tuition fees in traditional colleges. The College Board announced that this year’s tuition fee increases are among the lowest since 1990-91.
Meanwhile, this year’s spring enrollment statistics show the biggest drop in college enrollment in a decade, reports the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC).
But the price structures of a college education are evolving in the COVID era. And as demand for online education increases, while the demand for traditional college degrees drops, it is possible that further changes in price structures will be seen in next year’s survey. If Chris Christensen’s prophecy holds true, as online education becomes more available to all, traditional learning institutions will be forced to fall in line with the online education revolution, or die.
Online Master’s in History programs are not watered-down versions of traditional, in-classroom programs. Both follow the same curriculum and develop the same skills that a historian would need in actual practice. No foundational knowledge or hands-on training is skipped. Both need to complete 30 to 36 academic credits.
In fact, a study by the U.S. Department of Education reports: “The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed modestly better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” (Center for Technology and Learning, 2010)
Source: BestColleges 2021 Online Education Trends Report
As with all degree programs, the actual cost of an online Master’s in History program will vary from institution to institution—whether public, private non-profit, or private for-profit. Factors like the number of academic units required, in-state or out-of-state residency, scholarships, and additional fees and expenses will affect the total cost of an online Master’s in History Education.
In a public institution, an online Master’s in History program can be as low as $259 per credit for in-state students and as high as $937 for out-of-state enrollees. The total cost of an online Master’s in History degree can range anywhere from $7,000 to $28,000.
According to the CHLOE Report survey (2021), taken after the onset of COVID-19 disruptions, different schools have different reasons for their tuition fee structures. But the majority of respondents from all categories of institutions, say they have “standard tuition rates for programs—regardless of delivery mode (on-campus or online).” Other institutions, meanwhile, report that they “have generally higher tuition rates for online programs.” But the highest number of respondents, mainly, from private four-year college institutions, say they “have generally lower tuition rates for online programs.” (CHLOE 6, 2021)
Ed Vosganian, sought-after financial analyst and Amazon bestselling author of “The College Funding Dilemma,” says an undergraduate online degree could cost up to 50% less than an undergraduate on-campus degree. As an education funding specialist, he has been featured on the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CBS News, and other networks. The picture for Master’s degree programs isn’t much different. Georgia Institute of Technology is offering its online master’s degree in computer science for $6,600—about $35,000 less than its regular, in-class program
The prospective college student should call up schools to inquire about online Master’s in History programs details that may not be posted on their websites.
At a time when parents and students are apprehensive to enroll in colleges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the dire economic situation, and the rising costs of traditional education, an online Master’s in History program gives you access to learning, right from the safety of your home.
It will provide one with the same knowledge and skills as an on-campus Master’s in History program. One can have full control over one’s learning pace, schedule, and college budget. This allows learners to balance their work, study, and personal lives. More importantly, it provides a vehicle to reach one’s goal of acquiring the best online Master’s in History program.
Applicants to an online Master’s in History program will need to comply with the requirements of the specific institution they want to apply to, which is similar to dealing with varying theology degree requirements. Different schools will have varied requirements. But typically, these would be any or all of the following:
For online Master’s in History programs, there are additional computer knowledge requirements to ensure that students can make the most of their online courses.
The minimum technological requirements for computer and network specifications at different institutions will vary. Some areas of study (i.e. graphics design, computer programming, etc.) would require more powerful hardware.
The general minimum technological requirements would generally be along these lines:
An online Master’s in History program student will be required to take advanced History subjects. Coursework will vary depending on the student’s special interest area. A student can expect any of the following courses:
There are a number of things that one must consider when choosing an Online Master’s in History program. Among these are:
Some schools have different policies with regard to the acceptance of students from out-of-state or overseas. One should inquire with an institution before applying.
Ask for a copy of the coursework in advance. Some subjects might require visiting historical locations located in another state or require travel to access certain facilities, for instance. Being located near those places and facilities would be ideal so as to save on travel expenses.
One should check if an online Master’s in History program is fully online or hybrid; synchronous or asynchronous; whether published textbooks or just free and online e-books will be used.
An inquiring online Master’s in History program should check the reputation of an online college on the internet and with alumni if possible. Hiring managers are very discriminating of credentials from different schools and prefer online graduates from institutions with good standing and reputation in the educational community. One can also inquire about the members of a school’s Board of Trustees and the reputation of those. Schools may or may not post their graduation rates. One can inquire about this. Inquirers can also check the Better Business Bureau [https://www.bbb.org/] website or call directly for complaints and issues against the school, talk to local residents, inquire with the Department of Education, or the Council for Higher Education.
Accreditation from a respected accreditation body is a sound assurance of a school’s academic standards. One should ask if a university or college has one.
Take note, however, that there are counterfeit accreditation bodies that give their approval to diploma mills for a fee. The Council for Higher Education has a Database [https://www.chea.org/directories] of Institutions and Programs recognized by U.S. accrediting organizations. Accreditation may be Regional (i.e. from the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education) or National (i.e. Distance Education Accrediting Commission). Educational experts place a higher value on regional accreditation, which imposes more stringent requirements. More reputable schools have regional accreditation.
There are fewer associated costs for online Master’s in History programs than on-campus degrees. Online degrees usually do not involve travel expenses, room and board, and other personal expenses. But different institutions might have other charges not explicitly stated in their brochures or websites, i.e. technology or online access fees (i.e., per credit). Many schools charge higher tuition fees for those accessing the school’s online learning facilities from out-of-state, although a number have uniform rates. Many institutions automatically charge students for use of campus facilities and services and make this a part of tuition fees. If one won’t be using these, a student should inquire with the Admissions Office or the Registrar’s Office to ask if that particular fee could be deducted from his/her total tuition cost.
A school’s online course and associated elearning functionalities are delivered by its content delivery system and are dependent on its network. Students should check just how reliable a school’s network and systems are. Some institutions are proud to inform website visitors that they have 24/7 tech support. One can ask about downtimes and how frequent these are. Are there data backup and recovery systems in place? Other colleges aren’t that upfront. Ask the school about these critical components of an online Master’s in History student’s learning journey.
Some programs may be totally online, but even some fully online programs might still require students to report to the campus for orientation, during certain school events, for exams, etc. An inquiring student should know exactly what is required of him or her and what to expect. This could mean additional expenses for a student.
Another very important point of clarification would be how transferable are the credits earned in a Master’s in History program to other colleges or programs, should a student decide to switch programs, or transfer to another school for that matter.
A passion for history might seem odd to most who find dates and other details ‘superfluous.’ But a historian best describes for the rest of us why one would even aspire for higher ground in history—”There is another reason for becoming a historian: it’s fun. The mystery in history brings out the detective in us; there are countless unsolved crimes and riddles and unresolved debates. I’m nosy enough to want to put my two cents in, and I’m concerned enough to care.”
History is the study of change over time. Although much of the Master’s in History program will deal with changes, developments, and movements in the past, our times are ripe with revolutionary changes, innovations, or ‘disruptions,’ as we now like to call them. And many historians are now taking the view that history is, in fact, the study of the present.
Whatever one’s perspective, a student of history who aspires for more mastery of the field will find that taking an online Master’s in History program is an effective way to shape their present and plot their future. Whether they are pursuing political history careers or art history careers, an online master’s degree will let them continue their love for the discipline. Such a program will give the ardent student of history time to reshape his or her story.