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Online Colleges for History

History, like many liberal arts disciplines, is often mistaken for a too-specialized, low-potential field. But a 2015 report from Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce found that by mid-career, history graduates with bachelor's degrees earn more on average and have a higher earning potential than any other social sciences major. Those who go on to earn master's degrees see a nearly 48 percent earnings increase. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that the same report ranks History among the 20 most popular majors in the country. The skills history majors develop frequently qualify them for careers in fields such as teaching, politics, government, research, library and archival science, and communication. According to the American Historical Association, history degrees can be particularly useful in the business world, as graduates are usually well-equipped to predict how societal events will impact financial events.

Online colleges make history degrees more accessible and convenient than ever before. Online programs can be just as rigorous and demanding as campus-based degrees, but often give students more control over how and when they study.

We evaluated dozens of online colleges for history using criteria such as cost, admissions rates, graduation rates and more. You can learn more about our methodology at the bottom of this page.

Best Online Colleges for History

We evaluated dozens of online colleges for history using criteria such as cost, admissions rates, graduation rates and more. You can learn more about our methodology at the bottom of this page.

Please note that unless otherwise specified, all data featured and evaluated is from the National Center for Education Statistics' Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System (IPEDS), 2015.

1

American Public University System

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$6,480
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
140
Accredited
School Type
4-year
American Public University System is composed of two colleges — American Public University and American Military University — both of which specialize in online education. It also offers at least three times more online history degree programs than any other school featured here. Options:
  • A.A., B.A. and M.A. in History
  • A.A., B.A. and M.A. in Military History
  • Graduate Certificates in American History; The American Revolution; Ancient and Classical History; Civil War Studies; European History; World War II

American Public University System boasts monthly start dates for online students and an open admissions policy, which means all applicants who meet the university's basic admissions requirements are accepted.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission

Location:

111 W Congress St
Charles Town, WV 25414
Go to School Website 
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2

Nicholls State University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$4,922
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
10
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Nicholls State University's online B.A. in History is ideal for students interested in modern America, Europe and Asia. It features 8-week accelerated courses, which students can attend any time, night or day. According to NSU's official website, its online history graduates have gone on to successful careers as teachers, analysts, archivists, campaign workers, researchers, intelligence agents and more.

As a public school, NSU is the most affordable school featured on this list. Its 90-plus-percent admissions rate also makes it one of the most accessible. Admitted students can take heart in knowing the institution — and its online bachelor's degree in history — are held in high regard: U.S. News & World Report also ranked it among the top 50 public schools in the country in 2017.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Location:

906 East 1st St
Thibodaux, LA 70301
Go to School Website 
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3

Harvard University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$41,632
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
49
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Harvard University — one of the oldest and best-known colleges in the United States — likely needs no introduction, but the private Ivy League's online degree programs are relatively new. Note, however, that online history students must attend a 3-week, on-campus intensive once each summer. It offers two online programs:

  • Bachelor of Liberal Arts (BLA) in extension studies: History
  • Master of Liberal Arts (MLA) in extension studies: History

Harvard is the most selective school featured here, but its graduation rate of nearly 98 percent is the highest of all 50 colleges evaluated. Likewise, its relatively high cost is offset by graduates' stellar employment and earnings rates.

Accreditation:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges' (NEASC) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE)

Location:

Massachusetts Hall
Cambridge, MA 02138
Go to School Website 
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4

University of Illinois at Springfield

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$9,405
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
27
Accredited
School Type
4-year

The University of Illinois at Springfield offers a 100 percent online degree program that culminates in a B.A. in History. Students enrolled in the program are by no means isolated, however: small class sizes help to foster solid peer communication and personalized faculty instruction. Honors programs, internships, and study abroad opportunities allow for independent research and face-to-face interaction, often within one's home community. According to UIS, all its online faculty hold Ph.Ds.

The University of Illinois at Springfield claimed the third-highest graduation rate among our Top 10, while the fact that 2.7 percent of all its 2015 graduates studied history translates to a no. 5 history-prominence ranking among all 50 colleges evaluated.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)

Location:

One University Plaza
Springfield, IL 62703-5407
Go to School Website 
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5

University of North Alabama

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$6,096
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
15
Accredited
School Type
4-year

There are many reasons the University of North Alabama is one of our top online history schools, but its affordability is perhaps one of the most significant: the university offers the second-lowest tuition among all schools featured here. Its history programs are ideal for students interested in both ancient and modern history. The institution offers a number of degree options, three of which are available online:

  • B.A. in History
  • B.S. in History
  • M.A. in History

The University of North Alabama aims to make its online history programs as convenient as possible. Courses are small, flexible and available 100 percent online. According to the University's official website, students pursuing its M.A. in History can even defend their theses online. Graduate students are also encouraged to attend and contribute research papers to the History Graduate Student Association's annual colloquium, where they have a chance to network and interact face-to-face with online classmates.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Location:

One University Plaza
Florence, AL 35632-0001
Go to School Website 
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6

Sam Houston State University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$5,172
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
19
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Sam Houston State University is a public school with a broad reach regarding overall accessibility: the university is the second-most-affordable school featured on our list. That it also has the second-highest graduation rate only underscores its value. According to its website, SHSU's History Department is one of its largest and fastest-growing, owing to its award-winning faculty and the wide variety of opportunities offered. The university offers two fully online history degree programs: one bachelor's and one master's.

Students attending either program can choose from a number of specialty tracks - another fact driving the department's growth. Bachelor's students can, for instance, specialize in U.S., Latin, European, World, Military or African American history. Graduate students have even more options: Early American, U.S. Social/Cultural History, Women's History, Migrations, Trade Networks and World Empires, to name a few. While students can complete all courses online, those interested in working in museums are encouraged to establish a cooperative internship between the Department and the Sam Houston Memorial Museum near campus.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)

Location:

1806 Ave. J
Huntsville, TX 77340
Go to School Website 
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7

Eastern Oregon University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$6,323
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
17
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Eastern Oregon University is yet another institution that scores high on accessibility: it is the third most affordable college on this list and has the fourth-highest admissions rate among all 50 schools evaluated. One of EOU's defining features is its variety of study options. For online history students, these include the following:

  • Bachelor's degree in history
  • Undergraduate minor in history
  • Bachelor's degree in integrative studies: Two EOU Minors
  • Bachelor's degree in integrative studies: Individualized Plan

Students pursuing EOU's online bachelor's degree in history take classes ranging from early world civilizations to modern U.S. history plus historical methods and historical research. All courses are available online, including the program's required capstone project, which offers theses, public history projects and teaching options. The University's integrative studies programs, on the other hand, let students combine their love of history with another online EOU minor or discipline.

Accreditation:

  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Location:

One University Blvd
La Grande, OR 97850
Go to School Website 
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8

Columbia College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$6,999
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
37
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Columbia College is a private liberal arts school. Unlike the vast majority of similar institutions, however, it has an open admissions policy for applicants who meet a few basic requirements. This policy of accessibility extends to its online programs. While CC only formally offers one online history degree — the B.A. in History — it also has an online history minor and a highly relevant bachelor's in American studies. All options are notably flexible: CC notes that online students have full control over their studies and can start, stop or resume them at any time, and students who pursue internships can do so in their home communities.

Columbia College's online history degree program is designed to provide a broad but thorough understanding of U.S. and world history, and it also promotes the development of research, writing, reading, critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving skills.

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Location:

1001 Rogers Street
Columbia, MO 65216
Go to School Website 
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9

Mary Baldwin University

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$29,940
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
39
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Mary Baldwin University was founded as a women's college in 1842. Today it functions as two institutions: Mary Baldwin College for Women and the co-ed University College. Baldwin Online offers any admitted student with internet access a chance to study at the historic college. For history students, that means pursuing an online B.A. in History or completing a minor in public history or historic preservation. According to MBU, online B.A. students explore American, British, African American and European history in courses that range from basic survey classes to highly specialized topics (think studying European culture through film).

One of the university's most unique opportunities for history students is the Virginia Program at Oxford in which students from a handful of Virginia colleges travel to Oxford to spend the summer studying late 16th- to early 17th-century England. It is little wonder history majors accounted for more than 5 percent of MBU graduates last year, giving the university the No. 3 prominence score out of all 50 online schools evaluated.

Accreditation:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

Location:

318 Prospect Street
Staunton, VA 24401
Go to School Website 
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10

SUNY Empire State College

Tuition/Year Tuition per year refers to the average in-state tuition for full-time undergraduates and, if applicable, graduate students as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
$6,470
Number of Programs Offered Number of programs offered refers to the count of degrees and certificates offered via distance education at any level as of 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics
38
Accredited
School Type
4-year

Empire State College is part of the State University of New York system and one of the most affordable schools on this list. It is also one of the few schools reviewed that offers associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs, including online associate and bachelor's degrees in historical studies. A few of the more popular concentrations: American history, women's history, Asian American history, military history and history and literature. The college's online undergraduate classes are especially diverse; topics include modern and historic civilizations, African American history, fashion in U.S. history, technology in Western culture and even the history of fire.

While SUNY-ESC's online bachelor's in history is a popular option, students seeking a multidisciplinary understanding of history may want to research its M.A. in Liberal Studies degree. The M.A. in Liberal Studies program lets online students create an individualized course of study composed of courses in history and a second relevant field. Students pursuing the M.A. in Liberal Studies can concurrently earn advanced graduate certificates in American Studies, Heritage Preservation, Public History and more.

Accreditation:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Location:

2 Union Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Go to School Website 
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Degree Overview: History

Online colleges for history provide students an ample opportunity to learn about the past and apply those lessons to the future. Those in online history degree programs can expect to start with a broader view of world history, then narrow their focus as their studies become more advanced. Here's more about the journey in store.

Online History Courses

Though the courses a student will take depend greatly upon their chosen specialization in the history field, there are some courses that students will likely dip into during their pursuit of the history degree. This is especially true for the online bachelor's degree programs in history, where students are more likely to take the same courses as their peers to learn the basics of historical research and content before they specialize in courses that suit their ultimate educational goals. Here are some examples of common history courses a student may take early in their pursuit of the degree:

  • United States Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Western Civilization to 1500
  • The History of Money
  • Global History Literacy
  • Why War: A Historical Perspective

Students further along in their bachelor's program or pursuing a master's degree will begin specializing their studies into a particular concentration -- such as American History, World History, Military History or Public History. Accordingly, these students will begin taking courses with a narrower, more specific focus in order to drill down into the intricacies of historical events or periods. For example, a student in the Military History concentration might take courses such as:

  • The Holocaust in its History
  • The United States and Vietnam, 1945-1995
  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict

Most master's degree and doctoral programs in history are research-driven, so students at these graduate levels can expect to take a wide variety of research courses in addition to those that focus on the chosen concentration. Courses such as Comparative History and Research, Historical Lenses and Scholarship and Graduate Research Seminar are common, alongside the specialization courses attached to a student's concentration.

Career-Related Skills to Develop

Perhaps the most important skill a history student learns is research -- specifically, how to find the best sources, evaluate studies with a discerning eye and apply critical thinking to a variety of situations. This is a crucial skill for completing research papers in college, and it only becomes more important after graduation. Professionals who work as archivists, archaeologists, broadcast journalists and even teachers at every educational level will use these skills on a regular basis.

In addition to research skills, history coursework is designed to hone perception of the world and prediction of events. As students learn about the circumstances that led up to certain events in history, they can begin to apply that knowledge to today's modern world. This is especially true for those who work in social services, political science or politics, from local to national or international scale. Reviewing the series of choices, victories and missteps of a project, event, career or situation in the historical context can inform the steps of a history professional's endeavors and help them to avoid possible pitfalls in their work, choices and interactions.

While these are probably the two most important skills for a history professional, the pursuit of online history degrees often provides several other skills that serve students well over the course of their careers, including the ability to manage time and priorities effectively; think objectively about new situations; work on in-depth projects without direct supervision; and question, summarize and negotiate effectively.

History Career Outlook

History is the study of the past, but those who dive into it will often find a bright outlook for their future. From collecting documents to analyzing artifacts to teaching students about history, there are many career paths a history lover can take.

Historians
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$60,990
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
500
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1.7
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Master's degree

Historians have the important job of keeping the past alive. They do this by researching, analyzing and interpreting historical documents; determining authenticity and significance of ancient artifacts; tracing changes in the world and its events over time; and introducing the public to their findings.

Historians aren't just found in museums, though they certainly do have a presence there. Historians can also work in government, private business, nonprofits, and even post-secondary schools. Though much of their time is spent researching and writing reports, they might also attend conferences, meet with the public, conduct interviews or spend time in areas pertinent to their research.

Most historian careers require a master's degree, at minimum; often a doctoral degree is required. This is especially true of research positions in government, higher education and well-established museums or historical centers.

Curators
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$58,910
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
5,100
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
8
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Master's degree

Also known as museum directors, curators are responsible for museum collections and exhibits, from acquisition to storage to display of museum items. They might specialize in one particular field, such as botany or paleontology. Depending upon the work setting, some curators might be very hands-on, working directly with collections, while others might focus more on the administrative side. In smaller museums, one curator might handle it all.

Curators also serve as the face of the museum, representing the institution in the media or at public events. They are expected to attend conferences, conduct research and educational programs, and speak to the public about new exhibits.

Though curator careers at small museums might be available to those with a bachelor's degree, most museums require a master's degree in history, art history, museum studies or the like.

Archivists
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$54,570
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
2,600
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
6.8
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Master's degree

Archivists work to preserve historically significant documents and records. Their work includes authenticating and appraising historical materials, preserving and maintaining documents and related objects, creating systems to maintain and preserve electronic records and organizing all records to make them easily searchable. They create backups of documents via film or photograph, set guidelines for public access to the materials and work to collect new pieces for the archive.

Archivists might also work closely with those who arrange and exhibit the materials. They provide assistance to users of the material, as well as visitors to the exhibits in which the documents are displayed. Many choose to focus on a specific type of archival record, such as photographs, maps, sound recordings or journal writings.

Those interested in archivist careers must earn a master's degree in archival studies or a closely related field. An internship can also provide valuable hands-on experience.

Museum Technicians and Conservators
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$44,780
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
4,100
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5.2
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

Museum technicians, also known as collections specialists or registrars, ensure the safety of objects in museums and exhibits. Their job is all about logistics, including overseeing acquisitions; the loaning, transportation, storage and care of objects; insurance issues; and much more. All this requires intense attention to paperwork.

Conservators work hands-on with various items in a museum, handling preservation, restorations, and treatment that minimizes deterioration. They might work with x-rays, microscopes, special lighting equipment, chemical testing and more. They usually specialize in one material or type of object, such as books or paintings.

Museum technician and conservator careers require different educational paths. Museum technicians must hold a bachelor's degree in museum studies or a related field. Some positions require a master's degree. For conservators, a master's degree in conservation or a closely related field is required for entry-level work. An internship can be quite beneficial for future employment prospects.

High School History Teachers
Average Salary Average salary refers to the 2016 mean salary for all U.S. workers in this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
$61,420
Projected Job Openings Projected job openings refers to the estimated number of job openings from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
284,000
Projected Job Growth Projected job growth refers to the estimated rate of increase in the number of jobs in this profession from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
5.8
Entry-level Education This refers to the typical entry-level education needed to obtain a position in a particular job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016
Bachelor's degree

High school teachers work with students to prepare them for the rigors of college or entering the workforce. Those who teach history have the potential to focus on a variety of classes, teaching anything from world history to very specific historical periods.

High school history teacher careers are available in both public and private schools. In either setting, teachers are generally expected to work closely with classrooms full of students as well as provide one-on-one instruction to those who need extra help with the material. They grade papers, quizzes and tests; monitor student participation; meet with parents if necessary to discuss progress; and more.

High school teachers must have a bachelor's degree, at minimum; many school districts prefer to hire those who hold a master's degree. Those working in public schools must also hold a license to teach.

Sources and Methodologies

Methodology

To be included in these rankings, all colleges had to meet the following criteria for the specific subject being ranked:

  1. Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor's) in that subject online
  2. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2014-15

Once we had our list of schools for each subject, we ranked them on five criteria:

  1. In-state tuition, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  2. Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  3. Accessibility, based on the admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014
  4. Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
  5. Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015

Sources:

College Websites, Accessed March 30, 2017:
  • American Public University System, http://www.apus.edu
  • Columbia College, https://www.ccis.edu
  • Eastern Oregon University, https://eou.edu
  • Harvard University, http://harvard.edu
  • Mary Baldwin University, http://www.marybaldwin.edu
  • Nicholls State University, https://nicholls.edu
  • Sam Houston State University, http://www.shsu.edu
  • SUNY Empire State College, https://www.esc.edu
  • University of Illinois at Springfield, http://www.uis.edu
  • University of North Alabama, https://www.una.edu
  1. Connecting the Dots: Why a History Degree is Useful in the Business World, American Historical Association, Christopher Brooks, Accessed March 27, 2017, https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/february-2015/connecting-the-dots
  2. The Economic Value of College Majors, Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, Accessed March 27, 2017, https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/valueofcollegemajors/
  3. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2014-15 and 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
  4. Bachelor of Arts in History, Ashford University, https://www.ashford.edu/online-degrees/liberal-arts/bachelor-of-arts-history
  5. Curriculum: B.A./B.S. in History - Online, Oregon State University, http://ecampus.oregonstate.edu/online-degrees/undergraduate/history/curriculum.htm
  6. History, Prospects, https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/history
  7. Online B.A. in History, Southern New Hampshire University, http://degrees.snhu.edu/programs/ba-in-history
  8. Online Master's Degree, MA in History, American History, Southern New Hampshire University, http://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ma-in-history/american-history
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Sources and Methodologies