The fact that you’re reading this article tells me you’ve been thinking about going back to school to earn your degree. That is an awesome idea and one that can lead to more job satisfaction and higher pay.
Now the question is, which degree should you choose? Which will result in the best career outcomes and biggest earning potential?
Well, if you’ve always had a fascination with history and like the idea of obtaining a degree that can lead to multiple potential career paths in law, journalism, government, education, and business, then a history degree may be a great fit for you.
History majors explore and interpret past events, studying fascinating topics like art, architecture, and politics throughout history. Graduates walk away with not only a profound appreciation for the past, but also strong analytical, research, writing, and foreign language skills.
In this article, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about earning a history degree. We’ll cover the best history degrees that offer the biggest career potential, compare online programs with traditional programs, and take a look at the differences between Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees.
But be sure to read this ENTIRE article because I’m also going to tell you exactly how OnlineDegree.com could help you save a lot of time and money on your tuition!
Let’s get started…
8 Best Online History Degrees
Before I list the degrees that offer the biggest career potential, I wanted to share why I think these degrees are the absolute best.
They are Economically Viable
As I just mentioned a little bit ago, history majors walk away with a set of skills that are always in demand. Your ability to analyze, research, write and communicate effectively will put you in a position to land great jobs in numerous industries.
Perfect for Changing Careers
Have you hit a dead end in your career? Are you not as interested in what you do for a living? Do you want or need to start earning more for your family? Because a history degree can lead to a wide range of career paths in numerous industries, it is beneficial to those adults looking to make a career change.
Flexible and Affordable
You’ll notice that I’ve focused on those history degrees that can be earned online specifically because they allow busy working adults the opportunity to make a positive change in their lives. Online degrees are far more affordable than a traditional college degree and allow you to study when it’s most convenient for YOU!
Now that you know why I chose the online history degrees I did, let’s dive in:
Become a scholar of the past by studying a broad curriculum that prepares graduates to work in government, museums, and schools. Students will learn to analyze contemporary social, political, and economic issues. Programs typically include fascinating courses such as:
- World civilizations
- History of Western Civilization
- Political Parties
- Human Geography
- 20th-Century Global History
- American Women’s History
Possible History Career Paths
A bachelor’s in history prepares graduates for a wide range of career paths. Graduates may find jobs as museum technicians or entry-level positions in high schools, colleges and libraries. Jobs as archivists, curators, historians, professors or conservators require students to earn at least a master’s degree.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of museum technicians will grow by 9% through 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also reports that the median annual salary for these professionals in 2019 was $49,850.
It’s common for history majors to elect one of the following three concentrations:
Are you someone with a profound love of America? Do you wish to better understand how this great nation came to be? A degree in American History provides a comprehensive dive into the country’s key events, allowing students to break these events down into contextual elements to better understand causes as well as results. In addition to learning facts and figures, a knowledge of American History equips graduates with a broader perspective on current events.
This curriculum helps students develop advanced analytical, critical thinking, and decision-making skills as well as strong oral and written communication and organizational skills. Most programs take a look at American History from 1607 to the present with a focus on Colonial and early national America, 19th-century America, and 20th-century America.
Potential Career Opportunities
The skills and knowledge obtained through an American History concentration prepares students for various rewarding professional roles. Here are just some of the career paths available to American History majors:
Editor – The median annual salary for editors was $59,480 in 2018, according to the BLS.
Records Manager – The median annual salary for records managers is $60,138, according to October 2019 data from PayScale.
Legislative Director – The median annual salary for legislative directors is $72,157, according to October 2019 data from PayScale.
U.S. Department of Defense Intelligence Analyst – The median annual salary for this role is $82,000, according to October 2019 data from PayScale.
Do you have an interest in our neighbors “across the pond?” Have you always been interested in monarchies, castles and legends of heroic knights? If so, then a degree in European History may be the perfect choice for you.
Students in this program explore how Europe has historically interacted with the world, its economic and commercial developments, cultural and intellectual development, national identity and technological and scientific innovations. Fascinating courses include:
- Renaissance and Exploration
- Age of Reformation
- Absolutism and Constitutionalism
- Scientific, Philosophical, and Political Developments
- Conflict, Crisis, and Reaction in the Late 18th Century
- Industrialization and Its Effects
- 19th-Century Perspectives and Political Developments
- 20th-Century Global Conflicts
- Cold War and Contemporary Europe
- And more…
Graduates come away from this program with numerous skills that are always in demand. Here are just some of the possible career paths you may choose with this degree:
- Historian – Median Annual Salary (2017): $59,120
- Archivist – Median Annual Salary (2017): $51,760
- Attorney – Median Annual Salary (2017): $119,250
- Librarian – Median Annual Salary (2017): $58,520
- Writer or Editor – Median Annual Salary (2017): $61,820 (Writer); $58,770 (Editor)
Middle Eastern Studies
A degree in Middle Eastern Studies is perfect for those people who wish to take a deeper look into the culture and history of the Middle East, as well as dive into the various languages and politics in the region. Here are just some of the fascinating courses and topics you’ll cover:
- Middle Eastern History
- Languages in the Middle East
- Society, Religion and Gender in the Middle East
- Conflict Studies in the Middle East
Students will also explore the political economy of the Middle East, the relationship between “resource wars” and the “war on terrorism,” and the changed geopolitical environments of Muslim and Middle Eastern countries.
What Can You Do with This Degree?
Graduates are prepared for a variety of post-graduate opportunities in various sectors including academia and government. You may decide to focus on research, writing and teaching about this region of the world, or work as a diplomat or for an environmental or human rights organization. Most graduates will come away with foreign language skills, which are incredibly desirable for numerous global organizations. Speaking Arabic will be particularly valued in many areas of business, education, anthropology, and more.
According to PayScale, the median average salary for a diplomat was $87,000 in December of 2020.
Are you looking for a degree that offers a firm foundation in military history? Are you interested in future contracting work with the Department of Defense or other military agencies?
A Bachelor of Science in Military Studies will train military personnel and contractors to handle large-scale strategic and professional operations while gaining an awareness of military values and culture. Those individuals who wish to turn their commitment to the military into a rewarding career should seriously consider this degree.
Students will study military history and cultural studies to provide context for existing military policy and threats. In addition, the history of American Entrepreneurship, which provides content related to military contractors and larger macroeconomic implications of warfare, will be explored. You’ll also dive into other topics like international security, a course specifically designed for those seeking careers in defense intelligence.
Careers with a Military Degree
Graduates with this degree will find many career opportunities available to them:
Field Artillery Officer – Between $34,000 and $53,000 annually, depending on rank.
Intelligence Officer – $34,000 annual salary to start.
Aviation Supply Officer – Median annual salary of $65,000.
Navy Public Affairs Officer – Media annual salary $80,000.
Graduates will also find all sorts of jobs with the:
- S. Army
- S. Air Force
- S. Navy
- S. Coast Guard
- S. Marine Corps
If you are looking for a degree that offers intellectually exciting coursework that results in excellent job opportunities in business, research, teaching, advocacy, and public service, then a degree in anthropology is right up your alley!
Students will learn about the diversity of human cultures as well as their relationship to the dynamics of social organization. You’ll explore different languages, the fundamental laws and processes of heredity and evolutionary biology, and many more fascinating topics!
You’ll also acquire some very in-demand skills such as:
- data analysis and interpretation
- logical and independent thinking
- quantitative and qualitative observation techniques
- written and oral communication
- effective presentation organization and delivery
- discussion and group work skills
- cultural sensitivity and awareness
What Kind of Career Can You Have with This Degree?
Graduates with an anthropology degree will have obtained an abundance of skills that will increase their marketability in the global marketplace. Some graduates will go on to pursue careers in the nonprofit sector, while others will opt to go to law school.
Some students will use their skills to help develop technology and software solutions for businesses, colleges and other workplaces. Here’s a fact you may not know: Microsoft is the largest employer of anthropologists in the world. Other organizations are following suit, and we are seeing more of a demand for those holding this degree.
Here are just some of the job titles available to graduates of the degree:
- Nonprofit Program Administrator
- Foreign Language Teacher
- Ambassador or Foreign-Service Office
- Human Resources
- Translator or Interpreter
- Museum Curator or Art Gallery Professional
- Media Planner or Data Scientist
- Social Media Marketing and Digital Marketing
- Public Health Care and Healthcare Specialists
The BLS reports employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 20% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. They also report that the median annual wage for interpreters and translators was $51,830 in May 2019, with the highest 10% earning more than $94,370.
English Language & Literature
Have you always had “a thing” for Chaucer’s Middle English poetics? Maybe you have a slight obsession with the colonial subtext in the novels of Joseph Conrad or enjoy the linguistic stylings of today’s hottest rappers. Whatever your fancy, a degree in English language & literature will have you enjoying some of the greatest classics in literature, analyzing theories, critiquing prose and verse, and taking a more robust look at the words that surround us every day.
From Shakespeare to Virginia Wolf, you’ll study literary texts from throughout history, analyzing their passages and relating their texts to their cultural, social, historical and political contexts. Some of the fascinating courses you will enjoy in this program are:
- 19thcentury literature
- 20thcentury literature
- Contemporary literature
- Medieval literature
- Caribbean literature
- American literature
- Playwriting and poetry
What careers Can You Have with an English & Literature Degree?
Graduates with this degree can go on to pursue careers in a diverse range of roles and sectors. Popular career options for graduates with an English degree include:
- Journalism and Media
- Marketing, Advertising and PR
- Civil Service
According to the BLS, employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also reports the median annual wage for public relations specialists was $61,150 in May 2019, with the highest 10% earning more than $115,430.
Were you one of those kids that was always being accused of daydreaming when really you were just trying to figure out what life was all about? Then a philosophy degree may be a great fit for you. In this program, students explore the history of philosophy and the writings of major philosophers.
Students will have a lot of fun and be challenged in this dynamic program. Beyond being introduced to the tenets of the discipline, you’ll explore issues such as morality, political legitimacy, scientific changes, medical advancements and religious belief. Most programs will also have you dive into the history of philosophy as well as develop skills in analysis, rhetoric, writing and critical thinking.
Typical courses required for a philosophy major include:
- Ancient and modern philosophy
- Moral and political philosophy
Popular Career Options
While the majority of graduates will go on to earn their graduate degrees to teach in universities, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover the wide range of career paths available with this degree including:
- Systems analyst
- Cultural affairs officer
- Technical writer
According to the U.S. BLS, employment of post-secondary philosophy teachers is projected to increase by 10% between 2018 and 2028. As of May 2019, the median annual wage for post-secondary philosophy teachers was around $75,240 annually, with the highest salaries typically going to those who taught at colleges, universities and professional schools.
Online Vs Traditional Campus History Degrees
As I mentioned earlier, I have specifically focused on sharing with you those history degrees that may be earned online. Here’s why online degrees offer adults students more:
- A Flexible Learning Schedule
Adults are busy people with jobs and family responsibilities. It can be challenging for them to find the time to take traditional classes at a community college. Online learning means you can study when it is most convenient for YOU!
- Online Degrees are Incredibly Affordable
Generally speaking, online degrees cost just a fraction of what you’d have to pay to take courses on a traditional college campus. On top of these initial savings, online degrees also don’t require the cost of room and board, or even gas money to get to campus! As an added bonus, you can continue to work while you pursue your degree.
- History Degrees Fit Online Learning Perfectly!
Thanks to the advancement of technology, there are a lot of online learning platforms that offer just about every degree imaginable. But unlike some degrees, such as those in certain science fields that require lab work, the subject of history is perfect for online learning.
Benefits of a History Degree
If you’ve read this far, you may be thinking that a degree in history is the right choice for you. To help you along with your decision-making process, here are some benefits of earning a history degree:
- Marketable Skillset
In today’s global marketplace and shaky economy, it’s beneficial for students to obtain a versatile professional skillset that can be applied to a range of career paths. A history degree offers graduates an enviable skillset; one that emphasizes analysis and communication.
- Follow Your Passion
Many people work 9-5 jobs that have nothing to do with what they are really passionate about. If you love history, this degree can set you up for a career where you will love going to work each and every day.
- Diverse Professional Opportunities
In addition to following your passion, a history degree will also prepare you to pursue a career in a wide range of interesting fields. Many graduates go into law, work for the government, work in museums, broadcasting, the military and even the national park service.
Cost and Tuition of Obtaining a History Degree
The truth is, going back to school to earn your degree is a definite financial commitment. Sadly, many adults deny themselves the chance at a better career and life because they assume they can’t afford tuition.
Well we’re here to tell you, college can be WAY MORE AFFORDABLE than you may think. And we’ve got the inside scoop on how you can save.
Read our article on 5 ways you can save on college tuition, and also use our free Smartplan to find ways to save at various schools across the country by taking advantage of free courses, discounts and more. In fact, that’s why we created OnlineDegree.com so that everyone could have access to an affordable education.
Choosing the Right Type of History Degree
Congratulations on making it this far in the article. You’re obviously really interested in obtaining a degree in history and that’s fantastic. Now it’s time to talk a little bit about the type of degree you should go after.
An associate’s degree is typically a two-year degree obtained through a vocation school or community college, though there are online associate’s degrees as well. An Associate’s of Art in History typically covers topics such as:
- American military history
- Ancient world history
- French history
- U.S. history before 1865
- U.S. history after the Civil War
- World War I and World War II
An AA in History degree helps individuals gain access to a variety of entry-level positions in industries such as museums and historical organizations, historical preservation and research, archival and information management, and travel and tourism.
All of the degrees I covered in this article are bachelor’s degrees, which traditionally take 4 years to complete, though there are ways you can shave some time off your studies. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in History provides students with a robust skillset that most employers look for in candidates. A bachelor’s degree will help you stand out from other candidates and help you to earn a higher salary.
Some graduates with a bachelor’s degree decide to continue their education and obtain their master’s degree in a chosen specialization. Master’s programs typically require another two to four years of coursework.
A Master of Arts in History degree allows students to select a specific area of concentration. Depending on the institution, concentrations might include:
- Museum Studies & Conservation
- Digital Humanities
- Archives and Public History
- Library Science
- Nonprofit Management
Graduates with a Master’s degree are considered experts in their field and command higher salaries.
A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in history is traditionally meant for those looking to pursue a career in academia. Students will focus on conducting scholarly research so they can teach at university level. These doctoral programs typically require another 30-72 credit hours.
Choosing the Correct University or College for History
Now that you have a good idea of which online history degree interests you, it’s time to find the right school. Here are a few criteria that are hugely important for adults. You’ll want to choose a university with:
- Online Programs
- $0 application fees
- No required SAT/ACT testing
- Faculty and professors that understand adult students’ needs
- Discounts or scholarships
- Convenient enrollment dates year-round (so you don’t have to wait for Spring or Fall)
Finding adult-friendly schools that match these can certainly be challenging!
BUT, that’s why we created our Smartplan.
We realize that every student has unique circumstances and goals. When you use our Smartplan, we could help you find the right school you’re looking for AND has these crucial criteria to make pursuing your degree that much easier.
Register today to get your free Smartplan and compare different colleges! >>
Salary Data for History Careers
Let’s take one more look at some of the varied career opportunities available to you and the salaries of each job title:
Museum archivist – National average salary: $52,389 per year
Librarian – National average salary: $56,275 per year
Writer or editor – National average salary: $56,366 per year
Business consultant – National average salary: $70,134 per year
Lawyer – National average salary: $73,352 per year
Researcher – National average salary: $73,587 per year
Historian – National average salary: $74,158 per year
Q: What careers can I have with a history degree?
A: Where do I begin?! Well, I’ve already covered a vast amount of career options, but here are some of those job titles again:
- History professor
- Park ranger
- Museum curator
- PR specialist
Q: Why should I major in history?
A: Because you have a passion for learning about the past; about where we’ve come from and where we might be headed. And because you very much want to develop a wide range of skills that will make you far more marketable than other candidates.
Q: What History major is right for me?
A: Everyone has their own unique interests and skills, so I can’t select your major for you. But what I can reiterate is that any of these degrees on this list will set you up for a rewarding and lucrative career.
How to Get Started
Wow, we’ve just covered a LOT of information. You may be wondering what you should do next.
I encourage you take a few moments to use OnlineDegree.com’s Smartplan to find the right school that offers all of the criteria you’re looking for. We’ve provided this helpful and free tool for you to help you make the right decision and find ways that could end up saving you a LOT of time and money toward your history degree!
Register today for free >>