We offer three master’s program options: a master’s in history, a master’s in history with a graduate certificate in public history, and a dual degree history–social studies education program with Virginia teaching licensure. 

1.6/1 faculty/student ratio
3 number of concentrations
18 number of MA students
100% complete a significant research project
What Is a Master’s in History?

You will expand your knowledge of the past, engage with the work of professional historians, and develop your skills as a researcher and writer. The master’s degree program  will prepare you for many career options.  Graduates of our program have gone on to pursue doctorates or other professional degrees.  They have become secondary and community college teachers.  And they are working in museums, archives, and historical sites, introducing history and historical resources to the public.  

Why Study History?

At Virginia Tech you can target your graduate coursework to your career goals.  The program requires 33 credit hours of graduate work, including required methods classes, electives from a range of geographical and chronological topics, and credits devoted to research and writing an original thesis or research paper.  If you are interested in public history, you will find courses that allow you to add a Graduate Certificate in Public History to your master’s degree. If you plan to teach, you can combine history credits with credits from the Curriculum and Instruction department in the School of Education to earn two degrees and your Virginia teaching licensure.  Most of our full-time students graduate in two years; the dual degree program with Education is a three-year program.  


Steps to Apply

Start Your Application

Deadline to receive full consideration for funding: February 1

Application Deadline: August 1

Deadline for International Students: April 1

  • Complete the online Application for Graduate Admission:
    • select history from the alphabetical list of degree programs
    • upload a personal statement of academic and professional goals
    • upload required writing sample
    • submit the names and contact information of three individuals who will provide letters of recommendation
    • upload resume/CV
    • pay applicaiton fee ($75)
  • Submit transcripts from all colleges or universities where you completed undergraduate or graduate coursework or degrees
  • Send GRE scores: our code is #005859 (optimal GRE scores: verbal 158, analytic 5.0)
  • Send TOEFL scores for applicants who are not native speakers of English (minimum TOEFL score 600 paper, 250 computer-based, or 100 IBT
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0

Additional Notes

  • The application deadline is February 1 for those seeking a graduate assistantship; the final deadline is August 1, but  international students should apply by April 1 for consideration.

  • For the Dual Degree Option with Teaching Licensure apply to both the History MA and the Curriculum and Instruction MA programs. 


Graduate Assistantships

Details about Assistantships

Students wishing to pursue a master’s degree at Virginia Tech are eligible for funding support from the program. Each year the program awards graduate assistantships with tuition waivers to most graduate students. These assistantships offer students pre-professional training in historical pedagogy or historical research as they support the work of individual faculty members. Advanced students with graduate assistantships may, if qualified, teach an undergraduate survey course during their last semester in the program. Students interested in careers in library or archival administration should ask to be considered for a Graduate Assistantship in Special Collections at Virginia Tech’s Newman Library. 

Other opporutnities for graduate teaching assistantships or graduate research assistantships are available across the university. 

Duration of Funding

Contracts are for one year, with renewal depending on progress in the degree program and satisfactory performance of assistantship duties. The majority of our students are funded for two years. 

Benefits of Assistantships

Assistantships provide these benefits:

  • stipend
  • tuition waiver
  • health insurance program (see the Graduate School benefits page for details)


You can find details on benefits and fees under "financial matters" at the Graduate School website: www.grads.vt.edu.

Graduate teaching assistants receive a stipend for teaching undergraduate courses, usually public speaking. Other campus-wide opportunities are avaialble. See additional assistantship information avaialble through the Graduate School.

Students pay non-academic fees. Students are advised to apply for Virginia residency as soon as possible (after one year in residence). 


Applying for Funding

A question on the application for graduate admission asks whether you want to be considered for a teaching assistantship. If you check yes, you will automatically be added to our list of candidates. All new positions begin in the fall semester.

Travel Support

Departmental Travel Funds

Each year (budget permitting) the Graduate Program makes available small research grants to advanced graduate students engaged in thesis research. Funds may be used for travel (to archives; to conduct interviews, etc.) and for photocopying essential research materials unavailable at Virginia Tech. Awards are made by the Graduate Committee.

All awards must be used from July to November of the application year.

Virginia Center for Civil War Studies Scholarships

We offer scholarships for students who have research interests in the causes and consequences of the American Civil War. One or two scholarships, up to $5,000 each, will be awarded annually and may be renewed for a second year. Holders of these scholarships are also eligible to hold graduate assistantships. 

Outside Funding

You are encouraged to seek funding for your work from other resources. Archives frequently offer small competitive travel grants. You should also consider applying for scholarships that offer research funding. 

Application Instructions for Departmental Funds

Interested students should apply in their second semester of coursework, commonly with an April deadline. 

To apply for research support from the History Department, submit a letter of application with specific information about plans for use of these funds.
This application should be no longer than two pages, and it should be addressed to the Graduate Committee, and approved and signed by the student’s thesis advisor.

The application must include:

  • a brief statement of your thesis subject
  • a detailed account of when and how you will use the funds (what archive you will visit, what specific collections you will use, what these collections contain)
  • an explanation of why the research for which you want support is essential to the completion of your thesis
  • an itemized budget for the proposed research activity. Figures for travel, meals, and lodging must reflect amounts allowed for all employees of the state of Virginia. 
    • http://www.co.vt.edu/Procedures/p20335r.html
    • http://www.co.vt.edu/Procedures/p20335d.html

Application Instructions for Scholarships

The History Department also offers two special scholarships to exceptionally qualified graduate students admitted to the MA program with research interests in Civil War Studies or the history of Virginia.


Scholarship Information
The Virginia Center for Civil War Studies (VCCWS) Scholarship
  • Up to $5000 awarded annually, renewable for a second year
  • Supports research interests in the causes and consequences of the American Civil War, broadly construed
    • Candidates for these scholarships may pursue a wide variety of research approaches (including social, political, cultural, military, or economic history) and topics (including—but not limited to—race, slavery, gender, memory and memorialization, violence, political protest, science and medicine, transformations in everyday life, industrialization).
  • Recipients of these scholarships are also eligible to hold graduate assistantships.

To apply: submit a separate, one-page (maximum 400 words) essay that

  1. Explains how your specific research interests relate to the purpose of the scholarship.
  2. Describes any previous research experience in the area of Civil War studies.
  3.  Discusses how this research will contribute to your career goals.

The Virginia Center for Civil War Studies Scholarship application should be mailed directly to the Department of History, Attention: Director of Graduate Studies, Mail Code 0117, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061.

Frank L. Curtis Fund Scholarship for Virginia History
  • Up to $1500, awarded annually for one year.
  • Supports research specifically focused on the history of Virginia.
    • Curtis Foundation Scholarships encourage students to pursue a wide variety of research approaches and topics that advance our understanding of the place of the state and the experiences of Virginians in any era of history.
  • Recipients of these scholarships are also eligible to hold graduate assistantships.

To apply: submit a separate, one-page (maximum 400 words) essay that

  1. Explains clearly and concisely how your research interests relate to the purpose of the scholarship.
  2. Discusses how these research interests relate to your career goals.

The Curtis Scholarship application should be mailed directly to the Department of History, Attention: Director of Graduate Studies, Mail Code 0117, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061.


Recent Theses


Carmen Bolt, “Dammed If You Don’t: The Palmertown Tragedy of 1924 in Collective Memory”

Sara Evenson, “Consuming Trade in Mid-Eighteenth Century Albany”

Debra Faith Skiles, “Building Cultural Bridges: American Women Missionaries in Korea, 1885-1910”

Claire Gogan, “To Play Jewish Again: Roots, Counterculture, and the Klezmer Revival”

Nicholas Nowland,  “A Unique Hell in Southwestern Virginia: Confederate Guerrillas and the Defense of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad"



Kristin Carlson, “Christian Duty in the Crisis of Secession: A Comparison of Charleston and Philadelphia

Lucas Kelley, “Suffrage for White Men Only: The Disfranchisement of Free Men of Color in Antebellum North Carolina”

Thomas Seabrook,“Tributes to the Past, Present, and Future: Confederate Memorialization in Virginia, 1914-1919”

Selected for the William Preston Society Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award

Spenser Slough, “Germans on the Western Waters: Artisans, Material Culture, and Hybridity in Virginia’s Backcountry, 1780-1830”

Taylor Stoltz, “Sufferers, Republicans, and Cannibals: American Reactions to French Women in Violence”

Rosemary Zlokas,“Consuming Beauty: The Impact of Prescriptive Beauty Literature on College Women, 1940-1950” website created as part of this public history thesis project:  www.consumingbeauty.com



Eric Ames, “‘United in Interest and Feeling’: The Political Culture of Union in the Virginia Borderland, 1850-1861.”

Alexandra Dowrey, “The Classics and the Broader Public in Philadelphia, 1783-1788: Avenues for Engagement.”

Alison Hight,  “‘What are ye, little mannie?’: the Persistence of Fairy Culture in Scotland,1572-1703 and 1811-1927.”

Adam Jones, “‘The land of my births and the home of my heart’: Enlistment Motivations for Confederate Soldiers in Montgomery County, Virginia, 1861-1862.”



William Paxton,  “Fear and Fortune: Robbery in London in the Late Eighteenth Century.”

Heather Lennon,  “A Stage for Gentility and the Performance of the Republican Gentleman: Taverns in Richmond, Virginia from 1780 to 1820.”

Alison Vick, “A Catalyst for the Development of Human Rights: German Internment Practices in the First World War, 1914-1929.”

 Selected for the William Preston Society Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award

Beyond the Classroom

Graduate assistantships with tuition are available, including unique opportunities such as working with Special Collections or the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, or editing the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Historical Review. Most students in the program receive graduate assistantships. We also offer travel support for research and conference presentations. 

Our award-winning faculty of 30 works closely with students to design a program that fits their needs. We have particular strengths in U.S. history, public and digital history, world history, and the history of science, technology, the environment, and medicine.


Our graduate students can select one of three options: a master’s in history, a master’s in history with a certificate in public history, and a dual degree program for aspiring teachers.

Finishing with Options

Our programs have been successful in placing students in public history and teaching positions as well as launching students into prominent Ph.D. programs nationwide.


The History Graduate Student Association promotes student-faculty communication, provides students with a sense of community outside the classroom, and offers leadership opportunities.

Thesis History
Writing Your Thesis

Spend several semesters developing a carefully argued, in-depth, original research project that demonstrates your expertise in a chosen area.

Graduate School VT

Learn more about living and studying in Blacksburg as a graduate student.

Since 1998, the History Graduate Student Association has organized an annual research conference with student presenters from Virginia Tech and many other master’s and doctoral programs. Master’s students gain professional experience by hosting two invited keynote speakers, inviting papers, creating conference panels, handling logistics, advertising the events, and soliciting funds to cover conference expenses.


Morgan Sykes at Graduation

Internships are an integral part of the Virginia Tech public history program.  The department has partnerships with local institutions—including museums, historical associations, and public history sites. Students are also encouraged to apply for internships elsewhere. As part of the internship experience, students create digital stories about their work.  These videos are available on the History Graduate Student Association’s YouTube channel.



For program information, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies:

Dr. Matt Heaton
Director of Graduate Studies
409 Major Williams Hall

For information on the application process, please contact the Graduate Coordinator:

Ms. Linda Fountaine

Office: 431 Major Williams Hall
Phone: (540) 231-5331

Department of History
431 Major Williams Hall, Virginia Tech
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(540) 231-5331