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History (M.A.)


Campus:  Virginia Tech Blacksburg Campus, Instructions: Residential/On Campus

Program Overview

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. 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.


Why choose this program?

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

What You'll Study

As MA students we complete 4 required courses, a 2-credit writing skills for historians course, 5-6 electives, and additional research credits to complete the minimum of 33 credit hours for graduation.

  • Two methods classes (3-credits each) and a writing workshop (2 credits) offer students a guide to researching and writing creative historical scholarship
  • One research seminar (topics change each year)
  • At least one course in a field of history secondary to our research interests
  • A minimum of 3-6 research credits devoted to completing the major research project

Additional 3-credit electives (5-6 to complete the degree; one elective must be taken in an area of history outside the student’s primary research interest, or chosen from another discipline). Some of the electives offered recently by History Department faculty:

-U.S History to 1877 and U.S. History since 1877
-Topics in Global History: Modern World History
-Topics in Global History: Comparative Colonial History
-Gender in U.S. History
-American Environmental History
-History of Technology
-Readings in African History
-Public History courses:  Introduction to Public History; Digital History; Oral History
-Topics in Cultural History and Theory: Critical Animal Studies

Plan of Study

  • Historical Methods (3 credits)
  • Writing Skills for Historians (2 credits)
  • 3-credit Elective in major field
  • 3-credit Elective in secondary field
  • Pedagogy Workshop (required by the Graduate School for all Assistantship recipients, 1 credit) or Research and Thesis (1 credit)
  • Research Methods for Historians (3 credits)
  • Research Seminar (variable topic, depending on instructor) (3 credits)
  • Elective (3 credits)
  • Research and Thesis Credits (3 credits)
  • Elective (3 credits)
  • Research and Thesis Credits (9 credits)
  • Elective
  • Research and Thesis Credits (9 credits)

Design a Degree that Fits Your Goals

  • Graduate with a degree in two years. With a two-year degree, graduates are well-rounded in historical content through coursework and develop strong research and writing skills by designing an original research project, usually a thesis.
  • Small classes and individualized guidance for student-inspired research projects.
  • Combination of required courses, electives, and research credits to complete 33 credit hours for graduation (Please consult “Courses” for detailed information and a sample plan of study).
  • Interdisciplinarity is a core value of our MA degree. We encourage students to engage with the interdisciplinary graduate programs affiliated with the History Department including ASPECT (Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought), STS (Science and Technology Studies), Women’s and Gender Studies, Africana Studies, and Material Culture and Public Humanities.
  • Earn a graduate certificate in public history while completing requirements for the MA
    • Public History courses can satisfy both History MA and certificate requirements
    • The certificate requires six additional credit hours (2 courses) of 39 credits
    • All certificate students complete an internship as part of the course requirements
  • One graduate public history course is offered each semester
  • Faculty strengths in digital history and oral history
  • Design a specialized “Public History Thesis” with both a research and outreach component
  • More information is available at the Public History Program website: This site was designed and is maintained by VT public history students.
  • Designed for students interested in a teaching career
    • Graduate in two academic years with two Master’s degrees (MA in History and MA in Curriculum and Instruction) with VA Teaching Licensure
  • Dual enrollment in History and the graduate licensure program in Social Studies is required.  
    • Students must meet requirements for admission and graduation in both programs.
  • Double count up to 15 credits
  • Students may apply for funding through the history department while completing history requirements.
  • Minimum GPA 3.0 (4 Scale)
  • TOEFL/ IELTS score Required  (If Applicable)

Learn more 

  • The Department of History has a limited number of graduate assistantships and fellowships available for students applying for full time study on the Blacksburg campus. Entering students can apply for such funding as part of their admissions application. No separate application required.
  • The Virginia Center for Civil War Studies (VCCWS) Scholarship Up to $5000 awarded annually, renewable for a second year.
  • The Edward E. West, III, History Research Fund," provides support for research in the history of the early American South.

Find out what loans are available as a graduate student and other opportunities.

Domestic Application

  •  *Fall:  August 1

International Application

  • *Fall: April 1

*Deadline for early decision admission with Graduate Assistantships consideration for Fall: February 1

Matthew Heaton, Director of Graduate Studies
409  Major Williams Hall

Heath Furrow, Graduate Programs Coordinator
431 Major Williams Hall

Our Students


Matthew Heaton, Director of Graduate Studies
409  Major Williams Hall

Faculty Experts In History

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