Education

Best Online American History Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top American History programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

American history is the study of the history of the United States of America. American historians seek to understand the country’s past by studying the people, events, and ideas that have shaped it. American history degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers, including teaching, government, and law.

American history degrees offer a broad overview of the country’s past, covering topics such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. Students in American history degree programs learn about the different people and events that have shaped the country, and how to interpret and analyze historical data.

How to Choose the Right American History Program

When it comes to choosing the right American history bachelor’s degree program, there are many factors to consider. Cost, location, and time to degree are all important factors that prospective students need to keep in mind. In addition, students need to make sure that the program they choose offers the courses and specialization they are interested in.

The cost of an American history degree varies depending on the institution. When considering costs, students need to research tuition, fees, and associated expenses such as housing, commuting, and parking. Public schools offer a lower tuition rate for in-state residents. Location can also affect the ability to gain internship opportunities and network for jobs after graduation. Finally, the time to degree may make an expensive program less costly if students can transfer in college credits.

In addition to these factors, prospective American history students also need to consider the specializations available at each program. Students interested in colonial America, for example, may only wish to consider programs that offer a track in that area. Students can also research the graduation requirements to learn how many general American history classes they must take versus the specialized courses in their track.

Best Online Bachelor’s in American History Programs

The best online programs for American History ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

The Bachelor of Integrated Studies in History and Politics from University of Virginia is designed for students interested in history and politics and their role in society. The concentration prepare students for work in a variety of fields, including communication, research, advocacy, government, business, law, and education. It is also be suitable for those who plan to pursue a graduate study in history, politics, or other fields in the humanities and social sciences.

Rank 2
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Kearney, NE

The Bachelor of Arts in History from University of Nebraska at Kearney gives students a comprehensive understanding of past events, people, ideas, and values in the United States and in other parts of the world. The curriculum also emphasizes experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, semester-long research projects undertaken alongside faculty advisors, and study abroad programs.

Rank 3
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN

The Indiana University Bachelor of Arts in History program is a 100% online, consortial program that is designed to give students a strong foundation in historical research and interpretation with a focus on geographic regions of the world in both modern and pre-modern time periods. Students will learn to identify historical geography, historical actors, events of significance, and social movements with an emphasis on exploring historical themes that span multiple places and periods.

Rank 4
Indiana University-Bloomington
Bloomington, IN

The Bachelor of Arts in American Studies from Indiana University-Bloomington is an interdisciplinary program that uses a comparative approach to examine the United States of America and the larger Americas. The major is grounded in English and History, but also incorporates methodologies from various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. This interdisciplinary approach encourages students to critically analyze historical, political, social, and cultural dimensions of the Americas from multiple perspectives. The major also has an international focus, teaching students how to situate the United States in a global context.

Rank 5
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

The Bachelor of Arts in History from Arizona State University focuses on the growth and development of human society from a political, social, economic and cultural perspective. In this program, students will gain the skills needed to assess evidence, sort out conflicting interpretations and draw informed conclusions about the ever-changing world we live in.

The program can be completed as part of a 4+1 accelerated program, allowing qualified applicants to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in as few as five years. Master’s degrees that can be earned through this program include the Master of Arts in History.

Rank 6
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, NE

The Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Nebraska is an online program designed to provide students with a working knowledge of people, events, ideas, and values from a historical perspective. The goal of the program is to help students understand past and contemporary societies. The curriculum covers a wide range of historical periods and topics, including the history of the United States and other parts of the world. The program is flexible and can be completed on a full- or part-time basis.

Rank 7
University of Central Florida
Orlando, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in History from University of Central Florida will help students investigate the history of civilization, from its earliest days to its most recent trends. Students may tailor their studies to their personal interests by focusing on a particular geographic region, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and North America. Partway through your studies, students may apply to an accelerated program that will enable them to graduate with their B.A. and M.A.

Rank 8
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR

The Bachelor of Arts in History from Oregon State University is a research-focused degree program that explores how the actions of our past affect the current world. The program is delivered online by Oregon State Ecampus and is developed and taught by Oregon State professors and instructors. The courses are designed to prepare students for successful careers as leading thinkers in the workforce.

Rank 9
Florida International University
Miami, FL

The Bachelor of Arts in History from Florida International University is a forward-thinking program that provides students with the skills they need to become leaders of tomorrow. The program covers a wide range of topics, including art, religion, linguistics, and philosophy, and helps students understand the complex interactions between cultures. Students will also develop critical research, communication, and investigative skills.

Rank 10
King University
Bristol, TN

The Bachelor of Science in History from King University is designed for individuals who want to study a broad range of historical eras and topics. The program can be completed in 16 months and provides students with the academic groundwork necessary to obtain certification for teaching grades 6-12. The program is offered in a 100% online format and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

What to Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in American History Program

Most online bachelor’s in American history programs require around 120 credits and can be completed in four years. The curriculum generally covers a broad range of topics related to American history, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to taking classes, students may also be required to complete an internship or a capstone project.

While most programs do not require any in-person attendance, some schools may require students to complete a brief residency. Online programs typically offer a variety of concentration options, such as American Indian history, African American history, and women’s history. Students should expect to spend a significant amount of time reading and writing, as well as conducting research.

Common American History Courses

A student’s course load will vary depending on the college they attend and their chosen concentration within the field of American history. However, there are some core classes that are typically required for all American history majors.

The Revolutionary Era

This course covers the period of American history from the end of the French and Indian War to the adoption of the Constitution. Emphasis is placed on the major events and personalities of the Revolutionary Era, including the Stamp Act crisis, the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the major events and personalities of the Revolutionary Era and explain their impact on the development of the United States.

The Civil War

This course covers the events leading up to, during, and after the Civil War. Topics include the social, economic, and political causes of the war; major battles and turning points; Abraham Lincoln and other key figures; and the war’s impact on the course of American history. Upon completion, students should be able to identify and describe the major causes and events of the Civil War and explain the war’s significance in American history.

The Cold War

This course examines the Cold War, its causes, and its impact on American society. Topics include the origins of the Cold War, the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War, the McCarthy hearings, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the fall of the Soviet Union. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the major events and policies of the Cold War and their impact on American society.

The Civil Rights Movement

This course covers the American civil rights movement from its origins in the early twentieth century to the present day. Topics include the major goals and achievements of the movement, the role of the courts, the impact of technology, and the legacy of the civil rights movement. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the impact of the civil rights movement on American society and explain the legacy of the civil rights movement in the United States.

US Diplomatic History

This course covers the diplomatic history of the United States from the Revolution to the present day. Emphasis is placed on the major diplomatic events and issues, the individuals who shaped American foreign policy, and the evolution of American diplomacy. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the major diplomatic events and issues in American history and explain the impact of those events on the development of American foreign policy.

Career Options for American History Graduates

Graduates of American history programs work in a variety of industries, including education, government, and museums. They may also work in fields such as law, publishing, and marketing.

Curator

Curators are responsible for the care and display of collections of objects, whether they’re art, historical artifacts, or natural specimens. Curators typically work for museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, or art galleries. They may be responsible for acquiring new items for the collection, either through purchase or donation; conducting research on the objects in the collection; writing and editing labels and other educational materials; and overseeing the installation of exhibitions.

Museum Registrar

A museum registrar is responsible for the care, documentation, and management of the collection of a museum. The registrar’s office is the central repository for all information about the museum’s collection, and it is the registrar’s job to ensure that this information is accurate, up to date, and accessible. A registrar also works with other museum staff to develop and implement policies and procedures for the acquisition, deaccession, loan, and storage of objects in the collection.

Historian

Historians research, analyze, and write about the past. They study primary and secondary sources to interpret and write about historical events, people, and trends. Historians often specialize in a particular time period, place, theme, or method of study. They work in a variety of settings, including colleges and universities, museums, archives, historical societies, government agencies, and businesses.

Genealogist

Genealogists research and compile information about family histories. This work can be done for private individuals who want to know more about their ancestors, or for organizations such as law firms, government agencies, and historical societies. Genealogists typically use a combination of online resources, government records, and interviews with family members to piece together information about where someone’s ancestors came from, what their lives were like, and how they’re connected to other people.

Archivist

Archivists are responsible for the appraisal, acquisition, arrangement, description, and preservation of archival materials. They work with a variety of materials, including paper documents, photographs, audio and video recordings, and email. In addition to preserving these materials, archivists also help people access them by creating finding aids—such as inventories, guides, and indexes—that make it easier for researchers to locate relevant materials. Archivists typically work in archives, libraries, museums, historical societies, and other institutions.

Insights From an American History Graduate

Jocelyn Reynolds is a historian at the Smithsonian Institution. She has a bachelor’s degree in American history from the University of Virginia. Jocelyn has over 10 years of experience in historical research and writing.

ClimbtheLadder: What would you recommend that students do in addition to their degree program, in order to stand out to employers?

Jocelyn Reynolds: I would recommend that students pursue internships and/or fellowships in order to gain experience in the field. Many history jobs require at least one year of relevant work experience. Employers also value history students who have experience working with primary sources and archives.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Jocelyn Reynolds: The most rewarding aspect of my career is being able to share history with the public and help people understand the past. The most challenging aspect of my career is dealing with the constantly changing landscape of the historical profession.

ClimbtheLadder: Was there anything about your American History program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Jocelyn Reynolds: I didn’t anticipate how much work would be required outside of class. In addition to readings and lectures, there were also papers, presentations, and group projects. I was also surprised by how much I enjoyed the research aspect of the program. I found that I loved diving into a topic and finding new and interesting information.

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