M.A. in History (Concentration in Public History)

The Department of History at Northeastern University invites applications to its Master of Arts in History with a certificate in Public History. One of the oldest programs of its kind in North America, Northeastern’s Program in Public History has produced more than one hundred graduates who have gone on to significant positions in historical societies, museums, archives, business, documentary film production, and other related organizations.

The Master’s program builds upon the Department of History’s rigorous education in the theory and practice of history with a series of courses taught by historians and professionals currently working in public history. The close partnerships between the History Department and the wealth of public historical organizations in Boston and New England provide students with a unique opportunity to develop strong research and writing skills in history and a graduate program in public history that can be shaped to their interests.

Members of the Department have for many years served as consultants to history, art, and science museums, historical societies, archives, documentary filmmakers, and in the development of public policy throughout the United States. Faculty members have also worked closely with national organizations concerned with public history, serving on the Boards of the National Council for Public History and the American Association for State and Local History.

For more information, please contact Tim Cresswell at t.cresswell@neu.edu .


Requirements for the Master of Arts

Requirements for a Masters Degree with a concentration in Public History include a Public History methodology course, at least three Public History courses and one fieldwork course taken among the eight courses needed to complete the Master of Arts in History degree. All students receive a thorough grounding in the methods, sources, and modes of writing employed by historians, other social scientists, and humanists in the Department’s required methodology course. Students must take at least one seminar, in which they write a major research paper. Demonstrated proficiency in one foreign language and in appropriate computer applications is also required for completion of the degree.

Completion of the program normally takes between one and two school years, but can be completed in twelve months. For practicing professionals, part-time study is encouraged in order for them to continue their employment while working toward completion of the degree.

Public History Course Offerings

Graduate courses provide students with practical knowledge in the professional fields associated with Public History as well as with important training in theoretical and ethical issues involved in these careers. Students select their three (or more) electives from courses on the following topics.

Administration of Non-Profits
Historical Exhibits and Museums
Historic Preservation
History and Media
Local History Methodology
Publishing for Non-Profits
Oral History
Issues in Public History

For a list of History Department course offerings, please see here.

Fieldwork Experience

Many outstanding historical agencies and related organizations are located in the Boston area. One of the most exciting features of the program in Public History is the fieldwork experience. Fieldwork courses assist students in preparing for careers in public history, and enable students to tailor their program to their interests and needs. In recent years, students have completed their fieldwork requirement in such organizations as: WGBH (PBS) Boston, the Frederick Law Olmsted House, the USS Constitution Museum, the National Park Service, the Massachusetts Historical Society, Blackside [Film] Productions, the Massachusetts Preservation Commission, Old Sturbridge Village, the Concord [MA] Museum, the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, The Bostonia Society, the Tsongas Historical Center, and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. Students have also availed themselves of fieldwork opportunities in other regions of the United States, including the Minnesota Historical Society and the Cowpens National Historic Site [SC]. International fieldwork opportunities have included work in Museums in London and Prague.

Financial Aid

Students are eligible for financial support, including a research assistantship with the New England Quarterly. Tuition scholarships are also available.

Employment Opportunities

Students who have completed the Master of Arts in History with a Certificate in Public History find employment throughout the United States in agencies, organizations, archives, and businesses across the range of activities that utilize historical training and skills. Over 90% of the program’s graduates in Public History have found full-time professional positions in fields related to their studies upon graduation from the program. Employers of most recent program graduates have included:

National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Facing History, Boston, MA
McCormick Library, Harrisburg, PA
JFK Library, Boston, MA
Museum of the California Pioneers, San Francisco, CA
Blackside Films, Boston, MA
Northern Lights [Film] Productions, Boston, MA
Schlesinger Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
WGBH (PBS), Boston, MA


Affiliated Faculty

Victoria Cain, Assistant Professor of History

Timothy Cresswell, Professor of History

William Fowler, Distinguished Professor of History, Editor New England Quarterly

Gerald Herman, Media Editor, The Public Historian; Director, Center for Interdisciplinary Studies

Linda Rhoads, Editor New England Quarterly

Benjamin Schmidt, Assistant Professor of History

Other Opportunities in Public History at Northeastern

Through Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies (CPS), the Departments of History and Political Science jointly offer a non-degree certificate in Non-Profits Management. Credit for these courses may be transferable to the Master of Arts upon admission to the graduate program. For further information, please contact the College of Professional Studies (617) 373-2425 or via http://www.cps.neu.edu/.