The Department of History at Northeastern University invites applications to its Program in Public History. One of the oldest of its kind in North America, Northeastern’s public history graduates work in museums, archives, historical societies, documentary film production, and social activism. Students in this two-year program receive rigorous training in the theory and practice of history and the digital humanities through coursework, and apply this training through fieldwork in New England’s wealth of public history organizations.
Designed to accommodate a wide range of intellectual and professional interests, Northeastern’s public history program prides itself on:
Our Boston location allows us to develop a rich set of educational and professional opportunities for students. We make good use of its hundreds of historic sites, museums, and landscapes, and ensure that students experience and eventually contribute to these venues. Program director Martin Blatt and senior scholar William Fowler have several decades of leadership in the Boston and national public history communities, and leverage their extensive professional networks to place students in places where they will learn and thrive.
Northeastern’s history faculty prioritizes accessibility, collaboration, and cutting-edge research. They have advised or worked on projects close to home, in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, as well as further afield, in Russia, France, and Germany, and they regularly publish and comment in academic and popular settings.
Students work closely with Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections to develop digital and physical exhibits and research projects; most recently, we have begun work on memorializing the difficult history of busing and desegregation in Boston. We also partner with local and national groups to explore controversial historical topics. Beginning in 2013, for instance, we worked with the Guantánamo Public Memory Project, a collaboration that culminated in a campus-wide initiative, Confronting Guantánamo, on display March-April 2015. In fall 2015, in partnership with the Humanities Action Lab, we will embark on a multi-year exploration of the past, present and future of incarceration.
In their coursework, students will receive a thorough grounding in the methods, sources, and modes of writing employed by historians, social scientists, and humanists. Degree requirements include eleven courses: three required history and methodology courses, three general history electives, three public history electives, one fieldwork course and one seminar. Courses are offered in the late afternoons and evenings, to accommodate internships and work schedules, and we work closely with students in the program to develop schedules and materials that correspond to their interests and needs.
We are committed to pairing top-notch scholarship with hands-on practice, so classwork often incorporates work with local or national public history projects; consequently, the content of required courses and elective offerings changes frequently.
Students are required to take the following three courses:
Students are also required to take one graduate history seminar, in which they will write a major research paper, and to take at least three public history electives, which currently include:
Students are also required to complete 300 hours of fieldwork. Boston is home to hundreds of outstanding historical agencies and related organizations, and this requirement gives Northeastern students ample opportunity to develop skills, experience, and contacts at these sites.
In recent years, students have completed their fieldwork requirements at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library; WGBH (PBS) Boston; Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site; the USS Constitution Museum; Lowell National Historical Park; Boston National Historical Park; the Massachusetts Historical Society; the Massachusetts Preservation Commission; Old Sturbridge Village; the New England Historic and Genealogical 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 Guggenheim Museum, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Museum of the California Pioneers. International fieldwork opportunities have included work in museums in London and Prague.
Northeastern’s public history graduates have found employment in agencies, organizations, archives, and businesses across the United States.
Employers of recent program graduates include:
Marty Blatt, Program Director and Professor of the Practice of History
Victoria Cain, Assistant Professor of History
Timothy Cresswell, Professor of History
William Fowler, Distinguished Professor of History, Editor New England Quarterly
Gretchen Heefner, Assistant Professor of History
Christopher Parsons, Assistant Professor of History
Benjamin Schmidt, Assistant Professor of History
For complete information on requirements for and policies in the graduate degree programs, please consult the following booklets:
(Please note that some PlusOne Program details have been updated since publication. See the PlusOne section of our website for more details.)