Considering an MA in History? Working on your degree right now? Chances are, you’ve heard the question: “What are you going to do with that? Teach?” about a hundred times.
Actually, according to Education Portal, historians with an MA degree do much more than just teach. And even if you want to teach, say, at the community college level, some would argue that an MA is preferable over a PhD.
Getting your MA in history also opens up a wide variety of career opportunities in exciting and innovative fields. While some MA students may be seeking a PhD and career in academia, terminal master’s students have more than a few options to choose from, according to the National Council on Public History.
Dr. Peter Larson, Director of Graduate Programs for the University of Central Florida’s History Department, lists the following as options for History MA students:
“There are a few career tracks that specifically require the MA, primarily Public History jobs, and teaching. Under Public History you’ll find a number of different options, from ones catering to the general public (museums, historical sites) to those that are more behind-the-scenes (archives, preservation & restoration). For teaching, the MA is required to teach survey-level history courses (US to 1877/from 1877, Western Civ, and World Civ); the MA is sufficient for full-time positions at state and community colleges, but at universities it generally limits you to being an adjunct.
Although not required the MA in History is useful in other fields, too, particularly in secondary education where it can provide a salary increase and satisfy continuing education requirements. The MA can provide a good background for a doctoral program in History; about ½ of any new cohort in a doctoral program already has a MA degree.
The MA can make you a strong candidate for non-History related positions, such as in government or policy work, because it trains you to undertake and complete sustained analysis through the MA thesis.”
Some of UCF’s MA students are already looking forward to a wide variety of exciting careers.
- “Like many of my peers, I want a career in academia. It’s something I have wanted since my first year of college and it hasn’t lost any of its allure yet.” – Drew Fedorka
- “Ideally I would like to work in a large museum as an exhibit curator.” – Katie Kelley
- “One of my goals is to work as a consultant for cultural heritage organizations. I plan on helping museums, libraries and other organizations create and execute plans to create digital archives and make them accessible to the public.” – Meghan Vance
- “I would like to do research and teach in the field of early American history…I enjoy editing scholarly work, so I hope to become the editor of a historical journal.” – Daniel Velasquez
- “I would like to write curriculum and work with Social Studies teachers to revitalize how Social Studies is being taught in primary and secondary education.” – Kendra Hazen
How about you? What are some “jobs of the future” you see opening up for History MA grads? If you are in grad school, what career option most intrigues you? If you already graduated, what are you doing now? Is it anything like what you planned?