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2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in History

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/15/2023
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An online bachelor's degree program in history is more than just an exploration of the past. History programs are designed to teach students to analyze past events and cultures with the goal of understanding the influences that have shaped the present and may continue to affect the future.

In general, bachelor's programs in history are somewhat customizable. Through a careful selection of concentrations and electives, students can tailor their courses based on personal interests and professional goals. However, programs typically include a research component, such as a senior thesis or capstone project, which helps students develop skills in critical thinking, synthesizing information, and writing effectively. Some students may want to continue with their education by pursuing a master's degree in history.

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Online History Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in History

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 American Public University System 100 100 $48,988
# 2 #2 National University 99 $44,540
# 3 #3 University of Maryland Global Campus 99 $43,853
# 4 #4 Columbia College 94 $39,785
# 5 #5 SUNY Empire State University 90 $37,928
# 6 #6 Arizona State University 87 $36,849
# 7 #7 University of Arkansas at Little Rock 82 $35,531
# 8 #8 Sam Houston State University 76 $34,328
# 9 #9 Southern New Hampshire University Online 74 $33,806
# 10 #10 Utah State University 73 $33,598

#1 American Public University System

  • Salary Score: 100
  • Median Starting Salary: $48,988
  • Locations: Charles Town (WV)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The American Public University System (APU) is a private, for-profit university that offers several online bachelor's degrees in history. Students can choose a Bachelor of Arts in History with one of three optional concentrations in American history, global history, or European history, or they can also choose a Bachelor of Arts in Military History with an optional concentration in American military history. All of these degrees require 120 credit hours.

In addition to general education courses, history and military history majors take 10 courses covering all time periods in history and, if desired, three additional courses in the concentration of their choice. To graduate, all students must take two other courses: Writing a Research Proposal and Senior Seminar.

#2 National University

  • Salary Score: 99
  • Median Starting Salary: $44,540
  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

National University is a private, nonprofit university that has been designated as a Hispanic-serving institution. To earn an online Bachelor of Arts in History degree, students must complete 180 quarter units. Due to the school's four-week class format and monthly start dates, some students may be able to earn their bachelor's degree in less than four years. National's acceptance rate is 55%, and its graduation rate is 34%.

Some of the core courses in National's history program include United States History, World Civilizations, and Historical Theories & Methods. To graduate, students must also complete a capstone project and fulfill a language requirement. Many graduates go into teaching, but some have found employment in public administration and professional services.

#3 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Salary Score: 99
  • Median Starting Salary: $43,853
  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Through the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC), students can earn an online Bachelor of Arts in History with a focus on either U.S. history or world history. The degree requires the completion of 120 credit hours, which some full-time students achieve in four years. This public institution accepts all applicants and has a graduation rate of 28%.

Among the core courses for either concentration are History of the United States to 1865, History of the United States Since 1865, Historical Methods, and Historical Writing. To graduate, students must also complete a senior thesis. Coursework is designed to help students develop their leadership, research, and communication skills. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in politics, law, journalism, and education.

#4 Columbia College

  • Salary Score: 94
  • Median Starting Salary: $39,785
  • Locations: Columbia (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Columbia College (CCIS) is a private nonprofit institution that offers an online Bachelor of Arts in History. The program requires 120 credit hours, and the school's online schedule featuring six eight-week sessions per year enables some students to complete the degree requirements in less than four years. CCIS has a 32% graduation rate.

Through core courses and electives, CCIS history majors can study such subjects as the history of women, Native American history, U.S. business history, and many more. The program overall places a heavy emphasis on developing professional-level research and writing skills. About 20% of CCIS history students go into education, but graduates have also established careers in politics, library science, journalism, and museum curation, among others.

#5 SUNY Empire State University

  • Salary Score: 90
  • Median Starting Salary: $37,928
  • Locations: Saratoga Springs (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

At SUNY Empire State College — a public institution — students can opt for an online Bachelor of Arts in Historical Studies and select from a wide range of concentrations, including Asian-American history, the history of women in the U.S., military history, history and literature, and public history. This degree requires the completion of 120 credit hours, including a capstone project or thesis.

All history majors take 10 core classes that cover a range of time frames, geographic regions, and approaches to history. They also take courses in their concentration as well as historiography and communications. Graduates often go on to work in either the public or private sector as teachers, community leaders, curators, archivists, or journalists.

#6 Arizona State University

  • Salary Score: 87
  • Median Starting Salary: $36,849
  • Locations: Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • Accreditation: HLC

At Arizona State University (ASU), a public institution, students may enroll in an online Bachelor of Arts in History. The program requires 120 credit hours and involves courses such as Methods of Historical Inquiry, The Historian's Craft, and Global History Since 1500. Enrollees develop useful skills that can be applied to a variety of different occupations. These skills include the ability to research and identify resources, assess evidence, draw informed conclusions, and create digital media presentations.

ASU online students use the Canvas learning management system to access their course materials. They can take advantage of the school's career development, counseling, and other services.

#7 University of Arkansas at Little Rock

  • Salary Score: 82
  • Median Starting Salary: $35,531
  • Locations: Little Rock (AR)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a state-run school that offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in history. The 120-credit hour program, which includes a capstone course, covers everything from Ancient Greece to the American Civil Rights Movement. Coursework is designed to help students hone valuable skills, such as conducting research, evaluating conflicting evidence and interpretations, observing trends and patterns, and persuasive writing.

The university offers several student services to online learners, including academic advising, library resources, and technical support.

#8 Sam Houston State University

  • Salary Score: 76
  • Median Starting Salary: $34,328
  • Locations: Huntsville (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Sam Houston State University (SHSU), which is a public institution, offers an online Bachelor of Arts in History. History is the fastest-growing department at the school, and courses are taught by award-winning faculty. Students can customize their studies by focusing on a particular aspect of history, such as U.S. History, Latin American History, European History, World History, Military History, or African American History. In addition to the history coursework, graduation requirements include a foreign language and a minor. Enrollees are encouraged to complete an internship before graduating.

Online students at SHSU access their course materials through the Blackboard system. The school has a 97% acceptance rate and a 58% graduation rate.

#9 Southern New Hampshire University Online

  • Salary Score: 74
  • Median Starting Salary: $33,806
  • Locations: Manchester (NH)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is one of the largest private, non-profit schools offering online degree programs. Students interested in studying history can select a general Bachelor of Arts in History or one of four areas of concentration: European history, American history, military history, or Middle Eastern studies. Coursework and learning activities are designed to help students develop essential research, analytical, and communication skills.

At SNHU, online learners use the Brightspace system to view course lectures and readings, submit homework assignments, and engage in class discussions with peers and instructors.

#10 Utah State University

  • Salary Score: 73
  • Median Starting Salary: $33,598
  • Locations: Logan (UT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

At the publicly run Utah State University (USU), students can opt to earn a Bachelor of Science in History online. The program requires students to participate in undergraduate research projects, which teaches them to investigate problems, identify reliable sources, analyze information, and communicate thoughtfully and effectively. About one-third of USU history majors have become teachers, but many graduates have gone on to careers as historians, lawyers, public policy makers, and more.

USU delivers its online courses through the Canvas learning system. The school offers a variety of resources for online students, including academic advising, tutoring, library services, and wellness support

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Overview of Online History Degrees

At root, one goal is common to all history degrees: to equip learners with the tools to critically study the past. The sophistication of these tools depends on which degree level you're studying for, along with your previous education in history. Professors are often less concerned with how well you memorize facts than with how you're able to present and defend your viewpoint on how and why events occurred.

No degree program can fully encompass all of world history, so students often select a concentration to help focus their learning on a particular era or place. Programs tend to get narrower and more specialized the higher your education continues, with doctoral students often writing dissertations to advance research on relatively niche topics.

What Types of History Degrees Are Available?

One consideration is whether to earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree. Your history major won't involve the fine arts or life sciences; the curriculum might feature a small difference in general education classes. For example, a BA might require a year of foreign language classes, while a BS at the same school may call for an extra math or statistics course. Most history programs are associate of arts, bachelor of arts, or master of arts degrees, but some schools offer science-focused variations.

History is a broad subject, so you have wide latitude to choose a degree that suits you. Thus, before beginning your college journey, consider what level of degree you're ultimately seeking:

  • Bachelor's degrees in history cover more history subject matter in 120 credit hours, which is designed to last four years but usually takes longer. You typically take a world history sequence and courses in the focus area of your choice. You'll also complete a set of liberal arts general education classes.
  • Master's degrees in history give opportunities for advanced, specialized research. They usually call for 30-40 credits of history courses, which can take one or two full-time years or two to three part-time years. Most programs culminate in a thesis based on in-depth original research.

Core Courses for a History Degree

History degrees cover subjects, events, concepts, and cultures from the entire history of humanity, and beyond. Along with discovering important facts, people, and places, you'll learn new research methods and analyze data in order to understand their importance better. You'll then apply said research to a capstone project or thesis paper to present at the end of your program.

Below are some core classes that you'll encounter during your history studies:


This is the study of the historian as a profession, including how they write, what their responsibilities are, and what techniques and processes they use to compile and analyze historical research.

Big History: Time and Scale

This unique course explores the various contexts of history, from the psychological aspects to environmental and political perspectives. It looks at history from a bird's eye view without considering the limitations of the world's nations and their biased perspectives.

Introduction to African Civilization

The study of African civilization is often a multi-part course that explores the vast and dense history of the world's second largest continent — from medieval Ethiopia to the transatlantic trade, where African civillians were bought and sold into slavery.

Introduction to the Medieval World

This course is a look at the complex and barbaric world of medieval Europe. Topics include the birth of Christianity, medieval warfare, and the crusades, along with the daily life, city design, and education practices of medieval civilizations.

History of America

In this course you'll explore the history of America dating all the way to the earliest colonial settlements and up through the period of reconstruction. There will be discussions of expansions and self-governance, alongside defining nationalism and the breakdown of the democratic process going into the Civil War.

Should History Majors Get a Concentration?

History degree concentrations, or majors, can help you narrow your expertise in a given area and allow you to pursue a more specialized career. With this specialization, you can seek employment in one area, be it economics or science, thanks to your deep understanding of the field.

Examples of majors can often be broken down into themes or geographic areas. For example, if you are most interested in the continent of Asia, you can explore a major in South Asian or East Asian studies. Or you may prefer to study a specific theme, such as the history of politics or education. North American history is perhaps the most common area of study for bachelor's degrees. However, thematic concentrations are increasingly popular, especially those examining gender, race, and ethnicity, and sexuality across time and space.

What Jobs Can I Get With an Online Degree in History?

As a history graduate, your career is largely dependent on your major. For example, a concentration in economics or marketing can be turned into a career as a market research analyst. With a major in education, you may pursue your teacher's license to become a high school history teacher. Even without a major, roles as a librarian, museum curator, or writer can still be achieved. Keep in mind, historians often require a master's degree in history due to the extensive research practices they're engaged in.

What Is the Highest Paying Job With a History Degree?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiled a list of professions within the field of history. It's no surprise that the highest paying roles came from positions at the executive level. Top executives earned a median wage of $98,980 per year. The BLS also reports that chief executives in the field of history likely require a bachelor's degree. Other potential high earning roles include management analysts ($93,000) and secondary school principals ($98,420).

Is a History Degree Worth It?

Earning a degree in history online can be worth it for several reasons. As discussed, there is ample opportunity to gain a high-paying role, or you may want to follow your passion as a librarian or writer while earning an average salary. Before you choose the best path forward, it's helpful to understand the pros and cons of a degree in history:

Potential Advantages

  • A bachelor's degree in history is likely required to gain employment in the field. According to the BLS, 60% of professions in the field of history require a bachelor's degree.

  • Your salary is likely going to be slightly higher than the national average if you hold a history degree. Another BLS statistic states that a professional in the field of history earns a median annual salary of $60,000. Compare this to the national salary for all occupations, which sits at $61,900 as of May 2022.

  • You'll advance your skills in oral and written communication. History degrees require you to present and write research papers on various nuanced subjects. By the end of your program, you'll feel more comfortable as a public speaker, a skill that will no doubt come in handy during your professional life.

Potential Disadvantages

  • Some history professions require a master's degree. If you want to become a postsecondary teacher, education administrator, or a lawyer, you'll need an advanced degree.

  • You will be forced to confront uncomfortable, and at times painful, moments in history. Many programs explore disturbing subject matter, such as the reign of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany or the transatlantic slave trade.

  • You may miss out on subjects that truly interest you. If you're particularly passionate about, let's say, the history of Eastern European politics or women's and gender history, you may not get the opportunity to explore those subjects. There is a near-unlimited amount of topics that can be covered in a history degree and not everything can be discussed in the span of a four-year program. Make sure that the program you're interested in hosts courses or concentrations in your desired specialty.

Is a History Major a Good Fit for Me?

History might be a good major for you if you're enthralled with the subject matter. But you should understand that alumni of history bachelor's programs earn median annual salaries of $60,000, which is less than the $69,368 median wage for all bachelor's-level employees. What's more, the $60,000 figure comes from a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) dataset in which half of the history majors have advanced degrees, which would tend to raise their earning potential.

But nobody should choose a major that doesn't excite them just because it might lead to a higher paying job. Future earnings might be a major factor in your decision, but it's just one of many.

FAQs About Online History Degrees

How Difficult Is a History Degree?

History degrees are not considered particularly difficult. They look at the human condition through a philosophical and historical lens, along with the events and subjects that define humanity. This may be considered easier to understand when compared to STEM programs, such as physics or mathematics, which require a great deal of technical and theoretical understanding.

How Long Would It Take To Get a History Degree?

Bachelor's degrees in history generally require the completion of 120 credit hours. In fact, this is typical for all degrees at the bachelor's level. This amount of credits usually takes four years to complete while studying with a full-time schedule.

There are a number of ways to graduate early if you prefer to fast-track your degree. You can seek accelerated programs, transfer existing credits from an associate degree or certificate program, or — in some cases — you may qualify for credits based on life experience, such as military service or by showcasing an existing portfolio of work.

Can I Get a History Degree Online?

Yes, online degrees are on the rise. Additionally, a history degree online is just as respected as a traditional, on-campus program. Today, most hiring managers don't look into whether a degree was earned online or in person. What's more is that a college diploma likely won't mention that it was completed remotely at all. This helps to eliminate the stigma attached to distance learning and opens the door for more students to earn a degree at their own pace.

Bottom Line

History graduates are capable of attaining a wide range of careers in corporate businesses, education institutions, and even the art world, with an above-average salary. If you're finding it difficult to pin down a direction, and you're asking yourself "what should I study if I love history?," the answer may not lie with a general history degree. Instead, you may want to explore more niche education tracks, such as anthropology, archeology, or art history.

Some history graduates go on to pursue a master's degree in teaching in order to become a college history professor. Or, earn a master's in history to pursue a research position at a university. Whether a career in education is of interest to you or not, there are numerous routes you can take that apply your newfound skills in problem solving and public speaking, as well as your understanding of culture and humanity.

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