Public History M.A. Degree

Our alumni represent our program well through employment at the North Carolina Museum of History, the New York Public Library, the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Death Valley National Monument, the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Harriet Tubman National Historic Monument, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, the Scheile Museum of Natural History, the Jewish Historical Society, Yale University Manuscripts and Archives, the Virginia Air and Space Museum, the North Carolina Historical Review, the Maryland Historical Society, the Museum of African American History of Boston, the Woodstock (N.Y.) Historical Society, and the National Storytelling Association, among hundreds of other institutions.

Some of our students come directly from receiving their B.A. degrees, while many of our students have already worked in the field and want to advance their credentials.

The program requires thirty-six hours of course work, one-third of the hours falling in historical studies, the rest in public history classes, including innovative courses in archival and special collections management, paper conservation, records management, documentary editing, material culture, and museum studies.  A thesis is not required, although a thesis track is available for interested students.

All students complete a practicum in their own special areas of interest—including records management, the administration of historic sites, history museums, historic preservation, or historical publications.  Over the past four years, students have interned at the North Carolina State Archives, North Carolina Museum of History, National Archives, Wisconsin Historical Society, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Historic Stagville State Historic Park, National Baseball Hall of Fame, Senator John Heinz History Center (Penn.), Nantucket (Mass.) Historical Society, Duke University Special Collections, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and Ellis Island Museum of Immigration, among other locations.

The NCSU Public History program enjoys  curricular relationships with the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC SILS), and with the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University (NCCU SLIS).

Degree Requirements

Most students do a non-thesis program which consists of 36 hours of coursework core courses in history and public history, additional courses in history and a track of courses in the public history specialization, and two electives to supplement their public history preparation. Students who pursue the thesis option replace those electives with six hours of thesis research and writing. (John Stackhouse's “Should You Write a Master’s Thesis?” may help you consider which option will be best for you.) Every student completes a 160-hour internship, and in the student's final semester, the student either takes an oral examination on the portfolio and coursework, or presents a portfolio and defends the thesis.

The public history specialization may be tailored to meet students’ specific professional ambitions. Most students have specialized in museum studies, historic sites and parks, heritage studies, digital history, family and community history, public memory, African American/Native American public history, or archives and records management (only for students in the credit transfer program with UNC’s School of Information and Library Sciences). Decisions on public history specialization are made in consultation with the Director of Public History.

Requirements at a Glance

Non-Thesis Option, 36 Hours

Public History Field, 15 hours

  • HI 596: Introduction to Public History
  • HI 642: Internship in Public History

and 9 hours in a concentration (recommended curricula in parentheses):

  • Museum Studies (HI 591, 593, and either 588, 589, 787, 788, or 789)
  • Heritage Studies (HI 587, 594, and either 533, 588, 589, 787, 788, or 789)
  • Public Memory (HI 563 and two of 533, 534, 787, and/or 788)
  • Digital History (HI 534 and two digital humanities courses in consultation with adviser)
  • Family and Community History (HI 588 and two of 533, 534, 787, and/or788)
  • African American & Native American public history (HI 787, 788, and either 563, 588, 593, or 594)
  • Archives and Records Management (any three courses in consultation with adviser)

History Field, 15 Hours

  • HI 597: Historiography and Historical Method
  • HI 598: Historical Writing
  • 9 credit hours in history courses, at least 6 of which must be HI 792: Seminar in History

Electives, 6 Hours

  • HI 533; Theory and Practice of Oral History
  • HI 534: Theory and Practice of Digital History
  • HI 563: Topics in History and Memory
  • HI 587: Cultural Resource Management
  • HI 588: Family and Community History
  • HI 589: Interpretation at Historic Sites and Parks
  • HI 591: Museum Studies
  • HI 593: Material Culture
  • HI 594: Cultural Heritage
  • HI 787: African American Public History
  • HI 788: Native American Public History
  • HI 789: Public History in International Contexts

or one of the following from another discipline at NC State:

  • ANT 533: Anthropology of Ecotourism and Heritage Conservation
  • ARC 544: Architectural Conservation
  • ARC 548: Vernacular Architecture
  • COM 581: Visual Rhetoric: Theory and Criticism
  • NR 531: Introduction to Geographic Information Science
  • NR 548: Historical Environments
  • PA 531: Human Resources Management in Public & Nonprofit Organizations
  • PA 536: Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • PA 538: Budgeting and Financial Management
  • PA 539: Fund Development
  • PA 640: Grant Writing
  • PRT 520: Concepts of Travel and Tourism

Thesis Option, 36 Hours

Public History Field, 15 Hours

  • HI 596: Introduction to Public History
  • HI 642: Internship in Public History
  • HI 791: Research Seminar in Public History

and 9 hours in a concentration:

  • Museum Studies (HI 591, 593, and either 588, 589, 787, 788, or 789)
  • Heritage Studies (HI 587, 594, and either 533, 588, 787, 788, or 789)
  • Historic Sites and Parks (HI 591, 594, and 589)
  • Public Memory (HI 563 and two of 533, 534, 787, and/or 788)
  • Digital History (HI 534 and two digital humanities courses in consultation with adviser)
  • Family and Community History (HI 588 and two of 533, 534, 787, and/or788)
  • African American & Native American public history (HI 787, 788, and either 563, 588, 593, or 594)
  • Archives and Records Management (any three courses in consultation with adviser)

History Field, 15 Hours

  • HI 597: Historiography and Historical Method
  • HI 598: Historical Writing
  • 9 credit hours in history courses, at least 6 of which must be HI 792 Seminar in History

Thesis, 3 Hours

  • HI 693: Master’s Supervised Research
  • HI 695: Master’s Thesis Research
  • HI 699: Master’s Thesis Preparation