How Can You Specialize a Master’s in History Degree?

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While most undergrad history programs require that you take classes on a wide range of history subjects, you can specialize a master's in history degree. Colleges that offer graduate programs let you pick a concentration based on your interests and the field in which you want to work after graduation. Though not all colleges offer the same choices, most colleges will offer a handful of subjects or concentrations that help you customize your degree.

Specialties Available

If you want to specialize a master's in history degree, you should look at the concentrations available from different schools. Some colleges offer a World War II concentration that focuses on subjects and topics from that time period. You may also specialize in another time period such as World War I, the Civil War or modern history. Colleges also offer concentrations in the history of specific regions of the world, including Europe and Latin America and concentrations on certain groups of people like women or African Americans. Historic preservation is another option. This concentration looks at architectural building styles and how professionals can restore, renovate and save those structures.

Choosing Your Concentration

While you might change your major multiple times in college, you should have a clear idea of what you want to do when you reach grad school. The concentration you choose must have a clear connection to your future career. If you want to work in a military museum, you might study a time period around one of the major wars. If you want to work as a college professor and plan to go on and finish a doctoral degree, you might study a specific era or group of people. It's also important to select a concentration that interests you and one you'll enjoy studying for years.

Thesis vs. Non-Thesis

Before deciding on a concentration, you might think about whether you want to write a thesis or enroll in a non-thesis program. A program that requires a thesis will ask that you do a large amount of research on a topic within your concentration, work with an adviser to create a thesis and write an extensive paper. You may also need to defend and present your thesis to professors. Non-thesis programs let you skip writing a paper but will require that you take more classes instead. Some of these courses may be seminar classes that require you write a shorter research paper.

After Graduate School

The job opportunities open to you after graduate school often depend on how you decided to specialize a master's in history degree. You might use that degree to work as a professor in a traditional college or community college, or you might get a teaching license and teach history to high school students and younger kids. History graduates also work as journalists, authors and consultants for military groups. Depending on the program, you may also work as an archivist for a museum or a special collection. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the need for archivists and museum workers will grow by 7% between 2014 and 2024.

Related Resource: 10 Most Affordable Online History Master's Degrees

When you reach graduate school and want to study history, you'll need to select some type of concentration that applies to your future goals. You can specialize a master's in history degree in several ways, including studying a specific era or culture.