22 Most Affordable Online History Master’s Degrees 2020

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If you're passionate about the past, earning an online Master's in History is a fulfilling way to prepare for a Ph.D. or begin a rewarding career. Beyond working as a historian, students graduating with Master's degrees in History often launch careers in education, the military, law, journalism, or work as archivists and interpreters in museums, libraries, and other settings.

To study history at an advanced level requires a commitment to rigorous scholarship and research. Enrolling in a graduate school for history offers students the opportunity to train in historical writing and research methods, and develop writing skills through online seminars and papers. 

Many programs on this list are customizable and offer students both thesis and non-thesis options. Students who are interested in earning their master's degree as a terminal degree typically select non-thesis options and will complete a degree program with a final paper, project or other culminating experience. Students who want to pursue a Ph.D. will need to complete a graduate thesis and defense.

American History and World History are common major concentrations among the programs featured here, along with Public History – a concentration designed to train students for engaging careers like archivists and museum docents. Though not typical, some programs include a brief residency requirement for examinations and orientation sessions. Almost all programs can be completed in two years. 

A graduate degree helps you advance your career, and earning a Master's degree in History is no different. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with graduate degrees earn 16% more than those with undergraduate degrees on average, and they experience lower unemployment rates. Job growth ranges from steady to well above average for historians, post-secondary teachers, and archivists. In 2018, archivists earned an average of more than $48,000 per year, while historians typically earned over $61,000 in the same period. Post-secondary teachers saw an average income of $78,000 per year in 2018. 

Ranking Methodology: "It's science!"

The researchers and writers at Best Master's Degrees don't make recommendations based upon preference – we back our rankings with science. Here's a quick breakdown of how we organize ranking data:

  • Finances (40%)
  • Academic Rigor (35%)
  • Student Gratification (25%)

Nearly half of the data used to score each ranking involves finances and are acquired from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Education, Glassdoor, and PayScale. Financial data encompasses the cost of tuition, fees, and class supplied; the average price of living; access to financial aid and social services; and lastly, the projected annual salary acquired from degree outcomes and income for loan repayment. The second largest category of information involves the quality of education, how competitive degree applicants should be for consideration, and how exclusive a degree program is overall. The final 25% of collected data is dependent upon student and alumni reviews from sources such as PayScale, Rate My Professor, and Students Review. 

Want to Learn More? 

The amount of information available for specific degrees is plentiful, and Best Master's Degrees aims to provide as many resources as we can. Check out our Methodology page for more information and resource links.


#22 – Grand Canyon University

Master of Arts in History with an Emphasis in Education

Phoenix, AZ

The Master of Arts in History with an Emphasis in Education from Grand Canyon University offers a unique degree opportunity to students who are passionate about history. The program is intended for aspiring educators who want to teach at the undergraduate level in two- and four-year institutions. Students complete the degree by earning 34 credits through a series of eight-week courses. The program provides training in curriculum design, online education, learning paradigms, and more. History topics range from concepts in understanding U.S. History to studies in the American West and historical perspectives of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Additionally, students complete a graduate research seminar by exploring the literature and historiography of a topic of the student's interest. The degree is also available in a campus-based format.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,916


#21 – Arizona State University

Online Master of Arts in History

Tempe, AZ

Gain skills in critical thinking, analysis, and communication while expanding your knowledge of the past with the Online Master of Arts in History from Arizona State University. Students will explore a range of historical periods in the 30-hour program. The program's curriculum includes topics in global history, North American history, the Civil War era, the ‘60s, genealogy, and more. The program is selective, and applicants will need a minimum 3.3 GPA to qualify, along with writing samples and letters of recommendation. A Graduate Record Examination score is not required. Classes typically last eight weeks, and students will complete ten classes to earn the degree. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,406 / $25,160


#20 – Fort Hays State University 

Master of Arts in History without Thesis

Hays, KS

Advance your historical knowledge while building practical skills in research and communication with the Master of Arts in History without Thesis from Fort Hays State University. The degree program consists of 30 to 33 credit hours from coursework at the 600 level or higher. Students will complete two graduate seminars, which lead to two major research papers worth a total of six credit hours. Students will earn another 21 credit hours through history electives before completing the program with a comprehensive examination. Students who lack training in history will take Advanced Historical Methods as a prerequisite for the program. Students seeking a research-focused degree that includes a graduate thesis can enroll in the university's campus-based Master of Arts in History program. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $3,582 / $10,206


#19 – Wayland Baptist University 

Master of Arts in History

Plainview, TX

Study for your future with the convenient and flexible Master of Arts in History from Wayland Baptist University. The curriculum includes a number of subjects, including public history, environmental history, archival and record management courses, and more. The 37-hour degree offers both thesis and non-thesis options and can be completed entirely online or at one of the university's many satellite locations. Students will take required courses in historical methods and historiography before selecting 24 hours in electives ranging from nineteenth-century America, to U.S. foreign relations, ethnic and gender history, and the history of science and technology. To apply, students will need an academic background that includes at least six undergraduate hours in history. Students may be eligible to transfer up to 12 semester hours of graduate credit from another university. Participants not completing a thesis must pass a comprehensive examination worth one credit hour. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,520


#18 – Indiana State University 

Online Master of Science in History

Terre Haute, IN

Grow your knowledge of the past while gaining valuable research skills with the Online Master of Science in History from Indiana State University. Students typically complete the online program in three to five years when studying on a part-time basis. The university features numerous research opportunities through a cooperative agreement with major universities in Indiana, the Center for Research Libraries, and the Educational Research Information Center. Students may select a concentration from options that include United States history, European history, and global history. Two required courses expose students to concepts in historical methods, theory, and research. The program concludes with a culminating oral examination. Students who intend to continue their studies to the doctoral level are encouraged to apply to the university's online Master of Arts in History degree program. The program is only open to residents of the United States and Canada. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,416 / $14,562


#17 – Emporia State University

Master of Arts in History

Emporia, KS

The Master of Arts in History from Emporia State University is a customizable degree that helps students achieve their academic goals. Students select from three career-tracks in the degree program, including a traditional thesis track, a non-thesis track, and a Social Sciences Education track. Students interested in earning a Ph.D. should enroll in the program's thesis track, while the non-thesis track replaces the thesis with additional coursework and a comprehensive examination. Educators will benefit from the program's Social Sciences Education track, which requires students to complete a teaching project in place of a thesis. Students may also select the Archival Studies option which includes a graduate certificate in Archival Studies. Additionally, graduate certificates in History and Public History are available. The university's Department of Social Sciences is a member of the American Historical Association, and the university holds accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,238 / $19,403


#16 – Louisiana Tech University

Master of Arts in History

Ruston, LA

Explore the cultures and civilizations of the past and present in a rigorous academic program with the Master of Arts in History from Louisiana Tech University. The university's Department of History offers both thesis-based and non-thesis-based degree plans, allowing students to prepare for further study at the doctoral level or to pursue a career in a number of fields. The program's Plan A includes 30 semester hours, with six allocated to the completion and defense of a graduate research thesis. The remaining credits are earned through courses at the 400 and 500 level. In the program's Plan B, students earn 33 graduate credits. Introductory courses including Historical Research and Writing and Historiography are required of all students regardless of the plan they have selected. The program concludes with a written examination in at least two fields of study.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,592 / $13,333


#15 – Eastern Illinois University 

Master of Arts in History Online Option for Teachers 

Charleston, IL

Dive into the world's major historical movements while training as an educator with the Master of Arts in History Online Option for Teachers from Eastern Illinois University. The program's curriculum focuses on topics in U.S. and world history. The program includes a five-day summer residency to strengthen the department's academic community. Students will work closely with faculty members, whose research interests cover the Ancient Near East, modern England, Cold War America, and more. The 32-hour program also enhances students' skills in research, writing and historical thinking. Students will also complete courses in historiography, three proseminars, and an independent study. The program concludes with a capstone course that constitutes a final examination process. The program does not lead to teacher licensure.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,176 / $17,232


#14 – University of North Alabama 

Master of Art in History

Florence, AL

Pursue your graduate degree while studying at your convenience with the Master of Arts in History from the University of North Alabama. The online degree is designed as a generalist program that prepares students to teach at the secondary level and higher. Students will earn a minimum of 33 semester hours of credit while focusing on U.S. history. Core coursework begins with topics in historiography and methodology and includes seminars in U.S. and world history divided by era. Students electing to write a thesis will take six semester hours of thesis preparation and research in addition to the thesis defense. The non-thesis option requires students to complete a directed research and study course in addition to a comprehensive written examination. The program also includes a research skill requirement, which can be met by passing a reading skills test in a foreign language or through upper-division coursework approved by the Department of History.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,868 / $11,736


#13 – University of Nebraska at Kearney

History Master of Arts

Kearney, NE

Work with engaging faculty while pursuing your career and academic goals with the History Master of Arts from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. The 36-credit-hour program is available in thesis, non-thesis, and Public History options. All three options include two required courses in American history and historical methods. Students preparing a thesis will complete additional credits in public or digital history, U.S. history, and non-U.S. history, along with six credits of thesis work. Non-thesis students will substitute thesis work with additional credits from coursework, including a major and minor field. Students in the Public History option will take courses in American history readings and digital history, along with an internship in history, and at least six credits from the university's public history electives. Non-thesis students also complete the internship and a directed research component. To apply, candidates will need a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 along with submitting a score from the Graduate Record Examination. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,892 / $12,930


#12 – Sam Houston State University 

Master of Arts in History

Huntsville, TX

Benefit from small class sizes and around-the-clock opportunities to study with the Master of Arts in History from Sam Houston State University. The program is offered fully-online, or in a hybrid online/in-person format, and students may choose to complete either a written portfolio or thesis project. The program includes two required courses for non-thesis students, including historical methods and a seminar in history, which leads to an article-length research paper. Thesis students will be required to take a historical methods course and six credit hours of thesis work. The balance of the program is made up of core courses and electives. Available tracks of study include Encounters and Exchanges, which emphasizes American and world history. The program's Rights and Identity track focuses on major historical movements, including revolutions and reformations. Finally, students may select the War and Violence track, which focuses on warfare from medieval Europe through American conflicts. The university holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,540 / $13,010


#11 – Pittsburg State University 

Masters of Arts Degree with a Major in History

Pittsburg, KS

The Masters in Arts Degree with a Major in History from Pittsburg State University engages students with the past while preparing them for the future. Students will gain a background that prepares them to become history teachers while providing the research skills for career and academic advancement. The program includes between 30 and 32 credit hours. Applicants will need to submit a personal essay that outlines the applicant's experience with history and the goals for earning a graduate degree. The university also offers an online graduate certificate in history. Students who wish to take classes in the degree program as non-enrolled students may request to do so with the permission of the university's History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences Department.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,560 / $17,200


#10 – University of Massachusetts Boston 

Online History Master of Arts

Boston, MA

You'll benefit from rigorous academics and research opportunities with the Online History Master of Arts from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Students take classes from tenure-stream faculty in this competitive, fully-online program. Students can expect to read between 250 and 300 pages per week and write at least 25 pages per semester. The program includes 30 credits, six of which will come from the student's thesis work. Required courses include research methods and historiography, while electives cover topics ranging from Atlantic history and the American Revolution to the World Wars and modern America. To apply, students will need to submit at least three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a statement of purpose. Students are encouraged to submit a score from the Graduate Record Examination, though it is not required.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,876 / $34,932


#9 – Southern New Hampshire University 

Master of Arts in History

Manchester, NH

The online Master of Arts in History from Southern New Hampshire University can help you transform your passion into a career. The program features multiple start dates throughout the year and is designed to be finished in 15 months. Students will complete required courses in historiography and historical methods before selecting a concentration or proceeding onto the degree's content courses. Concentrations include American History, Military History, and Public History, which focuses on the management, preservation, and interpretation of the past. Students wishing to complete the degree without a concentration can take five history electives and complete a capstone experience that leads to a research paper or project. The university holds accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,810


#8 – Missouri State University-Springfield 

Master of Arts in History Online

Springfield, MO

The Master of Arts in History Online from Missouri State University helps you achieve success through a strong curriculum and career preparation. The two-year program accepts students in any semester. Students can pursue both thesis and non-thesis graduation options and select from tracks in American Studies, Global Area Studies, and U.S. and World Studies. Students can also bolster their education with a secondary education sub-track. Students in all tracks will take historiography and historical methods courses, along with a required research seminar. Non-thesis students will earn 21 hours of credit through a combination of reading, research, and primary source seminars. Thesis students complete six hours of thesis work, along with with six hours of American history courses, and a further nine hours of non-history courses in related fields selected with the approval of an academic advisor. All students will be required to pass a comprehensive examination to earn their degrees. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,022 / $10,098


#7 – University of Memphis

Master of Arts in History

Memphis, TN

Boost your research and analytical skills while studying the past and present with the Master of Arts in History from the University of Memphis. Students benefit from working with faculty and a rigorous curriculum. Online students typically select the program's non-thesis option, which is designed for students seeking a terminal degree before pursuing a career. In special cases, students may petition to write a thesis if they have access to adequate resources. The program concludes with a proctored written comprehensive examination and, if necessary, a thesis defense. Online students have access to a full range of courses, including internship opportunities, and may select a concentration from any major field of history, including U.S. or European history. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,054 / $17,838


#6 – University of North Carolina Wilmington

Master of Arts for History Educators

Wilmington, NC

Develop your understanding of history while expanding your teaching skills with the Master of Arts for History Educators from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The 30-hour program helps professional educators bring the latest research methods and content knowledge into their classrooms. Students participate in two years of online classes in addition to two on-campus summer institutes. All classes are asynchronous, giving students maximum flexibility in their studies. In place of a research thesis, graduate students will complete a capstone experience that includes the real-world use of history content in a teaching environment. Students also complete a comprehensive examination and a historiographic essay. To apply, students need to complete the university's standard graduate admission application plus a 500-word essay describing the student's interest in history.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,719 / $18,548


#5 – Liberty University

Master of Arts in History

Lynchburg, VA

Enjoy the convenience of studying online while studying the past and present in the Master of Arts in History from Liberty University. The completely online program can be completed in as little as one and a half years and includes the opportunity to complete an internship. The program places particular emphasis on the American political process and forms of servitude in the West. Highlight courses include Historical Methods and Interpretation, the Protestant Reformation, the History of American Political Parties, and the History of Slavery and Servitude in the Western World. Students will earn 36 credit hours in total, including core courses in the methods and theories of historical research. The program is offered by the university's College of Arts and Sciences and holds accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,904


#4 – University of Louisiana at Monroe

Master of Arts in History

Monroe, LA

The Master of Arts in History from the University of Louisiana at Monroe grounds you in the past while providing research and analytic skills to help you succeed. Students will complete 30 hours of coursework in this online program, which does not include a thesis requirement. At least half of the student's graduate program must come from history courses at the 5000-level or higher. To apply, students must have a bachelor's degree with at least nine semester hours in history and a 3.0 GPA. Students who do not meet the minimum requirements may be admitted to the program on a conditional basis with the approval of the Graduate History Admission and Curriculum Committee. Students should also submit a writing sample no longer than ten pages to the graduate coordinator. The program's curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including the American Civil War, Native American History, Colonial Latin America, Ancient Egypt, and many more. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,490 / $18,590


#3 – Norwich University 

Master of Arts in History

Northfield, VT

Build a unique perspective on the past that will help you design your future with the Master of Arts in History from Norwich University. Students are taught by highly educated faculty members in this customizable graduate degree. Students can select one of four start dates to begin their studies and focus their degree with major concentrations, including American History, World History, and Public History. The program takes place completely online, with the exception of a one-week campus residency that includes the student's culminating experience. Students typically graduate in 18 months. The 36-credit-hour program includes courses on historiography, directed readings, and a capstone paper. Students selecting the American or World History concentrations may complete an optional thesis with the support of faculty members in the Master of History or Master of Arts in Military History program. The university holds accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,710


#2 – Western Kentucky University 

Master of Arts in History

Bowling Green, KY

When you earn a Master of Arts in History from Western Kentucky University, you'll broaden your appreciation of the past, gain valuable writing and analytic skills, and progress toward your career and academic goals. The degree is designed to be completed in three years, preparing students for further study at the doctoral level, or for students pursuing a career as history teachers at the secondary or college level. To enter the program, applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA on their undergraduate coursework and submit a score from the Graduate Record Examination. The non-thesis program includes a core requirement in historiography and several concentration courses in subjects such as Pre-Modern Europe and Post-Civil War United States. Students will also be asked to demonstrate skills with a research tool. This can be completed by taking additional courses in statistics or historiography or by demonstrating skills in a foreign language. 

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,140 / $17,980


#1 – Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Master of Arts in History

Slippery Rock, PA

Study the past while laying the groundwork for a rewarding future with the Master of Arts in History from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. Students will complete 30 credits in this fully online program featuring themes of U.S., European, and world history. The curriculum begins with an introductory course in historiography and includes at least 27 credits from subjects including the American West, U.S. Foreign Policy, Pennsylvania History, and Medieval Europe. The program's world history focus includes courses on the Ancient Near East, Contemporary China, Mexico and the Southern Cone, and more. Students must pass a written comprehensive examination after the completion of 21 credits. Applicants will need to submit an undergraduate transcript and possess a minimum 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate major. A personal essay is also required. The university is a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,384 / $18,576