Combined BA/MA Degree in History with a Specialization in Public History

What is Public History?

Good question. "Public history" refers to any of the ways in which academically trained historians work and engage with a wider public. Sometimes this means work in libraries, archives and museums. But public historians work in the private sector, the non-profit world and in government at the local, state and national levels.

Here's the way the National Council on Public History put it: "Public historians come in all shapes and sizes. They call themselves historical consultants, museum professionals, government historians, archivists, oral historians, cultural resource managers, curators, film and media producers, historical interpreters, historic preservationists, policy advisers, local historians, and community activists, among many, many other job descriptions. All share an interest and commitment to making history relevant and useful in the public sphere."

There are many ways to put a history degree to work beyond teaching and academia. Public history encompasses them all.

Columbus, Ohio Arches 1905

Why should I get a BA/MA?

This combined degree will give students a head start in their careers in public history. Many such jobs require an MA degree and the combination of academic training and field experience will make students more competitive for those jobs.

Alternately, students who want to pursue a PhD in history will find that an MA will make them more attractive to graduate programs.

Who is eligible for the program?

The program will begin in the autumn semester that follows a student’s admission to the program. Students should apply for admission to the program as soon as they have met the following requirements:

  • have completed at least 18 semester credit hours of history courses (including the history courses you are taking currently).
  • have completed, or are taking, History 2800. 
  • have completed, or are taking, a 4000-level Readings in History seminar. 
  • have a cumulative GPA in Ohio State courses of at least 3.50.

Program Participant Chris Cortese Shares His Experiences

What are the requirements for the combined BA/MA?

The program is designed to give student the flexibility to pursue their own particular interests, but it also demands that students be independent and take responsibility for designing their own program of study and research. Here are the requirements each student must fulfill:

  • Students must fulfill all of the requirements for the History BA Major, 33 semester credit hours. [See History BA Major Requirements Document. For a full list of Undergraduate Courses in the History Department, see "Complete Undergraduate Semester Course Offerings--History Department.xlsx]
  • Students will then be required to complete 30 semester credit hours of graduate coursework for the MA in addition to the coursework required for the BA.
    • For a Full list of History-Department Graduate-level Semester courses, see "Complete Graduate-Level Semester Course Offerings--History Department"
  • Up to 9 hours of graduate coursework can "overlap" and be counted simultaneously toward the requirements for the BA and MA.

There are several required courses that each student must take:

Once accepted, students will be required to take the following courses (all 3 semester credit hours unless otherwise noted):

  • History 7900 - Colloquium in the Philosophy of History, Historiography, and the Historian's Skills I
  • History 7800 - Introduction to Public History
  • History 7901 - Digital History
  • History 7801- Independent Project in Public History
  • History 6999 - MA Thesis (3 credit hours, repeatable once, a total of 6 credit hours)

Students fill the rest of their schedule with electives:

  • These electives might include:
    • Other relevant graduate level courses chosen in consultation with Adviser from the History Graduate course offerings.
    • Up to three graduate-level courses (9 credit hours) from other departments or colleges. These courses should be approved by the student's advisor and have a direct bearing on the particular field of endeavor the student wants to pursue. These might include courses from:
      • The Knowlton School of Architecture (such as "Research Methods in Historic Preservation")
      • The College of Education
      • The School of Communication
      • The Fisher College of Business
      • The John Glenn School of Public Affairs.
      • Art Education (such as "Museum Education Practicum")

Here is a Sample Program:

Semester One (4th year):

  • History 7900 - Colloquium in the Philosophy of History, Historiography, and the
  • Historian's Skills I (3 cr.)
  • History 4000-level - Senior Research Seminar (3 cr.)
  • Other Undergraduate-Level History Course

Semester Two (4th year):

  • History 7901 - Digital History (3 cr.)
  • History 7800 - Introduction to Public History (3 cr.)
  • Elective graduate-level course from outside History Department [elective]

Semester Three (5th year):

  • History 7801 - Independent Project in Public History (3 cr.)
  • History 7080 - Studies in African American History (3 cr.) [elective]
  • History 6999 - MA Thesis (3 cr.)

Semester Four (5th year):

  • History 6999 - MA Thesis (3 cr.)
  • History 7010 - Themes in Recent U.S. History (3 cr.) [elective]
  • History 7014 - Studies in American Urban History (3 cr.) [elective]

How do I apply?

  • You will need to complete the Graduate School Online Application.
  • Remember! When filling out the application, when you see the question, "are you applying to a combined degree program", click Yes. You will be directed to the Combined Degree Form.
  • Then follow the application steps below:

Here is the application check list:

  • online form (including 500 word statement of purpose)
  • transcript
  • writing sample
  • one letter of recommendation

Send all material electronically to Associate Professor David Staley,

Current internship opportunities.

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