College of Charleston Introduces a Public History Concentration to the MA in History

We are pleased to announce that our Master of Arts in History has introduced a Public History concentration, better preparing graduates from the program for a career as a historian.

What is Public History?

Studies have shown that a very small percentage of undergraduates who major in history continue on to pursue a PhD. This begs the question, what are the career aspirations when choosing to major in history? Clearly, these undergraduates have a passion for history. They long to immerse themselves among artifacts, stories and settings of the past on a daily basis. Their passion for history is strong, and they prefer continuing to learn through experience rather than educating others or earning a PhD.

To work as a public historian, one might find employment at a museum, in historic preservation, as a consultant or as a community activist, just to name a few. Public historians need to know how to master the historic discipline, but they also need to know how to manage a facility, educate and delight an audience and present history to the public. Since these positions require skills that exceed those of a traditional historian, a traditional history degree will not suffice.

Do I Need a Master’s Degree for a Career in Public History?

Technically speaking, no, you can find opportunities in the public history field without a graduate degree. However, these positions are very rare and are often on a volunteer basis. Generally, it takes just as long to work your way up from volunteering as it does to earn an MA. That being said, most professionals in public history do have an advanced degree, and, in order to make yourself competitive as a candidate, it is highly recommended that you do as well.

Public History at the College of Charleston

Historic charleston scCharleston, SC is arguably the most historic city in the South; after all, it is where the civil war began. In addition, US News and World Report ranks Charleston, SC #6 in Best Historical Cities to Visit in the USA. American Sky, a British publication, ranks Charleston as the #3 historical city in America. Travel and Leisure Magazine ranks Charleston #3 in America’s Best Cities for History Buffs. History is incorporated into every facet of the city, from the cobblestone walks to the homes-turned-museums. So, when it comes to earning a graduate degree in public history, what setting could be better than one of the most historic cities in the country, providing so many opportunities to apply your degree?

Questions about our new public history concentration? Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

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