Retrieving the Master's Degree from the Dustbin of History (2005)

A Report to the Members of the American Historical Association

Prepared by Philip M. Katz for the AHA's Committee on the Master’s Degree in History.

Read a PDF of the printed version.



I. A (Very) Brief History of the Master’s Degree

  • Why Now?
  • Outline of the Report

II. The History Master’s Degree: A Snapshot in Statistics

  • Demographic Trends
  • Graduate Programs

III. Destinations and Desires

  • Destination 1: A Doctorate in History?
  • Destination 2: Community Colleges
  • Destination 3: Secondary School Teaching
  • Destination 4: Public History

IV. Where Is the Mastery in the Master’s Degree?

  • Common Knowledge, Skills, and Identities for History Professionals

V. Defining a Distinctive Role for the Master’s Level in History

VI. Unanswered Questions

Appendix 1: U.S. Colleges and Universities that Award Master’s Degrees in History

Appendix 2: Survey Distributed to Graduate Students in Spring 2003

Appendix 3: Essential Competencies for National Park Service Employees: Historians (Developmental Level)

Appendix 4: Sample Outcome Statements from History Master's Degree Programs

Appendix 5: Defining a Distinctive Role for the Master's Degree: Recent European Efforts


Committee on the Master’s Degree in History

David Trask (Guilford Technical Community College), chair
Thomas Bender (New York University)
Fritz Fischer (University of Northern Colorado)
Patricia Mooney-Melvin (Loyola University Chicago)
Colin Palmer (Princeton University)
Carlton Wilson (North Carolina Central University)
Barbara Winslow (Brooklyn College, CUNY)
Rosemarie Zagarri (George Mason University)
Arnita Jones (American Historical Association), ex officio