Published Date

January 1, 2014

Resource Type

For Departments, Program of Study

AHA Topics

Academic Departmental Affairs, Graduate Education, Teaching & Learning, The History Major

This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Tuning project.

By Kate Lang

Institution: Univ. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Degree Name: Master of Arts in History
Location: Eau Claire, WI
Year: 2014


Purpose of the Degree

Students who complete an advanced degree in History continue to develop the skills of conceptualizing complex problems, thinking critically, communicating effectively, and understanding diversity while they evaluate and present different interpretations of the past. They uncover evidence and use it to explain the meaning and impact of events in local, national and global contexts. At the advanced level, public history students acquire a professional credential.

Characteristics of the Program

Students who complete a Master of Arts in History at UW-Eau Claire can choose to complete the thesis or the non-thesis option. Those who intend to pursue a PhD in history are advised to write a thesis. The non-thesis option may be more appropriate for K-12 educators and other professionals who are unable to make the time commitment that an MA thesis requires. A graduate seminar in which students explore the development of the discipline of history as a professional field at American universities is required. All students may complete up to nine credits in another field as part of their History MA. This allows them to enhance their historical study by connecting it to other academic or professional interests. MA students at UW-Eau Claire may complete certificates in: African American, Asian, European, Global, Latin American, Military, Native American, Public, Race and Ethnic, US, or Women, Family and Gender History, or Historical Research and Writing as part of their MA. Native American studies and Public History are particularly strong at UW-Eau Claire. With three Native American historians on faculty, as well as Native American specialists in other disciplines, UW-Eau Claire provides excellent resources for MA students interested in Native American communities. The History department also has two faculty members who specialize in Public History, allowing us to offer coursework in preservation and interpretation appropriate to a high-quality MA program. Students who complete the Public History certificate as part of their MA will have completed a professional credential and are prepared for work in careers in that field. The Northern Field Services Office of the Wisconsin Historical Society, located in the history department, can assist them in finding appropriate internships. All students are assured easy access to sources on Wisconsin history since Special Collections and archives at the UW-Eau Claire library is part of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s network of Area Research Centers.

Career Pathways for the Graduate

Many graduates of UW-Eau Claire’s MA program in History pursue careers as public historians working at museums, historic sites, or contract history firms. Some continue their education, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Library Science, and find employment as archivists. A small number enter PhD programs in History and become university faculty. Many graduates continue to work as K-12 teachers with an enhanced knowledge of the discipline, and a few continue their careers as faculty at university libraries where they are required to hold a content area MA. Other graduates find employment in business or the public sector where they use their skills in conceptualizing complex questions that do not have easy answers, reading critically, managing and analyzing information, building logical arguments, writing persuasively, conducting independent research and working on teams. A number of graduates who do not work as professional historians continue to practice history in their communities on a volunteer basis.

Educational Style

History classes in the MA program vary in terms of size and methods of instruction. Students will have opportunities to practice history in small seminars (12-20 students). Many choose to take the Public History seminar (15 students) where they create a product for a public agency. Some of their coursework will be in classes of 25-30 students that include both graduate and undergraduate students. In these classes, graduate students complete assignments designed especially for them in addition to assignments the whole class completes. The faculty are committed to student centered learning, so while faculty will lecture, students can also expect to see hybrid classes, flipped classrooms and active learning pods where they can explore topics in history and present their work to the group. Online classes are available, especially during winterim and summer terms. We encourage students to study abroad. History faculty lead summer programs in England and Central Europe. History faculty also lead domestic intercultural immersion programs so that students can study African American or Native American history where it happened. History students can expect to be examined on their reading assignments, to conduct research, and to write papers in which they analyze both primary and secondary sources.

Program Competencies and Outcomes

History MA graduates will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of history.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of theoretical approaches to history and historiography.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to analyze and interpret historical developments through research, writing, and oral presentations.
  4. Apply an understanding of the historical complexity of the people, institutions, events, and ideas that shape the world today.
  5. Demonstrate the foundations of a professional identity as an historian.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the theory and ethics of public history (for public history students).