Skip to Content


You have courses in your cart

Expand your knowledge of history, from early Europe to the founding of America and the World Wars, to prepare for the next stage in your academic or professional career.

Program Type


Semester Start


Study Options


Minimum Duration

2 Years

UMass Boston’s History MA focuses on expanding and improving your ability to think critically, creatively, and constructively about the past and prepare you for a wide range of careers. It is designed for students who want to test their capacity for graduate work beyond their undergraduate studies, students who want to augment their historical knowledge as they work in a library, historical society, museum, or other institution, and secondary-school teachers who want to hone their skills in history and add a master’s degree to their résumé. Develop your research and writing skills as you explore topics, including indigenous history, global food history, European Socialism and Fascism, the history of medicine, the Cold War, the Progressive Era, Genealogy, the history of immigration, and more. To complete the program, all students work closely with a faculty advisor to craft a thesis, an original piece of historical research.

Unlike Online History MA programs offered at many universities, all of our online graduate courses are taught by tenure-stream faculty in the History Department. Courses in the Online History MA program follow the same set of requirements and guidelines as our face-to-face graduate courses. That means each course will average roughly 250-300 pages of reading per week and entail at least 25 pages of writing for the semester. Students accepted into the Online History MA will take all of their classes online.



  • This program consists of eight 3-credit courses and one 6-credit thesis course, or 30 credits.
  • Online tuition is $575 per credit.
  • Total estimated tuition cost to complete this program is $17,250.
  • Estimate is based on completing program by minimum duration. Other fees may apply. Request Info to connect with a program representative for further details.


  • The deadline to apply for the Online MA program is April 1.

Application Checklist

  • Students who wish to apply for the Online MA program must specifically note their choice on their application.
  • Application Materials:
    • College Transcripts: You must provide transcripts from all colleges you attended and earned 6 credits or more.
    • Three Letters of Recommendation: We recommend at least two of these three letters come from professors, especially History professors, who can speak to your past academic work and your potential for graduate work. We also find useful letters from supervisors that speak to your work experience in a field related to history. Letters from colleagues and friends are not considered useful for the application process.
    • Statement of Purpose: One of the most important pieces of the application file is the personal statement or statement of purpose. The statement should be roughly 1500 words. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself to the History Department and make the case for why you should be admitted into the program. Your statement should discuss in specific detail your academic interests. You should explain:
      • Why you want to attend graduate school
      • What historical topic(s) you wish to study and any faculty in the department you hope to work with
      • What you plan to do with your History MA degree after graduation.
      • Your statement should demonstrate a familiarity with our department and the research interests of our faculty. A specific discussion of your background and research interests is more useful than a general statement. The statement of purpose is a good way to demonstrate to the Graduate Committee how well you write, as well as how you think about issues related to the study of history. Your essay will help the Graduate Committee determine how well your interests and goals match the strengths of our program. The information on the Graduate Admissions website suggests that the statement of purpose should be separated into a two-part statement. For the purposes of application to the History MA program, you many consider the Statement of Purpose to be one complete essay.
    • Writing Sample: The History Department requires the submission of a writing sample. Ideally, an applicant’s writing sample should be a paper written for a college class, preferably in History. The ideal length for the writing sample is between 5-10 double-spaced pages and the paper should have been written within the last five years. This should be an analytical paper that demonstrates your skill at synthesizing primary and/or secondary sources, as well as presenting your own interpretation and analysis of those sources. The History Department Graduate Committee will use the writing sample to determine whether your writing skills are at a level that would guarantee success at the graduate level.
    • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): Although the GRE is not required, we strongly recommend that applicants take the GRE and submit their scores with their application.

We are looking for applicants who have demonstrated a distinguished level of academic achievement at the undergraduate level and who possess the academic potential to succeed at the graduate level. The Committee is looking for a minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 3.00 and a minimum GPA in History classes of 3.33. An undergraduate major in History is preferred, but not mandatory. The Graduate Committee will consider the applications of non-History undergraduate majors if they 1) have majored in a related academic discipline (such as Political Science or American Studies) and have taken some History courses at the undergraduate level; or 2) have worked in professional fields related to history, such as history education, archives, historic sites, libraries, or museums. 

Required Courses:

  • Research Methods (HIST 600)
    In this course, you will focus on archival research skills, analysis of primary sources, and the development of critical writing skills. Among the assignments, you’ll complete a 20-25 page research paper in which you will utilize primary sources in order to develop an historical argument. Specific topics will vary from semester to semester based on the expertise and interests of the instructor.
  • Introduction to Historiography (HIST 605)
    This course is designated as a reading course in which you will explore critical theoretical approaches in history. The study of historiography involves both the study of the methodologies used by historians, as well as the study of the development of the discipline of history over time. You’ll learn how a field of historical study is defined, study dominant historical approaches and themes over time, and understand how to position research within a larger historiographical debate. Specific topics will vary from semester to semester based on the expertise and interests of the instructor.
  • Thesis Preparation (HIST 690)
    This is a one-semester supervised individual course to help you develop a viable thesis topic. Subjects will vary according to your interest and will include extensive guided reading.
  • Thesis (HIST 699)
    You will complete your thesis under the supervision of the appointed advisor. All topics must be previously approved by the program's graduate committee. You’ll defend your thesis before a committee of three faculty members who will also judge its suitability as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree.

Electives (Pick Five):

  • World War Two (HIST 639)
    Examine the origins and progression of World War II, the most destructive conflict in history, in Europe and in Asia. Readings and discussions will emphasize historical debates regarding the causes of the war, the military developments, the impact on civilians, the atomic bombing of Japan, and the conflict’s horrific but seldom-discussed aftermath. The highlighting of both traditional and revisionist interpretations will be a feature of the class. You’ll be expected to participate in weekly discussions and submit short papers on relevant topics for which the readings will prepare them.
  • Socialism: The International History of a Revolutionary Idea (HIST 641)
    This course covers one of the most important movements in modern history. Readings and discussions will give you an idea of Socialist ideology and the different strains that emerged from it, including anarchism, revolutionary socialism, social democracy, and communism. You’ll consider the different interpretations that have produced conflict among adherents of different varieties of socialism and how they have affected the world.
  • Theory and Practice of European Fascism (HIST 642)
    Examine the origins and development of Fascist ideology and practice, from rise from a local to a major international force, and its fall, in the twentieth century. Readings and discussions will present different interpretations of the Fascist phenomenon and whether its core style is being revived in the twenty-first century.
  • Topics on the History of the American Revolution (HIST 644)
    The course begins with the assumption that examining a key event leading to the Revolution is a useful way to develop a deeper understanding of the different factors that shaped the separation of thirteen North American colonies from British Empire and the resulting organization of constitutional government. You’ll explore how the issues of taxation challenged the constitutional arrangements of the Empire, the extent to which reaction to it came to reflect the logic of revolution, and how much rebellion and revolution had consequences for the structure of the novus ordo seclorum.
  • History of New York City (HIST 663)
    Get an in-depth look at the history of New York City.
  • Cold War America, 1945-1989 (HIST 670)
    Get an in-depth look at American history during the period of the Cold War, roughly between 1945 and 1989. The United States found itself on the side of the victorious Allies in World War II, but in the war's aftermath a new and different war against the Soviet Union began to take shape. Examine American politics and society during the Cold War. The course casts a wide net thematically, but will focus mainly on three areas: 1) how anti-Communism affected America both in terms of foreign affairs as well as domestic politics; 2) the trajectory of post-war economic growth and the increasingly globalized nature of the economy; and 3) the expansion of individual freedoms and civil rights.
  • Topics in European History (HIST 681)
    In this course, you’ll examine important themes in European political, social, cultural, and intellectual history. Topics vary each semester based on the expertise and interests of the instructor.
  • Topics in American History (HIST 682)
    In this course you’ll examine important themes in American political, social, cultural, and intellectual history. Topics vary each semester based on expertise and interests of the instructor.
  • Topics in Atlantic History (HIST 685)
    Explore important themes in the history of the Atlantic world between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Such themes will involve economic, cultural, social, and/or political interactions between peoples and countries on both sides of the Atlantic. Topics vary each semester based on expertise and interests of the instructor.
  • Age of FDR: Depression, War, and the Birth of Modern America (HIST 688)
    Explore the United States in depth across Roosevelt’s unprecedented 12+ year presidency. You’ll begin with President-elect Roosevelt’s planning during the winter of 1932-33 and President Herbert Hoover’s alternative views, then look at the creation of the “first” New Deal in the spring of 1933. Readings after that will cover two major New Deal programs (the CCC and the WPA); the most important Cabinet member of the era, Frances Perkins; and the “second” New Deal that created Social Security. You’ll also look at major figures who opposed the New Deal from a variety of political perspectives, including Huey Long, and touch on 1930s culture. As the nation moved toward WW II, you’ll focus largely on the home front, including women in factories and in the military, and at the internment camps holding Japanese American citizens and Japanese immigrants. As the country shifted from wartime planning to peacetime between 1944-46, you’ll conclude with the last major piece of New Deal legislation, the GI Bill, which played a major role in the incredible expansion of the nation’s middle class in the 1950s. 
  • Special Topics (HIST 697)
    This course offers a study of selected topics within this subject. Course content and credits vary according to topic and are announced prior to the registration period.

At the end of this two-year program, you’ll be awarded a Master of Arts in History. The degree will demonstrate your expertise in the field on your résumé, as well as in interviews and workplace evaluations. You can also continue conducting research by applying to UMass Boston’s History PhD program.

The online history master’s program is designed to appeal to students with a wide variety of interests and professional goals, including:

  • Students who want to test their capacity for graduate work beyond their undergraduate studies
  • Students who eventually wish to pursue a PhD degree in history
  • Secondary-school teachers who wish to improve their content knowledge in the field of history

Why UMass Boston Online?


Among the lowest online tuition rates of an accredited, public research university.


Study full-time to finish fast, or part-time to suit your schedule. Live sessions scheduled with the working professional in mind.


The same courses taught by the same academic departments as on campus. No third-party providers.

Learn More

Get the inside scoop on the program and connect with the people who run it.

History MA