Public History M.A. and Ph.D.


The History Department offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history with a concentration in Public History. The Public History Program (PHP) provides training for historians who intend to pursue careers in academic settings and in a variety of nonprofit, public service, community based, and private-sector organizations. Generally, the mission of public historians is to work with multiple publics to document and interpret the past for the present, and also to preserve it for the future.

Careers may span one or several of the following purposes. They may be documentary in intent, including archival collections and management, film and digital media presentation, oral history, and institutional or corporate history. Curatorial work encompasses exhibitions, educational activities, and public programs at museums, historic sites, and other venues. Historic preservation and cultural resources management are aimed towards planning for and conservation of historic sites, buildings, objects, and natural and cultural landscapes. Practitioners in these areas often participate in public policy making, and in the tourism industry as well. Many people who work in public history are committed to public service and social justice, and use history to make a difference in contemporary society.

Through coursework, hands-on classes called practicum, internships, and other for-credit applied projects, PHP students gain training in historical research and writing as well as exposure to a great variety of professional practices. The curriculum is flexible, enabling students to shape their M.A. and Ph.D. fields to best fit their interest. It acknowledges the interdisciplinary nature of public history and affords students ample opportunities to study in related fields of art and architectural history, anthropology and archaeology, dance and performance studies, media and cultural studies, English literature, public policy, and sociology, among others.

Applicants to PHP should have a B.A. in History. Those with a B.A. in other areas will be accepted if they can demonstrate a satisfactory knowledge of history.


Requirements for the M.A. degree in the Public History Program

Students can receive an M.A. degree in history with fields of concentration in archival management, historic preservation, or museum studies. To do so, they must:

  • Complete a minimum of 40 units in upper-division and graduate course work. These include reading and research seminars and specialized public history seminars and practicum.
  • Complete a ten-week internship that provides supervised professional training. Internships are arranged according to the student's interests. The internship requires writing a field report.
  • All students must complete HIST 398-I Internship in Public History and HIST 402 Professional Practice for the Public Historian, which do not count towards the unit requirement.
  • Pass an oral examination. The first part of the exam will cover the field report in progress; the second part will be on the candidate's areas of historical specialization.
  • Courses in the PHP are taught by regular faculty and by adjunct professors of history who are professionals in nonacademic institutions, such as archives, museums, and historic preservation organizations, with outstanding achievement and expertise in their fields. PHP students may continue on for the doctorate at UC Riverside. Admittance to the Ph.D. program will be based on their performance in the program.

Requirements for the Ph.D. with a field of concentration in Public History:

Students can receive a Ph.D. in history with a research or complementary field in public history. To do so, they must complete the requirements for the Ph.D. in history, including preparation and examination in a research or complementary field in public history. Their dissertation may be on a topic related to some aspect of public history.

For more information about the fields of study and detailed requirements please consult the UCR General Catalog.