American History Degrees: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Class Info

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Associate and bachelor's degrees in American history can lead to jobs in and out of academia. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and career options, and find out what you can do with your degree.
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Studying American History: Undergraduate Degrees at a Glance

A history degree can expand the horizons of your knowledge. It can further your understanding of your own culture, as well as other cultures you might never have access to. However, it is not a degree option for everyone. There are few, if any, jobs for which an undergraduate degree in American history is a requirement.

Perhaps you're planning on pursuing a career, such as sales, that requires a general education degree. Or, maybe you're planning to continue your education by attending law school. If you have goals such as these and you enjoy reading and writing about the United States, then this may be the program for you.

Associate Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? - Individuals seeking assistant or technician positions in the educational field
- Those interested in pursuing a bachelor's degree at a later date
- People interested in studying American history
- Individuals pursuing a career for which a bachelor's degree is necessary
Common Career Paths (with approximate annual median salary) - Library technician ($30,000)*
- Teacher assistant (24,000)*
- High school teacher ($54,000 - state licensure required to teach in a public school)*
- Advertising sales agent ($45,000 - requirements range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree)*
- Museum technician or conservator ($38,000 - a master's degree is often needed to become a conservator)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Prerequisites A high school diploma or its equivalent A high school diploma or its equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate in American History

Associate degrees in American history may be offered as general history degrees or general studies degrees that provide you with the ability to select American history electives. There are essentially no career paths that require you to have an associate degree in American history. Although you may be able to pursue entry-level positions in schools, most degree programs in American history are designed to allow you to transfer all of your credits to a 4-year institution upon graduating. Completing a bachelor's degree could also improve your job prospects, since associate degree holders may compete with bachelor's degree holders for jobs.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You'll have your degree in 2 years or less
  • The flexibility involved with this type of general studies degree will allow you to explore a range of historical subject areas
  • Many of these programs are offered at community colleges, which are more affordable than most 4-year schools

Cons

  • This degree will qualify you for few careers
  • You'll most likely be competing for jobs with people who have bachelor's degrees
  • If you're planning on continuing your studies to the bachelor's or graduate level, you may find that your career options are less robust than you'd like

Courses and Requirements

History degrees usually require a fair amount of research, so be prepared to research, read and write about the United States. In addition to American history courses, you'll likely also complete coursework in Western civilization and world history. As part of your curriculum, you'll enroll in general studies courses, elective courses, and core history classes. Below are some sample core history courses:

  • American history survey
  • U.S. History through 1815
  • History of African-Americans
  • History of Mexican-Americans

Online Degree Options

Similar to onsite programs, online degrees are usually offered in history or general studies with the option to select electives specifically in American history. While there are a number of online history degree options, you'll want to be careful when doing your research. Most of the academic transfer programs involve affiliated institutions. Often, this is a relationship between a community college and a nearby state school or other 4-year school. Before deciding on a program make sure it is accredited and that your course credits will transfer to the 4-year school you'd like to attend.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

If you're planning on majoring in American history at a 4-year school, it might make sense to pursue a history or American history concentration while enrolled in an associate degree program. Selecting a concentration early on could make you more attractive to particular faculty members, which could help you develop a relationship that could assist with graduate school admissions, further down the road. In addition to history courses, it's also important to succeed in all general education courses, especially those related to your degree, such as writing and English.

Bachelor's in American History

These degree programs are often designed to be multidisciplinary, involving coursework from academic areas such as anthropology, history, political science and sociology. The curriculum will be designed to familiarize you with a broad range topics related to the history of the United States. You'll work closely with your academic adviser to ensure you are taking the appropriate courses to complete your studies. You'll often find these programs listed as either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Art in History with the option to specialize or major in American history.

A bachelor's degree in American history can prepare you for jobs requiring a bachelor's degree or, in conjunction with a teaching certificate program, can lead to a position as a high school history teacher. Graduates of these programs can also apply to a graduate program in a related area or apply to law school.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You'll be eligible for more job opportunities than with an associate degree
  • You could have the opportunity to specialize in an historical sub-field
  • Provides you with a broad awareness of history along with other humanities topics
  • A history degree can provide a solid foundation for a master's degree in history or a law degree

Cons

  • This degree will not allow you to teach history at the college level
  • If you want to teach at the high-school level, it might be better to major in education with a minor in history
  • The overall cost of the program may outweigh any career benefits it could bring

Courses and Requirements

In addition to your core history courses, you'll also be enrolling in a range of humanities and liberal arts courses. You may also have the opportunity to participate in an internship, take a seminar course or complete an original research project. Some programs may feature a foreign language component. Below are some sample core history courses:

  • American culture
  • American law
  • The U.S. Constitution
  • The history of church and state in America

Online Degree Options

Online bachelor's degree programs often award a general degree in history, but allow you to concentrate on American history. Many of these programs are offered solely online, allowing you to complete them from anywhere in the country. If the program you're interested in is offered at an accredited institution, you should find few differences between an online and onsite program. However, if you plan to apply to a graduate-level program, enrolling in a traditional program could give you greater access to faculty members and other resources that could give you an edge in the admissions process.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

If you're pursuing this degree along with a teaching certificate so that you can teach history at the secondary level, you might want to become familiar with the latest in online teaching technology. This might help set you apart in a competitive field. If your degree program features a foreign language component, carefully consider the utility of the language you choose to study. Unless you're considering graduate studies in Anthropology or religious studies, Spanish may be more helpful to your career than Sanskrit.

Popular Schools

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Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
  • Bachelor: Liberal Studies

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

  • Bachelor of Arts in English - History
  • Bachelor of Arts in History
  • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - History

What is your highest level of education completed?

Youngstown State University

Argosy University

  • Liberal Arts (BA)

What is your highest level of education completed?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Liberal Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?

Young Harris College

York College of Pennsylvania