Loyola University Chicago

Department of History

MA in Public History

The Master's in Public History program is a 31-hour program that provides students both the theoretical and practical skill sets needed to perform public history work in a variety of vocations, whether as museum professionals, archivists, government contractors, community consultants, teachers both inside and outside the classroom, among others.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the MA in Public History, graduates will be able to:

  • Use public history methods and theories to share historical interpretation with a broad range of public audiences;
  • Apply new media digital tools to the preservation and presentation of archival material;
  • Utilize the best professional practices to preserve, catalog, and present historical artifacts and records;
  • Understand and employ local, state, and federal preservation rules to establish the significance of historic properties;
  • Demonstrate the ability to work with public history institutions to make the past relevant to diverse communities;
  • Perform historical research in archives and libraries and evaluate the provenance, context, validity, and biases of these sources from the past;
  • Apply the necessary research skills to produce original scholarship on a chosen historical topic using primary sources while evaluating the validity, context, and biases of secondary source literature produced by other scholars;
  • Demonstrate the ability to deploy multiple forms of communication (written, oral, and new media) to discuss their own historical scholarship and graduate-level knowledge of their chosen fields.

General Degree Requirements


The distribution of hours is as follows:

History 400 3 hours
One 500-level research seminar 3 hours
Public History Internship (HIST 582)  1 hour
Five public history courses 15 hours
Three minor field courses 9 hours
Total31 hours

Public History MA students must complete 15 hours of the following public history courses:

  • HIST 479: Public History Media (fall)
  • HIST 480: Public History Theory and Method (fall)
  • HIST 481: Management of Historical Resources (spring, odd years)
  • HIST 482: Archives and Record Management (spring, even years)
  • HIST 487: Management of History Museums (spring, odd years)

In addition to their public history courses, students must take HIST 400: 20th Century Approaches to History, and three courses in a minor field. The minor field may be United States History or Modern European History. At least one, preferably two, of the courses in this field should be 400-level courses. These courses provide background in current historical research on particular subjects.

To view a course catalogue, click on one of the following links:

500-Level Research Seminar

Public history students will take one 500-level research seminar in their minor field.  In this seminar, students are expected to produce an original research paper, approximately 25-35 pages in length, based largely on primary sources. History 599: Masters Essay may be substituted for a 500-level research seminar with the approval of the Public History Program Director. The essay will be a research paper, approximately 25-35 pages in length, based largely on primary sources. The essay topic may focus within the major or minor field. History 599 is structured as a directed study course, and students will need a history faculty member to supervise the Masters Essay.

Public History Internship

Because practical experience in an area of public history activity is an important component of public history training, all students must also complete an internship (HIST 582). Internships are tailored to fit the needs of individual students as well as those of the host agency or organization. During the internship, students will keep regular logs of their activities and check in regularly with the Public History Program Director. Upon completion of the internship, students will write a reflection paper that will go in their final portfolios.

Comprehensive Exam

Toward the end of their graduate program, public history students must pass a two-hour oral examination in the field of public history before a two-person faculty committee, one of whom must be the Public History Program Director. There is no examination in the minor field, but students must maintain at least a B average (3.0) in the three minor field courses. There is no research tool requirement.

Portfolio Requirement

The portfolio, which represents the capstone of the program, documents the achievements of master’s students and thereby identifies their strengths, weaknesses and abilities as professional historians. Students begin compiling their portfolio during the first semester in the program. The portfolio may include, but are not limited to, the following items:

  1. One broadly-defined historiographical essay written in HIST 400 in the first year of the MA program
  2. One research essay based on primary sources and 25-35 pages in length, written with the goal of publication, completed in a 500-level research seminar
  3. One oral history interview transcript (if Oral History is taken)
  4. One National Register for Historic Places nomination, completed in HIST 481 (authored or co-authored)
  5. One public history internship report
  6. One project related to museums and/or community history prepared in conjunction with course work (HIST 480 and/or HIST 487)
  7. A current resume or curriculum vita (CV)

The portfolio will be evaluated by the student’s faculty advisor annually, and the final version will be submitted to the faculty committee on the date of the oral exam. Successful completion of the portfolio is required for admission to and/or continuation in the PhD program.