Online Ph.D. History

By Nikita Nath

Updated March 15, 2024

Nikita Nath

Nikita is a psychologist working primarily with children using a child rights-based approach. She also writes content for various websites and blogs on diverse topics, focusing primarily on academia. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and discovering different coffee-making techniques.


Bachelors in English, Journalism, and Psychology; Masters in psychology with clinical specialization

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

  • 2 years of experience working as a content writer with various start-ups
  • 1 year of experience working as a child psychologist with Insight
  • Working on various projects of inclusion for neurodivergent children
  • 2+ years of experience teaching psychology online

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An online Ph.D. history can give prospective students a theoretical foundation as well as writing and research experience. Both academic and non-academic professional domains in the humanities and social sciences can benefit from the use of these tools. The Ph.D. in History program prepares students for a career as an academic, public or institutional historian, analyst, researcher and writer, as well as for other sectors requiring analytical and research abilities. As students study the past via their independent and original research in this program, they will gain a deeper grasp of how historians conduct their research and interpret historical events. Read on to discover more about the online Ph.D. in history and what careers one can make out of it.


Best Online Ph.D. History

Students must consider a school’s infrastructure, the quality and expertise of its faculty, the range of student support services and program options, the cost of attendance, the school’s accreditation status, its graduation rate, and so on when assessing the school’s reputation and ranking. The experts at FBD have compiled a list of the best online Ph.D. history programs based on these and other criteria: *

With 15 colleges and schools, more than 100,000 students, and more than 700 academic programs ranging from certificate to Ph.D. levels, Liberty University is an accredited evangelical liberal arts institution. Through Lu’s online programs, students from all around the world can access more than 450 of these programs.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
Liberty University 1971 University Blvd, Lynchburg, Virginia 24515 $7,847 62%

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from Online Ph.D.
History Programs

The online Ph.D. history program combines a demanding scholarly education with the freedom to follow one’s intellectual passions. Candidates will gain a firm foundation in historical theory, research techniques, and methodology through their coursework. They will create a study plan with the help of their academic advisor that will align with their academic objectives. Students will learn and be able to use research tools, including oral history, quantitative research approaches, new media, and other methodologies.

An online Ph.D. history program usually takes about five years of full-time study. However, many students can finish it sooner. The program’s framework and curriculum are based on concentrations of study, such as American history, European history, or military history, and may also include a thematic concentration. All candidates for the history Ph.D. will undergo examinations based on the coursework. A student is not immediately qualified for a degree upon completing a predetermined number of graduate hours. In addition, the student must complete a language requirement, perform well on written and oral exams, and complete and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation to qualify for the Ph.D. The dissertation written by a Ph.D. candidate is expected to make a noteworthy, original contribution to historical knowledge and must be completed using unique, independent research in the area of specialty. The finished dissertation will be defended during the final oral examination.

Here is a quick break-up of the online Ph.D. history program (varies by institution):


The course selection for history doctoral students is broad. In most instances, students can choose their course plans from one area of history to fit their needs and professional objectives.


In many instances, Ph.D. students must fulfill a teaching requirement. This criterion is met when the student works as a teaching assistant (TA) or instructor of record (IoR) for at least one semester.


Some schools require one year of continuous full-time study. During this time, the student is expected to make significant progress preparing for their comprehensive examinations.

Comprehensive Exam

After completing the required curriculum, students can take a comprehensive exam, usually in written form. However, in some instances, students are allowed to compose a manuscript on a topic of their choosing and defend it orally in front of a committee of departmental, school, and/or university teachers. The candidate’s specific fields of study will be considered when designing the Ph.D. exams.

Dissertation & Defense

A Ph.D. student must write and deliver to the dissertation committee a written dissertation proposal. The proposal should include the research problem, study plan, and potential influence on the field. Following the public presentation, the proposal will be presented in an open forum, and the student must successfully defend it before the dissertation committee.

Field Experience/Internship

Doctoral candidates are encouraged to do independent study research courses that combine and connect classroom theory with field activities. They can interact with historical communities by conducting studies and collecting data from diverse sources. At some colleges, this is a mandatory requirement.

Read the Guide to Ph.D. Programs to understand more about doctora

Areas of Specialization in Online
Ph.D. History Programs

Specializations provide a fantastic opportunity for students to delve further into a subject. History is a broad subject with several specialization areas in which to specialize and become an expert. The online Ph.D. history program provides a one-of-a-kind range of regional and thematic concentrations students frequently require to take up. As the name implies, regional concentrations focus on a geographical region, whereas thematic concentrations focus on a certain topic or theme. The following specialization options are available in both categories:

Regional Concentrations

Degree SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
American HistoryThe history of the United States is the emphasis of this concentration. It tracks the rise and growth of the United States, presenting a compelling viewpoint on how our country currently fits into the dynamic global context.Entry-level historian positions at historical associations, museums, or other similar organizations.
European HistoryThis concentration provides in-depth historical information about Europe. It examines the numerous changes that have occurred over the continent’s long history, from ancient Greece and Rome through its participation in World Wars I and II.Entry-level historian positions at historical associations, museums, or other similar organizations.
Middle Eastern HistoryThis concentration examines the Middle East, from the rise of Islam to the region’s and the world’s role in regional and global crises. It looks at the region’s religious, political, and economic circumstances over time.Entry-level historian positions at historical associations, museums, or other similar organizations.
World HistoryThis concentration introduces students to a historical period that is not Western. They will study international issues from a methodological standpoint, taking into account perspectives from outside North America.Entry-level historian positions at historical associations, museums, or other similar organizations.

Thematic Concentrations

Degree SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Military HistoryThis concentration investigates the impact of conflict on the emergence of civilization and culture. Students study the civil war, World War I’s industrial era, America’s rise to global power status, the cold war, and the influence of modern warfare on non-western countries.Positions in historical societies, government agencies, nonprofits, and at local museums or other organizations.
Diplomatic HistoryThis concentration looks into nations’ and regions’ past, present, and future ties, as well as the myriad elements that influence them, including international trade, economics, human rights, foreign policy, and so on.Positions in historical societies, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations.
Intellectual HistoryThis concentration looks into the development of human cognition, culture, and expression, or the factors that have led to humans being the only members of our species to utilize our minds and communication capabilities to mediate our interactions with the natural environment.Positions in historical societies, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations.
Economic HistoryThis concentration examines the different economic systems people have established and challenged throughout history, including changing versions of slavery, feudalism, capitalism, and socialism.Positions in historical societies, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations.
Gender and Sexuality HistoryThis concentration investigates the historical and cultural evolution of gender as an important component of economics, politics, social interactions, and culture. It entails comparing the histories of women, gender, and sexuality.Positions in historical societies, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations.
Jewish HistoryThis concentration is devoted to Jewish history. It investigates the present Jewish-Muslim relationship, including the Holocaust, rabbinic literature, biblical exegesis, modern Israel, and so forth.Positions in historical societies, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations.

Examples of other specializations include but are not limited to:

  • Latin American History
  • Russian History
  • Public History
  • Frontiers and Borderlands
  • History of Science and Technology
  • Environmental History
  • Religion
  • War and Society
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Politics and Economy

Why should I do an Online
Ph.D. History?

Students who enroll in a history Ph.D. program will gain knowledge and abilities essential to their future professional success. They will develop critical thinking abilities that can be applied to a range of historical sources and commentaries, as well as a deep and thorough understanding of historical disciplines and methods of inquiry. They will also learn how to conduct original research that makes a significant scholarly contribution to the field as a whole. Students interested in American and contemporary European history, or themes such as public history, environmental history, etc., should enroll in this program. Depending on one’s interests and objectives, one could study and research history subfields, including Jewish history, African American history, politics and international relations, and women’s and gender history. This variety will expand one’s research possibilities and enable specialization without compromising the breadth of study.

History doctoral program alums can be found teaching, conducting research, and leading organizations in a variety of capacities all around the United States and in other countries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports a 6% job growth for archeologists and a 4% job growth for historians between 2021 and 2031.

With a doctoral degree in history, individuals will not only have the knowledge necessary to work in various settings (including academia), but they will also have a priceless set of transferable abilities. Among other skills, they would have the ability to:

  • create excellent teaching methods based on faculty mentors’ discussions and observations;
  • use critical-thinking abilities to persuasive create arguments, evaluate evidence and criticize a literature’s claims;
  • design and carry out major research projects thoroughly and expeditiously;
  • create a superior research paper that is well-written, adheres to professional standards, and can be used as the foundation for a presentation or academic publication;
  • recognize the arguments and opinions of important historical academics, fairly characterize their ideas, and explain the development of historiography.
  • critique the historical schools of thought that have influenced the scholarly understanding of historical topics;
  • show a wide understanding of historical occasions and eras, as well as their relevance;

Free Courses for Online Ph.D.
History Students

Free courses are always beneficial to online Phd. biology students researching specific topics. Although most free courses are not accredited and frequently do not lead to certification, they do provide additional knowledge and perspectives on the subject. Here are some free courses and platforms that offer free online Phd. biology courses:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Topics Related to HistoryedX hosts hundreds of history and history-related courses, many of which are free and created by prestigious universities such as Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, and MIT.edX
Topics Related to HistoryMIT OpenCourseWare lists about 10 graduate-level history courses, including topics like Technology and the Global Economy 1000-2000, Gender: Historical Perspectives, The Civil War and the Emergence of Modern America, 1861-1890, etc.MIT OpenCourseWare
5 Lessons from World War II & How Europe Changed after 1945This course walks students through the five most important lessons from WWII, with four parts on how Europe, in particular, has changed economically, politically, and socially since the war.Udemy

How to get into the Online Ph.D.
History Program?

Admission into an online Ph.D. history program is typically based on the student having previously earned a master’s degree. However, certain extremely well-qualified students may be admitted directly to the Ph.D. program from their undergraduate studies, but they must fulfill the master’s prerequisites on the path to the Ph.D. On top of that, a GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) is usually required. Other frequent admissions requirements for an online Ph.D. history program include:

Online Application & Application Fee

Completing an online application and paying the prescribed application fee.

Academic Transcripts

An official copy of academic transcripts from each college/university attended.

Undergraduate/Graduate Degree + Grade Point Average

An undergraduate and/or graduate degree and Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.25 or more.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) Scores

An official copy of GRE scores no older than 5 years.

Graduate Résumé or Curriculum Vitae

The latest résumé or CV that provides personal information and work experience.

Personal Statement or Statement of purpose

A statement outlining how the program relates to the applicant’s career goals.

Letters of Recommendation

At least 3 letters of recommendation from those who can provide a thorough evaluation of the applicant’s abilities at the graduate level.

Proof of English proficiency

A document proving proficiency in English (for non-native English speakers).

Note: Some universities may require students to have a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language.

Online Ph.D. History No
GRE Programs

Many graduate schools require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as a prerequisite for admission because it assesses a candidate’s independence and motivation to complete graduate-level study and research. Fortunately, many institutions are moving toward making the GRE obsolete or optional. However, schools that require the GRE may impose stricter admissions standards, such as a minimum undergraduate GPA, work experience, certification, recommendation letters, writing samples, etc. Some universities offering Ph.D. in history no GRE programs are Montana State University, Northwestern University, and Liberty University.

How Long does it take to complete the
Online Ph.D. History Program?

Some online Ph.D. history programs can be completed in as little as 4 years, while others can take as long as 8. Depending on how long a student spends conducting research and writing for their dissertation, the length of their Ph.D. program can vary widely. Students should consider the time commitment required for a history Ph.D. program before enrolling. A doctorate in history entails the following time commitments:

  • Minimum time required for a full-time online Ph.D. history: about 4 years.
  • Maximum time required for an online Ph.D. history: up to 8 years.
  • Typical time frame to complete an online Ph.D. history: about 4 to 5 years.
  • Typical number of credit hours for an online Ph.D. history: between 70 and 75 (varies by college and program)

Accelerated Online Ph.D.
History Programs

Students who take advantage of accelerated learning opportunities typically finish their doctoral programs earlier. Through a streamlined doctoral program, one can earn one’s online Ph.D. history in about 4 years. However, even after completing all the necessary coursework, it may take another year to complete the dissertation. Some universities allow students with master’s degrees to enter their doctoral programs. A master’s thesis can be “promoted” to the doctoral dissertation stage under these conditions. Prospective students interested in history doctoral programs should consult faculty members about accelerating their studies.

Accreditations for Online Ph.D.
History Programs

Accreditation is one of the most important factors for prospective students to consider when enrolling in an online Ph.D. history program. The organizations that accredit colleges and universities in the United States are approved by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Accreditation necessitates an in-depth examination of a school’s academic offerings as well as student support services. Because a school’s accreditation affects both course credit transferability and a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid, prospective students should check to see if the institution offering the program has received national or regional accreditation from organizations like:

  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Read the Guide to College Accreditation to learn more about accreditation.

How to Pay for an Online Ph.D.
History Program?

The cost of getting a Ph.D. in history is quite high. According to data compiled by Education Data, the national average cost of a doctorate degree in the United States is $98,800. Even if a potential online student has no other out-of-pocket expenses for school, they may not be able to afford the high tuition and associated research costs. Students enrolled in an online Ph.D. history program can find financial support from a variety of external sources, including:


Scholarships are given to students who have excelled in both the classroom and/or extracurricular activities. They are the preferred option among students because they do not require repayment and can be obtained relatively quickly and easily.


A grant is a form of financial assistance that does not necessitate repayment, in contrast to a loan. While scholarships are more commonly given out for academic achievement, grants are given to students who have shown financial need.


Doctoral students can receive funding through predoctoral fellowships, also known as Ph.D. fellowships. There are usually conditions attached to accepting a fellowship as a Ph.D. student, such as a specific research project or spending the awarded funds in a certain way. The most promising students can apply for one of several awards and fellowships designed to help them stay in school and be recruited after graduation.

Work-Study Programs

Work-study programs allow students to earn money for college expenses while maintaining full-time student status. Through these programs, students earn money while gaining valuable work experience and bridging the gap between classroom theory and the workplace.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate students can receive funding to help them with their studies by serving as teaching or research assistants for faculty. Students who participate in volunteer programs often receive a monetary stipend or a reduction in tuition fees as compensation.

Student Loans

Student loans are available to help pay for a doctoral student’s education. Numerous banks, credit unions, and government agencies offer student loans for college. The cost of higher education will rise if one takes out a loan because of the interest one would have to pay. Understand how one can apply for loan forgiveness to avoid repaying student loans by reading about Donors for Student Loans and Grants for Student Loans.


The Free Application For Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is an application for federal financial aid that all prospective and current college students can complete to check their eligibility for aid and receive the best financial aid package possible. The FAFSA Student Aid guide explains more.

Read about What is Financial Aid? and find out everything there is to know about college funding in the How to Pay for College guide.

Fully-Funded Online Ph.D.
History Programs

Several universities offering Ph.D. in history programs provide their applicants with financial aid in the form of fully-funded Ph.D. programs. The funding usually includes tuition, a stipend, and health insurance. Aid is contingent on students making satisfactory academic progress toward the degree and those in good standing. It is worth noting that some fellowships typically include teaching responsibilities in years two through four. Examples of universities offering fully-funded Ph.D. history programs are:

University/College Description
Georgetown UniversityGeorgetown University’s history department offers a stipend and tuition support for 5 years, additional tuition support for 2 years, and health insurance for the duration of the fellowship. The stipend was $32,500 in 2020-2021.
Columbia University in the City of New YorkColumbia University in the City of New York offers a full fellowship (tuition, fees, and a stipend) to Ph.D. students upon admission. Awardees will receive 5 years of support.
Boston UniversityAll Ph.D. applicants accepted into Boston University will receive full funding for 5 years. Tuition and university-related fees are included.

FAQs Related to the Online
Ph.D. History Program

Can you get a Ph.D. in history online?

Yes. Online programs allow you to complete your Ph.D. in history entirely online. These programs offer students flexible, high-quality academics at an affordable price and cater to those trying to meet their academic obligations as working professionals. With an online program, students can finish their doctorate whenever and wherever it is most convenient for them.

 Is an online Ph.D. history worth it?

How long is an online Ph.D. history?

What can you do with an online Ph.D. history?

Should I get an online Ph.D. history?

How do you get an online Ph.D. history?

Can I do an online Ph.D. history without a master’s?

Career Opportunities and Salaries after
obtaining an Online Ph.D. History

A doctorate in history will likely lead to senior roles and higher pay in various private and government sectors. Their salary will vary widely depending on their field of expertise and employer. Ph.D. holders will be able to find employment with the U.S. government, academic institutions, businesses, museums, research organizations, non-profits, and more. They may have access to a variety of specific careers, such as:

  • Museum Curator
  • International Development Specialist
  • Historian
  • Archaeologist
  • Academic Publisher
  • Higher Education Administrator
  • History Professors
  • Directors of Historical Organizations
  • Editor
  • History Consultant
  • Publisher
  • Archivist

Below are some examples of employment in the area of history, along with their median annual incomes and anticipated job growth, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). One must remember that the salaries given are more representative of what a historian with a bachelor’s or master’s degree may expect to earn. Because of their excellent knowledge and experience, those who obtain a doctorate have greater earning potential.

OccupationJob DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2030)
Top ExecutivesHigh-level executives develop strategies and procedures to ensure that an organization’s goals are met. They manage and direct a firm’s financial and budgetary activities, as well as coordinate and direct business and organizational work activities.Communication skills, problem-solving skills, leadership skills, decision-making skills, time-management skills$98,9808% (as fast as average)
Postsecondary TeachersPostsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide range of academic disciplines beyond high school. They may also conduct research, write scholarly articles and books, plan courses and assignments, and supervise graduate teaching or research assistants.Speaking skills, writing skills, interpersonal skills, critical-thinking skills, resourcefulness$79,64012% (faster than average)
HistoriansHistorians study historical documents and sources to research, analyze, interpret, and write about the past. They collect historical data from various sources, then analyze and interpret it to determine its authenticity and significance.Communication skills, research skills, foreign language skills, analytical skills, problem-solving skills$63,9404% (as fast as average)
Anthropologists and ArcheologistsAnthropologists and archaeologists investigate human origins, development, and behavior. They conduct research on people’s cultures, languages, archaeological remains, and physical characteristics all over the world.Critical-thinking skills, analytical skills, communication skills, physical stamina$61,9106% (as fast as average)
SociologistsSociologists study society and social behavior by looking into the communities, cultures, organizations, social institutions, and processes that emerge when people interact and collaborate.Critical-thinking skills, analytical skills, communication skills$92,9105% (as fast as average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online
Ph.D. History Students

Professional certifications go beyond academic credentials to demonstrate to the general public and prospective employers that a candidate possesses the necessary knowledge, skills, and expertise in the field. Certifications demonstrate competency and capability while also adding weight to a person’s résumé. History is not one of the many disciplines that offer professional certifications to students and professionals. Those wishing to teach, on the other hand, must obtain both teaching certification and state-specific licensure. More information on history teaching certification and licensure can be found here.

Additional Resources for Online
Ph.D. History Students

History is widely acknowledged to be a vast subject. As a result, the more information and insights that can be obtained, the better. Membership in professional organizations and associations provides numerous benefits, including increased credibility and networking opportunities in the field. In general, these organizations promote the study, transmission, and preservation of priceless historical records and narratives. Here are a few to explore:

American Alliance of Museums (AAM)

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) is the only organization representing all types of museums, including science centers, zoos, and art and history museums. Since 1906, AAM has advocated for museums and provided museum professionals with the tools, information, ideas, and connections they need to advance their careers.

Society of American Archivists (SAA)

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) is North America’s oldest and largest national professional organization devoted to the needs and interests of archives and archivists. The SAA represents over 6,200 professional archivists working in government, universities, libraries, businesses, and historical organizations across the United States.

National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) is a privately funded nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving America’s historic sites, telling the full American story, strengthening communities, and investing in preservation’s future.

National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS)

The National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS) is an international organization whose members come from all over the world and study in a variety of disciplines. Members of NCIS gain access to scholarship opportunities and benefits and a network that allows them to address issues unique to pursuing scholarships outside formal academic institutions.

Oral History Association (OHA)

The Oral History Association (OHA) is the primary membership organization for those who believe in the importance of oral history. OHA works with policymakers, educators, and others to promote best practices and gain support for oral history and oral historians. It serves a wide range of people, including students, teachers, librarians, community historians, archivists, and filmmakers.

Author Bio:

Nikita Nath

Nikita is a psychologist working primarily with children using a child rights-based approach. She also writes content for various websites and blogs on diverse topics, focusing primarily on academia. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and discovering different coffee-making techniques.


Bachelors in English, Journalism, and Psychology; Masters in psychology with clinical specialization

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

  • 2 years of experience working as a content writer with various start-ups
  • 1 year of experience working as a child psychologist with Insight
  • Working on various projects of inclusion for neurodivergent children
  • 2+ years of experience teaching psychology online


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.