Home > Top Online Bachelor’s in History Programs for 2018

Top Online Bachelor’s in History Programs for 2018

From the fall of the Roman empire to the rise of modern warfare, the study of history is as diverse as its related occupations. According to Payscale, entry-level professionals with a bachelor’s degree in history earn a median salary $51,250, and professionals with 10 to 19 years of work experience earn up to $100,000 per year. This page highlights steps to choosing a school and earning an online degree in history.

What are the Best Online Bachelor’s in History Programs?


Harvard UniversityCambridge, MA

Admissions Rate 6%
Default Rate 1%
Retention Rate 98%
Graduation Rate 98%
Online Enrollment 7%

One of the most famous and well-regarded universities in the United States, Harvard University offers online courses for students who cannot physically attend classes at the school's Cambridge, Massachusetts campus. An ideal option for students who to date considered attending Harvard to be an impossible dream, Harvard's online history program covers topics including Chinese history, Middle Age manuscripts, Islamic heritage, the poetry of John Keats, global expeditions from hundreds of years ago, and slavery in the U.S. Harvard offers several incentives to students considering attending its history courses. For one, the school administers program courses completely free of charge. Courses in this program receive no grades, students can start and stop whenever they please, and learners need not formally enroll in courses. Harvard's online school, however, does feature some disadvantages. For example, although students pursue some material entirely online, learners are not guided by professors as they would be in a traditional course.


University of Central FloridaOrlando, FL

Admissions Rate 49%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 70%
Online Enrollment 15%

With 66,000 enrolled students, Orlando-based University of Central Florida is one of the largest universities on this list. The school also offers one of the most affordable options for an online degree in history for in-state students. The program requires students to complete 120 credit hours before graduation, and it offers several related minors, such as African American studies, Judaic studies, and Florida studies. In order to apply, first-time college students must have earned a GPA of at least 2.0 at their previous schools. UCF encourages transfer students to apply, but the process for carrying over previously earned college credit varies depending on how many credit hours had already been earned. For instance, students with fewer than 30 college credit hours must still meet all of the criteria laid out for first-year freshmen. Students with over 90 college credit hours should have the bulk of their general education requirements finished and hold a minimum 2.0 GPA in order to jump right into the history major.


Oregon State UniversityCorvallis, OR

Admissions Rate 78%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 85%
Graduation Rate 64%
Online Enrollment 17%

Oregon State University's Ecampus offers an online degree in history that cover the entire world and spans from ancient history to modern events. The program requires students to complete 180 credit hours before graduation, and the curriculum offers both survey courses and classes that cover more specific perspectives. Some of the program's more focused classes include the history of medicine, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and lesbian and gay movements in modern America. The historical research seminar requires students to engage with primary source documents and complete a research project. Located in Corvallis, Oregon State hosts an undergraduate conference through the school's History Students Association. Online students have the opportunity to participate in conferences by remote access. The university also runs a public history internship program, which students complete for credit. In addition to history-focused classes, the school's history program requires students to complete general education and elective courses.


University of Illinois at SpringfieldSpringfield, IL

Admissions Rate 63%
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 48%
Online Enrollment 35%

The online history degree program at the University of Illinois at Springfield is organized almost exactly like the school's on-campus program. The only differences are, of course, the program's physical location and the remote program's admissions requirements. In order to apply to UIS's online program, students must either live more than 50 miles from Springfield (the school makes an exception for learners with a disability that hinders their mobility). OSU students must complete 120 credit hours of coursework to graduate, and the school offers several classes that students would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, such as a Game of Thrones-themed philosophy class and a course covering the history of anime. Students who intend to apply to UIS's online program should already have some college experience under their belts. More specifically, the school requires students to have completed 30 hours of college-level coursework and a 2.0 GPA, and to supply a statement of intent describing why they aim to complete the degree online.


King UniversityBristol, TN

Admissions Rate 44%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 35%

Bristol, Tennessee-based King University offers an online history degree that allows students to finish major coursework within 16 months. The program itself only requires students to complete 48 credit hours, although learners must complete a total of 124 credit hours to graduate from the university. King University's program requires students to complete a unique requirement in order to complete their degree: Learners must pass a comprehensive general education assessment exam during their last semester. In order to apply to King, high school students must hold a GPA of at least 2.6. Transfer students with previous college experience need a minimum 2.2 GPA for acceptance and can apply general education and elective credits to their program. This allows transfer students to complete the history program in less than two years. Before applying to the school's history program, note that the school requires that all applicants have earned at least 45 credit hours of general education requirements.


Southwestern Assemblies of God UniversityWaxahachie, TX

Admissions Rate 28%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 74%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 38%

Based in Waxahachie, Texas, Southwestern Assemblies of God University is both a private Christian school and a seminary. The school offers several online degrees, including both a general online history program and an online ancient history degree program. SAGU's ancient studies major features survey courses in world history as well as several classes with a foundation in Biblical texts and the ancient Christian world. Although the school tailors this major to students interested in pursuing careers in ministry, the program also admits students who are interested in other fields. SAGU offers its online programs to adult students over the age of 21. In turn, freshman students straight out of high school should wait a few years before applying. Learners who enroll online receive a tuition grant that covers 15% of their tuition and fees.


University of MemphisMemphis, TN

Admissions Rate 40%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 11%

The University of Memphis's Global school tailors its offerings to the needs of adults with full-time jobs and for others who wish to further their education, but need the flexibility of an online education. The school offers students multiple graduate and undergraduate programs that can be completed entirely through distance education. The school's online history degree program is one of those tracks of studies, and UM offers all courses available at its on-campus history degree program online. The university's global campus administers an introductory program to help adult learners who may have taken a break from school and need some support in returning to education. The "Smart Start" initiative matches returning students with counselors, resources, and other means of assistance to make the return to school as smooth as possible.


Southern New Hampshire UniversityManchester, NH

Admissions Rate 92%
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 58%
Online Enrollment 88%

While many online history programs feature only a single track, the online history degree program at Southern New Hampshire University in Hooksett offers four different concentrations: American history, European history, Middle Eastern history, and military history. SNHU's graduation requirements obligate students to complete 120 credit hours, including 45 general education credit hours and 33 elective credit hours. The school's military history degree online -- a unique program among many online schools -- focuses on military campaigns between the Civil War and World War II. This track follows not only the events leading up to the war, but also their social, economic and political consequences. Students from other schools can transfer up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degree at SNHU. The school does not list a minimum GPA requirement for both transfer students and first-time college students.


Sam Houston State UniversityHuntsville, TX

Admissions Rate 73%
Default Rate 11%
Retention Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 49%
Online Enrollment 14%

Sam Houston State University is located in Huntsville, Texas, and offers both its bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts degree through its online history degree programs. Sam Houston's B.A. degree in history features requirements beyond the B.S. degree. For example, students must pursue a foreign language and a minor on top of their history major. Students may also earn a teaching certificate alongside their bachelor of arts degree. Within the program, students choose between a variety of different classes that cover U.S. history, Latin American history, European History, African American history, and military history. For students looking to add real world experience to the theoretical field of history, the school offers an internship program with the Sam Houston Memorial Museum. As its name implies, the museum focuses on the life of Sam Houston, a soldier and politician who fought in the Texas Revolution and whose legacy lives on as the namesake of the city of Houston.


University of North AlabamaFlorence, AL

Admissions Rate 58%
Default Rate 15%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 38%
Online Enrollment 15%

Based in Florence, the University of North Alabama offers students the option of pursuing their history degrees online, by way of either a bachelor of arts degree or bachelor of science degree. Students must complete 36 hours within their major in order to graduate, and they can also supplement their degrees with minors in philosophy, public history, and religious studies. Much of UNA's history curriculum revolves around historical research, and the school provides several online resources specifically tailored for the needs of distance learners. Notably, UNA's history program does not only offer survey classes and classes about research methods. It also provides niche classes, such as the history of esoterica, Southern heritage tourism, and courses focused on figures and objects from American folklore, such as witches, zombies, and UFOs. The school does not cap the number of credits students can transfer to UNA, but it does requires students with fewer than 24 hours of college credit to submit ACT and SAT scores as well. Potential freshman must hold a GPA of at least 2.25 and an ACT score of 18 or above in order to be accepted.


Mary Baldwin CollegeStaunton, VA

Admissions Rate 97%
Default Rate 5%
Retention Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 37%
Online Enrollment 40%

Staunton, Virginia-based Mary Baldwin College offers an online history degree focusing on American, British, and European history. All students compose an online thesis, and have the option of minoring in either historic preservation or public history. The college invites transfer students to transfer 18 course credits in order to fast-track their education goals. Mary Baldwin also offers a unique opportunity for both on-campus and online students: the ability to study abroad for one summer at Oxford University in England. Located in the famous city of the same name, Oxford University remains one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Mary Baldwin hosts this program along with six other Virginia colleges through the Virginia Program at Oxford, providing students with an excellent opportunity to learn about the literature and history of 16th and 17th century England.


Southwestern Adventist UniversityKeene, TX

Admissions Rate 49%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 73%
Graduation Rate 45%
Online Enrollment 6%

A Christian university based in Keene, Texas, Southwestern Adventist University provides its students with opportunities to pursue an online history degree through distance education. Courses in the major focus on topics such as American history and world history. SWAU applicants must have earned at least a 2.0 GPA in previous classes in order to carry over previous credits. All applicants must submit an ACT score of at least 17. In order to graduate from SWAU, students must complete an extensive general education program, which consists of a total of 46 credits. (At least 12 of these general education courses must include religious studies.) Originally known as Keene Industrial Academy, SWAU was established in 1893. The school thereafter changed its name and mission purposes several times before adapting its current name and goals in 1996.


National UniversityLa Jolla, CA

Admissions Rate N/A
Default Rate 7%
Retention Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 33%
Online Enrollment 60%

National University is based in San Diego, California, but it has campuses throughout the state and one in Nevada as well. The school generally offers courses and programs for adult learners, including its online history degree program. Students enrolled in the program must complete at least 180 quarter credits before they can graduate, but the school requires only 45 of those credits to be completed at NU (students can transfer the rest over from previous college courses if they so desire). The university also offers a program in which students can register for a BA history/MA history transition program, as long as the student has a GPA of at least 3.0. If students reside in Nevada, state law requires that they complete a course in the Nevada Constitution before graduation. In addition, no matter the student or his or her background, all students must complete two courses in a foreign language.


University of Louisiana at MonroeMonroe, LA

Admissions Rate 88%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 76%
Graduation Rate 41%
Online Enrollment 13%

The University of Louisiana at Monroe is public university that offers over 30 degree programs online for distance learners. One of the school's online degrees is a history program designed for busy students who require more flexibility than a traditional program can offer in order to graduate within four years. Depending on course structure, professors teach their classes in four, eight, or 16 week weeks. The school condenses shorter classes for students who hope to graduate quickly. ULM also requires students to pursue a minor along with their history majors. The school allows students with previous college experience to transfer those credits to ULM. However, the history program may not accept all preceding credits, so interested transfer students should check with an advisor before enrolling. Adult students also have the option of testing out of particular courses by taking nationally standardized exams through ULM's Prior Learning Assessment options.


University of Maine at Presque IslePresque Isle, ME

Admissions Rate 77%
Default Rate 16%
Retention Rate 63%
Graduation Rate 47%
Online Enrollment 24%

The University of Maine at Presque Isle's online history program is in many ways similar to the school's on-campus program: the program features the same professors, for instance, and classes that cover the same historical ground. But the online program offers students much more flexibility in how many classes a learner can spread out (or stack on) over the course of their educational journey. UMP offers online courses 12 months a year, including two different summer sessions. Many of the classes at the university are history survey classes, but some feature quirkier focuses. One course, for instance, examines America's historical obsession with zombies. In order to graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours, including a minimum of 48 hours within the history curriculum. The program also assigns each student an academic advisor, so that all students are on track to graduate within four years.


Nicholls State UniversityThibodaux, LA

Admissions Rate 90%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 44%
Online Enrollment 12%

Nicholls State University offers an online history program with high rankings in value and affordability. Based in Thibodaux, Louisiana, the program at Nicholls focuses on modern history and is specifically designed for students interested in the history of America, Europe, and Asia. Nicholls operates its degree programs on a unique timetable. Classes last eight weeks, and they start in January, March, June, August, and October. Because of this structure, students can finish a bachelor's degree at Nicholls within three years. Interested students can apply online, and Nicholls does not list a minimum GPA or ACT and SAT requirement. Transfer students interested in carrying over credits earned in other college or universities should contact administrative staff with questions.


Ottawa University-OttawaOttawa, KS

Admissions Rate 41%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 61%
Graduation Rate 47%
Online Enrollment 3%

Not associated with the better known city of the same name in Ontario, Canada, Ottowa University is a Christian liberal arts college located in its namesake city in Kansas. Like many other programs on this list, OU's online history degree program provides learners with a survey of world history. Where the program notably differs is that it places a particular emphasis on how historical lessons may be applied to current-day dilemmas in politics and on the international stage. The school offers several courses focused on U.S. history, such as women's issues in America and the U.S. Constitution. Ottawa administers a generous transfer credit policy, allowing students with previous college courses to transfer up to 80 credit hours toward their degrees. Interested students should apply online, although the school recommends reaching out to an enrollment advisor who can offer guidance. UO offers a discounted tuition rate for Native Americans.


Sterling CollegeSterling, KS

Admissions Rate 41%
Default Rate 13%
Retention Rate 62%
Graduation Rate 42%
Online Enrollment 6%

A Christian liberal arts school, Sterling College Online was founded in 2007, and it promises a "guaranteed admission advantage," as long as students have an associate's degree from an accredited college in Kansas with a GPA of at least 2.5. Another small college located in Kansas, Sterling College offers an online history degree program with the option of studying for a professional license in teaching. If students choose this option, they not only earn a bachelor's degree in history, but they are also prepared to take licensure exams for a Kansas teaching license in grades six to 12. The curriculum at Sterling College focuses on U.S. history and Western civilization, although the courses do include some offerings in non-Western civilization as well. Students must complete 45 credit hours within the major to graduate.


Columbia CollegeColumbia, MO

Admissions Rate N/A
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 49%
Graduation Rate 46%
Online Enrollment 57%

Columbia, Missouri might be best known for the presence of the state's flagship university but Columbia College, a well-respected and much smaller liberal arts school, calls the college town home as well. The school offers learners several programs within the humanities, including an online degree program in history. CC requires students to complete 120 credit hours before graduation, including 38 hours of general education requirements at six semesters of foreign language classes. History majors can choose between two concentrations: global history and American history. Both tracks offer unique courses, such as one called "warfare, witches and the outlines of modern life: Early Modern Europe, 1550-1700." Students can complete an application for Columbia College's history program entirely online, and the school welcomes transfer students to apply and carry over previous credits.


Eastern Oregon UniversityLa Grande, OR

Admissions Rate 97%
Default Rate 10%
Retention Rate 57%
Graduation Rate 26%
Online Enrollment 42%

Based in La Grande, Eastern Oregon University offers many of its degree programs entirely online, including an online degree in history. EOU offers survey courses along with several unique classes, such as "Frankenstein in European history" and "blood, phlegm, and bile: a social history of medicine." In order to graduate, students must have earned at least a 2.0 GPA in 60 credit hours within the history program. The university allows transfer students to apply their previously earned credits toward their degrees. Tailored to students who have previously studied at one of Oregon's community colleges, EOU also features a "fast track pathway" to make the process of transferring over credit quick and easy. EOU offers notably affordable tuition in comparison to many other online university programs.


Arizona State University-SkysongScottsdale, AZ

Admissions Rate 56% Default Rate N/A Retention Rate 71% Online Enrollment 93%

Arizona State University SkySong's School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies takes a more interdisciplinary approach to its online history degree program than many other schools. For example, classes such as "humanities, arts, and design and global awareness" and "literary and critical theory" draw from other areas of the humanities. According to ASU-SkySong, the school aims to teach students how to think critically about history and to question how historical theory fits in with comparative studies of literary texts, cultural practices, and within other global contexts. The school requires students to complete 120 credit hours before they may graduate, with at least 45 credit hours in upper division level courses in their major. The school also expects learners to maintain a minimum 2.25 GPA throughout their time enrolled at ASU-SkySong in order to remain in the history program. The school welcomes applications from potential transfer students.


Granite State CollegeConcord, NH

Admissions Rate N/A
Default Rate 12%
Retention Rate 56%
Graduation Rate 18%
Online Enrollment 71%

So named for a popular nickname for its home state ("The Granite State"), Granite State College is based in Concord, New Hampshire. GSC's online history program allows students who value flexibility to finish their entire degrees online. The program requires students to complete survey courses, as well as research classes focusing on critical inquiry and historical research methods. The school proudly notes that 84% of its student body consists of transfer students, and welcomes homeschooled students and learners who received their GED. GSC admissions does not list a minimum necessary GPA, but the school does factor military and workplace experiences in addition to volunteer-based training. Founded in 1972 and a member of the University System of new Hampshire, GSC administers nine separate locations throughout the state in addition to its online programs.


Northeastern University Global NetworkBoston, MA

Admissions Rate N/A Default Rate 4% Online Enrollment 48%

Boston-based Northeastern University's Global Network, the school's online arm, offers an online history degree program tailored for students interested in both general history education and historical research. The program requires students to complete 160 quarter hours before graduation, achievable by full-time students in four years (and up to seven years for part-time students). Students should complete 60 credit hours within their majors. The program also requires students to complete a research project before they can complete their degree. Potential students may fill out and submit the school's entire application online. Transfer students can apply to carry over previous credits and NUGN welcomes applicants from students with military backgrounds. NU began operation as the Evening Institute for Younger Men while based out of a Boston YMCA in 1898. Within a few decades, the school developed into a formal university, in time becoming today's university.


Excelsior CollegeAlbany, NY

Admissions Rate N/A Default Rate 7% Online Enrollment 100%

At Excelsior College in Albany, New York, students enrolled in the school's online history program choose between a bachelor of arts degree or bachelor of science degree. The difference between the two choices is that students pursuing a B.S. must complete more applied professional courses. Whatever path they choose, school requires all students to complete 120 credits before they graduate. Excelsior's curriculum demands that students complete a broad range of courses, including both western and non-western history classes. Courses generally last eight weeks, and sessions begin in January, March, May, July, August, and October. Many of Excelsior's courses offer a unique spin or angle on a certain period of history. For instance, one the school's World War I history course delves into game-based theory. Most students should fill out the standard online application but the school administers a simplified application process for military applicants. Excelsior conducts a special admissions process for military veterans, which applicants read more about on the school's Center for Military & Veteran Education website.


University of Maryland-University CollegeAdelphi, MD

Admissions Rate N/A
Default Rate 8%
Retention Rate 38%
Graduation Rate 8%
Online Enrollment 83%

The University of Maryland University College is a branch of Maryland's public higher education system designed to cater especially to adults, non-traditional students, and working individuals. Students can choose to complete their degree entirely online or through hybrid courses. The university's online history degree program also allows students to choose between a focus in U.S. history or a focus in world history. The university enjoys notable connections with several non-profit and federal organizations in Washington, D.C.. Students who live nearby may benefit from a variety of internship opportunities during the course of their education. The program requires students to complete 120 credits in order to graduate, but transfer students can carry over up to a generous 90 credit hours. The university also offers a discounted rate per credit for those in the military or military veterans.

What Will I Learn in an Online History Program?

Although online history degree curricula vary by program, most include the courses below. These courses introduce history majors to historically significant figures and events and explore their current implications. Most programs allow students to specialize in areas such as Egyptology or the history of medicine.

  • World Civilization: This course provides an overview of influential societies and major world events. Students examine social and economic developments, major religions, and warfare and gain knowledge necessary for positions in teaching and curation.
  • United States History: This topic is frequently broken into two courses, which cover American history before and after the Civil War. Students learn about major events such as the civil rights movement and the country’s involvement in the world wars. Historians and politicians rely on knowledge of U.S. history to effect change.
  • Historical Research: This course emphasizes scholarly training in research design, analysis, and publication and is commonly offered as a capstone course. Students develop a research project, which involves selecting a topic, reviewing primary and secondary sources, and collecting and analyzing data. A strong grasp of research techniques is necessary for careers as academic writers, teachers, and archivists.

What can I do with an Online History Degree?

Graduates with an online history degree pursue diverse career paths, which may involve conducting research, working with archives, curating exhibits at museums, and influencing policies. The following table illustrates careers commonly pursued by graduates of online history degree programs. Median annual earnings are slightly higher than the national average, and opportunities for growth increase as professionals gain experience.

Job Outlook and Salary

Graduates with an online history degree frequently pursue careers as archivists, curators, and museum workers. The field is projected to grow 7% from 2014 to 2024, which is the national average for all U.S. occupations. As more information becomes publicly accessible through digitization, demand increases for archivists with expertise in electronic records and records management. The following table shows the projected growth for archivist, curator, and museum worker jobs.

Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024
31,300 33,400

Salary Growth by Experience

After earning an online history degree, graduates begin acquiring field experience that results in higher incomes. The following table highlights the salaries for three common careers in the field of history. Graduates of online history degree programs typically earn higher salaries as they gain experience, with pay increasing as much as $20,000 over 20 years.

To determine the best online bachelor’s in history programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school’s commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online bachelor’s in history programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school’s ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category’s ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.