Best Online History Degree Programs


We are doomed to repeat history if we do not learn from it. That truth is the core principle behind all studies of history, and a degree in history is not only the study of history but the application of that knowledge in our present world.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, historians’ employment is projected to grow as much as 3 percent between 2019 and 2029, which matches the average for all occupations across the economy. A history degree is a pretty flexible degree. Majoring in history does not pigeonhole you into a career working in a museum. There have been many graduates that have been able to leverage their interests in history into successful careers in business, law, and a number of other fields.
In the United States, most history degree programs focus on U.S. history and world history, and students will have the opportunity to specialize in a particular field of study. Generally speaking, online history degree curriculums offer similar courses based in the humanities, but different schools may have specialty classes such as Chinese, Meditteranean, or African history. On top of that, not all history programs are the same. Some schools are well known for specializing in the history of specific themes, places, cultures, and races. When picking out a school that is right for you, be sure to check what the school specializes in. You don’t want to find yourself having to take many classes on topics you aren’t interested in.

At the graduate level, Master’s programs in history also often require proficiency in at least one modern foreign language.

EDsmart has put together a list of the 20 best online history degrees according to academic quality, student satisfaction, and return on investment.

All data points were gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics, Payscale, and school websites.

Here are the criteria we looked at to put together this list:

  1. Percentage of students receiving financial aid – This percentage shows how easy it is for a student to gain financial aid while attending this school.
  2. Student to faculty ratio – This number indicates the number of students to the number of teachers there is on average in the school. Smaller ratios are better (more one on one teacher time)
  3. Retention rate – This percentage is representative of the number of students that continue to stay at the university after the completion of their first year. A low number may indicate that the school is more competitive, or challenging.
  4. Graduation rate – The percentage of students that successfully complete their studies from start to finish. A higher percentage is better.
  5. 20-year Net ROI according to’s College ROI Report (In-state)

Without further ado, here are the 20 best online history degrees.


The 20 Best Online History Degree Programs


1. Valparaiso University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 99%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 12:1
  • Retention rate: 83%
  • Graduation rate: 72%
  • 20-year ROI: $249,000

Valparaiso University is an independent Lutheran Institution located about an hour’s drive away from the bustling city of Chicago. Founded in 1859, the school is home to about 4000 students from all demographic backgrounds and religious faiths. The school is most well known for its elite education in the liberal arts and its challenging, and influential law school. Valparaiso University offers a bachelor’s degree in history, that focuses on understanding the development of societies and cultures that produced the world that we live in today. While the school does not offer a graduate degree in history, it does offer a 36-credit Master of Arts in Liberal Studies with a concentration in history program.

2. Northwestern University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 61%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Retention rate: 98%
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • 20-year ROI: $481,000

Northwestern University finds its home on the shore of Lake Michigan, 12 miles north of Chicago. Since the school’s foundation in the 1850s, Northwestern University has grown into one of the top-ranked universities in the country. Northwestern is indeed more than just a compass point on a map.  Northwestern University offers a bachelor’s degree program as well as a Ph.D. program in history. It does not offer a separate master’s program. The undergraduate major now includes concentrations in global history in addition to concentrations in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. This program also offers thematic minors in fields like economics and labor.

3. University of Saint Joseph

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 100%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Retention rate: 77%
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • 20-year ROI: $188,000

Founded in 1932 by the Sisters of Mercy of Connecticut, the University of Saint Joseph has grown into a respected pillar of the community.  The school features an astonishingly low student-to-faculty ratio which helps create the tight-knit community that the school is known for.  The school offers bachelor’s degrees in history with a number of different emphases. As history majors at the University of Saint Joseph, students are able to focus their studies on things like public policy and advocacy, guardianship, economics, political science, public administration, sociology, and law.  The program at this school showcases how a study of history can shape the future.

4. Norwich University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 100%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
  • Retention rate: 79%
  • Graduation rate: 59%
  • 20-year ROI: $292,000

Norwich University is proud of the military heritage that has shaped it. Established in 1819 as the country’s first private military college, the school has long had a role in shaping the minds of the military. In fact, it was some of Norwich’s programs that helped create the ROTC program. The school is not exclusive to military personnel. Norwich is one of the pioneers of online education. Since 1998, Norwich Online has provided flexibility in online education to its students.  Norwich University offers masters degrees in history as well as a highly regarded masters in military history.

5. University of Idaho

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 97%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Retention rate: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 55%
  • 20-year ROI: $368,000

Though located in Moscow, Idaho, University of Idaho serves more than 12,000 students across the state of Idaho and is one of the leaders in student-centered learning that promotes public service. A UI education prepares students for careers by immersing students in critical thinking environments that encourage students to think about the big picture and how they fit into it. This is especially true in the history program available at the school, which explores the scope of human experience over the entire world. UI offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in history and offers M.A. and Ph.D. programs. UI offers specialized history programs in film and television studies, Latin American studies, and historical archaeology.

6. University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 96%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Retention rate: 92%
  • Graduation rate: 67%
  • 20-year ROI: $424,000

What’s it like to be a Sooner?  At the University of Oklahoma, being a Sooner means being a part of complex history that embraces the spirit and trials of settling the west. It means being part of a strong academic pedigree and cheering for sports teams that compete at the highest level of collegiate sports. It’s no surprise then, that a school with such a rich history should also have a distinguished history program.  The University of Oklahoma offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral degree programs that specialize in the history of the American West, Native American History, Latin American history, and environmental history.  Students at OU are able to benefit from award-winning faculty members in an intimate one-on-one setting and learn from the best in the field.

7. University of Delaware

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 81%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Retention rate: 91%
  • Graduation rate: 82%
  • 20-year ROI: $488,000

The University of Delaware has its origins closely tied to the origins of the country. From its foundation in 1743 as a private academy, the school has gone on to graduate world-famous authors, scientists, and artists. Among the school’s alumni are three signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Constitution, and a Nobel Prize winner, and Tony Award-winning choreographers. The University of Delaware is a school recognized for its value. Students attending this school can rest assured knowing that they are not just doing busywork, but are doing coursework from a nationally -recognized faculty.  Students are able to pursue a bachelor degree, master degree, and Ph.D. at this school.

8. Calvary University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 100%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 10:1
  • Retention rate: 74%
  • Graduation rate: 67%
  • 20-year ROI: $42,400

Calvary University is a Christian university founded on the principles of the Bible. This commitment to Christian morality can be found in every class the school teaches, and in all the community services the university provides. Located in Kansas City, Missouri, the school serves a diverse student population from all over the country.  Calvary University offers a bachelor degree in history, with classes that range from American military history to Christian history, and a study of western civilization.

9. Chaminade University of Honolulu

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 100%
  • Student to faculty ratio:  11:1
  • Retention rate: 77%
  • Graduation rate: 54%
  • 20-year ROI: $107,00

Chaminade is the only Catholic University in Hawai’i and is home to a close community that understands the complexity and diversity of America. It is this understanding that helps the school fuel its mission of creating a more just society. With a low student to faculty ratio, students are able to receive a personalized education and develop into well-rounded individuals. Chaminade offers a bachelor’s degree through its history and political studies school. This program pays special attention to the multicultural perspectives of the Pacific and Asian communities, as well as minority groups in the United States.  Additionally, this program promotes the civic and moral development of its students.

10. Southwestern Adventist University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 100%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 12:1
  • Retention rate: 81%
  • Graduation rate: 37%
  • 20-year ROI: $229,000

Southwestern Adventist University is known for its tightly knit community that brings students, faculty, and the outside community together. For more than 125 years, the school has inspired students to achieve more. Recently the school has worked hard to create an environment where students can succeed, and the school now boasts a 100% placement rate in grad schools or employment in a wide variety of fields.  Southwestern’s history program goes beyond merely teaching history, instead encouraging students to actively shape and define it.  The school offers a number of bachelor degrees in history, with differing specializations.

11. Mercyhurst University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 99%
  • Student to faculty ratio:  14:1
  • Retention rate: 82%
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • 20-year ROI: $14,800

Since its foundation in 1926 by the Sisters of Mercy of the Erie Catholic Diocese, the school has always been at the forefront of women’s education. Though the school is now coed and home to students from all cultural and religious backgrounds, it still remains a school that fosters the hope that faith and reason can flourish together.  In the Mercyhurst history program, students have the opportunity to learn traditional history, public history and museum studies, documentary filmmaking and more. The school only offers a bachelor’s degree program.

12. Drury University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 99%
  • Student to faculty ratio:  14:1
  • Retention rate: 88%
  • Graduation rate: 55%
  • 20-year ROI: $86,500

Drury University is a school that stands out from its peers. It is known as a school that believes in authentic connections between students, faculty, and the community. It is a school that believes in quality academics for all students. Above all, Drury believes in its students, that they will develop into ethical and moral people. This commitment to its ideals is reflected in the school’s history program. Drury University offers an undergraduate degree in history that has different areas of emphasis. Students are able to focus their studies on different themes as well as regional studies.

13. University of Massachusetts – Lowell

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 91%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Retention rate: 86%
  • Graduation rate: 60%
  • 20-year ROI: $573,000

UMass Lowell is part of the University of Massachusetts school system and is a national research university. More than 17,000 students at both the undergraduate and graduate level call this school home. It’s easy to see why. UMass Lowell is known in the region for helping students prepare for the real world–solving real problems of real people–and not just theory. This school offers both an undergraduate and graduate program in history. Additionally, the school offers a bachelor’s to master’s option where students can waive the GRE requirement and transition their studies into the graduate level.

14. University of Arizona

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 86%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Retention rate: 83%
  • Graduation rate: 64%
  • 20-year ROI: $431,000

The University of Arizona is not just a party school. Before it ever had a reputation as being the cool place to be and be seen, University of Arizona was a school that built its reputation on its academics. In fact, it’s one of the top public universities in the country. This school offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in history, from the bachelor’s level all the way to the doctoral level.  The University of Arizona is one of the top 10 schools in the country for Latin American history. All degree programs challenge their students to become rigorous and careful thinkers, as well as active and well-informed public citizens.

15. Washington State University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 90%
  • Student to faculty ratio:  15:1
  • Retention rate: 81%
  • Graduation rate: 62%
  • 20-year ROI: $410,000

Washington State University is one of the cornerstones of education in the state of Washington. With campuses in Spokane, Tri-cities, Vancouver, Everett and more, the school is more accessible now than it has ever been before. The history program at Washington State University is designed to help students understand the diverse people, institutions and cultures that have shaped the world that we live in today. But beyond understanding, the program fosters the ability to use knowledge of the past to make informed decisions for the future. The school offers undergraduate bachelor’s degrees as well as graduate master’s and doctorate degrees.

16. Ottawa University-Ottawa

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 99%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 12:1
  • Retention rate: 61%
  • Graduation rate: 46%
  • 20-year ROI: $438,000

Located in Ottawa, Kansas (not Canada) with campuses throughout Arizona, Wisconsin and, Indiana, Ottawa University has provided quality education for more than 150 years.  The school prides itself on being a student-centered institution with an open and inclusive community.  Ottawa University offers a Bachelor of Arts in History that focuses on a wide array of topics. Students of this program will explore the relationship between society and the environment, war and peace, and social movements of political change.

17. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 64%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 12:1
  • Retention rate:92%
  • Graduation rate: 85%
  • 20-year ROI: $585,000

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a community that has set itself a goal of changing the world. Founded in 1867, it is one of the top-ranked public universities in the country. It is an award-winning school, with the award-winning faculty to match. Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners call this school home and are proud to teach here.  This school offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and Ph.D.s. However, students are not generally admitted to a terminal master’s degree program, meaning that if you are enrolled in a graduate program, you’re in it for the long haul. U of I offers graduate concentrations in African American Studies and Medieval studies.

18. Indiana Wesleyan University Online

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 93%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Retention rate: 78%
  • Graduation rate: 63%
  • 20-year ROI: $234,000

Located in Marion, Indiana, Indiana Wesleyan University has served the community for almost 100 years. More than 3000 students are enrolled in the traditional programs at Indiana Wesleyan University. But one of the main draws of IWU is its online courses that are designed specifically to maximize the learning experience for nontraditional students. IWU offers a Bachelor of Arts in history program that helps students understand their place in the rapidly changing world. The program strongly believes that a study of the past should enable students to become citizens of the world in the 21st century.

19. Oregon State University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 86%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Retention rate: 85%
  • Graduation rate: 65%
  • 20-year ROI: $408,000

A destination for high achievers, Oregon State University is one of the most innovative schools in the country. It’s a school with the state’s land grant, as well as one of two schools in the U.S. to have the sea grant, space grant, and sun grant as well. That’s a lot of grants! It’s due to this reputation as being an elite, innovative school that massive amounts of research (and funding)  are being used to change the world. OSU’s history program is no different.  The school offers a bachelor’s degree in history online and on campus. Taught by some of the best professors at one of the best Liberal Arts schools in the country, the program pushes students to think critically about the world around them.

20. Louisiana Tech University

  • Percent receiving financial aid: 98%
  • Student to faculty ratio: 25:1
  • Retention rate: 80%
  • Graduation rate: 53%
  • 20-year ROI: $392,000

Louisiana Tech University is about seizing the opportunities that life places in front of us.  Students of the school are part of the “Tech Family” and the family embraces challenges and creates innovative solutions to them. The Tech Family is a diverse one, with students from 47 states and 64 different countries. Lousiana Tech University offers a bachelor degree in history as well as a master’s degree. These programs develop the research, analysis, and communication skills needed for students to succeed in history related jobs, government service, law, and many other careers.

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