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Program Requirements

Students completing a Master of Arts Degree in History with a concentration in Public History complete 33 hours of coursework, selecting either the thesis or non-thesis option. Students take 15 hours of core History courses, focusing on historiography and methodology, and either 6 thesis hours or 6 hours of Directed Research and Study and a comprehensive exam. Additionally, Public History students complete 12 hours of Public History coursework as their elective coursework, which may include HI 679, the Public History Internship. In addition, students must demonstrate a research skill; that skill may be reading knowledge of a foreign language. Other options exist to demonstrate research skill proficiency as appropriate for each student’s area of study.

Students completing a Public History Graduate Certificate complete 12 hours of coursework in Public History, which may include HI 679, the Public History Internship.

Current Courses in Public History:

HI 571: Public History – provides a broad overview of the field of Public History and lays the groundwork for understanding the theories that Public Historians must take into account when creating museum exhibits, choosing which archival records to save, creating a historical film, etc. The course also addresses issues that Public Historians face when conveying history to the public and gives students tools to help them deal with these problems. Subjects covered include: Memory and History; Museums and Historical Administration; Historic Preservation and Cultural Resource Management; Local History; Digital History; and Documentary Filmmaking. Guest speakers provide additional expertise in these areas. The class takes multiple field trips to local historic sites. Class projects vary each semester, but all are designed to give students exposure to the local history of the area. 

HI 576: Oral History – gives students training in the techniques necessary for conducting professional oral history interviews. The course will stress the theoretical groundwork needed to utilize oral history is a productive manner – including theories of history and memory. Members of the course will conduct multiple interviews over the course of the semester. These interviews will be preserved for future research and documentation.

HI 580: Digital History - explores the production of an ever-growing digital world of history. Students will learn effective ways to utilize digital history for a wide variety of sources and will also learn how to develop their own digital history resources. The course will explore the digitization of records, the creation of history websites, and the resources that can be created for teachers and students on-line.

HI 670: Historic Preservation and Cultural Resource Management – gives students training in a wide range of preservation techniques and practices focused on preserving architectural and cultural resources. Students will also learn about the legal procedures and guidelines that shape historic preservation policy. Students will draft National Register of Historic Preservation Nominations, work with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area on projects related to cultural and historical tourism, and will work on the preservation of historical sites important to the local community.

HI 671: Museum and Archival Management – explores the history and philosophy of history museums, giving students a solid foundation in theory. Students will learn the practical side of museum management, including the development of educational programs, fundraising and curatorial concerns. Archival management will also be explored, as will preservation concerns that affect both museums and archives. Students will gain experience in exhibit design and will complete projects in various archives in the area.

HI 679: Internships – In order to give students a solid skill set to bring to the job marketplace, students will complete a 140 hour internship. Students will work in the area of public history that they have chosen as their specialization. Internships can be completed at public or private historical agencies or institutions of regional or national significance.

American Architectural History – teaches students the basic framework and timeline of American architectural history. Introduces students to the range of architectural styles and helping them understand how culture and society impact architecture.

American Material Culture – introduces students to the study of material culture. Students examine both the methods by which material culture can be used for historical analysis and the areas of focus for scholars using material culture sources.

Collections Management – provides students with the knowledge and skills to maintain and preserve a museum collection. Students will learn museum standard collections management procedures including collections processing, inventory, cataloging, proper numbering and marking of museum objects, and care and handling of different types of artifacts. Students will also learn how to use and create museum registration records and how to create a museum collections policy. Coursework will be based on current museum collections management theory with practical application in class.

Historical Archeology – introduces students to historic archaeology through hands-on practical example and experience. Reviews elements of research, fieldwork, analysis, and interpretation used to explore the documented and undocumented past.