The History Department offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Public History and the Master of Arts (M.A.) in History with a concentration in Public History, as well as a traditional Master of Arts (M.A.) in History.
MTSU’s Public History Ph.D. program is an innovative, practice-based, individualized
program of study offered in partnership with the Center for Historic Preservation, the Albert Gore Research Center, and the Center for Popular Music.
Admission to the doctoral program requires a master’s degree from an accredited university
or college; 18 semester hours of undergraduate or graduate history coursework; and
an acceptable GPA in master’s degree work (and in undergraduate history classes).
Applicants admitted conditionally have a specified period of time to satisfy the conditions
The Ph.D. in Public History requires foreign language competency or alternate research
For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.
A 12-credit hour Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Museum Management is available
to students currently pursuing an M.A. in Public History at MTSU, to MTSU alumni who
hold an M.A. in Public History, and to applicants who hold an equivalent M.A. from
Students in the traditional Master of Arts in History program may choose a major field in United States or European History, but graduate classes
in global history can fulfill requirements for the minor field.
A graduate history minor also is offered.
The undergraduate degree in history comes in four forms: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History, the B.A. in History
with Teacher Licensure, the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in History, and the B.S. in History with Teacher
An undergraduate minor in history is also offered. The department additionally coordinates
interdisciplinary minors in African American Studies; Media, History, and Culture;
Environment and Human Society; Medieval Studies; Southern Studies; Twentieth-Century
European Studies; American Culture; and War, Policy, and Security.
Tracks in Public History
Public history embraces a wide array of history-related fields. The MTSU Public History
program offers specialized education and professional training in historic preservation, cultural resource management, museum management, archival management, oral history, and public archaeology. The Program also collaborates with the Walker Library Media Studio to develop digital collections and other digital initiatives.
Historic preservation involves the identification, preservation, and interpretation
of historic resources determined to be "significant" in American history. Examples
of significant historic resources include properties such as: buildings, structures,
objects, districts, archaeological sites, cultural and religious sites, historic landscapes,
and examples of innovative architecture and engineering. Whether considered significant
for their historic associations or architectural aesthetics, preservationists approach
historic resources as "texts" that help reveal details about the past lives and values
of the people who created them. In addition to their utility as sources for research,
historic resources provide communities with a sense of character and identity. The
preservation of our historic built environment is vital to our understanding of history
at the national, state, and local levels.
Students trained at MTSU will be equipped to work with historic resources in a variety
of public and private settings, including such venues as downtown historic districts,
state historic preservation offices, military bases, national parks, federal agencies,
historic sites, preservation or cultural resources management consulting firms, architectural
and engineering companies, departments of transportation, and various non-profit organizations.
In recent decades, historic preservation has become increasingly focused on economic
development programs that adapt or recycle historic buildings for such new uses as
offices, stores, restaurants, museums, and housing. Historic preservation planning
is another field attracting increasing attention, particularly as communities struggle
to deal with the destructive effects of suburban "sprawl" on historic buildings and
rural resources. See Center for Historic Preservation.
Cultural Resource Management
Of the four area concentrations, students are least familiar with cultural resources
management or CRM. In fact, historic preservation is integral to cultural resources
management (identification, preservation, and interpretation of historic resources),
both are shaped strongly by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which
created the National Register of Historic Places, and a variety of other laws and
regulations. For example, both fields require knowledge of historic architecture,
but CRM incorporates the study and analysis of cultural landscapes, archaeological
sites, natural resources, and Native-American burial grounds.
CRM typically involves the responsibilities of major federal land-management agencies
in the United States such as the National Park Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bureau of Land Management. With jurisdiction over
millions of acres of land and cultural resources (buildings, objects, sites, structures,
and districts), these agencies operate within a regulatory system that requires not
only careful stewardship of the national domain but also interpretive programs for
public education and entertainment.
The training and skills involved in historic preservation and CRM are closely intertwined,
both conceptually and organizationally. Separating the two areas of concentration
can be difficult, but they do have distinguishing characteristics. Moreover, MTSU's
other two areas, Museum Management and Archival Management, also deal with the identification,
preservation, and interpretation of "historic resources."
The museum concentration at MTSU is designed to give students the training they need
to succeed in a wide variety of museum careers, such as museum administrators, curators,
registrars, and educators. The goals of our museum studies courses are to provide
in-depth knowledge of the theoretical and methodological issues that effect today's
museums and to apply that knowledge with practical, hands-on experience. Our course
offerings emphasize applied training in museum administration, collections management,
exhibit development, fundraising, museum education, and other technical and communication
skills. As new technologies and ideas continue to transform traditional museum practices
and employment patterns, our concentration in museums has responded to these changes
by offering the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed by current and future museum
Governments, organizations, and individuals throughout history have recorded information
in a variety of textual, visual, aural, and electronic documents as they carried out
their daily activities. Those documents preserve personal, community and institutional
memory and extend that memory over time, space, and place. Individuals and societies
depend on these documents to establish their legal rights and to insure the accountability
of governments, businesses, and other institutions. Society charges archivists with
selecting and preserving those documents that have enduring legal or social value
and making them available to present and future users.
Students in the archival concentration acquire the skills they need to meet that responsibility.
Introductory and advanced courses cover the seven domains of archival practice recognized
by the Society of American Archivists and the Academy of Certified Archivists: appraisal,
arrangement and description, access, preservation, outreach, professional responsibilities,
and management. Students also have an opportunity to achieve proficiency in a single
domain through an archival practicum and to acquire broad professional experience
through an internship in one of a variety of cooperating repositories. See Albert Gore Research Center, Center for Popular Music, Rutherford County Archives.
Graduates can expect to find employment in national, state, and local government archives;
manuscripts repositories and special collections associated with historical societies,
educational institutions, and other cultural agencies; and a wide range of organizations
and businesses. They should also be able to pass the examination to become a Certified