What will I learn?

The Public History program at NC State University ranks among the premier programs in the nation, preparing students to work in a variety of public and applied history settings. For over a decade, our graduates have enjoyed one of the highest employment rates in the nation, working in archives, museums, libraries, historic sites, and other public history facilities across the state, region, and nation.

Our alumni represent our program well through employment at the North Carolina Museum of History, the New York Public Library, the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, Death Valley National Monument, the Kentucky Derby Museum, the Harriet Tubman National Historic Monument, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, the Scheile Museum of Natural History, the Jewish Historical Society, Yale University Manuscripts and Archives, the Virginia Air and Space Museum, the North Carolina Historical Review, the Maryland Historical Society, the Museum of African American History of Boston, the Woodstock (N.Y.) Historical Society, and the National Storytelling Association, among hundreds of other institutions.

Some of our students come directly from receiving their B.A. degrees, while many of our students have already worked in the field and want to advance their credentials.

The program requires thirty-six hours of course work, one-third of the hours falling in historical studies, the rest in public history classes, including innovative courses in archival and special collections management, paper conservation, records management, documentary editing, material culture, and museum studies. A thesis is not required, although a thesis track is available for interested students.

All students complete a practicum in their own special areas of interest—including records management, the administration of historic sites, history museums, historic preservation, or historical publications.

Degree Requirements

Most students do a non-thesis program which consists of 36 hours of coursework core courses in history and public history, additional courses in history and a track of courses in the public history specialization, and two electives to supplement their public history preparation. Students who pursue the thesis option replace those electives with six hours of thesis research and writing.

Every student completes a 160-hour internship, and in the student's final semester, the student either takes an oral examination on the portfolio and coursework, or presents a portfolio and defends the thesis.

The public history specialization may be tailored to meet students’ specific professional ambitions. Most students have specialized in museum studies, historic sites and parks, heritage studies, digital history, family and community history, public memory, African American/Native American public history, or archives and records management (only for students in the credit transfer program with UNC’s School of Information and Library Sciences). Decisions on public history specialization are made in consultation with the Director of Public History.

Requirements at a Glance

Non-Thesis Option, 36 Hours
Public History Field, 15 hours

HI 596: Introduction to Public History
HI 642: Internship in Public History

and 9 hours in a concentration (recommended curricula in parentheses):

Museum Studies (HI 591, 593, and either 588, 589, 787, 788, or 789)
Heritage Studies (HI 587, 594, and either 533, 588, 589, 787, 788, or 789)
Public Memory (HI 563 and two of 533, 534, 787, and/or 788)
Digital History (HI 534 and two digital humanities courses in consultation with adviser)
Family and Community History (HI 588 and two of 533, 534, 787, and/or788)

Which department am I in?

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Study options

Full Time (36 hours)

Tuition fees
US$30,081.00 per year
Start date

Expected August 2022


College of Humanities and Social Sciences

106 Caldwell Hall,

Campus Box 8101,


North Carolina,

27695, United States

Entry requirements

For international students

To be considered for admission in full graduate standing, an applicant must have a four-year bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from an accredited college or university as determined by a regional or general accrediting agency and must have at least a “B” (3.000/4.000) average in the undergraduate major or in the latest graduate degree program.

Provide Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a total score of at least 80 on the Internet-based Test (iBT). Minimum test scores for each section:

Listening: 18 points
Reading: 18 points
Writing: 18 points Speaking: 18 points for admission, 23 points for TA appointment where TA has direct verbal interactions with students, 26 points for TA appointment where TA presents lectures in the class or laboratory

The maximum total score for the iBT is 120 with each section worth 30 points.

Provide International English Language Testing System (IELTS) scores with an overall band score of at least 6.5. Minimum test scores for each section are listed below:

Listening: 6.5
Reading: 6.5
Writing: 6.5
Speaking: 6.5 for admission, 7.0 for TA appointment

Computer-based TOEFL scores must be 213 or higher (with at least 17 on three sections and no section score below 13). The paper-based test requires a score of 550 or higher (with scores of 50 on at least two of the three sections and no section score below 45).

Application Deadlines and Details

Fall April 1

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.