Skip to content

Online Bachelor’s in History Programs

History is one of the central academic disciplines in the humanities. In its most elemental form, history involves studying the past though a critical lens, identifying causes and effects of important events, and crafting coherent narratives about those events in order to cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves, our culture, and our world. In an academic setting, it also entails learning historical research methodologies, theories of historical interpretation, and tools for writing historical criticism and analyses. Most colleges and universities have a history department and offer degree programs in history, including undergraduate programs with a designated concentration or major in history, and a number of schools offer these programs online.

What Is a Bachelor’s in History Program?

A bachelor’s in history program is an undergraduate program that leads to the conferral of a bachelor’s degree and that includes numerous courses focusing on historical methods, theories of history, and the analysis of historical texts. Students who major in history at the undergraduate level typically take several core courses that introduce key concepts and practices in the discipline, such as the use of primary and secondary source materials, various frameworks for historical analysis, and the means by which evidence-based historical narratives are crafted. This knowledge is typically applied in courses devoted to in-depth explorations of discrete periods in history, the histories of particular countries, cultures, and parts of the world, and the cultural and technological history of civilizations. Some schools give students the option of several specializations within their history major. These specializations may include: American history; European history; ancient civilizations; the Middle East; Africa; Latin America; Russia and the Soviet Union; and China.

In addition to history courses, bachelor’s degree programs require students to complete general education coursework prior to receiving their degree. These requirements vary by school and by program. They typically include a range of courses in the arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and natural and physical sciences, as well as college-level mathematics, and English composition. Some bachelor’s programs may also require students to complete courses in a foreign language.

Online Bachelor’s in History Programs

Online bachelor’s in history programs utilize distance-learning technologies to provide a more flexible and convenient alternative to traditional, campus-based programs. Students in an online bachelor’s in history program take the same types of courses as students who attend campus-based programs, including general education courses and courses required by the major. However, instead of attending classes on a school’s campus, online students access lectures and other course materials through a program’s learning management system (LMS). An LMS is a platform that uses digital technologies to stream lectures, host discussion groups, and facilitate other instructional activities, including interactions with instructors and other members of a school’s academic support staff. Some online bachelor’s in history programs may require students to attend a limited number of campus-based sessions (at most, one or two per year), but many are 100% online and do not require any campus visits.

How Identifies and Classifies Online Bachelor’s in History Programs

In order to be classified on this site as an online bachelor’s in history program, a program must meet several criteria. Online bachelor’s in history programs must offer all or most of their required coursework online. They must be offered by accredited, non-profit colleges and universities, and they must provide students with a designated major or concentration in history. Programs that require students to attend more than two campus visits per year and programs that are offered by for-profit and non-accredited schools are not listed on the site. researches program curricula to ensure that programs listed as online bachelor’s in history programs offer an undergraduate curriculum in history. These programs include online Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) in History programs, as well as online Bachelor of Liberal Arts (BLA) and Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) programs with a history concentration or major.

What Students Learn in an Online Bachelor’s in History Program

In addition to general education coursework, students in an online bachelor’s in history program typically take several core courses in historical research methods, historiography (historical writing), and theories of historical analysis as part of the history major. These courses serve as a foundation for the further study of various periods in history, the histories of particular countries and regions, and other types of courses that examine the history of thoughts, ideas, technologies, and other human endeavors. Some programs offer courses in more specialized areas of historical study, such as women’s history, African-American history, European imperialism, and the history of scientific discovery. Students in online bachelor’s in history programs may have the option of choosing from among several concentrations within the history major, such as American History, European History, or the Middle East, and many programs require students to take a certain number of electives that focus on particular periods in history or the history of specific regions. These curricular details vary by program.

Online Bachelor’s in History Courses

The table below draws on research into actual online bachelor’s in history programs to provide a representative overview of the types of courses commonly offered in these programs.

Course TitleCourse Description
The Historian’s CraftAn introduction to history as an academic discipline with a focus on the types of questions that historians ask and the methods they use to develop answers.
Making HistoryAn examination of how history is created, the accepted methods for historical research, and the major theories that inform our understanding of the past.
Methods of Historical InquiryStudents learn to use historical methods to formulate research questions, identify primary and secondary sources, and design and execute historical research projects.
World Civilizations: Prehistory-1500Ancient civilizations and their history, including Greece and the Roman Empire, Egypt and Northern Africa, and the great Chinese Dynasties, as well as European history prior to the discovery of the Americas in 1492.
World Civilizations: 1500-PresentMajor events and historical currents from the beginning of European expansion and imperialism up through the modern era, with a focus on how historical narratives of those periods have evolved and shifted over time.
American History: Jamestown to the Civil WarA survey of major events and currents in American history from 1607 and the start of the Colonial Era through the American Revolution, the founding of the United States, and the start of the Civil War.
Post-Civil War US HistoryA survey of major topics and events in American history from the Civil War up through the present day, with a focus on Reconstruction, industrialization, the two world wars, the emergence of the US as a global power, and the Cold War.
Exploration and EmpireReadings and research into the emergence of European exploration and imperialism, its impacts on various parts of the world, and key historical events from that period that have influenced and shaped today’s world.
The Vietnam WarAn in-depth investigation of the Vietnam War, its causes, and its legacy, with a focus on the application of various historical theories to developing a better understanding of the conflict and its aftermath.

Admissions to Online Bachelor’s in History Programs

Potential applicants to online bachelor’s in history programs should review program admissions criteria carefully prior to submitting an application, as policies and procedures vary by program. The basic admission requirement for online bachelor’s programs is a high school diploma or equivalency. Some programs may also require students to submit scores from a standardized admissions test, such as the SAT, and one or more of the following: two or three letters of recommendation; a personal goals statement; and answers to one or several essay questions. Programs that are designated as online bachelor’s completion programs typically require applicants to have completed a certain number of transferable college credits or a two-year associate degree program. For more information about bachelor’s completion programs, refer to our bachelor’s completion programs FAQ.

Online Bachelor’s in History Program Formats

While online bachelor’s programs are typically designed to be convenient and flexible enough to accommodate students who may be returning to school and/or working full time while earning their degree, there are several variations in format that can impact the relative convenience and flexibility of online programs. There are two different modes of online instruction that students should understand: synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Depending on which mode a program utilizes, students may be required to log on to a program’s LMS for regularly scheduled classes or have the freedom to view pre-recorded lectures at their own convenience. Some programs give students the options of enrolling full-time or part-time, while others have less flexible enrollment policies. And a limited number of online bachelor’s in history program require students to attend one or more campus-based sessions, although many programs are offered 100% online and do not require campus visits. Each of these factors is addressed in greater detail in the sections below.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: If an online program utilizes synchronous instruction it means that some lectures and/or discussions are held in real time and require students to be present at a computer and logged on to the program’s LMS to participate. Programs that utilized asynchronous instruction do not have real-time component, which means students can view videotaped lectures and other class activities 24-7. While asynchronous instruction affords more flexibility than synchronous instruction, it requires a greater amount of self-discipline, as students must be prepared to turn in assignments and take exams by set dates. Synchronous instruction may be less convenient than asynchronous instruction, but it provides more structure and may be preferable for students who are more comfortable with an online learning experience that resembles traditional classroom-based learning.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Enrollment: Traditional bachelor’s programs are typically designed to be completed in eight semesters (four academic years) by students who enroll full-time, which means devoting up to 40 or more hours per week to schoolwork while classes are session. However, online programs may be offered full-time or part-time, and some online programs have flexible enrollment, allowing students to choose the number of courses they take per term. Students in a part-time online bachelor’s program generally require an additional two or more semesters to earn their degree, or a total of five or more years. While part-time enrollment may be preferable for students who are working while earning their degree, it is important to note that some types of financial aid are contingent upon students being enrolled in a certain number of credit hours per term. It is thus advisable to review enrollment options carefully prior to submitting applications to online bachelor’s in history programs.

Campus Visits: As noted above, many online bachelor’s in history programs do not require campus visits. However, some programs require students to attend a limited number of campus-based sessions, which may include orientations, lectures, workshops, seminars, and other types of instruction that benefit from having students on campus. While campus visits may add to the overall learning experience of an online program, they can cause scheduling conflicts. They can also add travel and boarding expenses to the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree. does not list programs that require more than two campus visits per year. Students should check with an admissions advisor regarding campus-based requirements prior to submitting an application and weigh the pros and cons of having to attend campus visits if a bachelor’s in history program requires them.