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Online Master’s in Military History Degree Programs

Military history is a one of many specializations within the larger field of historical studies. But, while many of the field’s specializations involve studying a particular time period and/or culture, region, or country, military history uses the tools of humanities research to examine and learn from geopolitical struggles, armed conflicts, and diplomacy across the globe and throughout human history. Military historians may view conflicts and their resolution through various lenses, includes geography, political science, and economic, sociological, and cultural aspects of the political entities and regions that engage in and are impacted by warfare. Through their scholarship, military historians further our understanding of how conflicts are triggered, warfare is waged, and diplomacy is conducted.

What Is a Master’s in Military History Degree?

A master’s degree in military history is a graduate degree conferred by a college or university to a student who has completed a program of study in the history of armed conflict, military campaigns, and the sociocultural and geopolitical factors that contribute to warfare and its resolution. Students in a master’s in military history degree program learn to use the tools of historical research and analysis to examine various aspects of armed conflicts, diplomatic efforts, and the people and political entities that are involved in wars and other types of military campaigns throughout history. They test and apply theories that explain geopolitical struggles in order to better understand the nature of armed conflicts. In addition, they cultivate historiographical skills in order to craft compelling historical narratives about the role that military forces, military culture, and military and political leadership have played in armed conflicts.

Online Master’s in Military History Programs

Online master’s in military history programs present students with a convenient and flexible alternative to traditional, campus-based programs. Through the use of distance learning platforms, often referred to as learning management systems (LMSs), online programs are able to provide students who would prefer not to attend traditional classes with the same types of training and instruction they would receive in a campus-based program. Lectures and other instructional activities may be streamed live or accessed asynchronously via a program’s LMS. Students in an online program typically communicate with instructors, interact with classmates, and receive and complete assignments using the program’s LMS. While some online master’s in military history programs require students to attend a limited number of campus-based sessions, many programs can be completed entirely online and do not require any campus visits.

How Identifies and Classifies Online Master’s in Military History Programs researches and classifies online programs based on several key factors. To be classified as an online master’s in military history program on this site, a program must offer all or most of its instruction via a distance-learning platform or LMS. Programs that require students to attend more than two campus visits per year are not classified by as online programs. In addition, in order for a program to be classified as an online master’s in military history program, it must offer graduate-level coursework in the history of armed conflicts, military culture, warfare, and diplomacy. These programs are typically designated as Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) in Military History programs, or as MA or MS in History programs with a specialization or concentration in Military History.

What Students Learn in Online Master’s in Military History Programs

A master’s-level curriculum in military history typically includes one or more core courses in general historical methods, including humanities research methods and historiography. This serves as a foundation for more specialized military history studies that may include an overview of major world conflicts from antiquity up through modern times, investigations of the relationship between military and political institution in countries at war, and examinations of the economic, technological, cultural, and social contexts for wars and other types of armed conflicts.

Students in online master’s in military history programs may then have the option of studying specific conflicts, such as the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, the Cold War, and the World Wars; regional military histories (e.g., Chinese, British, or European military history); relevant issues in military history, such as race and gender in military cultures; and/or tactical, strategic, and technological innovations and their impact on warfare (e.g., air power, mechanized warfare, amphibious warfare, and nuclear weapons). In addition to core and elective coursework, online master’s programs in military history may also require students to complete a research project or thesis prior to receiving their degree.

Online Master’s in Military History Courses

The table below is designed to provide an overview of the types of courses that are typically offered by online master’s in military history programs. The course names and descriptions are derived from actual online master’s programs in military history. However, curricula, course offerings, and specific course requirements vary by program.

Course TitleCourse Description
Introduction to History and HistoriographyAn examination of the history profession, historical methodologies, information literacy, and the process by which historians gather information, formulate hypotheses, develop theories, craft narratives, and contribute to the study of history.
History of Military ThoughtThe evolution of military theory and practice throughout history and across the globe, with a focus on prominent military figures, major campaigns, social and economic factors, diplomatic efforts, and cultural differences in military theory.
Military Leaders and Theories of ConflictAn examination of the most influential military theoreticians and strategists from the period of the Thirty Years’ War to the present, with a focus on Clausewitz, Jomini, Douhet, Mahan, Corbett, and Mao Zedong, as well as nuclear deterrence and post-Maoist revolutionary warfare.
Non-Western Military HistoryA survey of major historical events and factors in the military history of the modern extra-European world, including China, Israel and the Middle East, Africa, India/South Asia, Latin America, and the Ottoman Empire.
American Military HistoryThe history of warfare in the Americas and beyond, with a focus on how armed conflicts such as the Civil War, the Frontier Wars, the World Wars, and the Cold War impacted the development of military institutions in the United States.
Total WarThe history of massive continental and intercontinental wars, from the French Revolution to the end of the Cold War, including the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II.
Amphibious WarfareAn examination of amphibious operations and their impact on diplomacy and warfare from antiquity to the present, with a focus on the early-modern military revolution that led to the rise of the West.
Chinese Military HistoryAn introduction to Chinese military thought, strategy, tactics, technologies, and cultural factors through the latest scholarship in the field.
Cold War and the American EmpireThe ideological conflict between the US and the Soviet Union post World War II, its proxy wars, and the political, social, cultural, and economic impact of this global conflict.
Race and Gender in Military HistoryThe history of the military as seen through the lenses of racial integration and women’s participation in warfare.

Admissions to Online Master’s in Military History Programs

The basic admissions eligibility requirement for online master’s in military history programs is a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Most programs do not require applicants to have majored in history, but some programs may have one or more undergraduate prerequisites for admissions. In addition to undergraduate transcripts, transcripts from other post-secondary studies, and an up-to-date resumé, online master’s in military history programs may require applicants to submit GRE test scores, two or three letters of recommendation, a personal essay or goals statement, and/or answers to one or more essay questions. Some program have a preferred minimum undergraduate grade point average (GPA), usually in the 2.5 to 3.5 range on a four-point scale.

There are also programs that may contact qualified applicants regarding a short in-person or video-conference interview prior to admission. However, potential applicants to online master’s in military history programs should keep in mind that admission policies vary by program and should thus review the specific requirements and procedures of a program prior to submitting an application.

Online Master’s in Military History Program Formats

While all of the online master’s in military history program listed on this site offer all or most of their coursework online and do not require students to attend more than two campus visits per year, not all online programs are the same. In fact, there are several key differences in program formats that potential applicants should be aware of. For example, there are two modes of online instruction – synchronous and asynchronous instruction – and a student’s overall learning experience can be affected by which mode a program utilizes.

Similarly, the relative convenience and flexibility of a program may depend on the program’s enrollment options. Some program have flexible enrollment, while others have designated full-time and/or part-time enrollment plans. Finally, campus visits may be an issue for some students. The benefits and drawbacks of campus visits, the types of enrollment policies that are typical for online master’s in military history programs, and the differences between synchronous and asynchronous instruction are addressed in the sections below.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Instruction: Synchronous instruction is the online analogue to traditional classroom-based instruction. It requires students to log on to a program’s LMS in real time in order to view and participate in virtual classroom sessions that are held at regularly scheduled intervals (typically once or twice per week in the evening). Students who are more comfortable with an online program that holds classes at designated times each week are likely to prefer to a program that utilizes synchronous instruction. In contrast, asynchronous instruction does not have a real-time component. Students in a program that utilizes asynchronous instruction are responsible for making time to view recorded lectures and other instructional materials each week without designated class meeting times. Having 24-7 access to online course materials provides additional flexibility and may be a more convenient option for students who have work and other commitments outside of school. However, asynchronous instruction is less structured than synchronous instruction and requires a greater degree of self-motivation and self-discipline, as well as time-management skills.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Enrollment: A typical online master’s in military history program can be completed in one to two years by students who enroll full-time, which means spending up to 40 or more hours per week on coursework when school is in session. While there are programs that require students to enroll full-time, it is more common for online master’s in military history programs to offer part-time and/or flexible enrollment options. Part-time enrollment means taking a limited number of classes per term, devoting less time per week to coursework (15 to 20 hours), and spending two or more years to completing the credits required for graduation. Flexible enrollment allows students to choose the number of courses they take per term within certain limitations, giving students the option of enrolling full-time or part-time. For students who prioritize graduating within a year or two, a program with a full-time enrollment plan is generally preferable. For students who intend to work full-time while earning their degree, programs with flexible and/or part-time enrollment are typically a better option.

Campus Visits: As noted previously, does not include online master’s in military history programs that require students to attend more than two campus-based sessions per year on this site. While there are many programs that do not require any campus visits, some online master’s in military history programs integrate a limited number of on-campus instructional sessions into their curriculum. These on-campus sessions afford students opportunities to meet with instructors face-to-face, network with other students, and conduct research and other hands-on activities that may not be possible online. These sessions can be a valuable addition to an online program, but they entail travel, which may be an inconvenience for some students, especially those who do not live within driving distance of the campus. Potential applicants to online master’s in military history programs who are concerned about required campus visits should review each program’s requirements carefully prior to submitting an application.