Graduate Certificate in Public History

The Advanced Certificate in Public History prepares students for the collection, preservation, and dissemination of information about the past to the general public.

Public historians use oral history, museums and other sites of exhibition and multimedia to engage popular audiences in discussion and debate around historical issues. They work in archives, libraries, museums, historical societies, heritage sites, schools, government, parks, churches, public-policy organizations, media and corporations.

Program Design

Courses are taught through online and may include teleconference or onsite instruction. Students may begin the certificate program in the fall, spring, or summer terms.

Required Courses and Suggested Sequence

PBHS 6040 Museums and Public History: Theory and Practices (3 Credits)

This course takes up historical and cultural theory in examination through interdisciplinary lenses of how museums co-create history and public memory with communities.

Through readings, research, discussion and use of online resources, students:

  • explore institutional histories and current trends in the thinking and practices of academic and museum professionals, with a focus on identity, authority and representation
  • trace shifts in correspondent communities' and public expectations, with comparative views of venues and performance that represent history outside established institutions, including cross-cultural examples
  • consider how technology has changed certain museum practices and functions, in particular through the appraisal and comparison of online virtual museums and live visits to museums

PBHS 6325 Archival Theory and Practice (3 Credits)

This course will introduce students to the history of archives and the basic theories and practices of administering archives and manuscript collections (appraisal, acquisition, arrangement and description, reference and preservation).

The course also will draw on several academic disciplines to address the public dimension of archives and their use in research, outreach programs and historic editing and publishing. Finally, the course will cover ethical and legal issues and the ways new information technologies affect archival administration and use.

PBHS 6105 Exhibition: Planning and Interpretation (3 Credits)

Prerequisite: Museums and Public History: Theory and Practices

Building on the theory and practice learned in Museums and Public History, this course will ask students to work within a history museum (or equivalent collection) to produce an exhibition. Working within a museum setting will allow students to put their theoretical knowledge to practical use. Geographical considerations will determine the specific organizations with which students may work. However, online exhibitions will be possible.

PBHS 6215 Oral History: Theory and Methods (3 Credits)

Prerequisite: Archival Theory and Practice

This course:

  • introduces students to various theories underlying the practice of oral history derived from a variety of academic disciplines
  • reviews the historical development of oral history in America
  • exposes students to the basic methods associated with setting up and conducting oral history interviews

With the assistance of the instructor, students will:

  • choose relevant topics in their field of interest
  • read secondary sources
  • review primary sources
  • identify subjects to interview
  • develop questions
  • learn the techniques of interviewing
  • transcribe interviews
  • present an analytical interpretation of the interview

PBHS 7005 Public History Internship (3 Credits)

Students will participate in a one-semester internship (150 hours) with a public-history institution such as a museum, historical society, archives or library. The purpose of the internship is to provide students with an opportunity to observe and reflect on public history as practiced and apply skills learned in the certificate program. Students will work with the instructor to identify an appropriate institution, field supervisor and specific responsibilities for the internship.

Admission and Advisement

Admission to the certificate program requires the applicant to submit an official transcript of his or her bachelor’s degree along with a complete application. Advising will be provided by the certificate program coordinator, Dr. Anastasia Pratt.

While the 15 credits of this certificate may be transferred into the M.A. Liberal Studies program, candidates must apply to the program and complete the full admission process. Completion of the graduate certificate does not guarantee admission to the master’s program.

Advanced certificates may be incorporated into a related master's degree for those meeting the program admission requirements.

Apply online or request information for more details on the Certificate in Public History.

Tuition and Fees

Students completing this certificate pay the following tuition and fees:

Federal financial aid is not available unless concurrently matriculated in a master’s degree program.