MA Specialization in Public History

Public History graduate education at UIS has its roots in the 1970s, when our predecessor institution Sangamon State University first offered courses in oral history, museum studies, and local history. Today, the program prides itself in a flexible curriculum, robust student funding, unparalleled internship and volunteering opportunities, a high rate of professional placements, and a rich alumni network that stretches across the country.

Interested in learning more? Email us to set up an appointment to speak with faculty, current students, and recent alumni about the program.


Courses and Curriculum

Students are welcome to attend full-time or part-time, with graduate course offerings on weekday evenings. The degree consists of nine courses plus a closure requirement. Public History students complete the MA History core, along with HIS 502 Public History Colloquium and HIS 515 History and Digital Media, plus Public History electives that include options in Historic Preservation, Museum Studies, Material Culture, Historical Administration, and Oral History. For program closure, students have the option of a Public History-focused thesis or a practicum project based on their internship experiences.

Admissions

We have a rolling deadline, with an option to begin classes in the Fall or Spring. For students seeking funding, we recommend applications be completed by March 1.

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Funding

Public History applicants are frequent recipients graduate funding offers through Graduate Assistantships and the Graduate Public Service Internship Program. Both programs offer tuition waivers (in-state and out-of-state) and hourly stipends.

  • Graduate Assistantships: Assistantships in UIS departments and offices provide monthly stipends during the contract period. Assistants are eligible to receive a tuition and service fee waiver (this includes the activity fee, the intercollegiate athletic fee, the Career Center fee, and up to 8 credit hours of the Health Service fee) for qualifying course work. General fees and course fees are not waived. Assistants are entitled to a maximum of 30 credit hours of tuition waived during the academic year (includes fall, spring, and summer semesters). Application deadline: March 15.
  • Graduate Public Service Internship Program: GPSI is ranked as one of Illinois’ premier governmental internship programs. For over 45 years this program has provided top-flight graduate students with a high quality graduate education, real world experience, and lifelong networking connections. Recent GPSI locations for History students have included: Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, State Historic Sites of Springfield, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Revenue, and the Illinois Art-in-Architecture Program. Positions include a monthly stipend, tuition waivers, and professional development funding. Application deadline: March 15.

Alumni Success

Our graduates have built a remarkable placement record in achieving fulltime, career Public History positions. In 2021 and 2022, alone, eight of eight graduates secured positions. Our recent alumni work throughout the country in archives, museums, historic sites, historic preservation and cultural resource management, and education, in state, local, federal, and non-profit organizations. They join a network of alumni that includes leaders at the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, Illinois State Historic Sites, the Illinois State Archives, and many other institutions.

Recent Placements

State and City Offices

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, Illinois

Illinois State Archives, Springfield, Illinois

Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois 

Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post, Minnesota State Historical Society, Onamia, Minnesota

West Virginia State History Office, Charleston, West Virginia

 

Non-Profit History Organizations and Higher Education

Concordia Historical Institute, St. Louis, Missouri

Green McAdoo Cultural Center, Clinton, Tennessee 

Preservation Massachusetts, Plymouth, Massachusetts

Sangamon Experience, University of Illinois Springfield

Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Yellowstone Shortline Trail

 

Federal Agencies

Custer Gallatin National Forest, Nye, Montana 

National Archives and Records Administration National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis, Missouri

City and County Offices

City of Peoria, Peoria, Illinois 

Grayslake Heritage Center, Grayslake, Illinois 

Henson  Robinson Zoo, Springfield Park District, Springfield, Illinois

Want to learn more?