Public History Program Course and Degree Information

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduates can develop a concentration in public history as part of their major, in consultation with their advisor.

A concentration in public history could include the following courses:

  • Introduction to Public History (HST 496; 4 credits)

  • Public History Internship (HST 404; credits are variable)

  • Public History Lab (HST 411, 4 credits)

  • Public History Seminar (HST 409; 4 credits)

Students can also work with public history faculty via “by-arrangement” courses and on special projects.


Graduate Students

Students wishing to pursue a career in public history are urged to consider the department’s public history MA track. Public history students take field courses, seminars, internships, and laboratory courses that cover a broad range of public history sub-fields, including: archival management, oral history, museology, cultural resource management, site interpretation, publications, and historic preservation.

Students choosing the public history track as their primary field are required to have a second field defined geographically. In addition to fulfilling all other requirements for a Master of Arts in history (see here for more information) students are also required to complete the following:

  • HST 596, Introduction to Public History (4 credits; unless student has already successfully completed this course at the undergraduate level)

  • HST 509, Public History Seminar (4 credits)

  • Public History Internshipa minimum of 6 credits of HST 504 (6 credits)

  • HST 511, Public History Lab (4 credits)

  • A thesis or public project, e.g., exhibit, web site, public program, audio, or video document as part of the required 8 credits of HST 503, Thesis (8 credits).

Pathways for graduate students in the public history track vary and should be determined in consultation with an advisor and designed to meet the professional development needs of the individual student. Students have the option of creating a public history deliverable that supports or extends the thesis (i.e., oral history interviews, a public program on the thesis topic, or a website that addresses the thesis topic to a non-academic audience). Alternatively, students can present a portfolio of public history products that are tangentially or not connected to the thesis topic to fulfill this requirement (i.e., an archival collection finding aid,  small museum exhibit, historic register nominations, or podcasts).

For example, Student A took the Intro to Public History course, a lab course on podcasts, and a seminar on oral history. She designed an oral history project to collect data in support of her thesis while completing an internship at the historical society where she would archive the oral history interviews. The student submitted the thesis and a record of the interviews to complete the program.

Student B took the Intro to Public History course, a lab course on public history grant development, and a seminar on community-based history practices. The student participated in an internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife at the Cathlapotle Plankhouse in Ridgefield, Washington. She developed a material collection resource plan for the site’s artifact collection. Her thesis documented the development of the Cathapotle Plankhouse, which represents a collaboration between a federal agency and two area tribal nations. The student submitted the resource plan along with her thesis as her final projects.

Student C did not need to take the Intro to Public History course because he successfully took it as an undergraduate student. He took a seminar on archiving and a lab course on historic trees in Portland. As a result of the lab, he participated in an internship with the City of Portland to develop interpretive materials about the historic tree program, which he introduced in several public programs. He also developed a historic structure guide for the City of Gresham. He submitted materials from both projects as part of a public history portfolio as he concluded the program. His thesis was on a separate topic.