Public History


Public History at Oklahoma State University

In addition to select undergraduate courses, the Department of History at Oklahoma State University offers a Master of Arts degree in History with an emphasis in Public History. The PhD program includes a minor field in Public History. Graduates of the program work at archives, museums, historical societies, and universities across the country.

Specialized training in Public History prepares students for work both in and outside of academia. The practices of Public History include historic preservation, museum studies, archives and manuscript management, cultural resources management, interpretive planning, public policy research, consulting and others. The Public History program at Oklahoma State University has traditionally carried particular strengths in historic preservation and museum studies. New course offerings in Digital History Methods and Digital Archives designed to develop students' familiarity with digital history formats will be available in coming semesters.

A firm belief that the discipline of History has value and applicability to all of society lies at the heart of the Department's Public History program. All graduate training is grounded in historical research methods. MA students receive a graduate degree in History. This enables them to acquire the research, writing, and analytical skills which accompany a course of study centered on the historical method. Because "Public History" implies the ability to use these skills in settings which transcend academia, students also receive sound theoretical training in Public History and their own individually chosen emphasis.

Additional experience is gained from a required two- to three-month full-time internship. Further internships and more specialized training are encouraged and may come from a variety of settings tailored to students' individual interests. The Public History program at OSU works closely with community partners, including museums, historical societies, and OSU libraries to identify internship opportunities of value for graduate-level training. This combination of theory and meaningful practical experience, coupled with an appreciation for the historian's craft, prepares students for productive and successful careers in the public sector. Graduates of the program are working in Oklahoma, Colorado, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere.

The Public History program admits approximately seven graduate students per year. For Master's students, the Public History option (Plan II) of the Department's Master of Arts program requires the student to complete credit 36 hours. This includes an internship and thesis, each constituting 6 hours toward the degree. Students are also required to take Historical Methods and Introduction to Public History. The rest of the course of study includes specialized courses in Public History and at least three graduate seminars, one of which must be a research seminar.

At the Doctoral level, the PhD Public History field is designed to provide a foundation for teaching Public History as part of an academic appointment. Students interested in pursuing Public History as a doctoral field typically complete a minimum of three classes—Introduction to Public History, a course specializing in Public History, and an internship.

For more information on graduate level study in Public History at Oklahoma State University contact Dr. Bill Bryans, bill.bryans@okstate.edu or 405-744-8179, or Dr. Laura Arata, larata@okstate.edu or 405-744-2716.