Department of History
203 Cockefair Hall
Master of Arts in History with a Public History Emphasis
The Department of History’s M.A. with a Public History Emphasis
students for careers in museums, historical societies, archives, and other
cultural institutions. Following the guidelines laid out by the
National Council on Public History’s
program navigator, the emphasis combines rigorous instruction in historical
research with a practical training in transferable, professional skills. The
emphasis also provides students with several opportunities for real-world work
experience, taking advantage of Kansas City’s many historical institutions to
offer funded and unfunded internships. All students accepted to the
department's M.A. are eligible to earn a Public History Emphasis. But they must
first declare their intent to be on the Public History Emphasis track by filling
out the Public History Emphasis form. You can find the Public History Emphasis
Declaration Form here.
|Course Number||Course Name||Credit Hours|
|HIST 5581GR||How to History I||3|
|HIST 5582GR||How to History II||3|
|Graduate Readings Colloquia x 3||9|
|HIST 5585GR||Colloquium in US History|
|HIST 5586GR||Colloquium in World History|
|HIST 5587RA||Research Seminar||3|
|Public History Core|
|HIST 5579||Public History: Theory & Method||3|
|Picked in consultation with committee|
All students in the department’s M.A. program take a number of
foundational courses that train students in the standards and practices
of the discipline. How to History 1 and 2 (HIST 5581GR and 5582GR,
respectively) introduce students to the major theoretical schools and
methods of historical research. Alongside these introductory courses,
students are also required to take three Graduate Readings Colloquia
(HIST 5585GR in US History or 5586GR in World History) in order to become familiar with the historiographical trends in their region of focus. Finally every student takes one Research Seminar (HIST5587RA) where they spend a semester conducting original primary source research.
In addition to these common courses, students in the Public History Emphasis are also required to take a common core of courses related to the practice of public history. The first is Public History: Theory and Method (HIST5579), which introduces students to basic interpretive practices as well as current and established trends in the field. Second, students are expected to complete five credit hours of internships during their time at UMKC (HIST5592), which can be taken at any point during the year. Previous internship placements include:
|Arrowhead Art Collection, Kansas City Chiefs Football Club||City of Kansas City Historic Preservation Office|
|National World War I Museum & Monument||Truman Presidential Library & Museum|
|National Archives and Records Administration||Missouri Valley Room, Kansas City Public Library|
|American Royal Museum||State Historical Society of Missouri|
|Mahaffie Stagecoach House and Farmstead||Marr Sound Archives|
|LaBudde Special Collections, UMKC||Kansas City Museum|
|Wornall-Majors House||Johnson County Museum|
|Eisterhold & Associates Exhibit Design||Midwest Center for Holocaust Education|
For more examples of places where students have interned, see the UMKC HistoryMaker blog. (Students who received funded internships as part of their financial package are exempt from having to find additional institutions internship opportunities. For more information, see Funding below.)
Graduates from the Public History Emphasis in the M.A.program will have both titles printed upon their diplomas. Yet public history is an exceptionally broad term, encompassing everything from National Park rangers to documentary filmmakers. For this reason the Public History Emphasis allows students to take 9 credit hours of electives in one of two concentrations: historical administration and archival methods.
There are no required courses for these concentrations. Rather, students will consult with their M.A. committees to determine what kinds of courses best fit their desired career goals. Concentration elective courses, however, will tend to emphasize professional skills over historical content. Potential courses for each concentration include:
● HIST5593: Museum Studies
● HIST5597: Public History and New Media
● PUB-ADM5555A: Organizing for Successful Fundraising
● PUB-ADM5555F: Prospect Research and Proposal Writing
● EDUC-C&I5506: Curriculum Design
● GEOG5507: Archaeological Resources Management
● HIST5591: Archival Methods
● HIST5597: Public History and New Media
● HIST5570: Intro to Material Culture
● ILST7313: Managing Collections and Access
● ILST7312: Principles of Cataloging and Classification
● ART-HIST5573: Visual Arts Administration
All students are required to orally defend a final project before completing the program. This project can be, but is not limited to being, an exhibit, walking tour, digital project, documentary film, oral history, archival collection finding aid, conservation plan, national register nomination, or a journal-length article of original research focused on some aspect of public history. At a minimum, students will defend an interpretive plan of 8,000-9,000 words, complete with wireframes and mockups. (Students wishing to write a journal-length article will adhere to the department’s guidelines for professional papers, which is 10,000-12,000 words.) In this interpretive plan, students will:
● Summarize the literature(s) relating to this area of research. Students will take a critical position in their work and engage questions about chronology, bibliography, major themes, and interpretations.
● Narrate a creative and compelling public project grounded in primary sources that communicates a scholarly argument to a public audience. This includes providing the text or script for a project.
● Explain and justify the project’s theory and methods.
● Identify the project’s target audience and provide a plan to reach them.
While an interpretive plan of a potential public history project fulfills the requirements for the Public History degree, students can (and are encouraged to) receive approval to have the installation of an actual public history project for which they are the primary curator count as their capstone project. In this case, the length of the written material and interpretive plan will be worked out with the student’s M.A. committee. All decisions regarding the final project must be made with approval of the student’s advisory committee.
All candidates for the M.A. in History with a Public History Emphasis are eligible for the department’s traditional Graduate Teaching Assistantship. Information about applying for GTA positions can be found on the department’s website. But in addition to teaching assistantships, students in the Public History Emphasis are also eligible for a number of funded internships opportunities the department negotiates. Like GTAships, funded internships provide students with a monthly stipend and tuition remission. Unlike GTAs, however, funded interns will work twenty hours a week from August through May at a local museum or historical society. Ongoing funded internships currently exist at the Kansas City Chiefs Football Club’s Arrowhead Art Program, UMKC’s LaBudde Special Collections, and the Marr Sound Archive. Other internships become available every year based on projects.
Students wishing to be considered for a funded internship must fill out an application (available here) and submit it to the director of the Public History Emphasis, Dr. Chris Cantwell (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Students who receive a 10 month funded internship are exempt from having to find additional institutions to intern at as required by the Public History Emphasis. For every funded internship a student receives, they can register for 3 credit hours of HIST5592. Students can therefore complete the program’s internship requirement through their funded internships. Note, however, students are still required to complete five credit hours of HIST5592 in order to successfully complete the program.
Graduates of the department have gone on to find positions like museum technicians at the Truman Presidential Library and Museum, curators at the Johnson County Museum, and archivists at the Jackson County Historical Society.