Department of History


In many  history classes, a professor asks the question "Why study History?"  or "What is History?" at the beginning of the semester.  These questions were answered beautifully by Ethan Schmidt:

"To be a historian is to grapple with the very core of what it is that makes us human. Our triumphs, our tragedies, our flaws, and our strengths are all laid bare by the scholarly study of history and without this kind of inquiry there is little hope for mankind I think."

 The traditional liberal arts history major also provides a foundation for a variety of careers in law, business, industry and government. As the only university in Kentucky to focus on world civilizations, we are particularly well suited to prepare you for careers in these paths.  We offer a wide diversity in areas of study in History  as we have Historians specialized in every field of history.

When searching for a college or university that can best help prepare you for a career of choice, take note of Steven Pearlstein's words in a recent article from The Washington Post. "It's worth remembering that at American Universities, the original rationale for majors was not to train students for careers. Rather, the idea was that after a period of broad intellectual exploration, a major was supposed to give students the experience of mastering one subject, in the process developing skills such as discipline, persistence,  how to research, analyze, communicate clearly, and think logically. As it happens, those are precisely the skills business executives still say they want from college graduates...." {Steven Pearlstein,  "Meet the Parents Who won't let their Children Study Literature," in The Washington Post, 2 September 2016. View the full article here.}  The skills noted by Pearlstein are, also, the same skills a degree in history can offer students (while additionally allowing one to pursue his/her interests). Of course, a career (well, income) is always a concern when contemplating one's future. To ease your conscience regarding the debate between pursuing academic interests and job security, check out this article from The Wall Street Journal. Or, check out this article by historian William H. McNeil, who discusses the importance of history. In case you still are not convinced that studying history creates successful individuals, check out our Reasons to Study History page, including careers for historians, famous people with history degrees, and more.

Additionally, here are some reasons to consider pursuing a career with us, at Murray State University.

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Murray State University is a student-centered university. This means the faculty of Murray State University aim to create a culture primarily focused on the success of the student as an individual. The history department fulfills this emphasis on student success with the active presence of a variety of historians. History faculty cover a range of historical sub-fields, regions, and eras, to account for an array of student research interests. Check out our faculty in the History Department.

Degrees Offered in History at Murray State University

The Department of History at Murray State University offers baccalaureate degrees, with or without certification to teach, and along both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science tracks. Both baccalaureate education tracks prepare students for graduate work at the M.A. or Ph.D. level. The Master of Arts program in history offers advanced study to qualified students in American, European, and World History. Within these major fields, there are two track options to the Master of Arts degree: 1) the thesis track, a 30 hour program of advanced study requiring a thesis; and 2) two non-thesis track options (American or European history) of 36 hours. The M.A. enables teachers to meet Rank II certification in Kentucky public schools.  The department also offers minors in History and Religious Studies.

For more information on our history programs, view our Academic Programs. You may also contact the MSU Department of History at 270-809-2234 or
The History Department is currently reviewing its Masters of Arts degree program and considering some changes. We would be very grateful if you would complete the following survey before March 1st, 2017. Thanks in advance for helping us make our MA program even better!

Giving to Murray State University History

Every year the Murray State Department of History hosts two banquets in support of both graduate and undergraduate education. One is held in the fall semester, in honor of Dr. James W. Hammack, Jr.  Proceeds from the Hammack banquet benefit graduate student education in history. In the spring semester, the history department hosts a banquet for undergraduate education. The psing banquet honors the late T. Wayne Beasley in its support for undergraduate education in history.  See our events for more information about these banquets.

Keep Up-to-Date

To stay up-to-date on current events and news from the History Department, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

See what our students and faculty have to say about History at Murray State University

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