Public History

What is Public History?

Public History is history that happens outside of a textbook and the classroom. Public Historians interpret the past for the public in museums, national parks, historic houses, or on main streets. Public History programs give you skills to deal with different audiences, various materials, and multiple contexts. It is often called 'applied history', because it mixes deep historical knowledge with theory and practice.

Why Study Public History at Duquesne University?

For more than thirty years Duquesne's Public History Program has introduced graduate students to the theories and practices of the field. Our M.A. program, which has nearly 400 alumni,

  • Offers cutting-edge courses,
  • Assigns professional internships, and
  • Prepares you for rewarding careers in both for-profit and non-profit sectors

With the hiring of new public history faculty and the implementation of a new curriculum, an expanded choice of internships, as well as new research and networking opportunities for students, now is an excellent time to consider Duquesne for your graduate education in Public History.




Required Credit Hours


Program Requirements

The Public History Program at Duquesne University is set up so that you can complete your degree in four semesters, should you take the full courseload of three courses per semester. All courses are 3 credits. No more than 6 transfer credits may be applied to the graduate Public History degree.

  • PHST 601 Introduction to Public History
Students are required to take five courses within this group. Some examples of courses include:
  • PHST 511 Studies in Material and Visual Culture
  • PHST 512 Museums and Society
  • PHST 513 Cultural Resources Management
  • PHST 514 Commemoration and Preservation
  • PHST 516 Building Narratives in Public History
Students are required to complete two internships. Examples of internships include:
  • PHST 654 Oral History Internship
  • PHST 655 Digital History/Humanities Internship
  • PHST 656 Historic Preservation Internship
  • PHST 657 Historical Editing Internship
  • PHST 658 Archival Internship
  • PHST 659 Museum Internship
Students are required to take one course in each of these historical areas:
  • American/U.S. History
  • European History
  • Global/International History
  • One additional course in any of these above areas.

Application Requirements

All students must submit a completed application with a resume or curriculum vitae.

Official transcripts recording all baccalaureate work, along with degree, from an accredited undergraduate college or university. If you are currently taking classes, please submit your transcript once grades are posted. Note: If your undergraduate and/or graduate degrees are from an institution located outside of the United States, you must use a transcript credential evaluation service to obtain a course-by-course report. The official reports must be sent directly to Duquesne University from the organization you order through and will qualify as official transcripts. 

Three confidential letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant's academic studies or professional work. (NOTE: The Department does not contact recommenders. Letters should be submitted through the University's online system).

A brief (2-3 page) personal statement explaining your educational and/or professional experience thus far, your academic interests, the reason why you are pursuing graduate studies at Duquesne, and your career goals. Public History applicants should mention any professional experience in the field, and History applicants should identify their geographical area of interest (American, European, or Global history). Please also indicate whether you are interested in departmental graduate assistantships, full or part-time study, and list any foreign language experience.

An academic writing sample, not to exceed 25 pages (double-spaced).

An official score report indicating satisfactory performance on TOEFL examination (applicable to international students only).

Careers & Internships

There are a number of potential career paths open to you with a Master's degree in Public History. Archives, museums, and national parks are all traditional avenues of employment for public history professionals, but your degree can also take you in many other directions. For instance, Public Historians are employed in a wide variety of places, including small-town historical societies, local and state governments, the Supreme Court, and even Fortune 500 companies. In your classes and internships you will get a chance to sample different skills and work environments to get a taste for how varied the field is.

Where are our students getting jobs?
  • The Supreme Court of the United States
  • The National Scouting Museum
  • The Heinz History Center
  • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
  • The Carnegie Museum of Art
  • Museums of Oblebay Institute

Internships provide valuable opportunities for students to gain first-hand knowledge and build their professional skill set. They also offer important opportunities for students to build their resumes, network with professionals in the various fields of Public History, and find exciting positions in Public History institutions after finishing their graduate degree.

As a major metropolitan area, the Pittsburgh region offers Duquesne students a wide variety of notable institutions for internships. Duquesne students have interned at:

  • Dollar Bank Archives
  • National Institute for Newman Studies Archives
  • St. Isidore's College Archives, Rome 
  • Allegheny Land Trust
  • Andy Warhol Museum
  • Archives & Records Center of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main Branch
  • Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History
  • Duquesne University Archives & Special Collections
  • Fort Necessity National Battlefield
  • Fort Pitt Bock House & Museum
  • Frick Art & Historical Center
  • Heinz History Center
Students also have interned at national institutions far from Pittsburgh, including the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the San Diego Historical Society and Historic Columbia in South Carolina among others.

Student Opportunities

In addition to internships, there are many other ways for students to engage in the scholarly world at Duquesne and elsewhere. Many students have their first chance to do so at the Graduate Student Research Symposium (GSRS) where they display posters and present papers about their work to an audience of faculty, students, and staff from across the university.

In 2015 the Department of History established the Clio Awards -- which give cash awards to the three best student papers or posters presented by graduate History students at the GSRS.

As a Public History student, you are encouraged to develop ant present research at conferences such as:

  • Phi Alpha Theta
  • National Council on Public History
  • Oral History Association
  • Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR)
  • American Historical Association
Students complete a number of additional Public History projects each year. They write National Historic Landmark applications, work on exhibition briefs, archive documents, learn new types of technology and coordinate exhibitions. In 2015, students worked with local prisoners to put on an exhibition called Art Beyond Bars and in 2017 students from Dr. Jennifer Whitmer Taylor's Speaking to the Past: Oral History in Methodology and Practice course collaborated on an oral history project documenting the Third Alternative, a student-led movement that raised money for Duquesne in the 1970s.