Public History

Public history is audience-centered history that happens outside of a textbook and the classroom. Its practitioners interpret the past for the public in museums, national parks, historic houses and on main streets and digital platforms across the country and world. 

Duquesne’s public history program provides you with skills to engage confidently with different audiences and diverse historical materials in various institutional and community settings. It is thought of as “history put to work in the world,” because it mixes deep historical knowledge with public-facing presentation—making it a useful field for career development in a number of areas.

For more than 40 years, Duquesne’s public history program has introduced graduate students to the theories and practices of the field. Our M.A. program, which has more than 400 alumni, offers the following professional benefits:

  • You’ll be immersed in cutting-edge courses.
  • You’ll explore unique and valuable internships (see below).
  • You’ll be prepared for rewarding careers in both for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.

With our excellent job placement and new research and networking opportunities for students, now is an excellent time to consider Duquesne for your graduate education in public history. And as a major metropolitan area, the Pittsburgh region offers Duquesne students a wide variety of notable institutions for internships. 

Our 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.



Program Information

Our M.A. in Public History is an immersive program that teaches our students how to interpret the past and convey that knowledge to diverse audiences.



Academic Department


Required Credit Hours


"The public history graduate program at Duquesne offers a wide range of courses, from museum education, to archives, to historic preservation. This breadth allows students to find a path within the field of public history that they will thrive in! "

—Hannah LeComte Graduate Research Assistant

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.

Preserving Pittsburgh's Past

For the past 25 years, over 30 Duquesne students—many of them pursuing master’s degrees in public history—have interned at Rivers of Steel in Pittsburgh. "My Rivers of Steel internship really opened my eyes to the region’s industrial life," said Carrie Hadley, A'15.

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 take you in many directions.

  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • National Scouting Museum
  • Heinz History Center
  • National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
  • Carnegie Museum of Art
  • Museums of Oblebay Institute
  • American Battle Monuments Commission, Nettuno Italy
  • Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
  • Dollar Bank
  • The Carnegie Museums
  • Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall
  • U.S. Memorial Holocaust Museum
  • Holocaust Memorial & Toleration Center of Nassau County
  • Heinz History Center
  • City of Pittsburgh
  • City of Detroit
  • Roberto Clemente Museum
  • National Institute for Newman Studies
  • Naval History and Heritage Command
  • UPMC Mercy Archives
  • Rivers of Steel
  • Battle of Homestead Foundation
  • Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation
  • Wheeling Heritage
  • American Academy in Rome


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).

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.