Public History

History student Matt Baker leads a school group through an exhibit at the Mountain Heritage Center  History students working on an exhibit at the Jackson County public library

Why Public History?

A career in public history allows you to apply your passion for history and historical research to the word outside of academics.  Public historians work at a variety of institutions including historic sites, museums, archives, the National Park Service, and state agencies that promote cultural and heritage tourism.

Our Program:

Undergraduate students have the option of completing the Public History Certificate program.  All majors are welcome.  The certificate requires:

  • Twelve hours of public history coursework
  • 150-hour public history internship

Graduate students pursuing a Master of Arts in history may choose the Public History Track within the American history program.  In addition to thirty hours of coursework, demonstration of reading competency in one foreign language, public presentation of student research, and successful completion of a comprehensive examination, students will complete:

  • Nine hours of public history coursework
  • 150-hour public history internship

Course Offerings:

  • HIST 471/571 - Introduction to Public History
  • HIST 473/573 - Introduction to Museum and Historic Site Interpretation
  • HIST 474/574 - Introduction to Oral History
  • HIST 493/593 - Introduction to Historic Preservation
  • HIST 485/585 - Internship Project

Our students benefit from a wide range of coursework and hands-on experiences. Our students have presented at professional conferences, including the Southeastern Museums Conference and the North Carolina Museums Council Conference.  Recent graduates have found positions at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, and Old Salem Museums and Gardens.

History student Sonrisa Crespin prepares an exhibit of Cherokee basketry


The Internship Experience:

We ensure that our students leave the program with experience working in the field.  We have placed interns at numerous museums and historic sites including: Tryon Palace, Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual in Cherokee NC, the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Fort Fisher, Cowpens National Battlefield, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

For more information, contact Dr. Jessie Swigger.


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