Graduate Program

The Department of History at Colorado State University admits a select group of students each year for its Master of Arts program in History and in Public History.

mayan pyramid

The Dept. of history at CSU is committed to providing a high-quality graduate education, inclusive learning atmosphere, and to building a diverse student population. In our program, students work closely with faculty who specialize in areas of World, European, and U.S. history. Graduate students in the program also work closely with each other on class projects, in internships, and on professional and service-learning projects.

Our program strengths include environmental and public history. We have a considerable concentration of established historians who study Environmental History and who work with colleagues in CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources, the Extension Office, and others at CSU to create interdisciplinary research and scholarship.

Our Public History program, in particular our concentration in Cultural Resource Management, is one of the oldest in Intermountain West and is nationally renowned. Graduate students in our program also have an unparalleled opportunity to apply for competitive research positions at the Public Lands History Center, where they gain professional experience and network while completing their degrees.

Schnee at 2016 grad showcase

Programs of Study


This specialization is for students studying a geographical, chronological, or thematic area that is supported by department faculty and CSU resources. Students learn historiography and historical research methods. Students pursuing this option most often choose to write a thesis, especially those who plan to pursue an advanced degree.

Required Courses

Core Course

HIST 501 
Historical Methods: Historiography

Four Reading Seminars

Students should take two seminars in their thesis field and two in non-thesis fields.

One Research Seminar

The research seminar will support the thesis field.

Elective Courses

Students take at least two electives chosen in consultation with their thesis advisor. At least one course will be outside the History department.


Students can take up to 6 semester credits for writing the thesis.

Exams and Thesis Defense

Students take at least two electives chosen in consultation with their thesis advisor. At least one course will be outside the History department.

Knowledge of a Foreign Language


Public History is defined by the National Council for Public History as “the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.” Our graduate program offers several options for students who want to study public history. Complete the Liberal Arts Specialization as described above with at least 9 credits of public history courses and a public history internship, or specialize in Cultural Resource Managements and Historic Preservation.

Cultural Resource Management/Historic Preservation is a broad interdisciplinary field that focuses on the identification, documentation, and interpretation of historic built environments, historic landscapes, and heritage resources (both tangible and intangible.) Cultural resource managers typically work for consulting firms, city and state government, federal agencies, and non-profit heritage organizations. Historical training is essential for cultural resource managers to evaluate significance and create meaningful interpretation.


Required Courses

Core Courses

HIST 501 
Historical Methods: Historiography

HIST 503
Historical Methods: Historic Preservation

HIST 505
Historical Methods: Digital History

Four Reading Seminars

Students will take two US History reading seminars and choose two non-US reading seminars

One Research Seminar

Students will take a research seminar on the US or a state/local topic.

Elective Courses

Students take at least two electives chosen in consultation with their thesis advisor. At least one course will be outside the History department.

Internship or Practicum

Students are required to complete at least 3 credits of internship or practicum work.

Optional Thesis

Students pursuing Public History can also choose to write a thesis, in consultation with their advisor.

How to Apply


Check Requirements

  1. Check that you meet all of the Graduate School requirements.
  2. International students should also read the Graduate School’s application information for international students.
  3. Make sure that you have 21 undergraduate credits in History and had at least a 3.0 grade point average.

GRE scores are NOT required. The CSU Dept. of History does not believe the GRE is an accurate predictor of student success.

Meeting the minimum CSU or department standards does not entitle an applicant to admission. Meeting such standards only insures consideration of the application. Since CSU cannot accommodate all who meet the minimum standards, it reserves the right to select individuals for admission on the basis of merit in such a way as to promote the best interests of CSU and the society as a whole and to maximize the potential for individual accomplishment.


Contact the Department

  1. If you are interested in studying a specific geographic, chronological, or thematic topic, it is helpful to make sure that there are enough faculty and resources at CSU to pursue that topic.
  2. Contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator and look at the list of department faculty.

If you want to work with a specific person in the department it is helpful to contact that person via email or a scheduled visit prior to applying.


Complete Application

    1. Complete your graduate application through the CSU Graduate School Application portal.
      There is a one-time, non-refundable fee. All supporting materials should be submitted through this portal.
    2. Upload the Supporting Documents.
      See below

Application Deadline

The application deadline for the MA program in History is February 1 for the fall semester of the same year.

Applicants to the MA program in History must upload all supporting documents to their online applications. Please do not send materials directly to the History Department.

Supporting Documents

Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose should:

  • describe your career goals and why you think CSU’s History Graduate Program is the best fit to help you achieve those goals
  • summarize the work you’ve done to prepare for graduate study
  • indicate the faculty members that you would like to work with to achieve your goals
  • indicate the specific opportunities at CSU you’d like to pursue.

Three Letters of Recommendation

Letters should come from people familiar with your work. At least two references should come from academic faculty.

Academic Writing Sample

This writing sample should be a history research paper, preferably using primary and/or archival research. It should feature your best academic writing.

A Curriculum Vitae

Your C.V. should include your education, relevant work experience, internships, awards, honors, publications, presentations, and other relevant information.

Official Transcripts

Contact your previous institution to request that they submit your official transcript to Colorado State University (use institution code 4075)

The Public Lands History
Center Research Projects

The PLHC provides competitive opportunities to MA students in history and related disciplines to work on paid research projects with faculty. Most frequently, the PLHC completes projects for federal agencies, such as the NPS, for state departments such as Colorado Parks and Wildlife, for city governments, and for non-profit organizations.

The PLHC is an award-winning research center that is administratively attached to the CSU History Department and run by history faculty. The PLHC discovers, tells, and preserves the rich histories of our public lands. The PLHC believes that in their full complexity the histories of our public lands provide opportunities to reveal shared values and open conversations that help us understand our differences. The PLHC is committed to engaging with public lands agencies, communities, students, and the public.



The History Department provides funding for graduate students on a competitive basis through Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs.) In a typical year, the department can offer 9-11 incoming students GTA funding. GTAs receive a full tuition waiver for four semesters, a monthly stipend during the school year, and health care benefits. All admitted students are automatically considered for a GTA position.

In order to receive the financial benefits of the GTA, students are assigned to work with professors teaching 100 level History classes. A GTA attends class, holds regular office hours to meet with students, answers students’ questions in office hours and via email, and grades assignments. Some GTAs will also lead discussions and deliver a lecture to the class.

GTAs typically grade for a different instructor each semester, so they gain a broad historical overview and insight into different teaching methods.


The history department offers scholarships and awards for graduate students. Students can also apply for scholarships through the Office of Financial Aid.

Internships and Practicum

All students studying Public History, regardless of their official program of study, will complete at least one internship or practicum. Both internships and practicums are professionalizing, work-oriented experiences meant to help students gain practical experience and build a professional network. Students must adhere to the Standards and Guidelines for Student Internships.



Colin Fogerty (Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum, 2019)

November 19, 2020

During the summer of 2019, I worked in an internship at the Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum in Berthoud Colorado. My work for the museum included a range of activities, such as cataloging early twentieth-century kitchenware by inputting information about them into the program PastPerfect and taking photographs of them. In addition, I assisted in […]

Eric Newcombe (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, 2019)

November 19, 2020

This summer I was a summer staff intern with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office in Salem, OR. Through this incredible opportunity I was able to gain experience with multiple different aspects of historic preservation including the preserving the built environment, archaeology, technical preservation, community outreach, grant programs and the Main Street program. I traveled […]

Kimberly Selinske (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, 2018)

November 19, 2020

I interned at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum as part of the Curatorial department. The museum is located in Simi Valley, California, a location that lends itself to spacious gallery spaces that I helped to maintain and also is in the heart of wildfire territory, a lesson I learned on day 2 as […]

Dillon Maxwell (City of Fort Collins, 2018)

November 19, 2020

At the beginning of summer, I knew nothing about water treatment or bats. I didn’t even think those things could be related or even tied together by historic preservation. But, by the end of the summer that all changed. My internship with the City of Fort Collins centered on the preservation side of a project […]

Alumni Statements and Achievements

The CSU History Department consistently places graduates in work at consulting firms; federal, state, and local government; community and non-profit organizations; museums and heritage organizations; and in some of the nation’s most competitive PhD programs.

“What takes the master's program to the next level is the practical experience it provides. Courses are built around real-world scenarios, and class projects yield tangible results that can be a perfect springboard into a work portfolio. Working for the on-campus Public Lands History Center (PLHC) also gave me an opportunity to hone my history skills as a student and an emerging professional. The PLHC also provided tons of opportunities to travel to amazing public lands destinations! I was hired right out of grad school for a cultural resource management position, and the education and experience I received at CSU has made a world of difference in setting me up for success.” Poppie Gullett 2018, now an Architectural Historian at Pinyon Environmental.

Gerakios at Avenir 2
Gullett in antarctica
graduate students 2020


“While the academic program lays the foundational skills for any good historian - research, critical thinking, and writing - the professors also encourage and create opportunities for students to apply those skills. As a student, I gained experience in conducting oral histories, archival management, research, and working within art and history museums. In turn, my time at CSU allowed me to graduate with not only a MA in history, but a much fuller resume. I believe it is the culmination of the academic and real world training that I received at CSU that has opened the door to many professional opportunities.” Naomi Geriakos 2014, now the Curator of Collections at Heritage Village in Pinellas County.


Hailey Brazier (MA 2013) completed the PhD program at the Univ. of Oregon. Her dissertation research is in marine environmental history -- a history of how North Americans began to discover, conceptualize, and install technologies on the Pacific seafloor. Hailey was awarded a National Science Foundation dissertation grant and research travel funding from the Smithsonian.

Jake Swisher (MA 2020) was accepted into the PhD program in history at Notre Dame University.

Craig Somers (MA 2020) accepted a temporary position with the prestigious National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE), working with a NPS historic landscape specialists in Seattle. He helped produce video training modules for stewardship and preservation of cultural landscapes.

Dillon Maxwell (MA 2019) has worked both for the U.S. Forest Service and for CSU’s Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands (CEMML).

Maren Bzdek (MA 2015) is now a senior historic preservation planner for the city of Fort Collins. Her research played a key role in NASA’s restoration of the Johnson Space Center’s Apollo Mission Control Center.

MA graduate Jason O’Brien (2014) works for the Colorado State Historic Preservation Office on the Preservation Planning Team. Jason’s old position as Section 106 coordinator has been filled by another of our grads, Mitchell Schaefer (MA 2015).