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.
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 most commonly work with faculty who specialize in areas of U.S., Environmental, and Public history. Graduate students in the program also work closely with each other on class projects, in internships, and on professional and service-learning projects.
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 and Historic Preservation, is one of the oldest in Intermountain West, has a job placement rate of over 90%, 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.
Programs of Study
LIBERAL ARTS SPECIALIZATION
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 can write a thesis on Plan A or choose to complete more coursework on Plan B.
PUBLIC HISTORY SPECIALIZATION
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 Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation Concentration
- Complete Plan B with at least 9 credits of public history courses and a public history internship
- Complete Plan A with at least 9 credits of public history courses and a public history internship
Cultural Resource Management and 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.
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.
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.
GRADUATE TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIPS
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.
SCHOLARSHIPS AND AWARDS
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.
EXAMPLES OF STUDENT INTERNSHIPS
Yani Jones (City of Fort Collins Historic Preservation Division, 2018)
Kylee Cole, Dillon Maxwell, and I all interned for the City of Fort Collins Historic Preservation Division this summer, and, like all city employees, went through an orientation program. We met people from a range of departments, from utilities specialists to administrative personnel. Kylee and I even sat with the new police chief, Jeffrey Swoboda, […]
Amy Hootman (Greeley Historic Preservation Office, 2018)
My name is Amy Hootman, and I interned with the Greeley Historic Preservation Office in the summer of 2018. After meeting with my faculty advisor, Dr. Payne, about potential internship ideas, I decided to contact the city’s Historic Preservation Specialist to apply. During my time as an intern, I assisted the Historic Preservation Specialist by […]
Eric Newcombe (Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, 2019)
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 […]
Kylee Cole (City of Fort Collins’ Historic Preservation Division, 2018)
During the summer of 2018 I had the privilege to work at the City of Fort Collins’ Historic Preservation Division. My advisor Dr. Sarah Payne introduced me to Maren Bzdek who served as my supervisor during my internship and quickly became a valuable friend and mentor. From June to August, my weekdays brimmed with city […]
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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.
“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.
A FEW ALUMNI HIGHLIGHTS
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).