The Department of History offers the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The department is particularly strong in the fields of Western U.S. history, environmental history, and Native American history specifically, and American history in general. Modern and early modern Europe as well as European diplomacy are other areas of strength. The department offers courses defined by traditional chronological and regional divisions as well as a variety of topical and innovative courses.
The history Ph.D. program is a small, select program geared for students with a variety of particular interests. It prepares students to fill jobs as historians with government agencies, public historians (with private firms doing contract historical research; state, local, and private archives; historical societies; and museums), as well as junior colleges, community colleges, and four-year institutions. Although all candidates prepare basic course work and requirements, the training of candidates beyond that varies according to the careers students plan to pursue. The department offers a broad-based Ph.D. in a variety of fields; however, it offers particular emphases in Montana and western U.S. history, environmental and natural resource history, U.S. legal and political history, nineteenth and twentieth century U.S. history, and Native American history. It also offers broad preparation for candidates considering teaching positions. Students are expected to complete the program in four years.
The history M.A. is a rigorous degree. Its emphasis on breadth and depth of study, its examinations, and its thesis requirement (there is a non-thesis degree requirement as well), combine to prepare students either for employment opportunities or for further graduate work.
Students normally complete the M.A. program within two years; some find employment in education (in junior colleges, community colleges, and private high schools), in museums and historical projects, in the public sector, or in private business. Other students move on to doctoral programs. The department has placed students in doctoral programs at some of the most prestigious institutions in the country.