Graduate Studies


“The History Graduate Program at Western Illinois University provided a solid foundation for my continuing career in academia.” – Suzanne Farmer, MA, 2006

Program Overview

The Department of History’s MA program is designed to train students in the methodological and theoretical components of academic history and in broad areas of historical study and analysis. The program prepares students for careers in teaching, academia, law, public and government service, publishing, research, as well as other professions. The program also assists in the professional development of full-time teachers and other educators and provides a basis for further graduate study.

Possible Careers

  • HistorianHistory
  • Historic Site Manager
  • Public School Teacher
  • Archivist
  • Community College Teacher
  • Librarian
  • Museum Curator
  • Federal Government Employee
  • National Park Ranger
  • Lawyer

Why Choose History at WIU

The History department offers graduate courses at the University’s Macomb campus and is a recognized regional leader in quality and value.

Students in the graduate program have presented their research at regional academic conferences such as the Missouri Valley Conference and the Illinois History Symposium.

Graduate students in the program have also completed one-semester internships at the Rock Island Arsenal, the Putnam Museum in Davenport, the Des Moines County Historical Society in Burlington, the Kibbe Museum in Carthage, and at the Western Illinois Museum.

Western Illinois University is home to the Omicron Omicron chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. The society is made up of both undergraduate and graduate students in History. Each year, our local chapter sponsors a number of activities for its members and the community at large. Western’s Phi Alpha Theta chapter sponsors an online journal of student research, the Western Illinois Historical Review. The journal publishes selected outstanding student papers nominated by members of the History faculty and selected by the journal’s Editorial Board.

Graduate students have the opportunity to learn while they travel through Western’s History department travel-study courses. Past trips include travels to Greece, Rome, Bavaria and Turkey. Future trips will include Belfast.

Our Faculty

All department faculty members possess doctoral degrees in history earned at a variety of distinguished North American and European universities. Faculty members have considerable teaching and research expertise in their geographic and thematic areas of specialization and are nationally and internationally recognized for their scholarly research and publications. Faculty areas of geographical expertise include the United States, Russia/the Soviet Union, Germany, Britain, France, Asia, Modern Middle East, and Latin America. The topics of thematic expertise include foreign policy, diplomacy, the Cold War, Ancient Greece and Rome, the Renaissance and Reformation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Progressive Era, labor history, American Indian history, British Colonial America, the Early Republic, Civil War and Reconstruction, African-American history, the American Revolution, military history, and women’s history.

Extracurricular Opportunities

History graduate students have presented papers at numerous academic conferences over the years. During the 2011-2012 academic year Michael Lowe, Brendan Monahan, and Nikita Ernst gave academic conference presentations on their original historical research. In addition, graduate student Kaitlin Benson presented her research at the Western Illinois Museum in Macomb. To support travel to conferences and to research museums and archives, History Department graduate students have earned a number of grants and awards. Most recently Kady Fairfield and Kaitlin Benson earned the Graduate Studies' Graduate Student Research and Professional Development award. To support his professional travel graduate student Michael Lowe was awarded funds from History Department Professor Emeritus Scholarship.

Some of our Graduate

Here is a list of some of our MA graduates and the careers that they have embarked on after earning their degree:

  • Abby Lagemann is working on her Ph.D. in history at the University of Colorado, Boulder
  • Dirk Yarker is an adjunct history instructor at Lincoln Land Community College
  • Shane Leadbetter is a police officer in Madison, Wisconsin
  • Sally Anton is employed at the Missouri Division of Tourism
  • Ryan Buller is working on his master's degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Eric Willey is an archivist at the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Jennifer Robinson teaches History at Galesburg High School in Illinois
  • Suzanne Farmer is Assistant Professor of History at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma
  • Jay Swords teaches History at Davenport West High School in Iowa
  • Melissa Sartore is Assistant Professor at West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  • Audrey Lawson teaches History at West Allis High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Ellen Boothe works as an Air Traffic Control Specialist for the Federal Aviation Administration
  • Myra Stowe is a Counselor at Indian Oaks Academy in Illinois
  • Major John Nawoichyk is an Instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in New York
  • Ralph Heissinger is Undergraduate History Advisor and Instructor of History at Western Illinois University
  • Jim Phillips is an Associate Professor of History & Political Science and Director of the Honors Program at Highland Community College in Illinois
  • Jason Strandberg is an Instructor of History at Spoon River Community College in Canton, Illinois
  • Kirk Watson is an Instructor of History at Black Hawk Community College in Illinois
  • Bill Reed is Sports Director of KOKX Radio in Keokuk, Iowa and an Instructor of History at Southeastern Community College in Iowa
  • Jennifer Edwards works as a Staff Archaeologist for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey
  • Tim Mottaz works for the Illinois State Archives in Springfield
  • Blake Bell is a Historian for the National Park Service
  • Ben Justman is Director of the Sarpy County Historical Museum in Nebraska
  • Rob Deveraux is an Oral Historian for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois
  • Eric Jome is Coordinator of Media Relations for Illinois State University
  • Lisa Uphoff is an Organizer for the Illinois Federation of Teachers
  • Matt Field works at a Staff Writer for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
  • Tyler Bauer works at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in St. Louis

Quick View

Degrees Available:

  • M.A.


  • Macomb

Required GPA:

  • Cumulative: 2.75 or
  • Last 2 years: 3.0

Admission Requirements:

  • Transcripts

Interesting Facts: Fall 2018

  • Currently enrolled: 13
  • International: 0
  • Minority: 1
  • Male: 8
  • Female: 5
  • Students with Assistantships: 5

Department Contact Information:

Morgan Hall 438