Graduate Studies


Program Overview

The Department of History’s MA program trains students in the methodological 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.

Why Choose History at WIU

The History Department offers graduate courses at the University’s Macomb campus and online, and is a recognized regional leader in quality, accessibility, and value. The critical thinking, research, writing, and oral communication skills instilled or enchanced in the program are invaluable to a wide array of professions, many of which extend beyond careers directly focused on history.

Students in the graduate program have presented their research at regional academic conferences such as the Missouri Valley History Conference, the Illinois History Symposium, and regional conferences of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society.

Students have also completed 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 the Western Illinois Museum in Macomb.

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 activities for its members and the community at large, including 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 study-abroad courses have traveled to Greece, Italy, Germany, Northern Ireland, England, and Turkey.

Our Faculty

All department faculty members possess doctoral degrees in history earned at distinguished North American and British 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, Germany, France, and East Asia. Areas of research expertise in American history include American foreign relations and military history, the Cold War, the West and environmental history, labor history, history of the Civil War era, and African American history. Areas of research expertise in African, European, and Asian history include South African labor history; Ancient Greece and Rome, especially ancient military history and currencies; the Enlightenment and the French Revolution; women and gender in nineteenth-century Europe; and modern East and Southeast Asia, especially transnational women's movements and feminisms, and imperial medicine and public health.

Frequent Careers

  • Archivist
  • Community College Teacher
  • High School Teacher
  • Historic Site Interpreter or Manager
  • Lawyer
  • Librarian
  • Museum Curator
  • Professor

Careers of Some of Our M.A. Graduates

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

Higher Education
  • Victoria Stewart (‘11) is Associate Professor of History at Northwest Florida State College
  • Suzanne Farmer (’06) is Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Women’s Studies at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK
  • Irene Herold ('04) is Dean of Libraries and University Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA
  • Melissa Sartore (’02) is Associate Professor at West Virginia University Institute of Technology
  • Jim Phillips (’00) is Dean of the College of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts at Highland Community College in Freeport, IL
Library Science
  • Jillien Zudell ('20) is a science librarian at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH
  • Bob Kett ('18) is a librarian at the Barack Obama Presidential Library
  • Lindsey Hiltunen ('14) is a university archivist at Michigan Technological University
  • Eric Willey (’10) is a special collections archivist at the Illinois State University library
  • Ryan Buller (’09) is a librarian at the University of Denver
  • Tim Mottaz (’03) is a records archivist at the Illinois State Archives
Public History and Public Relations
  • Riley Gober ('21) is a Disability Examiner for the Wisconsin Department of Health in Madison, WI
  • Lottie Phillips ('11) is Curator of History and Registrar at the Peoria Journal Star in Peoria, IL
  • Ben Justman (’10) is executive director of the Sarpy County Museum in Bellevue, NE
  • Blake Bell (’09) is historian at the Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, NE
  • Sally Anton (’07) is a Welcome Center Supervisor for the Missouri Division of Tourism
  • Jennifer Edwards (’05) is a staff archaeologist for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey
  • Matt Field (’02) is a legislative analyst for the Library of Congress
  • Eric Jome (’93) is director of media relations for Illinois State University
  • Lisa Uphoff (’90) is a field service director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers
  • Ryan Lambert ('21) teaches History at Farmington Central High School in Farmington, IL
  • Dirk Yarker (’11) is a history instructor at Texas Southmost College in Brownsville, TX
  • Brian Hayes ('10) is a teacher in Chicago Public Schools in Chicago, IL
  • Jennifer Robinson (’99) teaches history at Galesburg High School in Galesburg, IL
  • Jason Strandberg (’99) is the history instructor at Spoon River Community College in Canton, IL
  • Audrey Lawson (’90) teaches social studies at West Allis High School in Milwaukee, WI

Quick View

Degrees Available:

  • M.A.


  • Macomb

Required GPA:

  • Cumulative: 2.75 or
  • Last 2 years: 3.0

Admission Requirements:

  • Transcripts

Interesting Facts: Fall 2022

  • Currently enrolled: 15
  • International: 7
  • Minority: 0
  • Students with Assistantships: 6

Department Contact Information:

Dr. Peter Cole, Professor/Graduate Director
Morgan Hall 438
Phone: (309) 298-1053