The phrase "public history" refers to the pursuit of historical understanding and
interpretation in the public realm. Public historians work in a wide range of professional
settings with public audiences of all ages. Places of employment for public historians
include archives, museums, historic organizations, historical societies, historic
sites, private consulting firms, and historical agencies at all levels of government.
MTSU was in the first wave of American universities to embrace the study of public history, initiating an M.A. in History with a concentration in Historic Preservation in 1976. As the study of public history became established in graduate education nationwide, the Department of History expanded its program to include Museum Studies, Cultural Resources Management, and Archival Management and Administration. As a result of these changes, the Tennessee Board of Regents changed the official title of the degree in 1991 to an M.A. in History with an emphasis in Public History. In 2005, the Department launched a Ph.D. in Public History - the first doctoral program to declare public history as the major field of study.
The Public History Program at MTSU is grounded in the discipline of history. Students receive an education that carefully balances academic historical methods and scholarship, the intellectual foundations and nature of public history, and professional development in several areas. To prepare students for professional practice, the program partners with a number of on-campus centers and programs, including the Center for Historic Preservation, Albert Gore Research Center, Center for Popular Music, and Walker Library Digital Initiatives. Our goal is to graduate students who are grounded in the basic research, writing, and analytical skills of the discipline; who identify with the professional aims of public history; and who are prepared for life-long learning in professional practice.