Old photo of West Hall, University Hall, and East Hall.


By studying history, you will explore people, events, institutions and values as old as the ancient world and as new as yesterday's headlines.

What can a master's in history do for me?

Whether as a historian or political analyst, while earning your master's degree in history from USD, you can expect to conduct sophisticated research projects and expand your writing skills to help advance your career. You can also earn more money with a master's degree. Students who graduate from our program are prepared to go on for the Ph.D. or to venture further into the field of history as an independent historian, beginning museum professional or an advanced secondary educator. As a terminal degree program, all graduate students have the full attention of the department’s historians.

Degrees & Offerings

History (M.A.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

The master's degree in history requires 30-33 credit hours and is offered in a thesis or non-thesis program of study. Students can focus on a variety of areas in American and European history. The applications of a master’s degree in history are far-reaching.

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Concurrent History, Law (M.A./J.D.)

Concurrent Program
  Vermillion Main Campus

Combine your M.A. in history with a law degree. Graduates may go on to work in primary and secondary education or consider the field of law as a litigation specialist or paralegal. Admission to the Knudson School of Law is required prior to entering the M.A./J.D. program.

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Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

The Department of History awards four graduate assistantships in history and one graduate assistantship in religious studies each year. Gain real-world, professional experience while enjoying paid employment and discounted tuition rates as a graduate student at USD. The affordability you gain through graduate assistantships and fellowships will equip you will valuable, professional-level skills that will set you apart after graduation.

American School of Classical Studies

USD is a corporate member of The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, which provides our students opportunities for summer study in Greece. Two sessions, directed by the School's Gertrude Smith professors, are conducted annually. These sessions are designed for students who wish to complement their training in the language and literature of ancient Greece with an introduction to the country and its monuments. Housing and meals for participants are provided by the school. Enrollment in each session is limited to 20 students. Students interested in this program should consult with Professor Clayton Lehmann.

Student History Conference

Each spring the department hosts the Phi Alpha Theta regional Student History Conference, where students from area colleges and universities present and critique papers as at a professional history conference. For more information on the Student History Conference, contact Professor Clayton Lehmann.

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including those housed in the Department of History. You may be interested in joining Phi Alpha Theta or the Student History Club to make friends, develop new skills and explore your interests.

Explore Student Organizations

Graduate & Professional Student Association (GPSA)

Join your fellow graduate and professional students at USD. We aim to build a sense of community between graduate and professional students. Build your resume, network with others and gain experience and the unique opportunity to represent the interests of graduate students to the greater campus and community.

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Phi Alpha Theta

The Zeta Mu Chapter of PAT was formed at USD in 1957, and since that time has inducted over 550 members. Associate Professor and department chair David Burrow is the faculty advisor for the local chapter of Phi Alpha Theta. Majors are inducted into Phi Alpha Theta at the awards banquet each spring.

Membership Requirements

  • Undergraduate students must complete at least 12 semester hours in history (four courses) with a GPA of at least 3.1 in history, have an overall GPA of 3.0 or better and be in the top 35% of the class. Membership is not limited to history majors.
  • Graduate students should have completed a minimum of 12 semester hours toward their master's degree, have a GPA of better than 3.5, and shall have completed approximately 30% of the residence requirements for the master's degree.

The Society publishes The Historian, a distinguished quarterly journal with articles written by members with interests in all fields of history. It also contains numerous reviews of scholarly books and other items of interest. The Historian is one of the most widely circulated scholarly historical journals published in the United States.

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Real Experience Through Research

You'll find the mentorship and opportunities you need to study topics that spark your curiosity. 

At USD, our graduate students are actively pursuing unique research and presenting at local and national conferences exploring innovative areas of interest to them. Additional research and grant opportunities include:

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) 

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition provides the opportunity to communicate the significance and impact of your research project in just three minutes. 

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Research and Creative Scholarship Opportunities

Each semester students may apply for grants through the USD Graduate School, faculty and students pursue research in virtually all academic departments on campus, and in many cases, it is a required portion of a graduate degree program. 

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IdeaFest is an annual event celebrating student research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines present their work in oral and poster presentations, live performances, readings, exhibits and displays. 

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Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education.
Historic Photo Placed Over Current East Hall Building


At the University of South Dakota, our Department of History houses numerous disciplines that exist at the intersection of curiosity, research, writing, storytelling and the human experience. Find the answers to your questions about people, events, institutions and values with the guidance and support of our exceptional faculty.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know your professors in the Department of History.
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Burrow

David Burrow

Chair, History/ Associate Professor


Imperial Russia
Modern Europe
Bio Image for Faculty Member Elise Boxer

Elise Boxer

Dir, Inst of Am Indian Studies/Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kurt Hackemer

Kurt Hackemer

Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost


19th Century American Military & Naval History
Bio Image for Faculty Member Sara Lampert

Sara Lampert

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mark Madsen

Mark Madsen

Bio Image for Faculty Member Molly Rozum

Molly Rozum

Associate Professor/Ronald M. Nelson Distinguished Professor
Two students talking about history poster research.

A Customized Approach

As the only graduate program in history in the state of South Dakota, the program is designed to be personal and intensive with close mentorship from the department's faculty. You'll learn the history of the discipline, study historical methods in graduate-only seminars and pursue an independent research project in an area of your interest. Elective courses and thesis credits allow you to emphasize a particular research area within the general master’s program.
Two students with history poster.

Original Historical Research

Take advantage of opportunities to present your original historical research at conferences such as the Northern Great Plains History Conference, the regional Phi Alpha Theta Student History Conference, the biennial Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Conference and the upcoming 100 Years of History Conference planned for fall 2022.
100th anniversary of the history Graduate program logo.

1922-2022: History Graduate Program Centennial Conference & Reunion

The University of South Dakota is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Master of Arts (M.A.) in History Program. We invite you to join us on campus for a celebration on September 16, 2022. The event will feature a combination of academic and practical history with panels also devoted to past student experiences at USD and in Vermillion.


If you have any questions, please contact the History Department at history@usd.edu.


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Surprisingly Affordable

Whether you’ve recently completed your undergraduate degree, or you want to kick your career up a notch, graduate school is the next logical step. The good news is there is funding for both online and on-campus students to get you through your program. 
GA (Resident*)
Tuition (1 cr.)
GAF Fee (1 cr.)

More About Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates are subject to change and may vary depending on the program or department. Visit the Graduate Tuition & Costs page for more information.

* Graduate Assistant (GA) rates are available for resident, non-resident and online students.

** Resident rates may be available to you through the SD Advantage, Child of Alumni or Western Regional Graduate Program. To see if you quality, visit usd.edu/grad-tuition.

student success story

Success story Katherine Kemp smiling.
What I like about the history program is the great support of my peers and professors. Because of their support, I was able to present at a conference in Fargo, and win one of the first graduate research grants ever at the South Dakota State archives. I am specializing in Native American boarding schools in South Dakota and hope to educate others on this important history.

Katherine Kemp

M.A. History '23
Spearfish, South Dakota

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