NC State to Offer Ph.D. in Public History

Withers Hall
The History Department is housed in Withers Hall.

The Board of Governors has unanimously approved the Department of History’s proposal to establish a Ph.D. in public history at NC State. This is the only doctorate in public history in the UNC system and the second humanities doctoral program offered at NC State. The university will accept applications for the doctorate this fall, with students matriculating in the fall of 2014.

“Public history differs from history,” says Department Head Jonathan Ocko. “Public history refers to applied and engaged history that is taught in universities but is practiced primarily outside the academy in historic sites, museums, heritage tourism sites, and historic parks as well as through historic preservation and public policy.” UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Greensboro offer Ph.D. programs in history.

NC State’s new Ph.D. program will build on the department’s existing nationally recognized master’s program in public history. “We intend to train the next generation of leaders in the field of public history with a curriculum that in addition to history draws on the university’s historic strengths in nonprofit management, architecture, and parks, recreation, and tourism management,” says CHASS Dean Jeff Braden. “It is an ideal focus for NC State’s land-grant mission and exemplifies the kind of engaged scholarship our university promotes.”

North Carolina ranks sixth nationally in tourism dollars, much of that spent at locations where public historians work. “Our graduates will contribute to the state’s economic growth by further developing heritage tourism,” says Braden. “And since graduates from the UNC system’s five master’s programs in Public History have had to leave the state to pursue higher degrees, this doctoral program will keep their tuition and talents in North Carolina.”

The Department of History currently places 86% of M.A. graduates in the field of public history for which they’ve trained. Professor Craig Friend, who directs the Public History program, expects to sustain similar rates of placement in the field for Ph.D. graduates. “Public History is one of the fastest growing fields in terms of jobs,” he says. “The American Historical Association recently called developing Public History a critical mission. And the U.S. Department of Labor predicts a 32% increase by 2018 in jobs for which the program will train students.” Additionally, the program will prepare individuals to enter academia as public history faculty. Between 2004-2011, there was a 121% increase in academic public history jobs, including three this year in the UNC system.

For more information, contact Craig Friend, Director of Public History: or 919.513.2227. Visit


One response on “NC State to Offer Ph.D. in Public History

  1. Charise Ovalle (Roberts) says:

    As one of the two members of the first graduating class of the MA of Public History at NCSU Dec ’92, I am very pleased to see the addition of the Ph.D. program. State continues to move forward in ways that I never would have imagined when I first began listening to my uncles talk about attending back in the 70’s.
    I took my public history master’s degree and used it as a springboard for a J.D. but I miss the work I did during my internships and summer jobs!
    Good luck and good going!

    Charise Ovalle
    Public History ’92

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.