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Military History Careers

Military History

Studying military history encompasses more than just which battles happened over what terrain. It’s also about analyzing the context surrounding the events, examining the conflicts from multiple points of view, and considering the outcomes for both sides. It is through this contextual analysis that the breadth of a historical event can be completely grasped and allow for a greater understanding of how the past is relevant in the present. A Master of Arts in Military History degree can help students develop such historical context for wars and military conflicts and apply this knowledge to careers that can impact military responses to conflicts in the future.

What Is Military History, and Why Does It Matter?

The study of military history focuses on the political and socioeconomic factors surrounding conflicts throughout history, in both their buildups and their aftermaths. This study can yield comparative analytical data that may lead to a better understanding of the societal impact of military achievement and defeat. Understanding the contextual elements surrounding military history and conflicts is crucial, because military historians can analyze the facts to identify patterns that can help resolve future conflicts peacefully and with fewer casualties, and to achieve better outcomes for civilians.

Additionally, military historians are also responsible for preserving the historical record for further study and recording oral and firsthand accounts of military life. For example, military historians use these materials to develop business school-style case studies for military strategy study.

Skills Needed for Military History Careers

Military history courses help students develop skills to study, interpret, and convey information about military conflict, providing graduates with a foundation to pursue various military history careers. Honing skills such as research, writing, organization, and analysis is a vital component of a military history curriculum. Students apply these skills to break down conflicts for key information, from their origins to their outcomes, and learn to present their findings to others.

Career Opportunities

Obtaining a Master of Arts in Military History degree can allow exploration of a wide range of military history careers across a variety of organizations and industries.


Historians rely on strong organizational and communication skills to convey information about historical documents, events, and sources. They gather and break down data culled from specific fields and share their findings in various ways, from written reports to public presentations, to inform or build upon public knowledge of prior events. In some cases, they can advise government agencies on matters related to historical topics, which can help shape governmental policies in the future. A master’s degree or Ph.D. is required for most historian positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for historians is roughly $59,000 a year, and the BLS has projected the field to experience a 6 percent growth between 2016 and 2026.


By pursuing a career in teaching at the elementary, middle, or high school levels, those who complete a graduate degree in military history can use their communication skills and passion for history to prepare students for life beyond the classroom. Teachers convey the importance of understanding history to the next generation and help their students to develop real-world skills, such as research and writing. Teachers can instruct students how to record oral histories, create timelines of events from multiple points of view, and develop battle case studies following the same data-gathering process and analysis military historians use. The median salary for teachers is around $59,000, according to the BLS, which projects the teaching field to grow by 8 percent between 2016 and 2026.

Assistant Professor

Graduates with a Master of Arts in Military History degree may be able to pursue positions as assistant professors, which is often the first step in a postsecondary teaching career. In addition to teaching undergraduate students, assistant professors may also publish scholarly papers and engage in academic research. The median salary for this position, according to the BLS, is $76,000. The outlook for aspiring assistant professors is quite promising, as the BLS has projected this job market to grow by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026.

Surface Warfare Officer

For those serving in the military, obtaining a Master of Arts in Military History degree could potentially lead to a military leadership position, such as a career in the Navy as a surface warfare officer. Those in this position can apply their historical knowledge to help the Navy organize and coordinate tactical missions; they can also use this acumen to provide tactical support to specialized forces as they combat specific threats, such as surface-to-air warfare or mine warfare. They may also be charged with applying historical knowledge to interpret data from advanced battle technologies, such as satellite-relayed systems designed for tracking and monitoring enemy positions and movements. The salary for this position is determined by rank and service time.

Chief of Force Structure

Chief of force structure is an armed forces leadership position that is attainable for Master of Arts in Military History graduates enrolled in military service. Professionals in this role are members of the Joint Staff. They use their acumen to plan, direct, and oversee various military operations. This can include assessing scenarios to ensure accurate deployments and advising government officials on defense and security strategies. In some cases, they can use their historical acumen to assess and develop plausible strategies for nontraditional areas of conflicts. Like a surface warfare officer, the pay for this position is based on rank and service time.

Obtaining a Master of Arts in Military History degree can help individuals hone a range of career skills that are essential for jobs that involve evaluating the contextual elements of past events. The knowledge and skills gained through such an advanced degree program can help military historians find a fulfilling career in a number of industries.

Learn More

Established in 1819, Norwich University is a nationally recognized institution of higher education, the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), and the first private military college in the United States. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their workplaces and communities.

Norwich University’s Master of Arts in Military History program takes an unbiased and global approach toward exploring military thought, theory, and engagement throughout recorded history. The unique curriculum of the online Master of Arts in Military History program was developed by the distinguished faculty of Norwich University and guided by the goals outlined by the American Historical Association. This highly regarded program is designed to help build your proficiency as a historian and places our world’s military achievements and conflicts in chronological, geographical, political, and economic context.

Recommended Reading

Career Outlook: Military Analyst

Eight Women in the Military Who Have Made History

Career Outlook: Military Historian


Historians, Bureau of Labor Statistics

High School Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Postsecondary Teachers, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Military Careers, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Why Teach Military History, Foreign Policy Research Institute

Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) Careers, U.S. Navy

Adopt a US Soldier

Sibul, E. (2011). Military History, Social Sciences, and Professional Military Education. Baltic Security & Defense Review, 13(1), 71-99.

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