Master of Arts in Military History

Online Master of Arts in Military History Curriculum

Norwich’s military history program curriculum is composed of six courses, each of which is delivered over 11 weeks for a total of 36 credit hours. Students master one course at a time, to create a strong foundation of knowledge and context for future topics.

Our graduates can:

  • Develop the critical thinking, research, writing, and analytical skills necessary for work in the field of teaching at the secondary or post-secondary level, or in public history venues, as well careers in professional writing, and to prepare students for Ph.D.-level work in history.
  • Apply historical knowledge within the field of military history.
  • Increase awareness of differing historical interpretations and develop the ability to synthesize diverse types of historical knowledge.
  • Conduct research and expand their writing, analysis, and presentation skills.
  • Learn to think like a historian and develop historiographical sensibilities and historical habits of mind.
Core Course

Every student in the military history program begins with a history and historiography introductory course followed by elective courses.

  • Introduction to History and Historiography • MH510 6 credit hours

    This introductory course examines the development of military history as a topic of study and trains you in the key disciplines of historiography and methodology. Historiography examines historical thought and research from the first works of history in the classical world to those of the present. You will explore historical methodology and informational literacy, the ways historians gather information and formulate hypotheses, the development of research methods including the use of primary and secondary sources, and the challenges of objectivity, selectivity, and bias in historical interpretation.

Tailor Your Online Master of Arts in Military History Coursework

Students select three courses below to fulfill their second, third, and fourth course in the military history program.

  • Global Military History to 1800 • MH520 6 credit hours

    This course examines the global patterns of warfare, on land and at sea, from the ancient world to the eve of the Industrial Revolution. Special emphasis is placed on continuity and change in warfare, as well as the impact of socioeconomic and cultural factors.

  • Military Thought and Theory • MH530 6 credit hours

    This course examines the most influential military theoreticians and strategists from the period of the Thirty Years’ War to the present. You will examine the theories of Clausewitz, Jomini, Douhet, Mahan, Corbett, and Mao Tse-Tung, as well as the theories of deterrence and nuclear war and post-Maoist revolutionary warfare.

  • Non-Western Military History • MH540 6 credit hours

    This course examines some of the major historical factors that have shaped the military trajectory of the modern extra-European (and North American) world, comprising China, Israel, Middle East, Africa, India/South Asia, Ethiopia, Latin America/South America, and Turkey/Ottoman, with particular focus on the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Chinese Military History • MH541 6 credit hours

    This course provides an introduction to Chinese military history and covers topics including military thought, strategy and tactics, technologies, and cultural factors as they pertain to the waging of war. You will be introduced to the latest scholarship and interpretations and will be encouraged to engage in comparative thinking throughout the class. In the process, you will attempt to determine if any society approaches warfare uniquely or if universal approaches outweigh the specific.

  • Amphibious Warfare • MH543 6 credit hours

    This course examines amphibious operations from antiquity to the present. It also sketches broader contexts for amphibious warfare as it has affected political, diplomatic, and economic change by determining to what degree, if at all, various amphibious actions figured in what has been labeled as an early-modern “military revolution” that contributed to the “Rise of the West.”

  • U.S. Military History • MH550 6 credit hours

    This course examines America’s unique experience of warfare and the development of military institutions and military policy in the United States. You will explore the country’s military history from the Colonial era to the present, with an emphasis on the Revolutionary War, Civil War, frontier wars, America’s rise to great power status, World War I and World War II, and the conflicts of the Cold War era. Throughout the course, you will also examine the efficacy of the Russell Weigley's “American Way of War,” as well as America’s civil-military relations.

  • Race and Gender in Military History • MH551 6 credit hours

    This course covers the complex issues surrounding racial integration in military institutions, including questions about citizenship and ethnicity. You will also examine the history of women’s participation in warfare and issues of gender integration in the military.

  • Total War • MH552 6 credit hours

    This course examines the origins of the concept and practice of “total war” in the period from the French Revolution to the end of the Cold War. The French Revolution, Napoleonic Wars, American Civil War, World War I, and World War II will be studied. You will also examine the evolution of modern war, the characteristics of “total war,” and the usefulness of the concept in describing such massive conflicts.

Fifth Course and Capstone

Required for all students in the military history program.

  • Directed Readings in Military History • HI550 6 credit hours

    This course is designed to help students gain a detailed, graduate-level understanding of specific areas or topics in military history and historiography that will prepare students for comprehensive examinations, capstone papers/thesis projects and for teaching.

  • Capstone Course • MH562 6 credit hours

    As a degree requirement, you will write and submit a capstone paper that explores in depth a program-approved topic of your own choosing that demonstrates effective use of appropriate academic sources. The expected length of the capstone paper is 45 to 50 pages.

Optional Master’s Thesis

The optional master’s thesis is an original research project demonstrating your ability to conduct primary-source research and demonstrate mastery of the historiography germane to the research question. This option is recommended for those interested in continuing their studies in history at the doctoral level. The thesis must reflect graduate-level analysis, synthesis, and argument and make a compelling case for the argument's historical and historiographic significance. Students interested in this degree completion option must petition the Capstone/Thesis Director during the second semester. The petition must be accompanied by a thesis proposal and letters of recommendation from two faculty members of the Master of Arts in History or Master of Arts in Military History program.

The thesis option is, at minimum, a semester-long (22-week) project with accompanying sustaining and thesis fees.

Prerequisites: Approval of thesis petition and successful completion of the required core courses and electives.


Our online Master of Arts in Military History program ends in a residency at the historic Norwich University campus in Vermont. During this time you will have the opportunity to meet with fellow students, faculty, and program staff in both formal classroom and informal settings. Academic recognition ceremonies and commencement cap off the week, and family and friends are encouraged to attend.

Norwich covers the cost of all meals and accommodation on campus.