Military History Graduate Programs

Oct 20, 2021

Military graduate programs teach both ancient and contemporary military history. Military leaders, policymakers, and others who make decisions regarding war can benefit from examining past conflicts. Leaders, especially those without personal military experience can learn valuable lessons by exploring both the negative and positive consequence of conflicts and the impacts on society.

What Courses are Required in Military History Programs?

The content of military history graduate courses includes the study of wars and conflicts, leadership, and military strategy. The following are examples of courses offered in military history graduate programs.

American Revolution

This class provides an in-depth look at the war that was fought for American independence. Participants study the battles and campaigns that ensued between 1775 and 1783. Students compare the leadership styles of British and American officers. George Washington's role as a leader is an integral part of this course.

Civil War

In this course, students examine the operations, strategies, and tactics of the civil war. Students look closely at the leadership of both the Union and Confederate armies. The relationship between commanders and subordinates is of particular interest in this course. Students also look at the impact on the war of the naval operations and the technology during that the era.

Cold War

Students taking this course examine the events associated with the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The effect of this long-running conflict on the international community, including Korea, Latin America, and Vietnam is a topic of discussion. Espionage, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War are other themes considered in this class.

Non-Western Military History

Non-western military history delves into the military culture of East Asia and other non-western areas of the world. The effect of non-western warfare on soldiers and civilians is examined. Cultural perspectives, military strategy, and tactics involved in non-western military operations are additional topics discussed in this class.

U.S. Military History

The history of the U.S. military is addressed from colonial times to the present. The U.S. military experience is examined through an evaluation of campaigns, policies, and strategies. Students also explore the impact of military conflicts on American society.


The thesis is usually the final course in a graduate program in military history. Students choose a research a topic or problem approved by the department and write a paper that describes the results of the research. Once thesis writing is complete and approved, the student must defend the research before a committee.

What are the Admission Requirements for Military History Graduate Programs

Admissions criteria for military history graduate programs are generally consistent with an institution's admission requirements for all graduate school applicants. But some military history graduate programs may also have departmental requirements like the submission of a writing sample. Typically, applicants must submit proof of a bachelor's degree, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose or intent. Some schools may also require the GRE or GMAT scores for military history graduate program applicants.

A military history graduate program can provide aspiring and current military officers with the knowledge and skills necessary for making sound decisions. Military leaders, policymakers, and history teachers all benefit from understanding both contemporary and ancient military history.

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