ASU And Museum To Offer First World War II Grad Degree

By Holliday Moore
Published: Monday, August 13, 2018 - 10:20am
Updated: Monday, August 13, 2018 - 2:45pm

The congressionally appointed National WWII Museum has a new education partner in Arizona State University.

ASU paired up with the New Orleans-based museum to offer what it they said is the only master's degree specifically in World War II history.

Gemma Birnbaum, the museum's director of the WWII Media and Education Center, said they began talking with the school two years ago because it had the best reputation for offering online degrees.

"One of the things that we find most critical about graduate education is that it really is a professional degree," Birnbaum said. "We're not training people to just have fun. They need to be able to be trained historians when they come out of this program, able to write about the war, speak about the war. They need to be able to teach about it."

When asked what work such a specific master's degree can provide, Birnbaum pointed out that it can provide a clearer perspective on modern global politics.

"One of the courses we're going to offer is Comparative Genocide," she said, referring to the 15 to 20 million people the Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates were killed under Nazi orders around the world, primarily for being Jewish or following a non-Christian faith.

"And that brings us into the present day," she said with a look at the Bosnian civil war in the 90s and, more recently, the targeted attacks on the South Sudanese. "We're not just talking about the 1940's, because [genocide] didn't just happen in the 1940s. We're still having these lessons reverberate."

Another reason to focus on World War II, Birnbaum said, is that it globally impacted everyone living in the 1930s and 40s.

"And, that hasn't happened since. When you're talking about how it shapes society, the economy across the world, politics, gender roles, race relations ... all of these things shaped by the events of WWII," Birnbaum explained.

ASU's online program lists five professors from the museum and three from the university, with 30 hours of in-class credits generated from material offered by both institutions.

Students will pay $4,800 per semester with classes beginning in January 2019.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify Gemma Birnbaum's title.