Department of History & Political Science

RSU Offers State's First Degree in Military History

Meyer Hall (foreground) and Preparatory Hall (background)
Dr. Kenneth Hicks, Head of the RSU Department of History and Political Science, at the Oklahoma Military Academy Museum, located in Meyer Hall

RSU has begun offering Oklahoma's first bachelor's degree in military history, advancing the education of the nation's armed services and drawing on its own history as a military academy.

"RSU is proud and uniquely situated to be the first university in Oklahoma to offer a four-year degree in military history," said RSU President Dr. Larry Rice. "This new degree will provide a valuable national service by advancing the education of the officer corps, encouraging more students to pursue careers in the military and preparing the next generation to respond to national security challenges."

The Oklahoma Military Academy, often called the "West Point of the Southwest," operated at the present location of the RSU campus in Claremore from 1919 to 1971. Close ties between RSU and its predecessor institution continue to the present day, with OMA alumni supporting several current RSU initiatives, including providing scholarships for students.

The new degree will prepare graduates for careers in the academic field of military history, the armed forces, law, public administration, journalism, security, intelligence or government, said Dr. Ken Hicks, Head of the RSU Department of History and Political Science, which offers the degree. "A bachelor's degree is one of the requirements for entry into the military as a commissioned officer," said Hicks, who is also an associate professor of political science. "We expect the degree to appeal to current service members, as well as those interested in pursuing a career in the military."

RSU serves as a Service Member Opportunity College (SOC), a consortium of state colleges, universities and technical schools that provide educational opportunities to service members. RSU also operates a veteran's affairs office. In addition, RSU is presently completing an application for a unit of the R.O.T.C. on its campus in Claremore.

To offer the degree, RSU has drawn from its existing curriculum and has added courses in military history. RSU will also offer a minor in military history to students with other major areas of study.

"Several recent news articles have focused on the absence of military history in college and university curricula," Hicks said. "One of our goals is to help fill that void."

Hicks and his faculty colleagues discovered a high level of interest in the degree after administering surveys to RSU students; high school students in Claremore, Tulsa and across northeast Oklahoma; and area residents. The results of the surveys indicated that approximately 70 percent of all respondents have a family member who has served or is serving in a branch of the military. The surveys also indicated that many area students and residents are strongly interested in military history and follow accounts of present military issues in the news, he said.

Citing research, Hicks said that influential members of the nation's military leadership have advocated for a better-educated military and have advised members of the officer corps to pursue bachelor's degrees.

Likely employers of program graduates include not only branches of the military and academia, Hicks said, but also the National Park Service, historical societies, military parks, museums, and security firms.

RSU will join the ranks of prestigious universities in the U.S. offering military history degrees, including Duke University and the University of North Carolina. Military historians at similarly prestigious institutions such as Temple University, Ohio State University and the University of North Texas reviewed the RSU military history degree proposal and offered their endorsements of the program, Hicks said.

Students who earn the military history degree at RSU may elect to apply for graduate programs in military history at institutions in surrounding states, such as Kansas State University and Texas A&M University.

For more information on the new RSU military history degree, call the RSU Department of History and Political Science at (918) 343-7687.