Norwich University Reviews - Master's in History
Review of History Masters Degrees
Norwich's MMH program was by far the most difficult academic program I've been through, from an undergrad in history from Saint Anselm College to the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Warfare School and Command and Staff programs. And it's by far the most valuable academic education I've yet received. It was worth every dime and then some. From start to finish I felt taken care of by the administrative staff and most importantly, taught by the instructors. Even after I finished, I've stayed in touch with some of my instructors and they have been selfless in helping me forward in my post-graduate efforts. The admissions staff was very helpful and responsive throughout the application process, especially working the additional nuance of tuition payments with the Post-9/11 GI Bill. I had zero problems with payments and stipends. Ben and Tara of the admissions office responded almost immediately to all my questions; I was applying while getting reassigned across country and regardless of time zone, they were ready to assist. Once enrolled I found the instructors of generally high quality. In retrospect it's pretty remarkable just how much talent Norwich's online program is able to garner. Dr. Broom did the introduction to historiography. This is an admittedly dry course, focusing less on history itself than the tools of the historian. But it has to be gotten through so that you understand how to do all the research required in the following courses and I think Dr. Broom did a good job with the material to ensure all new students are aware of the many tools available and have at least some familiarity with using them. I had Dr. Dmitriev for the Global Military History survey course. This was a fairly unremarkable survey course, a mile wide and inch deep, but was useful for giving me some background in areas of military history I was less familiar with, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. I had Dr. Oliviero for Military Thought and Theory. Clearly some of the other students here were not fans, and I will freely admit he is not one to suffer fools lightly. I think we had about a 50% attrition rate in my cohort through his class. Yet I never found him unfair, or insufficiently clear in his standards. Maybe as a Marine I'm more inured to tough love than others, but his critiques left no doubt where he thought you fell short in your analysis. But if you take it as intended - criticism designed to make you better, and prepare you for the harder critique that will come on your capstone -it was incredibly valuable feedback. In fact, thanks to his mentoring, I used the final 15-page paper I wrote for his course as the bedrock of my capstone paper, and following graduation, as an article for the Marine Corps Gazette. Moreover - and I caution that I speak anecdotally here, only from my own experience and cohort - the people who dropped out of his class after a few weeks were ones whose discussion responses indicated they felt they only needed to show up to pass. Dr. Oliviero called out several of them for poor or lazy writing, lack of citations or bad citation format, or arguments that didn't answer the question asked. I'd submit that, by the third graduate course of a master's program, writing, citations, and arguments should be pretty tight for all students involved. Dr. David Ulbrich instructed both my course on amphibious warfare and supervised my final capstone project. I learned more about the utterly fascinating history of amphibious warfare in those ten weeks than I had in years of Marine Corps "professional military education." And when it came to my capstone, Dr. Ulbrich - though not personally familiar with my chosen topic - nevertheless had extensive experience in doing research using Marine Corps resources, which would be key to my work. He shared his experiences freely and pointed me in several directions I never would have discovered on my own. With his mentorship, my final capstone wound up winning the "Outstanding Capstone" award for MMH in my graduating class. But his mentorship went beyond that. He also tried to get all of his students more involved in their chosen discipline by pointing them toward academic conferences and competitions. His encouragement made me submit a paper to the Missouri Valley History Conference, and to VMI's Cold War essay contest, neither of which I'd never have considered by myself. Additionally, as I've continued postgraduate writing projects, he's always been free with feedback and peer review, and even invited me to collaborate on a supplement to his "Ways of War" textbook series. If you show interest in digging deeper in the military history discipline, he will help you succeed long after you've left the Norwich program. Going back to Dr. Oliviero: his rigor didn't only pay off for me during my capstone process. Thanks to the standards he enforced, along with his vast knowledge of history and theory, I got my capstone paper picked up for revision as a book from Marine Corps University Press, a completely unexpected turn of events that I could not have imagined when I wrote the first 15-page paper on the topic for him. That book, with all the research and editing that went into it, was a direct reflection of his unwillingness to give weak work a pass, as well as the overall strength of instruction from all my Norwich courses. Norwich's program has taken me places I never thought I would go, and the writing and research I did throughout those 18 months has continued to pay dividends despite the fact that the MMH program is now several years in my rear view mirror. It is not easy, but I fully believe I got my money's worth from the MMH program and would enthusiastically recommend it to anyone looking for a challenging and rewarding history program.
I applied for and was accepted to Norwich's Military History graduate program. I was impressed by the administrative support received throughout the entire process, from application to graduation. I liked the fact that acceptance was based upon pure merit (writing assessment submission and undergrad transcript) and did not rely on the for-profit GMAT/GRE exams, which are not accurate methods to measure an ability to research and develop theory. Another factor I am impressed with is option to delve into under-explored and neglected areas that include Africa, Asia (China, Japan, India, and SE Asia), the Middle East, and South/Central America, instead of the tired areas of North America and Western Europe. The professors are extremely professional and approachable. I encountered a work related issue (active duty military obligation) that caused a delay in the completion of one of my assignments. I notified the professor and he worked with me to get it submitted without penalty. This program, as with anything else in life, will give what you put into it. Be prepared for up to 20-30 hours of reading and writing a week. All and all, an outstanding program in an established facility with a track-record that goes back almost 200 years.
I found the on-line Military History degree program at Norwich one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. I enrolled simply because I wanted to earn the degree for personal reasons and not for professional advancement. For those who didn't do very well as an undergraduate, take heart. I didn't have a good GPA (under 3.0 Undergrad -1982) but you can get into the Norwich program if you know how to think and more importantly, write. I can't emphasize that enough if you can't write well, take a writing course before you apply. Use every online tool to check your work like Grammerly.com. The professors are there to teach Military History not English composition. My first professor was Dr. B- the assistant Director. He was fair, encouraging, blunt, and perfect in his role of the first-semester guide. His was the only course I didn't earn at least one perfect discussion score. My second was Dr. B she was very encouraging and honest when she suggested my final paper might not have the primary sources needed but let me find my way. It turned out fine. Col (Dr.) O was my Military Theory instructor. Tough and fair, he was rough if you went off topic, couldnt support your argument, or submitted your discussions late. His expectations were high and very clear. If you deviated, you certainly knew it and so did everyone in the class. I think maybe two students dropped his class in my cohort, but if you saw some of their writing, it came as no surprise. My final professor was Dr. K, and I loved his class and did my capstone with him. Ive never worked so hard academically in my life. So the bottom line is this: all the professors are qualified, accessible, and tough. They are either ex-Military with PhDs in History and/or are current instructors at U.S or Canadian Military Command and Staff Colleges. If you want to be successful, you must first write well. Second, you must argue well and back up your argument. Lastly, you discipline yourself because online work is a different skill set. If you arent disciplined about your time, you will not be able to read and write to the graduate level Norwich requires. Lastly, you will make friends in your classes that you will look forward to meeting at Residency week that will develop beyond the end of the course. All of the support staff were great all along the way. I highly recommend this program, but only if you are ready.
I was a student in the on-line history graduate program back in 2011. The only advice I can give someone looking into the on-line program is...find something else! I know that at least 5 of the 8 in my cohort dropped out by the third class. I was a 3.8 undergraduate student with a degree in history and government. However, NU doesn't want to teach or help students improve their craft as historians. Basically, the on-line seminars are terrible with low level discussion and lack of debate. Professors are very critical of writing without any support or feedback. I agree with many other reviews and want to help potential students to not waste their time or money on NU. I withdrew after the third class when it was made clear by Dr. G (he has since left the school) I was "not a graduate level student." I did earn A's in the first two classes at NU, so I guess those do not count? Anyway, I did find solace when his book (that we had to buy for his class) received terrible reviews. Eventually, the class somewhat rebelled against the the professor and we collectively contacted the history department dean and he basically told us "there was nothing he could do." I am a teacher and know there is always something that can be done to help improve the education of students. I assume they had another cohort ready for the next semester and their money would be taken and the cycle would repeat. Since withdrawing from the university, I enrolled in another on-line program and completed my M.A. and now pursing my Ph.D. through the same institution. I guess that isn't bad for someone was "not a graduate level student." After the first class, I had high hopes for NU and enhancing my knowledge in history. However, after the third class it became apparent that this program was not the "right fit" for me.
Already possessing one graduate degree, taken at a traditional program (where I served as a research assistant), I enrolled into the online program with great enthusiasm. I understood it would not be as fulfilling as a traditional program, but given my new status as a husband and father, I was excited to engage in intellectual discussions again, and receive a 2nd Master's degree in History, something I had hoped to do years ago. Sadly, it did not take long to realize that my experience was not going to come anywhere near what I had hoped. A few professors tried hard to maintain control of the online forum, but alpha males treated it more like social media debates instead of intellectual debates. Worse, for a history program, I have never seen people review books with such obvious political slants. Yes, all humans have biases, but it was clear -- if it leaned right, right-wingers loved it and applauded it and left-leaning people ripped it. No attempt was made to disect the research or analyze the process. No open minded discussions took place. Worse, the professors seemed unable to steer the conversations towards graduate-level research discussions. It almost always turned into subjective debates. Again, much like Facebook discussions, but with much better language (the attempt to look intelligent). Worse, racism was rampant in the discussions and no one seemed to care. One comment, "The author seems to think that Native Americans were the victim when research clearly shows they have a predisposition to drunkenness." If that had ever been said in a true graduate seminar, that person would be asked to leave or defend himself with immense evidence. Of course, that was not required during the online debate. The professors were hit and miss. One was an author who only engaged in three of the 15 weeks' worth of discussions and even charged me for a late grade that I had turned in two days early. I provided numerous pieces of evidence to demonstrate my early submission, but he never answered his email and his phone went to voicemail each time I attempted to reach him. Another professor harshly graded a paper of mine that I had sent to two of my former professors for proofing/peer review. For some reason, they loved it and he gave it a C! I had a 4.0 in both my undergraduate and graduate work, and had a 4.0 in the first Norwich class. So, a C on a paper peer reviewed by two historians (professors) is just silly. When I finally obtained an explanation, I was told that he did not enjoy my stylistic approach to writing. Stylistic! Another professor accused me of "not reading the week's material," because my forum answer was discombobulated. This, after I called him to tell him I had the flu. I still wrote 8pp worth of MSWord material and included 37 citations --- for a weekly reading assignment! I did that with a 99 degree fever, mind you. He wrote me later to ask if maybe I had cheated and tried to re-write the words. Cheating! I was sick. I called him to tell him I was sick. And, I tried as hard as I could to still participate. For my efforts, I was accused of cheating . Lastly, the books were often bought in bulk (they were provided to you), all from one publisher as "classic reprints." Nothing worse than constantly reading research that is more than 30 years old. Doing that with seminal works from time to time is one thing, but when nine books are all from HIll & Wang (read: not such and such university press) and are old -- you know a deal has been done to gain cheap books. I'd rather buy my own books and make them worthy of reading and learning. With the racism, the political rants and lack of intellectual discourse, the incoherent grading system, the old books, the utter lack of instruction, and what amounted to nothing but busy work and frustration -- I finally dropped. I was only one semester short of moving to my research/thesis work, but I couldn't take it anymore. Without question, of my undergraduate and two graduate schools for which I attended, it was BY FAR the worst learning experience of my life.
Yes, this school is reputable, and they take low GPA's, which is nice for getting in. But when you start to struggle, don't expect any real help. I had first, Professor B. the assistant director. He was fine. Then Professor K. for the second class. My third class was with Dr. Ol.. He's a retired Colonel from the armed forces. Not trained in educating people. He was consistently unclear in what he wanted, and never gave actual advice on improving essays. His comments were simply "not on the graduate level." I withdrew when it was clear I wouldn't pass with him ( I did fine in the other two classes!) 5 of 8 people in my class dropped with this professor!!! One student wrote to the Director about this horrible teacher and he basically said tough cookies. They just changed the email server and I NEVER received any information about this, so I never received help on my re-entrance paper. When I reached out to the assistant director he said "I don't know what to tell you." No one has addressed this professor's issues: He was consistently late in sending us materials he said he's send, he is unapproachable and actually quite rude, was never explicit with essays, and never actually helped or reached out to students. I would not apply for this program again. I suggest other Military History students go somewhere else. They wer re-vamping the class while I was in it. Very confusing. NO ONE called or asked or cared that I withdrew, nor did they offer to help. I'm just immensely disappointed in this program. They appear to want perfect students who can handle orders and work without any professorial help. Unfortunately students are not mind readers! Whether I get back in or not, I'm probably switching to a program like ASU- cheaper, and has a much longer history of online degrees.