The National Institute of American History and Democracy began in academic year 2001-2002 as a partnership between the College of William and Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The intial start-up grant came from two Congressional awards. The purpose of the institute is to provide interdisciplinary programs that instruct students in early American history, material culture, museum studies, and public history.
The Pre-Collegiate Program in Early American History began in Summer 2002. Students from throughout the United States, plus Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia have attended the program. Students earn four hours of college credit for an in-depth study in American history. The program courses are taught "on site" at the numerous historic locations in eastern Virginia. More than 1,600 students have attended the program thus far. High school students may attend who are rising juniors, rising seniors and graduating seniors.
The Collegiate Program in Early American History, Material Culture and Museum Studies began in 2002-2003. William and Mary students may enroll at any time during their undergraduate or graduate studies. The certificate program requires at least seven classes in American history including a core course in public history, an internship course, and a field school in some area of material culture. Students from other colleges and universities may also enroll in this program which requires two semesters of full time course work at the College. More than 200 students have participated in this program as they prepare for careers in teaching, museums, or other areas of public history.
The Williamsburg Semester-in-Residence Program began in 2005-2006. This program brings undergraduates and post graduates from other colleges and universities to study for one semester at William and Mary. These students enroll in 12 hours of study. They take classes offered in the Collegiate Program.