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About Us

The National Institute of American History & Democracy (NIAHD) first taught classes in the Spring of 2002 as a partnership between William & Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, with initial start-up support from two Congressional awards.

NIAHD uses an interdisciplinary approach to teach students about American history, material culture, and public history. Since 2002, more than 2,100 rising high school juniors, seniors, and college freshmen have attended the Pre-College Program in American History. Pre-College students come from across the United States, Europe, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia to learn about history where it happened. Students earn transferable college credit for their work in the 3-week course.

Also, in 2002, NIAHD began the Program in Material Culture & Public History and every NIAHD class is open to all W&M students. The certificate program includes courses in Public History, an Internship, a Field School, and 4 additional classes that focus on aspects of American History. Interested W&M students can join the NIAHD program at any time during the academic year. 

Three years later, in 2005, NIAHD opened the Program in Material Culture & Public History to students from other colleges & universities. Visiting Students apply to join this program and spend either one semester or two semesters as a NIAHD student at W&M.  

In Fall 2023, NIAHD launched a new Certificate in Public History program for W&M's graduate students.  Participants enroll in a graduate course in Public History and complete an internship in the field. 

All NIAHD students gain hands-on experience that prepares them for careers in education, museums, and other areas of public history. Enhanced research, writing, and critical thinking skills are also invaluable to individuals interested in careers in business, law, and STEM fields.