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Learn about the Civil War with online courses and programs

The American Civil War pitted the Union against the Confederacy in a battle over slavery. Fought from 1861 to 1865, the war had lasting effects on American life that can still be felt today. Explore the history and impact of the Civil War with edX courses.

What is the Civil War?

The Civil War began in 1861 as a fight over slavery between the northern and southern states. Following Abraham Lincoln’s election to presidency, many southern states seceded from the union, which became known as the Confederate States of America.

By the end of the Civil War, the north prevailed and took steps to end slavery throughout the nation. Many significant moments in American history occurred during the Civil War, such as West Virginia’s designation as a state, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Lincoln’s assassination.

Studying these events can provide insight into history, politics, and current events. While learning about the Civil War can be distressing at times, it offers important insight into the complicated history of the United States. Start your educational journey with edX courses.

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Civil War course curriculum

The Civil War raised many questions around notions of power, freedom, and equality. Learning about the precipitating events and its impact on the American people can shed light on different perspectives and provide context around a complicated event.

Some courses may approach the Civil War and Reconstruction chronologically, discussing topics such as:

  • Motivations for secession

  • Causes and conduct of the war

  • Emancipation

  • Historians’ interpretation of the war

  • Continued relevance of the war and Reconstruction

Throughout your studies, you may focus on key events in history, such as the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. Courses may also examine the Civil War through economic, intellectual, and political lenses to better understand its effect on society.

Learning about the Civil War can supplement your knowledge of history and civil rights. edX offers a variety of educational opportunities for learners interested in studying these topics, as well as a host of other disciplines. A boot camp can provide flexible hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses are designed for busy professionals. You can also pursue a more comprehensive curriculum in a bachelor’s degree program or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree program. Find the right learning path for you.

Explore jobs that use knowledge of the Civil War

The Civil War is a crucial event in American history that can impart important lessons about conflict and the effects of war on society. If you’re interested in applying your knowledge of the Civil War to your professional development, consider the following roles:

  • Historian: Researches and studies the events, people, and causes of the Civil War, often working in academia, museums, or as an independent researcher.Footnote 1

  • Museum curator: Designs exhibits, gives tours, and educates the public about the war's significance.Footnote 2

  • History professor: Teaches courses and conducts research at the college or university level.Footnote 3

  • Journalist: Reports on historical events, writes books, articles, or essays, or works in specialized history journalism.Footnote 4

  • Genealogist: Locates and interprets records belonging to ancestors who may have participated in or been affected by the war.Footnote 5

Each of these roles will have different education and skills requirements. For example, some employers may seek candidates with a degree in history or journalism, depending on the role. Before deciding on a specific learning path, research the positions you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your career goals.