The study of history provides students with many essential skills for employment beyond graduation. These include oral and written communication skills, strong reading comprehension, the ability to analyze large quantities of information and ascertain its strengths and weaknesses, research skills, and the ability to examine issues, policies and events from a wide variety of perspectives and to find the connections amid the evidence. As a core liberal arts discipline, History provides students with a wide variety of career options both within the historical field as well as within governmental, non-governmental, publishing and business employment.
Here's a sampling of paths that our past majors have chosen:
Education - One of the most popular pathways for History majors is teaching. Instruction can come on a variety of levels: Middle School, Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA), Colleges/Universities or non-classroom education.
- Middle School/AYA: To pursue teaching history at the Middle School or Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) level, students should obtain a major in history and licensure in Integrated Social Studies, which includes coursework in Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, Geography, and Economics. Our Department of Education can give you additional information.
- College/University Teaching: To pursue teaching at the college or university level, students should think carefully about Graduate School, to obtain both an MA and a PhD. The average time to complete an MA and a PhD in recent years has been 8 years total. When choosing graduate programs, students are strongly encouraged to discuss programs and departments with the History Faculty. While our history major provides students with a broad geographic and chronological exposure, often in MA and PhD programs, students will study a more specific topic and/or fields.
- Non-Classroom Education: While the above are the most typical application for historians in the field of education, other opportunities in non-classroom education also exist. Within museums, historical sites, wildlife refuges, and state parks, often historians act as guides, develop curricula and design and research for new or on-going exhibits.
Archives, Libraries, and Museums - In addition to teaching, other popular career paths for those with an interest in history are employment with archives, libraries, and museums. Most of these types of employment require an additional degree beyond the BA, usually a specialized Master's degree.
- Archivists - Archivists typically hold at least a Master's degree in History or Library Science. They plan and oversee the acquisition, arrangement, cataloging, preservation, and display of items with historical value. Such items include materials like written documents, audiovisual materials, art, archaeological findings, maps, as well as plants and animals. Archivists can work for businesses, government agencies, museums and libraries. They determine what portion of the vast amount of records produced by such agencies is historically significant and set about to preserve these items and ensure their accessibility to the public. The Department provides opportunities to explore this type of training through the University Archives. Contact Dr. Bil Kerrigan, who is the University Archivist (firstname.lastname@example.org) about this.
- Curators - While the focus of archivists tends to be documents and images, museum curators concentrate on the acquisition and exhibition of primarily three-dimensional objects such as paintings, sculptures, books, and ancient artifacts. The Department has also offered opportunities to work on these types of projects both through the University Archives and through off-site internship programs.
- Librarians – The most common next step for students interested in becoming librarians is to obtain an MLIS (Masters in Library and Information Science) degree. Students can also gain valuable work experience working through our University Library system as well as local libraries.
Private Sector -- As with all liberal arts majors, there are a wide variety of opportunities available in the private sectors for History graduates.
- Publishing -- Careers in publishing could involve work with businesses specializing in history textbook, monographs or journals. They could also include publishing for more of a general audience. Duties could include sales, copyediting, manuscript evaluation, and market research.
- Law - Majoring in History or a double major in Political Science and History is a very common path to law school. Lawyers also specialize, choosing from prosecution, defense, business law, environmental law, family law, or other options. Many of the skills that law schools look for in applicants (critical reading, writing, oral communication, and general research skills) are at the core of our training and teaching within History. Student interested in this path should also speak with one of the three pre-law advisors on campus.
- Business – Many of our recent graduates have successfully pursued careers within the business world, finding that their abilities to write and speak well, their honed research abilities, and their reading comprehension skills serve them well in a wide variety of employment opportunities.
Government Careers - History majors might also think about pursuing work on the local, state, or federal level. Agencies such as the Smithsonian Institute, the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities have employment opportunities for history majors, as do various departments such the Department of State or the Department of Defense.
Additional information about careers for students in history, lists of historical institutions, and potential employers can be found at the following websites:
Internship/Job Posting Links
Specific Careers in history -- additional information
Past Internships completed by our majors: Amanda Jones, Nachiket Chanchani.