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The Breakdown

Unlike some high school classes and curriculums, studying history at the collegiate level doesn’t mean merely memorizing and regurgitating facts.  Indeed, history is a heady intellectual pursuit that involves more than simply knowing what year the Battle of Lexington and Concord took place.  If you choose this major, you’ll learn to keenly analyze history through social, cultural, political, economic and psychological lenses.

While you will likely have the opportunity to take a breadth of courses, many departments require students to have a concentration in a particular region such as the United States, Latin America or the Middle East.  Other programs have you choose a focus based upon common themes like African American history, economic and social history, or history of science.  Still others have you concentrate on a specific time period.  Regardless of major specifics, be prepared to be deluged with lots of reading and research papers.  Additionally, some colleges might require you to undertake a thesis during your senior year.

As a history major, you’ll really need to hone your critical thinking skills.  Indeed, historians must be adept at analyzing and interpreting primary and secondary sources.  They should be creative thinkers who can probe the past and gain insight to both the present and the future.  Obviously, strong writing and research are critical for success.  And, of course, you should enjoy reading about revolution!


Nuts and Bolts

History majors have the luxury of being exposed to a huge range of course offerings.  Should you decide to study history, you might take classes such as: The French Revolution, Authority and Rebellion: American History to 1865, The Viking World: Story, History and Archeology, The Age of the American Revolution, 1763-1789, Introduction to Roman Law, China in Revolution, Empires, Imperialism and the Globalization of Science, Prelude to the Civil Rights Movement, Food in History, The Cultures of the Silk Road, and Belle and Beleaguered: European Culture at the Fin de Siecle.

Decisions, Decisions

History majors are often fascinated by the stories behind and the development of societies, civilizations and cultures.  As such, they might also consider studying: anthropology, sociology, political science, American studies, economics, art history, classics, philosophy, geography, archeology, English, religion or urban studies. 

What's Next

History majors rejoice!  While it’s true that studying history won’t prepare you for any specific career track, it will develop a number of soft skills that are transferrable to many jobs.  Indeed, history majors can be found in a variety of industries, from education to music.  Many undergrads see history as a springboard to a legal career and graduates often apply to law school and find jobs as paralegals.  Others find positions working in historic preservation or working for historical societies or museums.  History majors can also leverage their academic background and land entry-level jobs in journalism, as an archivist, a legislative aide or work on a political campaign.  And plenty of recent grads score positions in public relations, marketing or finance.  Indeed, as a history major, you’ll only be limited by your professional dreams and ambitions.



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Don Munce