Why Study History?
History is the study of humanity’s recorded past, encompassing almost all aspects of human activity and behavior. The arts, sciences, technology, economics, politics, war, ideology, and social attitudes all constitute the subject of history.
The purpose of history education is not primarily the accumulation of information on particular events, regions, or cultures, but rather the development of knowledge and skills to collect and sift historical evidence, analyze and interpret historical behavior, and apply historical understanding to self-transformation and civic participation. Study of the ideas, attitudes, and actions of people in the past sharpens a person’s own sense of values, provides a context for present decision making, and cultivates a more compassionate spirit toward peoples whose way of life may be different from one’s own.
What to do with a degree in History?
History is not a vocational major such as nursing, nutrition, or accounting, all of which train you with a specific set of skills tied to certification for professional practice. Rather, history is a liberal arts degree, which -- like most university majors -- is designed instead to prepare you broadly for professional development, critical thinking, citizenship, and lifelong learning. By completing a BA you develop many skills -- organizational, analytical, technological, research, writing, speaking, and more --, which equip you for many different possible applications.
Graduates in history go on to a full range of career paths including state, local, or federal government service, nonprofit and advocacy work, law, business, journalism, international careers, education, campaigns and polling, lobbying, public administration, social and marketing research, social work, and many other professional arenas. Some history majors go directly into private, nonprofit, or public sector employment, while others continue their education by pursuing advanced degrees or single-subject teaching credentials.
See our Advising Assistance page for more information.
- Careers for History Majors (American Historical Association)
- History Is Not a Useless Major: Fighting Myths with Data (Perspectives in History, American Historical Association)
- What Kind of Jobs do History Majors Land? (History News Network, George Washington University)