Why Study History?

"I am interested in pursuing a degree in history. I talked to my guidance counselor and I wasn't clear on what to do next. Why should I study history, and what will I be able to do with a history degree once I graduate?"

asked by Cameron from Minneapolis, Minnesota

There are many reasons why a person, such as you, may want to study history. For one, a person who has the curiosity and desire to learn about all things past would want to study history to deepen his understanding and appreciation for why events took place. Individuals that have a passion for history recognize that we are all living histories, for example, in simply the languages from the different areas of our world: those languages are inheritable from our past. Cultures and traditions, ways of life, religion, and our ancestry are all “pictures” of past times. Everything about today and everything about the future happens because of something that has occurred in the past. You probably want to study history because of the fascination that comes with the events and happenings of times gone by.

Many people do indeed enjoy learning about history, but not everyone who enjoys learning about the subject want to pursue a career in the subject. Some view learning about history, especially a specific time period or event as a hobby, but others view it as a career opportunity. And the career opportunities are vast, as a degree in history can open many doors to a prosperous future. Often, students study other fields in their undergraduate program, such as political science or anthropology, and then pursue a graduate degree in history. It really depends on the particular career path that you would like to take.

Teaching

With an undergraduate degree in history, you can stay in school and complete your master’s degree in history education. With this degree, you will be able to teach history at the secondary level and enrich the lives of high school students with newfound knowledge and respect for historical events. You will open their minds on how the past events have shaped our present, and how the events of today will affect the future. With a doctorate degree in the field, you will be qualified to instruct history at the collegiate level, and touch the lives of university students who are studying history as their major, or are enrolled in history courses as other prerequisites for other majors.

Law school

A history degree is an expansive degree that can be quite the stepping stone for another degree, such as law. Being accepted into law school requires a bachelor’s degree, and flourishing in law school requires a substantial proficiency of history. The understanding of the legal system of our country, as well as around the world, necessitates a firm background in history. You may feel the desire to work in public law, advocacy, business law and regulation, contracting, and any other occupation that requires a law degree. In pursuant of your degree in law, a history degree is an ideal achievement to begin with!

Public History and Historic Preservation

Now, if you really want to use that history degree to continue your career and love for the subject, you may want to consider reaching for a career in historic preservation and public history. How fascinating it would be to use your undergraduate degree in a subject area that you are fervent about and spend your working days engrossed in history! With this career, there are numerous options for a prosperous occupation, such as working in a museum, with a historical society in your area, in a national park, and within a tourism agency. And don’t forget about libraries, archives, and political agencies!

Government

Many government employees have history degrees, and working for the largest employer in the United States may be what you are interested in doing. Having a history degree will give you the qualifications for working in government bureaus (federal, state, or local) and give you an edge over non-history graduates with your critical thinking skills, your research skills, and a deep comprehension of how our government works today.

Business and other Related Fields

People that work in business do not necessarily have a business degree. This is because the business sector is huge, and there are so many opportunities out there for business careers in which your history degree can take you. Many history graduates work for non-profit businesses and advertising agencies, agriculture businesses, arts, hospitality, tourism, and entertainment industries. You can also work in human resources for a company, as a recruiter, or as a conservationist. Many people that graduate with history degrees work within the administration or management of these occupations.
Therefore, you can see that there is a great wealth of career and post-graduate opportunities for people that receive a bachelor degree in history. It is a well-balanced and rich field of study that will open many doors to your bright future!

Career Spotlight: Historian

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