Department of History

What Can You Do With a History Degree?

 

"I honestly think that this class has taught me more useful life skills than any other class I’ve ever taken."

Students choosing to major in the humanities are often asked the question, "So what are you going to do with that?" It is an all-too-common myth that an education focused on the liberal arts is "worthless," or that a bachelor's degree in history only prepares a student to become a history professor. Some history majors do become teachers, but many others find jobs in archives, museums, government, and publishing houses. A degree in history, with its emphasis on research, critical thinking, and communication skills, is also excellent preparation for employment in law, business, journalism, and public service.

In fact, data shows that history majors are quite competitive on the job market and employed in a wide variety of meaningful careers. A history degree is widely considered to be one of the best paths into a law school because of much of the law is based on history and lawyers depend on their ability to analyze precedent and conduct extensive research, skills one develops in a history degree. According to one study conducted in 2015, history majors have the highest annual wage among humanities and liberal arts majors.

A history degree teaches you how to think historically. That means recognizing change over time, identifying patterns, interrogating sources, making sense of human nature, evaluating causal claims, writing critically, synthesizing different kinds of information, doing independent research, using lateral thinking, and learning about other cultures, among other valuable skills. These are transferable skills that will serve you in a wide variety of jobs.

The American Historical Association has published a career guide for students of history looking to explore the opportunities that exist in careers commonly associated with history. But who knows where a degree in history will take you? Martha Stewart, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Conan O'Brien, Steve Carell, and three current supreme court justices (Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Anthony Kennedy), all began their careers as history majors, as did many historical leaders, including President Theodore Roosevelt and British Prime MInister Winston Churchill. 

At Auburn, many of our history majors have successfully been admitted to graduate programs in history (at Auburn and elsewhere), law school, and education, and have found careers in many different places. If you would like to talk about the career prospects of history majors here at Auburn, please contact the Department Advisor Mr. Ross Blair (email) or the Director of Undergraduate Studies (contact information below).

 


What is the value of a liberal arts degree?

For more information

Director of Undergraduate Studies

Matt Malczycki

Matt Malczycki

Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Thach 306B
(334) 844-7638
Email
Office Hours: By appointment only

Last Updated: May 22, 2019