One of my favorite topics in high school and a major I explored in college, history is a fascinating subject that is forever expanding. While some people wonder why you would major in a subject that studies the past, please refer them to the following quote:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana
However just know that once you study history, it does not mean you will prevent the world from repeating itself or anything. What you will gain instead are multiple skills and perspectives that can help enhance your ability to make decisions and find repeating patterns. For those who are exploring the possibility of a history major, this is the article for you.
What is a history major?
In general, declaring yourself as a history major is already very, very broad. When you decide to study history, most likely, especially if you’re in a Western institution, you will be learning European/Western history. In addition, the subject in history you might be studying will vary. You can focus on subjects such as 18th century clothing or the European colonization of South East Asia.
So let’s start off with basic definitions:
History is the study, analysis, organization, and interpretation of the past. History encompasses social, cultural, economic, environmental, gender, and basically any subject you can think of. I had several friends who, as pre-med majors, took history of medicine courses and found those to be some of the most interesting and informative classes. Some colleges or universities actually offer specialized subfields such as Medieval History and American History.
What can you do with a history major?
There are plenty of careers you can pursue with a history major. One of my friends who is a history major actually interned at a private equity firm this past summer, so history does not limit you! Here are some careers that most directly relate to your major:
- Academia (Professor, High School Teacher)
- Museum Curators
- Writers and Editors
- Documentary Editors
- Information Managers
- Think Tanks
- Nonprofit Associations
For more information about what you can do with a history major, check out the American Historical Association.
Any good websites that provides resources for history majors?
Definitely check out AcademicEarth.org’s Online History Resource. On their page, they provide links to free lectures by universities, links to scholarships and fellowships relating to history programs, and internship opportunities. This is a great way to expose yourself to what kind of classes and opportunities you will have as a history major.
What are some good history programs?
Again, with most lists, there aren’t the “best” undergraduate history programs. To really find a program that would most fit your interests and provide you the most resources, definitely see what history subfields they focus on the most. While you might have been exposed to all types of history in high school, see colleges with strong track records of offering a breadth of history classes. Below are some college know for various history majors and subfield majors:
- UC Berkeley – History
- UNC Chapel Hill – History
- University of Virgina – History
- Wesleyan University – Medieval Studies / History
- Yale University – History