History

What Can I Do With A History Major?

A lot.

First, you should know that Alma College has a strong placement record. 90% of our 2015 graduates report working full time or enrolling in grad school within six months of graduation.  

Now, what will you do with a History major? The possibilities truly are endless, but below are some common paths taken by history majors. Thanks to historians.org!

Historians in Classrooms: Schools, Colleges, and Universities

Historians in Museums

  • Overview of the Field
  • Scope of Training
  • Types of Jobs
  • Recent Trends in the Job Market
  • Profiles:

Historians in Editing and Publishing

Historians in Archives

Historians in Historic Preservation

Historians in Federal, State, and Local History

Historians as Consultants and Contractors

The above information is available thanks to Constance Schulz, Page Putnam Miller, Aaron Marrs, and Kevin Allen.

Published by the American Historical Association, the National Council for Public History, and the Public History Program, University of South Carolina. Printed version, © 2002. 

 

Now, let’s think outside the box…

History also majors have used their degrees in less “traditional” ways.

Have you heard of Steve Carell? How about Julia Child? Chris Berman, maybe? They all became famous in very different fields (comedy, culinary arts, sports broadcasting). They all were history majors.

Several other history majors have led surprising careers. They include…

  • Entrepreneurs and CEOs of major companies (James Kilts, Gillette; Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard; Chris Hughes, Facebook; Donna Dubinsky, Palm, Inc.)
  • Writers (Ayn Rand, Malcolm Gladwell)
  • Television anchors (Wolf Blitzer, CNN)
  • Nobel prize winners (Robert Fogel, economics; Eric Kandel, physiology)
  • Physicians (Louis R. Caplan)
  • And still more comedians (Conan O’Brien also was a history major)

As a history major, you also would be in the ranks of some of our country’s distinguished leaders.

  • Congressmen (Newt Gingrich, George McGovern)
  • Supreme Court justices (Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia)
  • Presidents of the United States (Franklin D. Roosevelt, George W. Bush)

Likewise, at Alma, the history major has taken students in a variety of directions. Recent graduates report working in a wide range of fields including business management, the non-profit sector, records management, and teaching. Our students also have pursued graduate study in medicine, law, library science, and, of course, history. Read here about how one Alma alumnus used his degree in history.

Many of our history majors elect to earn an elementary or secondary teaching certificate. Please see the Requirements & Courses page for information on the curriculum you should follow for the History teaching major. For inquiries regarding the Social Studies teaching major, please consult the Education Department.

 

How do I get there?

Coursework is a key part of your education. To land a job, you’ll need additional experience. Summer internships provide an excellent way to explore possible careers. See the links below for information regarding internships offered by historical organizations:

http://www.poplarforest.org/programs/internships/#.Vco91_lVhBc

http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/9749

http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/monticello-uva-archaeological-field-school

http://www.gilderlehrman.org/programs-exhibitions/internships

http://www.mountvernon.org/research-collections/archaeology/volunteer-or-intern-with-the-archaeology-team/

 

Should I go to graduate school? 

It depends on your interests. Talk to a history professor for advice.

If you do decide to pursue graduate studies, you should know Alma might be able to help pay for it! The loyal and generous alumni of Alma’s history department have endowed special awards that provide unique financial support to our outstanding history majors.

In the junior year, Alma history majors can apply for the Jean Fox Abruzzino Award, which recognizes academic excellence and provides additional financial support for study in the last year at Alma. 

In the senior year, history honors majors may apply for the James C. Mitchell and the M.J.J. Smith Scholarships. Each scholarship offers up to $25,000 toward graduate or professional school tuition. Virtually no college or university offers such support for students to attend graduate school, and the award reflects the historic commitment of our program to support our majors.

For more information, see the “Scholarship Requirements” section in the “Get To Know Us” page.

 

Further reading: 

The following article, written by a psychologist, offers a thoughtful reflection on career opportunities for history majors:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/career-transitions/201208/why-major-in-history

 

Lastly, this article explores some ways in which a variety of liberal arts majors have used their education in surprising ways:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2015/07/29/liberal-arts-degree-tech/#150fbfb05a75