History illuminates the human condition. As a field of study, history provides the context with which to define one's relationship with the world, and a structure within which to study other disciplines. In portraying continuity and change, history offers a basis for understanding one's culture, one's community, and oneself. Without historical perspective, learning is incomplete.

History also provides a strong foundation for a broad variety of careers. The study of history prepares a student for the dynamics of business, law, government, or nonprofit careers. Historical knowledge provides details of past experience with which to test the feasibility of new solutions. It enhances the ability to recognize patterns in voluminous data; it supports valid comparisons and connections.

  • Ryan McHale

    Joining a Community of Scholars

    Ryan McHale ’17 graduated with a B.A. in history, a minor in Italian Studies, and a four-year experience that engaged his passion in history. He was accepted to the College’s Integrated Humanities Program, offered each year to motivated first-year students. “There were about 30 of us in the program—we read major classical texts and analyzed philosophical and existential questions and ideas,” he said. “The coolest part is we shared the same dormitory in the Living/Learning Center. We really became a tight community.” McHale was accepted into the Ancient History Master’s Program at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Ryan intends to pursue a museum certificate to continue research in ancient history—his long-term goal is to obtain a PhD in Ancient History.

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Considering Career Paths: Practical or Applied?

In considering your career, one of the first decisions to make is whether you wish to practice history directly, or whether you wish to apply the knowledge and skills you have learned in the study of history to any one of many fields. The distinctions between such choices are highly personal: you might gain more career satisfaction from, say, being a feature writer for an international affairs monthly than from teaching high school history — or the reverse.

Typical organizations that emphasize history include archives, communications media, consulting and freelance assignments, historical associations and societies, historical projects, libraries, museums, publishing, research institutions, religious and philanthropic organizations, as well as teaching.

Typical organizations that apply historians' skills include management, advertising, archival and record-keeping services, banking & investment services, government service, insurance, law, market research, newspaper, radio & television journalism, paralegal services, public relations, staff training, and travel & tourism.

The study of history prepares students for the dynamics of business, government, law or non-profit careers. Historical scholarship trains the mind to think on many levels, to deal with partial evidence and ambiguity. Historical knowledge provides details of past experience with which to test the feasibility of new solutions. It enhances the ability to recognize patterns in voluminous data; it supports valid comparisons and connections. In short, a background in history is ideal preparation for a fulfilling and thougful career in just about any profession.