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Career Exploration

Learn more about the research
specialties of History faculty at
our Research Specialty & Topics page.

For further information on what you
can do with a major in history
, career
planning, or working with a career
counselor, please visit CLA Career
Services
.

Studying history equips students with the analytical, research, and written communication skills needed to help organizations remain relevant in the 21st century. Students majoring in history learn to ask questions of the past that illuminate the problems, challenges, and opportunities of today and tomorrow.

History is among the most popular majors for students interested in law school, foreign service, journalism, and public affairs, but the possibilities are as limitless as history itself. Studying history can help you achieve your professional goals in:

  • City planning/urban development
  • Civil and human rights
  • Environmental, social, or religious issues
  • Historical preservation
  • Museum administration or archives
  • Teaching
  • Agriculture

Below are some examples of the kinds of career paths possible through the study of history. We have gathered a few areas together to show how taking courses in history can focus your studies for careers in various fields.

Law, Justice & Human Rights

A major in history is one of the most popular choices for students interested in a career in law because of its emphasis on research and communication skills. Historians learn to uncover evidence and use it to make convincing arguments as well as recreate plausible scenarios based on clues from the past. In the course of their studies, history majors also learn about the historical precedents that underpin our modern society. All of these things are directly transferable to the legal profession.

Our faculty include specialists in legal history, social justice, and human rights and offer courses in legal and human rights history as well as related courses on the Holocaust and genocide. Courses on migration, ethnicity and race, and gender typically have strong law and justice components.

  • HIST 3349: U.S. Women’s Legal History 
  • HIST 3834-35: Law in American Life I & II
  • HIST 3728: Human Rights and Crimes Against Humanity
  • HIST 3856: The Civil Rights and Black Power Movement, 1954–1984
  • HIST 3211: History of Sexuality in Europe 
  • HIST 3212: Dissident Sexualities in U.S. History 
  • HIST 3347: Women in Early and Victorian America: 1600–1890 
  • HIST 3348: Women in Modern America 
  • HIST 3444: Chicana and Chicano History 1821–1945 
  • HIST 3445: Immigration and the U.S. Latina/o Experience: Diaspora, Identity, and Community 
  • HIST 3446: Chicana/o History II: WWII, El Movimiento, and the New Millennium 
  • HIST 3486: Hmong Refugees from the Secret War: Becoming Americans 
  • HIST 3727W: History of the Holocaust
  • HIST 3728: Human Rights and Crimes Against Humanity
  • HIST 3856: The Civil Rights and Black Power Movement, 1954–1984
  • HIST 3862: American Immigration History 
  • HIST 3863: The Black Diaspora in Historical Perspective
  • HIST 3864/5: African American History, 1619–1865/1865 to Present
  • HIST 3871/2: American Indian History: Pre­Contact to 1830/1830 to the Present
  • HIST 3875W: Comparative Race and Ethnicity in U.S. History 
  • HIST 3877: Asian American History, 1850–Present

For a complete list of all history classes available, please visit History’s course catalog.

Economics, Business and Labor

Economic and labor history have long interested historians, who seek to understand how marketplace behavior and global economic development are shaped by broader social forces, political trends, and communities.

A recent study has shown that history graduates are disproportionately represented among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Undergraduates who major in history find themselves at an advantage in the workplace because the skills they develop in history courses are directly transferable to the workplace. Gathering and interpreting data, developing clear and feasible projects, and communicating persuasive arguments are central to the discipline of history, just as they are in business.

History majors interested in careers in the business world have a variety of options including corporate planning, human resources, business projections, investment and financial planning, purchasing, technology licensing, patent work, or in a company’s legal department. History majors might also work in city, county, and state organizations that interact extensively with businesses of all types, dealing with licensing, code enforcement, and regulation.

Courses offered by our faculty explore many different aspects of the economy, such as agrarian change, business activity, urban communities, population and demographic behavior, the workplace, industrialization, and technology.

If you are interested in Economics, Business and Labor, you might select some of the following:

  • HIST 1842/HIST3842: The Digital Revolution: Computers in the Making of the Contemporary World
  • HIST 3419: History of Capitalism: Uneven Development since 1500
  • HIST 3426: Pirates of the Caribbean
  • HIST 3478: Tigers and Dragons: The Rise of East Asian Economies, 1930–2012
  • HIST 3691W: The British Empire
  • HIST 3841: American Business History
  • HIST 3844/5: American Economic History to 1870/1870 to the Present

In addition to specific economic and business coursework, students interested in this area are encouraged to develop a broader understanding of the region(s) where they might seek employment.

For a complete list of all History classes available, visit History’s course catalog.

Foreign Service/Global Affairs

Students with interests in specific regions, such as East Asia, the Middle East, or the U.S., can use their history majors to prepare for a range of careers from the Foreign Service arm of the U.S. State Department to multinational businesses and nonprofit organizations.

The history faculty includes experts in the political, economic, social, and cultural history of Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, as well as U.S. interactions around the globe.

Careers in foreign service or global affairs require a wide range of skills and expertise for which history majors are uniquely equipped. The ability to understand the cultural and historical context of a region or group, process large amounts of information, develop reasoned arguments, and communicate effectively are particularly important, and these are central to a major in history. Regional expertise, another component of the major, is a valuable asset to those interested in foreign service and global affairs, and the knowledge and skills gained from a major in history facilitates preparation for the U.S. Foreign Service exam. Many history majors also take advantage of the University’s Learning Abroad opportunities, which offer students the opportunity to develop their understanding of other cultures and places as well as improve their foreign language skills.

  • 3431 Early Africa
  • 3432 Africa in a Global World
  • 3434/5 South Africa to 1910/since 1910
  • 3436 Background to Current Conflicts in Africa
  • 3437 Hist of East Africa
  • 3438 Women in South Africa
  • 3454 West Africa to 1800/1800 to Present
  • 3456 Social/Intellectual Movements in the African Diaspora
  • 3461/2 Intro to East Asia I/II
  • 3466 Religion in Imperial China
  • 3468 Social Change in Modern China
  • 3469 Women and Families in China
  • 3471 Modern Japan
  • 3476 War and Japanese Culture
  • 3477 Japan Samurai and Geisha
  • 3478 East Asian Economies: Tigers and Dragons
  • 3479 Chinese Cities and Urban History
  • 3483 Hmong History across the Globe
  • 3485 History of Southeast Asia
  • 3486 Hmong Refugees
  • 3487 Vietnam Wars
  • 3489 20th Century India
  • 3492 Hinduism
  • 3493 Islam: Religion and Culture
  • 3502 Ancient Israel
  • 3503 Ancient Iran
  • 3504 Cultures of the Silk Road
  • 3505 Survey of the Modern Middle East
  • 3506 Modern Iran
  • 3507 Modern Egypt
  • 3509 Approaches to Studying the Middle East
  • 3511 Muslim and Jews in Middle East/North Africa since 1700
  • 3512 Modern Israel and Palestine
  • 3513 North Africa since 1500
  • 3534 Intro to Judaism
  • 3541 Islam in World History
  • 3546 Islam and the West
  • 3547 Ottoman Empire
  • 3401W/2W Latin America to 1825/from 1825
  • 3423 Central American Revolutions
  • 3424 Women and Gender in Latin American History
  • 3425 Modern Mexico
  • 3426 Pirates of the Caribbean
  • 3428 US–Mexico Relations
  • 3429 Latin American History in Film and Text

We offer vast numbers of courses dealing with Europe and the United States. Many different combinations of courses can be put together to focus on the specific topics of interest in these two areas.

For a complete list of all History classes available, visit History’s course catalog.