The Study of History: Undergraduate Students

Undergraduates become History majors for many reasons, ranging from a deep, often very personal, interest in the culture of a particular region to a desire for a strong foundation in writing and research skills.  Some of you may not be entirely sure why you major in History, beyond it seeming exciting, familiar, or accessible.  When thinking about careers after your History major, you should definitely keep in mind why you chose History in the first place—this may help you to identify a career path that fits your passions as well as your skills.  But regardless of your initial reasons for choosing History, your major has prepared you for a wide variety of careers.  UBC History majors learn how to contextualize and analyze; how to express and support an argument in writing and orally; and how to use library databases, archives, and interviews to research and write. These are skills that are useful and valued across a wide range of professions, including law, education, journalism, corporate consulting, and non-profit advocacy.  Even more broadly, as the American Historical Association advises in its webpages on Careers for History majors, the jobs you can consider include advertising executive, analyst, archivist, broadcaster, campaign worker, consultant, editor, foreign service officer, foundation staffer, information specialist, intelligence agent, journalist, legal assistant, lobbyist, personnel manager, public relations staffer, researcher, teacher. Though this guide focuses on careers that include history explicitly, your history skills will serve you especially well in any field that involves research, writing, and public engagement.

Sidebar

In a study of Dartmouth College History students graduating between 1972 and 2001, majors went on to work in over a dozen different fields:

Law   22%
Financial Services 18%
Consulting/business   13%
Education 12%
Health care/science 8%
Government service  6%
Arts/entertainment 5%
Communications/advertising 4%
IT 4%
Non-profits 3%

Sources

Dartmouth College Department of History, “What can I do with a History major?

American Historical Association http://www.historians.org/pubs/Free/careers/Index.htm