We in the History Department believe that the most important goal of a college education is to become educated. Learning about different peoples, times, and places makes you more informed and helps you to live a richer, more meaningful life.
By teaching you how to think critically, write persuasively, consider and solve problems from multiple perspectives, engage theory, and ask pertinent questions, your study of History helps you develop the core intellectual skills that many employers demand.
The goal of a History class is not to make you memorize a string of names and dates. Courses in the Department of History help students understand and analyze the ways people lived and thought in the past. That includes how and why they fought wars and negotiated treaties, but also how they raised families, how they worked, worshipped and played, and how they thought about the world around them. By examining societies in the past—their character and conduct, successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses—students deepen their understanding of both the past and the world they live in today.
In their own research, faculty in the History Department use original documents and other primary sources to question, interpret, and build arguments about the past. As instructors, they provide you with outstanding training in the broader practices of research, analysis, and documentation while introducing you to societies, cultures, and time periods different from your own.
What Can I Do With a History Major?
You may well become a History major because you love History. That’s great! But, we also understand that, when you finish your formal education, you want a job! What kinds of jobs do History majors get? Remember, an employer does not hire you because of your major, but because of the skills that you can offer them. Think about what those skills are and you’ll get some ideas about the kinds of careers that would suit you.
Many History majors apply their skills as teachers. SJU graduates are teaching history and social studies in high schools throughout the region and beyond. If this is of interest to you, you may want to consider seeking Certification to teach Secondary Education (K-12). You do this by double-majoring in History and Education: ask your advisor or the Department Chair about details on Certification.
Law is another popular career track for History majors. SJU graduates have gone on to law schools around the region and the country, including Temple, Villanova, Penn, Georgetown, Rutgers, and New York Law School, to name just a few. History majors learn to gather and interpret evidence and craft and evaluate arguments: essential skills for legal professionals.
In the private sector, employers hire graduates who are able to research, analyze, and communicate effectively. This includes jobs in marketing and market research, financial planning, sales, management, and public relations.
The public and nonprofit sector offer rewarding careers for many History majors. Recent graduates have gone on to work as staff at local and regional museums, for the national park service, with international professional associations, colleges and universities, and government agencies. Others work for political offices, or as lobbyists, or with nonprofits around the world Some History majors work toward careers in higher education. Recent history majors have earned, or are earning, Master’s and PhDs at some of the nation’s top institutions, including Penn, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Temple, the University of California, Ohio State, and Villanova.
And still other majors follow a more entrepreneurial path, using their skills to teach, write, and serve outside of traditional corporate structures. Some graduates have used their research skills in real estate development projects. Others have become published authors, of fiction and nonfiction. The career paths of History majors are as diverse as the subject they study!