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4 Reasons to Study History

When selecting a major, there are endless options. However, most students want something that’s interesting, offers a wide array of possibilities for studies, and provides good opportunities after graduation. History is a broad field of study, and can provide a foundation for launching into professional degrees, such as law school. History degrees offer a good intellectual challenge and are well respected by employers. There are a variety of different types of history degrees, as well as areas of study. As the writer and philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” studying history can help shape the future. There are endless options when it comes to picking a history degree, but here are four reasons to study history.

Dec 4, 2020
  • Education
4 Reasons to Study History

1. Learn what not to do

With so much uncertainty in the world, now is a time to embrace history and learn from it. If you’re someone with a keen interest in other cultures, a degree in history might be the right choice for you. In a letter to the editor, residents of Toronto, Canada, expressed concerns history was not acknowledged in their country, but fortunately, Dr. Carla Peck swiftly addressed these concerns. Dr. Peck says “History education is front and centre in a new research partnership called Thinking Historically for Canada’s Future.” This new program seeks to unite the past and present, for a more enriched and holistic approach to understanding history. While some aspects of history can be painful or difficult to explore, having an understanding of what happened in the past can help inform better decisions for the future.

Studying history can help expand your knowledge and awareness of other cultures. Understanding of history will help you understand why certain people act the way they do. Therefore, if you seek a career that requires you to have a good understanding of others, their cultures, and actions, history is a good place to start.

2. Learn from the past

The past can offer many clues about what happened, why things went the way they did, and how things can be corrected or changed for more favorable results in the future. As states, “The current trends of world history are a pathway to understanding what the world has gone through and what likely lies ahead for the future generations to come.” For problem solvers with an interest in the future, this provides a great foundation.

3. Learn skills: analysis, research, writing

In today’s job market, transferable skills are hugely important. Employers want to know you can write well, have basic research and organization skills, and can analyze data to produce a recommendation or result. Therefore, delving into history can provide a firm foundation for achieving these skills. History degrees are often heavy in research, writing, and analysis, which will help you craft the skillsets desired by most employers.

4. Useful in business

If people tell you there aren’t many opportunities out there for a history major, that’s just not true. For example, many students are focused solely on ROI (return on investment) when it comes to their degree. This can lead them to a narrow focus that might not let them see the bigger picture when it comes to preparing themselves for the real world. According to Christopher Brooks for, “Historians are well-equipped to understand the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events, as well as financial transactions and models.” This means that you and your degree will be beneficial to many industries, but particularly the business world.

After reading these examples, you may find yourself wondering more specifically about what you can do with a history degree. Those who pursue a liberal arts degree, under which history falls, are often prepared with skills other degrees are not. Your ability to problem solve, use critical thinking skills, connect and communicate with others, will make you a stand-apart candidate. When asked to focus on three skills that a liberal arts major brings to the table, George Anders stated, “Creativity, curiosity and empathy.” These are skills that are needed now, more than ever.

When it comes to landing that dream job, your biggest issue is going to be deciding what type of career you want. Historians find themselves with a wide array of options at their fingertips. Some work as writers, researchers, information managers, educators, advocates, or in business. Some more specialized options can include genealogy, public relations, and underwater archaeology. So if you’re interested in history, there are plenty of opportunities available to you and lots of ways to turn your passion into a rewarding, fulfilling career!

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Chelsea Castonguay


Chelsea is a Student Affairs expatriate, who now works as a freelance writer and editor. She homesteads in a small town in rural Maine, USA. She enjoys hiking, fishing, cooking, reading, all things Laura Ingalls Wilder, spending time with her family, and chasing her black lab puppy, Cash.