History can be defined in many ways. What is common throughout all definitions is that it concerns past events. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term in three ways, with the first being “the study of past events”, the second as “events of the past” and third being “past events that relate to a particular subject, place, organization, etc.” In the context of education, another definition that can be used is “a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events.”
With these definitions, it can be said that anything and everything that has ever happened is History.
By studying the past and providing information on it, history plays a significant role in how societies, cultures and events are understood. In remembering and studying the past, it also gives insight on how the future can be shaped.
Highlighted courses and degrees in history
A significant number of institutions have general education requirements for most bachelor degree programs. General education courses include basic or introductory topics on sciences, mathematics, and humanities.
Undergoing a degree program in history generally means having to take courses in Western, Asian, African and Middle Eastern history. The courses may be offered based on chronology, geography or special topics, depending on the institution’s course offerings. Other courses may discuss research methods, ethnicity, race, culture and related social sciences.
In the latter years of the program, a major project or thesis may be part of the requirement for completion of the degree. This usually involves extensive research and in some cases, field work.
Most universities provide specialization options for their students, either through optional electives or as a mandatory part of the degree program. Availability of specializations would depend on the offerings of each university and the level of study.
Below is a short list of some specializations offered by a number of institutions:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.
Graduates of history degree programs can end up in different careers or positions. As such, there is no universal licensing or certification that history graduates must obtain to be able to find a job in the field.
A degree in history can typically take around three to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located. There are also options available of pursuing a combined bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate program.
There are also various degrees available for history graduates at the master’s and doctorate level, involving intensive research, coursework and experience for candidates looking to deepen their knowledge of history. Further studies are important for those in or looking to get into specialized fields as well as those looking to teach at the tertiary level.
As with most degree programs, entrance into a history degree program varies from institution to institution. For first year applicants, some universities may require applicants to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or transfer applicants.
High marks in different subjects (in this case, particularly in previous history classes) or in standard exams are a good boost to an application. Various community-based and/or leadership experiences may also often be taken into consideration. Some institutions also require a letter of intent or an application essay.
For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
Visit our scholarships and funding section to read more about funding your studies.
A number of history degree holders go on to share their knowledge and interest in teaching positions. For this, interested individuals must check the requirements for teaching in the state or country they want to practice in.
Some graduates may also find positions in the civil service. In the public sector, history graduates may be inclined to take jobs in museums, galleries or libraries. Other jobs directly related to the degree include conservator, information officer, archivist and records manager.
Whilst obtaining a history degree, individuals may gain transferable skills to use in careers or jobs that are not necessarily related to the degree. These skills include critical reasoning, logical thinking, effective oral and written communication and ability to discuss ideas.
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