Careers with an Undergraduate History Degree
History majors have strong written and verbal communication skills, research skills, and the ability to think creatively and analytically. These are valuable skills that will serve you well after graduation. History majors go on to work in a variety of fields, including law, business, education, museums, politics, journalism and publishing, among others. History is not a career-tracked major, however, and an undergraduate degree in history alone does not fully prepare you for a particular career following graduation. If you decide to stop your education at a Bachelor’s degree, you will need to prepare yourself for a career in other ways.
The entry-level job of 10 years ago is the internship of today. If you want to find a professional level job immediately after graduation, you will need to start preparing at least from the beginning of your junior year. Doing internships with companies and organizations during your college years is the way to get trained and get such a position. Contact the History Department’s Undergraduate Internship and Career Advisor to learn about the process of finding and registering for an internship.
[Institutions: Interested in connecting your history project with an undergraduate history student? See the guidelines here.]
After completing your B.A., you may choose to go directly on to graduate school. There are a number of professional graduate degree programs with specific career applications for historians. Make sure you are fully committed to the vocational goal of a graduate program before enrolling; doing otherwise could be a waste of considerable time and money.
If you are interested in working in museums, historical societies, archives, or historic preservation, you may consider a M.A. program in Public History (see, for example, our own UMass Public History Program, or a History Museum Studies M.A. program. Archivists and librarians generally hold a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science (MLS or MLIS). Most students who pursue a Ph.D. in History do so with the intention of applying for faculty positions in academia. Professor Brian Ogilvie has compiled some invaluable advice about applying to graduate school, available here.
If you are interested in a career in law, you may decide to go to law school. The UMass Amherst Pre-Law Advising Office offers guidance and information about the law school application process to undergraduates. For advice specific to history students, please talk to Prof. Jennifer Nye in Herter 609, firstname.lastname@example.org
Many history majors pursue a career in elementary or secondary education. If you are interested in becoming a teacher, the UMass School of Education’s Educator Information Office can provide you with the information and advice necessary to get started. Email email@example.com to set up an advising appointment.
If you are unsure about what you want to do with your history degree, or just want to talk to someone about internship and career possibilities, there are a number of resources available to you on campus:
- Contact the History Department’s Undergraduate Internship and Career Advisor (Herter Hall 603, or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
- You can also speak with your academic advisor, or an advisor in the UMass Career Services Office.