What to Do with a BA in History

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "Donnell Library. Leady reading in lobby." New York Public Library Digital Collections.

How A Major in History Gives You the Intangible Edge

By Jacob Anbinder

It’s no secret that many departments use job prospects to lure undergraduates trying to pick a major. History departments in particular tend to tout their alumni’s diverse array of career paths in an attempt to answer the inevitable question: “But what will you do with that?” Among college majors, it seems, history is considered just “useful” enough to have to justify itself, but not so useful that students would flock to it anyway. Studying history, however, gives graduates tremendous flexibility in the job market.

series_National History Center

The Past for the Present: the New Mock Briefings Program and Reasons to Study History

By Cristina Belli

On a sunny day in September, I made a phone call home to my parents, eager to share all the wonderful experiences I was having in my first weeks at college. It was a routine conversation: How were my classes? Was I making any friends? How bad was the food? Amidst the flurry of inquiries, I quietly mentioned I had decided to declare history as my major. An uncomfortably long pause followed … and then an incredulous, “What?”

In my 18 years of life, I had always been determined to follow in my parents’ footsteps, studying economics and making a life for myself somewhere in the financial world—or maybe at the World Bank, like my father.