According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, historians earn a median salary of $59,120, and the career is projected to grow 6% by 2026. Those interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in history or higher also benefit from learning a set of skills that can be applied to a wide range of external fields. History students learn to research using scholarly sources, and these research and analytical skills prove useful for careers in law, management, and journalism.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, historians earn a median salary of $59,120, and the career is projected to grow 6% by 2026.
For students who want a history-based profession, a bachelor’s degree in the field could mean a focus on public history programs, which prepares students to work in museums. History programs also include in-depth study of cultures and globalization; professionals with cultural knowledge can consult companies and organizations on proper and effective communication and cultural tendencies. This guide will give those interested in a degree in history an overview of why you might choose a bachelor’s degree in history program, as well as how to do so, what the admission process looks like, and what you can expect from a history program.
Should I Get a Bachelor's in History?
Ideals candidates for history degrees should possess a fascination of cultures and facts, since these two elements represent a significant portion of historic studies. History programs also include numerous texts and sources, so students should hold an interest in reading and research as well. Students do not need a solid career plan to enroll in a history program, since the skills acquired from coursework and program experience extend into other fields. The research, writing, and analysis skills that students must utilize in classes prepares them for legal careers, government jobs, and research positions.
Students who decide to pursue a degree in history will need to decide whether to attend on-campus or online courses. Many students entering college for the first time may want to fully submerge into the world of higher education by attending school on-campus, while candidates in established careers may require or prefer more flexibility to complete program requirements, which would make online learning the better option.
Students in bachelor’s in history programs benefit from networking opportunities gained through social interaction with faculty and students, history events on campus, and internships. Each of these details provides a strategy to establish connections that lead to recommendation letters and professional relationships that expand career options.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in History?
History is a multifaceted field, and career options for graduates reflect this quality. As an example, students explore different cultures through history programs. This allows graduates to become candidates for positions that deal with cultural tendencies. Additionally, the research-heavy nature of the field provides a foundation for careers as a paralegal and business researcher. Other career options relate to the writing aspect of history programs, such as journalist and editor. The skills gained through a history program pair well with a variety of careers, making it one of the most versatile options for students. Below are some of the career options for a student with a bachelor’s in history degree.
- Museum Worker
Employees in museums include curators, archivists, and technicians. Although some of these careers typically require a master’s degree, such as the archivist position, museum technicians only need a bachelor’s degree in history or a related field. These employees upkeep the museum’s exhibits and may work in individual museums or organizations connected to schools, sites of significance, or government facilities.
Median Annual Salary: $47,360
Projected Growth Rate: 13%
Geographers do more than examine physical aspects of the world’s structure. They also study people from different areas. A history degree helps to prepare for this career since history includes evaluating peoples of different cultures. Beginning geographers can benefit from a bachelor’s degree in history.
Median Annual Salary: $76,860
Projected Growth Rate: 7%
- Management Analyst
These workers act as problem-solvers for companies by analyzing business approaches and providing insight for improvement opportunities. A history degree can supply graduates with the research and analysis skills to perform well in this position. Management analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree.
Median Annual Salary: $82,450
Projected Growth Rate: 14%
Responsibilities in this position include researching, analyzing, and presenting information about past occurrences, whether through written works, lectures, or documentaries. Historians may need to travel to gain insight for their reports. Many historian careers require advanced degrees, but a bachelor’s degree in history can qualify graduates for entry-level positions.
Median Annual Salary: $59,120
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
- Paralegals and Legal Assistants
These workers assist attorneys by maintaining a structured working environment and also participate in legal cases. Paralegals may collect information for individual cases and construct reports to aid the attorney.
Median Annual Salary: $50,410
Projected Growth Rate: 15%
How to Choose a Bachelor's in History Program
Students pursuing a degree in history should consider several factors. For instance, history programs offer specializations, including focuses in geographic areas, time periods, and concepts. Make sure you are taking into account what specialization you would like to pursue and search for a school that offers that subject.
The total cost of the program also matters when choosing a school, since candidates may need to study on a budget — particularly if their cost of living is high. Selecting a college or university with lower tuition would ease the process of paying out-of-pocket and lessen student loan burdens. Many history programs require approximately $1,000 per course, but tuition can vary based on a variety of factors, such as if the institution is private or public.
In general, bachelor’s degrees require four years to complete at full-time status. Students looking to lessen this time frame can look into programs that offer self-paced courses or other accelerated program options. Students should also consider the benefits of online versus on-campus programs and the curriculum details. Students may find that the online format fits their time constraints better and allows for flexibility and balance of work, life, and school commitments. When looking at curriculum details, students may choose to enroll in a program that offers a practicum rather than a final project due to the networking benefits. These practicums prove beneficial at organizations near the student’s living area, so students without local options may choose programs with a thesis or final project instead.
Finally, students should ensure that prospective colleges and universities are accredited so the degree holds professional value. Otherwise, graduates may find that employers do not accept their degrees for employment qualification.
Accreditation for Bachelor’s in History Programs
Accreditation means an institution meets the standards of an agency that is qualified to examine and verify academic merit. Each accreditation agency reviews schools by uniform standards, so all schools with the same accreditation hold comparable academic qualities. Additionally, many forms of financial aid are only available to candidates at accredited schools, and future colleges or employers may not accept coursework from schools without accreditation.
Accreditation comes in three forms: national, regional, and programmatic. Regional accreditation allows a better chance of transferring credits, and programmatic accreditation gives significance to a particular degree. Programmatic accreditation is given to programs or departments within an institution that is already nationally or regionally accredited.
Bachelor's in History Program Admissions
In general, students should submit applications to three school types: preferred schools, safe choices, and reaching options. For preferred schools, students select institutions that match educational needs and provide a strong chance of acceptance. Safe choices offer essential educational elements, such as a history program, but include easier admission standards for a more certain chance of acceptance. Schools that have the ideal history program and/or concentration but a more competitive admission rate make up the reaching options.
Most schools require an application fee, so applying to a high number of institutions can become expensive. For this reason, degree candidates should maintain selective criteria when choosing institutions to apply to. Factors such as cost of tuition, student-to-faculty ratio, and program concentrations should be taken into account.
Application experiences may also vary between on-campus and online programs. Specifically, the online admission process typically delivers more interaction and involvement between the school and the student. Such details can influence application decisions.
- Minimum GPA: Minimum GPA standards ensure applicants are capable of academic success. For a bachelor’s degree in history, institutions often set this requirement between 2.0-3.0. Schools may admit students who do not meet these standards on a provisional basis.
- Application: This form supplies a student’s academic information for review purposes. The full application process can take several weeks since most schools will require recommendation letters and writing samples. The Common Application allows students to apply to multiple schools with one application.
- Transcripts: Transcripts provide proof of an applicant’s academic achievements. Students should request transcripts from all schools previously attended and have those documents sent to the new school. High schools may deliver transcripts for free, though many colleges and universities charge a fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: These letters supply evidence of support for candidates from respected professionals. Applicants should submit the number of recommendation letters that the school requests and allow the professionals writing the letters at least two weeks to complete the task.
- Test Scores: Common required tests for admission include the SAT and ACT. Minimum scores required can vary by school and program.
- Application Fee: Schools receive thousands of applications, and these fees compensate for reviewing submissions. Colleges and universities commonly charge between $25-$100, but in some cases students can have these fees waived.
What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in History Program?
Many schools offer a history degree, but each program may differ in the era or specialization. Students should explore concentrations and required courses to find which program best suits their historical interests.
|Classical History||This concentration focuses on ancient Greece and Rome, from the beginning of Greek culture to the fall of the Roman Empire. Common topics involve art, literature, military, politics, science, and economy.||Possible classical history careers include working as a museum curator, documentarian, and or archaeologist.|
|Military History||Military history students explore warfare tactics throughout different eras as well as details of specific wars. Students also examine people and countries involved with these wars, gaining insight into various cultures.||The blend of military and political information equips students with knowledge useful in political science and national security positions.|
|Public History||Public history programs prepare students to use historic knowledge in a modern-world manner. Typically, this entails working outside of a classroom and bringing history concepts to contemporary life through community projects, tourism, and consultation work.||Public history graduates can explore careers as museum workers and archivists and may also work in historic preservation or for historic sites.|
|Legal History||Some form of law has existed since the Code of Hammurabi, though legal regulations and processes vary among cultures and eras. A legal history focus allows candidates to examine major movements in law-making and legal practices.||Graduates may find work as paralegals or use this bachelor’s to enter law school for higher employment options, such as attorney positions.|
|Economic History||Students in these programs examine history through an economic lense, studying concepts like capitalism, government aid, and globalization. Students may explore why certain practices proved successful, as well as factors that influenced economies and the ways economic variations impacted citizens.||Economic history graduates can explore career options in marketing research and grant writing.|
Courses in a Bachelor’s in History Program
History programs vary in course requirements due to the quantity of concepts included in historical studies. Different eras, geographic areas, and past concepts may surface in curriculum, and since field concentrations exist within departments, students can expect each program to present different coursework. However, certain topics tend to be common to most history programs, such as the following.
- World Civilization
These classes cover various eras, times, locations, and peoples, beginning with pre-history. Additionally, world civilization courses can examine different factors within each discussed civilization, such as culture, economics, military, and politics. This course prepares students for careers in archaeology by delivering information that helps in deciding dig locations and interpreting archaeological finds.
- History of the U.S. to 1865
This exploration of U.S. history includes the creation of the colonies, the founding of the country, and the Civil War. The knowledge gained from this course can prepare students for careers at U.S. historic sites as tour guides and preservers by supplying the historic context for a specific site’s importance.
Historiography students examine past and present approaches to history, essentially studying the methodology professionals have used to study the field. Candidates may apply these methods to new research projects to improve writing and research skills. Due to the heavy focuses on methodology and writing, this class can help students succeed in historical writing careers.
- Renaissance Europe
These courses cover the Renaissance movement. Topics can include artistic concepts, such as paintings and music, as well as cultures, politics, and educational advances. Given that the Renaissance holds status as a major artistic period, this course prepares candidates for positions at art museums.
- History Communication
Students learn how to present historical information in a modern world through various communication methods, including social media, books, and documentaries. These concepts prepare candidates for public careers, whether as noted authors of history books or lecturers in the field. These communication skills can also train students to present information to the public as tour guides.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor’s in History?
Generally, a bachelor’s degree requires four years to complete, though certain factors affect the time frame. Cohort programs enable students to fulfill requirements as a group, while other programs may deliver courses with an accelerated pace for students who intend to graduate quickly.
Students who want to complete programs in under four years can also enroll in summer courses. Additionally, students can take higher credit loads per semester. Completing 15 credits for spring and fall semesters for four years fulfills the typical 120-credit requirement for a history degree. By choosing to enroll in just three credits more per semester, candidates can eliminate one semester for quicker graduation. Students should note that supplementary hours, or course overloads, can lead to higher tuition. Those who choose to study part time should be aware that this pushes back graduation, affects the amount of financial aid they may be eligible for, and that schools can charge higher per-credit tuition for part-time students.
How Much Is a Bachelor’s in History?
Tuition represents the main expense of a college education. The amount needed to pay this expense varies, but students can use general guidelines to infer which colleges and universities are more expensive. Private institutions do not receive state funding, so tuition rates at these institutions are frequently higher than at state-funded public schools. Colleges and universities can also charge non-resident degree seekers more for tuition than their resident students. For this reason, students could save money in tuition by studying in state — sometimes by hundreds of dollars per credit.
Tuition rates for resident undergraduate students are often between $250-$500 per credit, though certain schools may list higher amounts. Institutions may also charge tuition on a per-semester basis, and these costs can vary.
Textbooks can cost more than $100 each, and certain classes call for more than one text. On-campus students may also endure traveling expenses, such as gasoline and a parking permit. Additionally, many schools collect fees from on-campus and online students, including housing, technology, and graduation charges.
Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor’s in History Prepares For
- Smithsonian Associates Certificate Program in World Art History
This certification supplies history expertise in art, which can assist in gaining employment in art museums or as history teachers for art-related courses. Either of these careers may require further education, depending on the position, but this credential uniquely molds candidates for the opportunities.
- Teaching Licensure
While many teachers earn a bachelor’s in education, other paths exist to this career. For instance, history graduates may pursue a master’s degree that leads to teaching licensure. Holding a background in history could assist candidates in training for teaching positions after fulfilling all licensure requirements.
- Museum Studies
Obtaining a certificate in museum studies can verify a graduate’s abilities to work in the noted environment. Colleges and universities offer this certificate, and covered topics include maintaining collections and overall management of the facility. Concepts such as technology and business details may also surface. Candidates may complete a museum studies program online.
- Professional Genealogist
Genealogy holds a logical connection to history, so graduates may consider pursuing this certification. Candidates can apply through the Board for Certification of Genealogists and may also explore the lecturer option for certification. Keep in mind that applications can take as long as six months to review.
- Graduate Certificates
Schools may offer graduate certificates in history for particular concepts. These credentials can heighten employment chances by providing evidence of focused expertise in a specific area. Possible topics include classical history, the American Revolution, and World War II. Students may often complete these programs in less time than what is required for a master’s degree.
Resources for History Students
This resource provides free virtual copies of thousands of books, including ancient primary sources. Students may use this site to explore volumes by ancient people, such as Suetonius, Plutarch, and Polybius, to construct solid research papers and projects.
This organization keeps some of the nation’s most valuable documents, such as military records and genealogy details. American history students can use this information to research specific time periods, concepts, and people.
The British Museum delivers information on research projects through this website. Degree candidates can explore this information by categories, including specific geographic areas and academic fields.
JSTOR houses sources for history students in the forms of scholarly articles, book excerpts, research documents, and pamphlets. These documents include primary and secondary sources for strong historical research.
Students can browse this website to find information on topics related to U.S. history, such as Pearl Harbor and the Civil War. The organization also conducts a yearly conference where participants can expand social studies knowledge through tours and workshops.
Professional Organizations in History
To increase employment chances, candidates may look toward professional organizations for networking purposes. Through these groups, members can interact with other historians to create professional relationships that open career doors. Additionally, these organizations often maintain a job board and provide career tips through conferences, seminars, and virtual resource collections to assist members in professional endeavors. Members may also find opportunities to fulfill any needed continuing education hours for careers and licenses through these organizations.
This group publishes two historical sources: Perspectives on History and the American Historical Review. Members can use these sources to expand historical knowledge. AHA also provides information on available jobs in history and conducts an annual meeting.
OAH provides site visitors with information about American history topics, such as the Civil War. The organization also publishes several journals, including The American Historian. Members can participate in the group’s yearly meeting.
VAM hosts yearly workshops that deal with concepts such as preservation and archeology. Additionally, the group offers online courses and a certificate program. VAM also arranges more casual group meetings for social networking.
This group produces the Journal of World History and the Middle Ground Journal; they also host conferences and provide the World Traveler Scholar Fund. Several awards are offered, such as the World History Association Jerry H. Bentley Book Prize and the World Historian Student Essay Competition.
This group publishes the Journal of Military History and hosts an annual meeting. The organization also provides information about upcoming workshops, current jobs, competitions, and fellowships on the site.