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M.A. IN HISTORY
- WHY STUDY HISTORY?
- People have studied their history since ancient times, sometimes simply for pleasure, out of sheer curiosity and in delight at discovering something about their own origins, but at other times (like Cicero) they have studied the past because they believed that it was important, even indispensable, to an understanding of the present. People have most frequently thought so in times -- like the present -- where they faced rapid change, when the familiar world was being transformed in ways they could feel and see without being able to understand the underlying causes. Whether you are studying for fun, profit, or wisdom, you ought to study some history. If you aspire to be an educated person you must study it because no education is complete without an understanding of the role of the past in forging the world we live in. Even if history becomes only a small part of your studies, it is a helpful discipline. Standing as it does on the boundaries between the social sciences and the humanities, it offers a good foundation for many interdiscplinary fields and a good adjunct for the study of art, literature, economics, philosophy, politics, sociology, anthropology, and social psychology.
- IS IT USEFUL?
- Quite properly, students want to know whether what they study will be of any practical value to them after they graduate from college. While it is true that an undergraduate major in history is a particularly good background for students intending to go into law, public administration, or public service and, of course, teaching, its value as a field of study is far broader than that. A solid history program prepares students well for a broad range of employment possibilities.
Personnel managers in business, industry, and in health, education, and social service administration look favorably on the employment of history majors because they know that a student who has successfully completed a history major has learned how to analyze problems, how to study evidence and construct an argument, how to read accurately and critically, and, most importantly, how to write clearly and forcefully. Whether you are interested in going on to graduate school to train for a profession, going into business, working for a public agency, or entering politics, the skills acquired in studying history are of such general use that they are crucial to the advancement of any serious career.
For more reasons to study history, see the American Historical Association's Why Become a Historian.
If you'd like to know more about the sorts of careers you can seek with a history degree, follow these links to Professor Lavender's What Can I Do With A History Major? and Career Information for History Majors pages.