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Careers in History

Asked by students what kind of major she looks for in a successful job candidate, Rachel Maddow, the popular television host and best-selling author, did not hesitate in her answer. Maddow responded: 

"I look for people who have done mathematics. Philosophy. Languages. And really, history is kind of the king."

History majors represent roughly 1.5 percent of all American college graduates, but are overrepresented in the leadership ranks of nearly every field imaginable, from business, journalism, law and politics to the military, diplomacy, communication, criminal justice and beyond.

Why? Those who study the past as undergraduates tend to excel in their careers because of the wide range of transferrable and perennially in-demand skills developed in the history major. These include:

  • synthesizing and organizing large amounts of information;
  • making sense out of the seemingly nonsensical;
  • analyzing contemporary developments through a historical lens;
  • communicating clearly and effectively orally and in writing;
  • formulating apt questions and answering them by means of deep, effective research;
  • constructing forceful and persuasive arguments by means of various methodologies, approaches, and source analyses;
  • understanding and appreciating complexity and ambiguity;
  • demonstrating awareness of how social, political, and economic structures interact with individuals and groups to effect change;
  • evaluating a broad range of perspectives;
  • accumulating wisdom from the breadth of human experience and applying it, as warranted, to solving problems of the present day; and
  • using the past to explain the process of innovation and the significance of choices that humans have made and could make in the present to affect the future.

Of course, studying history is great for academic and teaching careers, but check out why history majors make such good:

Business leaders 
Economists - Coming soon 
Politicians and public policy experts  
Lawyers and judges
Diplomats  - Coming soon

Military leaders  
Communications professionals - Coming soon 
Information technology and computer science innovators - Coming soon 
Non-fiction authors - Coming soon  
Novelists - Coming soon