Careers for History Majors

Study History. Do Anything.

What can I do with a History major?

The study of history is vital to an understanding of our contemporary world, for we can hardly understand the present moment if we don’t develop an awareness of how it came to be. 

History majors learn to recognize the fundamental importance of context, perspective, and contingency to the changes and continuities that occur in the world. These perspectives, paired with a strong focus on written and verbal communication, prepare them to succeed in life after graduation.

Our recent graduates have gotten great jobs in technology, consulting, and government, while many also go on to law school or pursue graduate school in the humanities or sciences. A significant percentage also pursue full-time service work for a year or more, seeking to make a difference in the world by helping others.

 

 

Skills you'll learn

  • Effective oral communication
  • Strong writing
  • Ability to analyze and solve problems with people from different backgrounds
  • Teamwork
  • Ability to form persuasive arguments
  • Critical thinking and analytical reasoning
  • Ability to apply knowledge to real-world settings
  • Ethical judgment and decision making
  • Ability to bring historical context to current events

Amy Novak '93

President of Dakota Wesleyan University

As the head of DWU, Novak creates a strategic vision, builds community partnerships, and strives to acquire resources to strengthen her institution—utilizing skills she honed at Notre Dame.

“I feel very comfortable researching and delving into problems, trying to come up with creative solutions. I often draw on my history degree when I speak, because I think there are lessons from our past that can inform our future.”

  • Amy Novak '93

    President of Dakota Wesleyan University

    As the head of DWU, Novak creates a strategic vision, builds community partnerships, and strives to acquire resources to strengthen her institution—utilizing skills she honed at Notre Dame.

    “I feel very comfortable researching and delving into problems, trying to come up with creative solutions. I often draw on my history degree when I speak, because I think there are lessons from our past that can inform our future.”

  • Jose Fernandez '16

    Investment Banking Analyst at Stifel Financial Corp.

    "History has always been a passion of mine, and Notre Dame’s history program sparked my intellectual curiosity and provided the academic rigor and skills development that I sought in a major. In addition to the great professors I had, the program challenged me to think outside the box, to question what I was studying, and to create my own opinions and conclusions.

    More importantly, the program helped me develop the necessary analytical skills to effectively formulate and support my opinions and conclusions."

  • Dave Finocchio '05

    Co-Founder, CEO at Bleacher Report

    “The one rule I hung on to in my own head was that I wanted to do something I was truly passionate about—that was kind of my guiding force. It was the lens through which I saw the world.”

    Every day, Finocchio says, he still uses the storytelling skills he honed in history classes at Notre Dame.

    “I loved history because it’s the story of the world. And at the end of the day, I tell stories to readers and viewers to make our content as compelling as possible. "

  • Nicole Hurd '92

    Founder and CEO, College Advising Corps

    Hurd says it was her own experiences as a History major that helped nurture her commitment to social justice and the idea that every child deserves access to an education that will prepare them for the future. It also allowed her to develop the skills she relies on every day to help fulfill that mission.

    “As a history major, I had to write, ask questions, research, make convincing arguments, engage in scholarly debate, and appreciate others’ narratives and stories. From fundraising to developing new programs, training advisers, or working with our team, communication is critical.”

  • Patrick Burke

    Senior Director of Player Safety of the National Hockey League

    As a freshman at Notre Dame, Burke intended to major in business, but after one class, he decided to focus his studies on the topic he had always enjoyed growing up—history. 

    "I wanted to spend my four years doing something I was passionate about. I figured if a company didn’t want to hire me because I hadn’t taken a certain calculus or statistics class, then that job probably wasn’t for me anyway.

    The history major has so many practical applications in the corporate world, I could change jobs tomorrow, and I’m convinced I would make myself an asset based on those skills.”

98% In the last five years, 98 percent of History majors found full-time employment, enrolled in graduate school, entered service programs, joined the military, or launched independent projects within six months of graduation.

40% find full-time jobs

  • Account manager, Aon Corporation
  • Analyst, Huron Consulting Group
  • Associate, Alliance Bernstein
  • Audit associate, PwC
  • Billing coordinator, Lindenmeyr
  • Business management associate, General Mills
  • Buyer, Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Corporate recruiter, Epic Systems
  • Credit analyst, Windhaven Insurance
  • Employee benefits sales trainee, MetLife
  • Equity analyst, Barclays Capital
  • ESL instructor, ESL Teaching in Korea
  • Executive team leader, Target
  • Financial analyst, Ford Motor Company
  • Financial management program, General Electric
  • Human resource analyst, JP Morgan Chase
  • Intelligence analyst, FBI
  • Investment banking analyst, Citibank
  • Legal assistant, Hussain & Bendersky LLC
  • Management development program, M&T Bank Corporation
  • Management trainee, Anheuser-Busch InBev
  • Project analyst, Align Communications
  • Public finance capital markets, PNC Bank
  • Researcher/writer, American Institute for History Education
  • Sales representative, E & J Gallo Winery

Our alumni leave Notre Dame with an expansive worldview and a variety of real-world skills.

Employers love that our students are passionate, curious, and socially engaged. Once on the job, they find that our graduates are critical thinkers, problem solvers, innovators, and collaborators.

They are the embodiment of Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters’ motto: our students study everything so that they can do anything.

32% go to graduate or professional school

  • Asian studies: University of Michigan
  • Biomedical sciences: Midwestern University
  • Comparative politics: London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Education: Xavier University, Northwestern University
  • History: University of Pennsylvania, University of California 
  • Human molecular genetics: University of South Dakota
  • Law: Boston College, Cornell University, Duke University, Fordham University, George Washington University, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, University of Chicago, University of Iowa, University of Pennsylvania, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Vanderbilt University, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Library science: Drexel University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Modern European and East Asian history: University of Wisconsin
  • Philosophy: Boston College
  • Medicine: University of Kansas, University of Southern California, University of Texas 
  • Social work: University of Illinois
  • Theology: Boston College

Going on to graduate or professional school after earning a degree in History is a fantastic opportunity to branch out into a new area or dive in-depth into a subject focused on as an undergraduate. 

A senior thesis is a great way to prepare for grad school — it demonstrates the ability to do serious research and independent work.

20% enter service programs

  • Alliance for Catholic Education, Sacramento, California
  • AmeriCorps, New Haven, Connecticut
  • City Year, Chicago
  • Congregation of Holy Cross, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Social Entrepreneur Corps, Guatemala
  • Teach for America, New York City

Postgraduate service can be a life-changing experience and provide students with transferable skills for the next step in their careers.

Every year, approximately 20 percent of the graduating senior class in Arts and Letters make a one- to two-year commitment to serve in areas such as public and private education, family and children services, after-school programs, developing countries, and non-governmental organizations.

5.5% join the miliary

0.5% launch independent projects

Further Reading

Source: Outcomes data comes from Notre Dame Center for Career Development's first destination reports 2012–2016.

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