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2020 History Degree Guide

For students interested in studying, preserving and learning from the past, History is an ideal field of study. Most students either major in General History or choose a concentration in an area of interest. This allows you to explore in depth the history of a particular time period, region or subject. Some examples are American History, European History, Military History, Women's History or Modern World History.

Coursework will involve various history classes in your subject of interest. Other classes history majors might take are English, language, philosophy and anthropology. The goal of the major is to discover the truth of the past and apply the lessons learned to improve our present world.

History Degrees Decreasing

#28 Most Popular Major
32.6k Degrees Awarded
-1.4% Increase in Graduates

History was the 28th most popular major in the 2017-2018 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 32,644 degrees in this year alone. This 456 less than the prior year, a decrease of 1.4%.

There are 1,247 schools offering degrees in history in the United States. Our 2020 Best Colleges for History ranking analyzes 547 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for history students. Explore this or one of our many other custom history rankings further below.

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in History

History majors tend to have great attention for detail and delight in learning obscure facts and dates. Be prepared to memorize vast amounts of information and spend a lot of time reading primary source documents, analyzing artifacts, visiting museums and writing lengthy research papers. Some of your assignments will involve conducting interviews, working on group projects, creating presentations and writing reports.

Some of the critical skills history majors need to succeed are strong reading, writing and analysis skills. Students will read a variety of texts including fiction works, biographies, first-hand accounts and historical journals. They will also visit museums and analyze artifacts from the past. Assignments will involve critically analyzing and researching material to find out the true story of what happened in the past.

Prior Education for a History Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific history careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Types of History Degrees

History degree levels vary. You can spend many years getting as high as a professional practice doctorate's in history to something that takes less time like a first year certificate. How long it takes to complete some common history degree levels is shown below.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to history, with approximately 35.0% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for history workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 35.2%
Master’s Degree 33.9%
Doctoral Degree 12.3%
Post-Secondary Certificate 4.3%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 4.0%

Most workers in history have at least a postbaccalaureate certificate. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in history careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the history career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In History Graduate

Above Average Number of Jobs
$29.6k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

History is a broad field of study that can lead to a variety of career paths. Many history majors go on to become teachers or college professors. Other career paths are that of historian, curator, museum director, writer or researcher. History is also a common background for students who go on to receive advanced degrees in law. Graduates can easily use their skills for careers in business, politics, or nonprofit work.

Growth Projected for History Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your history degree? History careers are expected to grow 7.9% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to history.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Managers 1,071,700 8.0%
History Professors 29,700 10.4%
Curators 14,100 13.7%
Museum Technicians and Conservators 13,300 12.7%

How Much Money Do People With a History Degree Make?

Recently graduated history students earned an average of $29,593 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $15,700 to as high as $57,700. As you might expect, salaries for history graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid History Careers

Salaries for history graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers history grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Managers $115,590
History Professors $83,990
Historians $66,380
High School Teachers $64,340
Curators $58,490

Getting Your History Degree

With over 2,926 different history degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased history school rankings to help you with this.

History Majors to Study

Major Annual Graduates
History 32,644

View All History Related Majors >

Majors Similar to History

Related Major Annual Graduates
Education 306,214
Social Sciences 199,576
Psychology 175,257
Communication & Journalism 120,570
Family, Consumer & Human Sciences 60,305

View All History Related Majors >


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