Why Study History

History courses form a vital part of a well-rounded undergraduate education. They enable you to deepen your understanding of both the past and present while gaining important skills to prepare you for future careers in a wide range of fields. In their own research, faculty in the History Department use original documents and other primary sources to question, interpret, and build arguments about the past. As instructors, they provide you with outstanding training in the broader practices of research, analysis, and documentation while introducing you to societies, cultures, and time periods very different from your own.

By teaching you how to think critically, write persuasively, consider a problem from multiple perspectives, engage theory, and ask questions, they help you develop the core intellectual skills that many employers demand.

Although only a small number of history majors ultimately go on to pursue careers as professional historians, our graduates have been wildly successful in a variety of fields. An undergraduate degree in history is excellent preparation for law school and business school, and many of our former students have pursued careers in those professions. Others have excelled in teaching, journalism, museum work, research, information management, technology, the military, politics, medicine, public health, social work, and even broadcast comedy and professional football, just to name a few. In recent years, moreover, nationwide studies carried out by Georgetown University and the American Historical Association have found that history majors earn some of the highest salaries among graduates in the humanities.

With over forty nationally and internationally known faculty, eight of whom have won the University of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the History Department offers courses on a vast range of themes and topics covering almost every region of the world. Whether your interests lie in the history of ancient Rome, China’s Han dynasty, the lives of medieval women, the Atlantic slave trade, the origins of the French Revolution, or the modern Filipino diaspora, we have courses for you. Our curricular offerings include both lecture classes and a wide range of smaller seminars for majors, providing opportunities to work closely with faculty. The requirements for our major and minors, moreover, are organized to encourage breadth of knowledge while also allowing for thematic and regional specialization.

If you are interested in taking courses or declaring a major or minor in History, please do not hesitate to contact our Undergraduate Advising Office at histadv@uw.edu. Our Undergraduate Advisor, Jon Olivera, and our Director of Academic Services, Matt Erickson, would be glad to assist you. For more information on why you should study history, click here.