BA in History: The Definitive Guide & Top Schools

They say those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.

Being knowledgeable about the past makes us more informed about the future.

Just ask any number of world leaders who have repeated the failures of others.

Being an expert in history will ensure those stories will continuously be told well into the future.

So, come along with us as we see what it’s like to travel back in time professionally with a degree in history.

What Will I Learn in a History Program? (Curriculum)

On top of the core classes that everyone takes regardless of major, there is at least two years’ worth of classes primarily focused on history.

Aside from the topics, the coursework will be heavy in research and writing.

This will be a big help for those who go on to obtain doctoral degrees in history.

Here is a list of classes a student should expect to take while working on their history degree:

  • Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Humanities
  • Literature
  • World Literature
  • Social and Behavioral Science
  • Government
  • Foreign Governments
  • Foreign Affairs

Here are examples of geographic focuses:

  • Africa
  • East Asia
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • North America

These are the topic focuses:

  • Women’s History
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Intellectual History
  • Pre-1500
  • Ancient World
  • Music, Dance, or Theater

Additionally, many history programs require a language component.

Some schools don’t require it until the master’s level.

However, at that point, they expect a level of fluency.

As noted, it helps to pick which program by what your plans are after graduation.

If you plan for further education, it would not hurt to get a jump start on the language now, if you haven’t already.

Along with language, being an undergrad is the time to take culture classes.

It would be most advantageous if the language you pick matched the geographic area as well as the cultural class.

Not only does it help make you a more well-rounded expert on the focus chosen, but each class will also complement the other.

Whether you go on to teach or curate an exhibit, you’ll be able to wrap all the knowledge together.

How to Choose a Good Program

The best way to choose the program for you is to consider what your post-college plans are.

Of course, it’s not uncommon for those plans to change throughout the course of the program.

Perhaps even more than once.

That’s okay, it’s not going to throw off your life.

Even so, going into the program with a tentative plan will help narrow down the programs you’re choosing from.

For example, if you plan to take history to the doctorate level, you’ll want a program that can help you plan for that.

Many schools make it much easier for you to stay with them throughout your doctorate studies by making each level more attainable.

Already being a student at the school makes getting into higher programs smooth.

Courses are offered at the master’s and doctorate levels that you can begin taking in your senior or even junior year.

This will also likely cut down the time it takes to finish all of your intended education.

Something else to look for in a program is access to historical topics that interest you.

If your main focus is Africa but there are only a few classes for the region in comparison to a litany of European-centered classes,  this may not be the program for you.

When looking at all the graduation requirements of a program, check the classes just as much as you check the number of credits needed to graduate.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s in History?

Bachelor programs are meant to be completed in four years or eight semesters.

If you’re in a hurry, there are ways to turn eight semesters into three years.

Of course, that would be straight-through studies with no real major breaks.

Essentially, that’s three semesters a year, including summer.

Most students prefer two semesters, but not just because they get extended free time.

Summer courses are often condensed.

That may sound nice, but what it really means is the intensity level goes up tenfold or more.

Classes are often longer because the whole class is done in about a month.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Bachelor’s in History?

On average, students can expect to rack up a bill of about $45,000 in pursuit of a degree in history.

Of course, if you plan to attend a more expensive school, that cost can go up dramatically.

It’s also possible to cut the cost as well.

Just as we mentioned, it’s possible to shorten the time spent getting a degree.

That shorter time means less money.

For instance, don’t take all your classes at the university.

Take some of those classes either before you start at university or during a regular semester at a community college.

Each credit hour is dramatically less at one of these institutions than it is at four-year universities.

Check to see which core classes will transfer to the university where your main studies are.

This move will save you thousands in tuition prices in addition to learning a whole new campus.

Financial aid can be applied to both institutions.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s in History?

When you hear someone who has a degree in history, it’s often assumed that person wants to teach.

Teaching, whether K through 12 or university level, history is always part of a curriculum.

However, a Bachelor of Arts in History is not limited to sharing the world’s past with inquiring minds.

The job prospects are probably wider than you realize.

One of the reasons there are options is because of the focus.

Students don’t really have a degree in history without picking a geographic or time period focus.

Such examples are early modern Europe and feudal China.

Many graduates want to continue their education and get a doctorate.

Having a Ph.D. makes you an expert in the field and the specific niche that was the focus.

Want to engage with the community and share expertise on specific items from the time period?

You can be a museum director or program curator at a historic stately mansion.

Have a passion for a particular person or place from history?

Create an outline to send to a book publisher and become a non-fiction, historical writer.

Have a love for entertainment?

Historians are often in demand in Hollywood for accuracy.

That can also come with a fashion component.

Not only do the storylines need to be representative, but the fashion needs to resemble the reality of the times.

One could easily turn historical knowledge into a fashion business.

Are you more on the analytical and strategic side of things?

The need for archivists is on the rise.

We’ve merely scratched the surface.

If you look around, you might be amazed by how often history comes up in professional settings.

Should I Get a Bachelor’s in History?

As you’ve seen, just because you have a Bachelor of Arts in History doesn’t mean your job prospects are limited.

No one should get a degree in a subject they don’t love.

They should also not get a degree, believing there is only one path to being successful.

Luckily, we live in a time when there are so many possibilities graduates can use to put their degrees to good use.

However, if you aren’t absolutely consumed by history, it might not be the degree for you.

Many people have a hard time with the past and would rather focus on the future.

History covers what has been and by using that information it’s often possible to predict how things may go in the future.

Just ask the stock market.

Yes, even finance can benefit from good history lessons.

It’s also possible that you may need to teach when first launching a career following graduation.

The competition might be fierce depending on what type of employment is being sought after.

Perhaps you may be doing a job you didn’t particularly want to do or isn’t part of your major after graduation.

Unfortunately, this happens to many majors after college.

That doesn’t mean it has to stay that way forever.

If you’re passionate about history, it’s definitely worth researching all the job projects and seeing how they fit into the future you want for yourself.