Why Take History?

Maybe you're looking to gain real-world skills. Maybe you're looking to study something that will benefit your future career. Can history help you do that?

Former students comment on how the history major prepared them for life after college:

If you have a passion or interest in history go for it!  Don’t worry about how it may affect your employment opportunities after graduation.  A history major can prepare you for many careers.

The ability to write well, analyze multiple contradictory sources of information and develop my own understanding has been invaluable in my career as a professional soldier.  It has served me well in peace and war.

A history major provided me the analytical skills regarding the “how’s” and “why’s” the past affects the present, as well as how/why actions taken in the present, may affect the future.

The extensive reading and writing prepared me for law school.

Be open minded.  You don’t have to use your history major directly for it to be useful, it will help you in ways you didn’t think possible.

My history studies taught me critical thinking, research skills, and clear verbal and written communication. I also learned discipline and processes needed to handle large, complex, multi-step projects.

I chose history because it seeps into all aspects of life. We share similar experiences with others and are still encouraged to make our unique marks on the world. I am fascinated by the complex, humorous, uncanny and sometimes ambiguous aspects of historical study.

It taught me a new way to look at history.  It was no longer just names and dates but emotions, thoughts, and other insights into specific people and events.

You might not end up with a career directly related to history, but it can help in any profession.  Plus, you’ll learn so much along the way.  It taught me how to write clearly, collecting thoughts and ideas in an organized fashion and debating my side of a discussion.

We know how to learn, create, and share knowledge.

The organization, research, critical thinking and writing skills prove to be absolutely invaluable.  I received a wonderful mix of encouragement for creativity, and the tempering effects of discipline and structure. 

The Department offers a great range of courses. 

  • Surveys include the Ancient World, Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the United States.
  • We offer upper division courses on Mexico, China, Japan, Britain, the American Civil War, US Gender history, the Atlantic World, US Environmental history, Germany, 20th-century US history, the Reformation, Classical Greece, and many more. 

Majors’ Courses
A series of courses prepares majors to develop the skills of the historian:

  • History Colloquium (HIST 200), usually taken in the sophomore year, emphasizes the study and interpretation of primary sources.  It is an opportunity to study a historical issue in depth with a small group of majors.  Course topics reflect the expertise of the instructor. 
  • Historiography and Methods (HIST 395), usually taken in the sixth or seventh semester, dives into a particular content area to help students understand that historians interpret the past, that they often disagree, and that interpretations are part of debates about the past. Course topics reflect the expertise of the instructor. 
  • Senior Thesis (HIST 399), the capstone course, is taken in the senior year.  Students develop a research project to articulate and defend a debatable thesis about the past.  Students make a public presentation to faculty and peers and submit a substantial research paper.  This is your chance to bring together all your skills and work as a historian on a topic of your choice. 

History majors have completed internships with the Stearns History Museum and the CSB or SJU Archives.  Others have earned History credit for projects of a historical nature at a number of other sites, including Legal Services, the Saint Cloud United Way, the Sauk Rapids school library, and the US Baseball Hall of Fame.

History majors are frequent participants in the College/University Honors program.  The History Department helps its majors participate in the Honors Thesis project by combining it with the Senior Thesis (HIST 399).