Why Study History?

As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The people are the ultimate guardians of their own liberty. History, by apprising them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future. It will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men."

Understanding the past doesn’t mean predicting the future, but it enhances your ability to analyze the world around you. Successful professionals in all walks of life study and analyze history daily, from a doctor using a medical history to make a diagnosis to a coach reviewing game film to draw up a winning play.

Studying history at NC State isn’t just a hobby or a pastime; it means learning valuable research and critical thinking skills that will provide a foundation for whichever career you choose.

Small Classes, Big Opportunities

Our department is the ideal size for one-on-one learning and interaction. Our freshman classes are often 35 students, versus 400 at other schools. Advanced classes are even smaller. Our professors will be there to guide, counsel and mentor you – inside and outside of class. Being a history student at NC State means taking part in a small-college experience at a large university. You have access to clubs, special events and all that NC State offers – but in a much more personal setting. It’s the best of both worlds.

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A Study that Works

Studying history doesn’t limit you to becoming a historian. When you graduate, you will take sophisticated skills of analysis and judgment into a global marketplace. Our graduates know how to find information, how to organize many pieces of evidence, how to see the play of causes and interactions in events.

Employers know that history majors acquire the skills needed in a complex world. Our graduates work in a huge variety of occupations, drawing from an education that encouraged them to be inquisitive, thoughtful and adaptable.

The disciplined application of research and communication skills (writing, discussion, and presentation) applied to big ideas, trends and events to formulate logical arguments is precisely the type of education that is needed to perform effectively in the workplace.

History Graduate

Our graduates are lawyers, business owners, museum directors, doctors, archivists, politicians, political consultants, judges, farmers, chefs, military officers, and teachers and professors of history. They use their training in historical thinking as they ask why a relationship worked, a merger failed, a disease spread, an idea or faith took hold, or two communities or peoples could not co-exist.

History Majors Get Great Jobs

Employers know that NC State history graduates possess the skills they need to move forward – organization, judgment, analysis, reason, and the ability to articulate ideas clearly and persuasively. Want to know why history isn't a useless major? Let history be your guide.

Fig. 1. Data source: ACS 2010–14 5-year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS). Includes individuals who stated they were in full-time employment, between the ages of 25 and 64, had achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher, and had either history or US history as the field of study for their bachelor’s degree.


Relevant in a Changing World

History Today

Historians for a Better Future Offers “Free History Lessons” at State Capitol

Grad students, faculty and alumni working to address contemporary problems by drawing on historical knowledge

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The study of history specializes in change. It teaches us to appreciate how complex most situations really are. History students come to see how individual motives and perspectives combine with multiple influences in shaping the future. They appreciate how unpredictable the future may be, given unexpected and unintended consequences. In a changing world, the understanding of change is ever more relevant. History sharpens our hindsight, which must be clear if we expect to wisely judge current challenges and issues.

When you study history at NC State, you'll learn from an innovative, diverse group of faculty members dedicated to providing a superior education. Read about the differences our faculty and students are making, and imagine what you could do here.

NC State History News

Pathways for Prospective Students

History is an enriching field of study for students of any background. Whether you’re studying in a different field at NC State and want to change majors or add a second major or a minor, or you’re looking to make the switch from another institution or community college, we would love to talk to you. And if you’re a prospective student or underclassman at NC State, one of your options is to get a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in as few as five years