From UCSB's Department of History:

The study of history opens the door to new ways of understanding the past and the present. By examining societies in other times and places, students gain an appreciation of the diverse beliefs, institutions, social arrangements, and technologies that have shaped human experience.

Historians seek to understand the forces that drive historical change and the contexts that give such change meaning. History asks students to do much more than just memorize a set of facts. It asks students to solve intellectual puzzles, evaluate conflicting evidence, and assess the merits of different scholarly interpretations of the past. It asks students to think about big questions:
How have different cultures and societies made sense of historical change? How have they adapted and changed in the face of dramatic transformations in the environment, belief systems, and political economies? How have they grappled with conflict and crisis? How have the meanings of concepts that might seem natural or timeless—concepts like “the family” or “race” or “gender” or “work” or “citizenship”—actually varied in time and place?

Because every subject has a history, students might find themselves investigating anything from the intimacies of private life and the history of the body to more classic topics such as social movements, revolutions, and wars. History also invites students to reimagine the traditional ways we carve up geographical space by examining not just the histories of nations but also the histories of regions, trade, and cultural exchange. What history teaches is a way of thinking, a way of questioning, and a way of wondering about the world. After all, the past is never really fixed in stone.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like History?

History majors should enjoy using their reasoning and analytical skills to see beyond the surface of issues to understand their significance. They should also develop their abilities in writing and evaluation so they can compare and criticize arguments and ideas. History majors typically enjoy reading about and interpreting historical data in an effort to better understand the human experience.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

African History
American History
Asian History
European History
History of Science
Latin American History
Middle Eastern History

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

According to UCSB's History Department, the history major prepares students for a wide variety of skills that are useful not only for the further study of history and other humanities disciplines, but for numerous other careers. The study of history teaches such crucial skills as critical reasoning; clear and persuasive writing; and effective public speaking. Therefore, history majors have gone on to excel in a large variety of careers, including:

  • Education, including university professors and teachers at every level;
  • Law, including attorneys, prosecutors, and judges;
  • Public historians and researchers, including museum & historic site curators, archivists and librarians;
  • Public service positions and elected officials, including diplomats;
  • Professional writers, including journalists, editors, film makers and authors;
  • Businesspersons, including entrepreneurs, executives, management consultants, and advertising;
  • Other professional career paths, such as physicians, police officers and investigators, military officers, social workers, and development officers.
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
See what UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn.

Graduate and Professional Schools

This page provides a list of Education Portal’s top list of graduate schools for history which include the student population and the institution type.

Search and rank 19,079 programs at 2,240 US universities based on your priorities. Data comes from the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council, and the National Center for Education Statistics.

This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

USA Jobs
The official job site of the United States Federal Government.

Organization of American Historians
Maintains a database of current job openings.

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Professional Associations

American Association for State and Local History
Provides leadership service, and support for its members, who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful in American Society.

American Historical Association (AHA)
AHA was founded in 1884 and incorporated by Congress in 1889 to serve the broad field of history. It encompasses every historical period and geographical area and serves professional historians in all areas of employment.

Organization of American Historians
Promotes excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, and encourages wide discussion of historical questions and equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.

California Historical Society

World History Association


UCSB Resources