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5 Benefits of a History Degree

In today’s economy, developing a versatile professional skill set that can be applied to a range of different career paths is essential for any student considering a graduate degree. An advanced degree in history emphasizes the development of essential competencies like research, communication, analytical thinking, and problem-solving—each of which can be leveraged within most work settings. Therefore, students who choose to enroll in a Master of Arts in History program can recognize the many benefits of a history degree and prepare themselves for a wealth of rewarding occupations, including that of historians, teachers, and consultants.

1. Strong Analytical Skill Development

Historical research and analysis, especially at the graduate level, requires sophisticated analytical skills. In examining events’ root causes, scholars consider other decisions stakeholders could have made and how those decisions may have changed the outcome. Through their observations, they gain deeper insight into the real-world impacts the events have had on the affected groups and how long those effects persisted. This perspective can offer historians the tools they need to navigate current events that mirror historical events.

In a Master of Arts in History program, students who perform root cause analyses must also conduct extensive research. After they gather the data, they must organize and analyze it in order to reach conclusions that can be presented to others or used to inform the decisions made by individuals and organizations. In business and industry, masters-prepared history graduates can use these same skills to understand their employers’ processes and decisions, predict outcomes, improve productivity, and make recommendations for handling future events.

2. Enhanced Oral and Written Presentation Skills

Graduate-level history students learn to write and publish their findings using the appropriate academic styles, resources, and processes. Often, they present their work to wider audiences at conferences, in classrooms, and in the media. They must be prepared not only for public speaking but also for public questioning. Most masters-level history degree programs encourage lively debate among students, who learn to value a diversity of perspectives and thoughts. Good writing and presentation skills are complementary to public speaking ability, as organizations often use multiple channels to communicate their messages to internal and external audiences.

To expand their capacity for producing optimal oral and written presentations, graduate students learn how to evaluate multiple perspectives of an event and steer away from narrow interpretations. Masters-level history coursework teaches them how to present their findings in the most engaging, yet informative ways possible. This means learning how to articulate their ideas clearly whether they are speaking in-person, sharing content online, or distributing their message through other media platforms. Upon mastering this skill, history professionals should have the capacity to package and present information clearly to any audience, regardless of whether they are working in a history-related profession.

3. Ability to Apply Historical Insight to Business Success

Graduates with a Master of Arts in History degree scrutinize details and are able to use the systematic, academic approach taught in their history studies to help solve real-world business problems. In this regard, history professionals with graduate degrees are equipped to thrive in a knowledge-based economy. As such, a useful benefit of a graduate-level history degree is a development of the ability to leverage historical insight when solving business issues. By analyzing and understanding past events, these graduates can help predict the impact similar events may have on the world, the economy, and the business climate today. They can gain a deeper understanding of the forces that have polarized people in the past and how those same forces may impact future events. This provides a valuable framework for addressing and overcoming many of today’s market challenges.

4. Foundation for History-Related Careers

Graduate-level historians can be well-prepared to teach in secondary and higher education; according to data from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey (ACS), more than one in five historians work in the education field. Apart from teaching, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that masters-level history graduates can pursue lucrative careers as researchers, archivists, or museum curators. These professionals use their graduate degrees to authenticate historical artifacts, organize historical information, and design collections and exhibits. Those with a Master of Arts in History degree who choose to work in a history-related field safeguard and pass on knowledge from the past so future generations can benefit from their efforts.

5. Diverse Professional Opportunities

In addition to working in the business world or in academia, graduates of Master of Arts in History degree programs can also adapt their expertise to specialized disciplines like government and law. According to a 2016 Forbes article, researchers found that those with a degree in history are in demand as intelligence analysts, writers, and project managers. In the same vein, The National Park Service seeks history graduates, as do consulting firms like Deloitte; in fact, a recent American Historical Association article asserts that the only professions where history graduates’ skills may not be applicable are those relating to accounting and software (though the author maintains that some coursework in statistics and general accounting might serve these individuals well in the job market).

As noted above, the benefits of a history degree can be numerous. Through a Master of Arts in History program, individuals can hone in-demand skills, such analysis, research, communication, and problem-solving, and prepare themselves for a variety of lucrative careers, either in history or in other disciplines.

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Norwich University is an important part of American history. Established in 1819, Norwich is a nationally recognized institution of higher education, the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and the first private military college in the United States.

With Norwich University’s online Master of Arts in History, you can enhance your awareness of differing historical viewpoints while developing and refining your research, writing, analysis and presentation skills. The program offers two tracks—American history and world history—allowing you to tailor your studies to your interests and goals.

Recommended Reading

5 TED Talks for Aspiring Historians

5 Books for Students Obtaining a Master of Arts in History Degree

Careers with a Master's Degree in History


Connecting the Dots: Why a History Degree Is Useful In the Business World, American Historical Association

History I Not a Useless Major: Fighting Myths With Data, American Historical Association

History Isn't a 'useless' Major. It teaches critical thinking, something America Needs Plenty More Of, Los Angeles Times

What Can You Do With That (Useless) Liberal Arts Degree? A Lot More Than You Think, Forbes

15 Useful Skills You Learn As An Art History Major, Business Insider

What Can I Do with My Degree: History, Prospects

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers, US Bureau of Labor Statistics

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