History might not be the most popular discipline out there, but it retains an everlasting charm for those students whose curiosity cannot be fulfilled even by the latest and most detailed history documentaries. Are you one of them?
If that’s the case, then you already have the basic and most essential motivation to study History: you like it, you enjoy uncovering causes and links between different events, and maybe you have too much free time.
Bad jokes aside, you can study History simply because you like it. But what about the benefits and future careers? Are there any reasons to become a historian in 2023 and beyond?
Before diving in, here are a few universities we recommend for History studies:
- University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), the US
- University of Birmingham, the UK
- Radboud University, the Netherlands
- Central European University (CEU), Austria
- The University of Western Australia, Australia
1. Better understand the present
It’s easy to take modern society for granted and forget it has taken many centuries of evolution and innovation to get here. History is the discipline that allows students to see how both major and minor events have contributed to the society in which we live today. You’ll find the answers to questions like:
- How has our economy changed over time?
- Which social movements have had the biggest impact?
- What have we learned about governing systems and political power over time?
- How can we prevent terrible events from happening again (e.g. the Holocaust, Native American massacres)?
After exploring human history, you’ll notice that although living standards and technologies have changed, many social structures and behaviours remain the same. You can use these insights and other understandings of the past to evaluate our present and see if the direction in which we are heading is the one we desire.
2. Learn from past mistakes
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it” — perhaps it should be written on every school board, and teachers should explain that this is one of the main reasons why studying History is worth it.
We always learn from mistakes, as long as we’re open to it. Trial and error have been at the basis of most success stories in any area you can imagine (e.g. social, economic, technological). But no matter how open-minded you are, you cannot make all the mistakes in the world all by yourself. Or at least, we don’t recommend it.
History allows you to learn from all the errors — big and small — made by other people from the past. It also shows you that good intention doesn’t necessarily equal good outcome. Remember that line from the movie Jurassic Park 3: “Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions”.
- Here are other lessons you can learn from mistakes made throughout history:
- Learn how the actions of individuals can stand in the way of totalitarian regimes.
- Learn the moral and ethical duty of citizens to stand up against injustice and corruption.
- Learn that history was written by the winners (of wars, conflicts) and the voice of defeated nations and minorities is often not heard.
3. History opens the door to a wide range of interesting careers
Upon hearing about studying History, most people think you can only apply for certain positions like history teacher, historical consultant, or government historian. But that’s not true!
History graduates have a wide range of skills that allows them to develop careers in any field which requires creativity, research acumen, general knowledge, and the ability to see events from different perspectives.
It’s not at all uncommon to see History students working as political advisors, lawyers, diplomats, journalists, or museum curators. Even better, the job outlook is expected to grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028 — at least in the United States — so historians are still relevant and in-demand.
4. Develop essential life skills
This is more or less a continuation of the section above, and the main idea is: History graduates don’t just study everything that happened and learn it by heart. It’s a rather common misconception.
History or Historical Studies involve much more than that. It’s about drawing conclusions, finding and analysing evidence, identifying trends, and presenting arguments in a clear and persuasive way.
To achieve all this, History students will develop the following skills:
- critical thinking
- advanced research skills
- cultural awareness
- strong communication abilities
- interpretation of written and visual materials
- understanding and analysing the cause of events and actions
5. Find affordable History degrees
History degrees are usually much more affordable than other disciplines. You can easily find Bachelors and Masters in History with tuition fees of under 5,000 EUR per academic year. If you’re aiming for a free History programme, your best bet is Germany, Turkey, Ireland, Malta or the Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland).
Always check if the tuition fees apply to you. Sometimes, only students from the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) enjoy free or low tuition fees.
6. Online History degrees make studying easier
Studying History involves travelling, at least metaphorically, to another period. But it doesn’t have to involve any actual travelling. The popularity of online courses has been increasing in recent years, and the Coronavirus pandemic has only added fuel to this trend. On our portals, you can find:
You should consider online History degrees if you want to reduce the cost of your education or if you are well settled in your country and don’t want to move abroad.
7. Plenty of History specialisations to choose from
If a general History degree is not for you, there are many other specialisations to choose from. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Master’s degrees in Ancient History
- Master’s degrees in Contemporary History
- Master’s degrees in European History
- Master’s degrees in Medieval History
- Master’s degrees in the History of Religions
- Master’s degrees in Military History
So, are you ready to carefully explore the past and understand the mysteries and events that have led to the creation of our modern world?