History Degree

Find Yourself in History

Historians are like "social detectives." They try to understand the men and women, groups and events of earlier times by studying the "clues" left behind such as visual documents and artifacts, diaries, official documents and records, economic data and newspapers. Historians use these clues to determine which events were most important, why things turned out the way they did or what lessons we can learn from the past.

The history major prepares students to see the "big picture" and to focus on our most important societal issues, decisions and trends. The history major prepares students to gather, assimilate and interpret a wide variety of information from many different sources and to view issues from different perspectives. Students entering the History major should have strong reading skills and be interested in learning about the experiences of others. Students in the History major study the history of the United States, the history of other regions of the world and the methods of historical research. They also have the opportunity to select courses of special interest to them, such as African American history or the history of science and technology. Advanced students may participate in undergraduate research projects or internships.

What Will I Study?

We provide many of the traditional courses offered in history programs throughout the nation. We also offer a number of nontraditional classes, such as Racism in the Modern World and Turbulent Sixties, as well as a series of experimental classes, such as Conspiracy and Paranoia in United States History and Poxes, Plagues, and Pandemics. Our students have the opportunity to attend history conferences and present scholarly papers. We give our students a chance to work in the University's Jim Crow Museum and the Museum of Sexist Objects. In the classroom, our students learn to analyze primary documents, improve their writing and speaking skills, master methods of historical research and evaluate diverse interpretations. We study diverse aspects of the past, which in turn allows students to explore important societal issues, decisions and trends—at home and abroad.

Why Choose This Major?

As historian Peter Stearns has written, a degree in history will help students understand people and societies. It will also “help us understand change and how the society we live in came to be.” Stearns suggests that history helps provide us an identity, whether in a family, an ethnic group, a gender, a race or a nation. On another level a degree in history will help you develop many of the tools any employer values—critical thinking skills, creative problem solving, effective communication skills, the ability to work in teams and the willingness to learn and adapt as situations change and evolve. As for the value of a history degree, the discipline particularly prepares students for the long haul for any career path. It promotes analytical qualities that help "adaptation and advancement" well beyond simply getting hired. Stearns argues that "Historical training is not . . . an indulgence; it applies directly to many careers and can clearly help us in our working lives.”

What Are History Graduates Doing Now?

The History major gives students a broad and in-depth understanding of the diverse political, economic and cultural factors affecting American life and the global marketplace today. As a result, our graduates have gone on to a wide variety of careers and graduate programs. They have gone on to careers in sales, financial advising, the ministry, law enforcement, the military, museums, libraries and the National Parks Service. Other fields open to History majors include journalism, nonprofit management, archives, research and government service and, of course, teaching in K–12 and higher education.

A large percentage of our graduates have continued on to graduate school. Our History graduates have been accepted at the University of Michigan, Central Michigan University, the University of Kentucky, Western Michigan University, the University of Toledo, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Delaware and Howard University. A number of our graduates have pursued law school and launched successful careers in the legal field. While the majority of our graduates are in the Midwest, others have ventured to locales as diverse as Texas, Florida, Delaware and North Carolina. Our graduates have created a very positive record in whatever field they have chosen and thus have paved the way for our current and future students.

More Information

Advisor: Dr. Gary Huey
Phone: (231) 591-2750
Email:  

Department of Humanities
Ferris State University
1009 Campus Drive/JOH 119
Big Rapids, MI 49307-2280
Phone: (231) 591-3675

History: Ferris State University Course Catalog Page