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Careers & Career Path Information

History enables us to see and understand changes and variety in society over time and place; it thus prepares us to create change thoughtfully. History requires reading widely, closely, and critically, expressing complex thoughts in writing, and open-minded, civil discussion of opinions founded in fact. So History majors learn to:

  • Communicate both orally and in writing,
  • Think critically and analytically, as well as with empathy,
  • Do research in a variety of types of sources.

Employers demand these skills, so the study of history is valuable for successful careers in, for instance:

  • Advertising
  • Banking
  • International Business
  • Journalism
  • Management
  • Public Relations
  • Publishing and Editing
  • Libraries
  • Museums and Galleries
  • Non-profit Organizations
  • Government Service

Course Information for Career Paths


 The work of a lawyer is the work of a well-trained mind. It requires good judgments, keen insights into what is true and what matters most, and the right words to get the job done.  For law school and for a career in the legal profession, there is no better major than History. Our students arrive at law school with the strong background they will need to succeed. History courses train students in the skills they will actually use on the job every day: finding out which facts matter, weighing evidence, building good arguments, and putting it all together to make a powerful case with a broad, deep understanding of the "big picture".  History majors develop critical thinking, learn political and social analysis, improve their oral presentation skills, and concentrate on writing and the use of evidence - all things that help them get into law school and perform well there and in the practice of law. And in History, you'll see that real people with real stories matter the most. For History majors, it's not all numbers and statistics, impersonal data sets, and abstract theories removed from the real world and the lives of ordinary people. Work in History trains you to see what really counts and to tell a story that genuinely does justice to the facts. That's what attorneys do all the time, and that is why History offers excellent career preparation for future lawyers.

 History majors interested in law should consider courses such as:

  • HIUS 130. U.S. Cultural History to 1865
  • HIUS 131. U.S. Cultural History, 1870-1920
  • HIUS 133.  The Golden Age of Piracy
  • HIUS 136. Citizenship and Civil Rights in the Twentieth Century
  • HIUS 150. American Legal History to 1865
  • HIUS 151. American Legal History Since 1865
  • HIUS 153. American Political Trials
  • HIUS 155A. Religion and Law in American History: Foundations to the Civil War
  • HIUS 155B. Religion and Law in American History: Civil War to the Present
  • HIUS 156. American Women/American Womanhood, Colonial Era to 1870
  • HIUS 157. American Women/American Womanhood, 1870 to the Present
  • HIUS 169. Topics in American Legal and Constitutional History
  • HIEU 102. Roman History
  • HIEU 103. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • HIEU 104. Byzantine Empire
  • HIEU 113. Rule, Conflict, and Dissent in the Middle Ages
  • HIEU 136. Social History of Crime and Criminal Justice in Europe, 1700–1914
  • HIEU 157. Religion and the Law in Modern European History
  • HIEU 161. The Last Pagan Generation
  • HISC 131. Science, Technology, and Law
  • HITO 134. International Law - War Crimes and Genocide 
  • HITO 119/HMNR 100. Human Rights History and Theory


Many common pre-medicine majors - Biology, Chemistry, Bioengineering, etc. - require many more than twelve upper-division courses. A pre-med student who completed the History major alongside the prerequisites needed to enter into medical school will graduate more quickly and still be well-prepared for a medical career. 

Indeed, the practice of medicine is often referred to as “the Art and Science of Medicine.” Prerequisite undergraduate requirements in math and science are necessary, but not sufficient. The successful doctor also needs a keen mind with critical insight into complex problems, creative solutions for those problems, and the ability to explain those solutions in a compelling manner. A major in History is an excellent complement to the pre-medical math and science requirements. Medical schools look mostly at your GPA and your MCAT scores; but they also seriously consider your clinical experience, your personal essay, your recommendation letters, and your personal interview. The ability to communicate well in writing and in person is also critical not only for your admission to medical school but to your success as a physician. 

In the U.S. today, the best-prepared doctors have learned about the incredible variety of human experience over time so they can relate to patients and their families from all over the globe, from all religious traditions, and from all walks of life. As one of our graduates, who currently works in anti-infective drug development and is an attending physician for the Infectious Diseases fellows at UC Davis School of Medicine, put it: “My major in History at UCSD laid the foundation for my study and career in medicine. The study of History involves the evaluation of primary sources and utilizing that information to create a construct to explain a person, place or event. In much the same way, I take a history from a patient, review available diagnostic studies and come to conclusions regarding my patient's ailment. This exercise in critical thinking is crucial, not just in arriving at the correct diagnosis, but reaching that goal in an expeditious and most effective manner in an environment of ever greater resource constraints.”

 Many doctors testify to the importance of undergraduate study in History. “I took an American History class that solidified my interest in going into medicine. The professor opened my eyes to the history of the common people. He stressed the importance of listening to people’s stories as a means of understanding the diversity and richness of human experience. This love of listening to people’s stories was one of my inspirations for becoming a physician – to have that special opportunity to be trusted by people from all walks of life with their most intimate stories, and to have an opportunity to shape those ongoing stories in a positive manner.”  - Dr. David Morgenroth, physician, teacher at the University of Washington, and researcher specializing in the biomechanics of amputated limbs, including work for the Veterans’ Administration.  Quoted in AlumNotes 40.2 (Fall 2013), p. 7.

History Majors planning a career in medicine should consider courses like:

  • HILD 30. History of Public Health
  • HISC 106.  The Scientific Revolution
  • HISC 108. Life Sciences in the Twentieth Century
  • HISC 110.  Historical Encounters of Science and Religion
  • HISC 115. History of Modern Medicine
  • HISC 116. History of Bioethics
  • HISC 117. History of the Neurosciences 
  • HISC 173/273. Darwin and Darwinisms 
  • HISC 174/274. History of Localization of Brain Function
  • HIUS156. American Women/American Womanhood, Colonial Era to 1870
  • HIUS157. American Women/American Womanhood, 1870 to the Present
  • HITO 140. History of Emotions
  • HIEU 154: Modern Germany (includes a focus on eugenics)


To start a career as an elementary, middle, or high school teacher in California requires a 5-year preliminary credential while you work towards your “Clear Credential.” As well as a college degree in any subject, the preliminary credential requires passing a number of tests (CBEST, RICA, etc.) in reading, mathematics, and writing and in how to teach these subjects, with a special emphasis on teaching reading skills, including vocabulary, comprehension, and background knowledge in your chosen content area(s).  You also need to complete a teacher preparation program at UC San Diego or elsewhere including successful student teaching, and you need to show that you understand the U.S. Constitution, and know how to use technology for teaching.  

A major in History can prepare you to be a teacher in two specific ways. First, you will learn content needed for mandatory social studies curricula at the K-6th grade levels, or content for teaching history, economics, geography, government, and civics at the 7th-12th grade levels. Even if you wish to teach a subject other than History, the ability to teach multiple subjects will make you a much more appealing job candidate when applying for your first position. Teacher preparation programs in CA teach pedagogical skills, such as assessment and classroom management; you must demonstrate your knowledge of subject matter before entering a teacher preparation program.

Second, history emphasizes reading many different kinds of text, from primary documents to secondary scholarship to textbooks to websites of historical material. History teaches you to raise questions, consider other people’s points of view, and communicate your own through different kinds of writing, discussion, and oral presentation. You will need to master these skills if you are to teach them to your students. Professors of teacher education comment that these are the kinds of skills they like most to see. These skills, as well as the wide, interdisciplinary approach of the UC San Diego History faculty to many facets of the human experience in the past, make an excellent preparation for teaching.  

The certification in Social Studies requires both broad surveys and more concentrated courses in world history and geography of all major regions and U.S. history and geography (including social, economic, and cultural as well as political history), fundamental principles of American democratic institutions, civic practices, and comparative politics, California history, and economic theory and history, as well as an understanding of history as a practice. Any of the History courses we offer will contribute to your success in the CSET, but as you put your program together you may consult both with History Department advisors and with Professor Cheryl Forbes of the Education Department.  See


Business and economic history are critical to business decision-making, which is why they are core components of the curricula of the best business schools. Seeing and/or anticipating patterns and acting accordingly is a key attribute of strong leadership; knowing history facilitates that kind of insight. And in business, understanding one’s partners, rivals, customers, and employees is critical; many CEOs told reporter Adam Bryant “I am a student of human nature.” (The Corner Officep.13).  In addition, the research, analytical, and communicative skills learned in a History major are valuable in the business world, as well as the creative thinking skills. “In the best of all worlds,” David Novak, CEO of the company that operates Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, told Bryant (p.15), “you want someone who’s whole-brained – someone who is analytical and can also be creative enough to come up with the ideas and galvanize the organization… There’s more of a premium on that [creativity] today than ever before.”

, founder and CEO of a successful executive recruitment firm, J. Patrick and Associates (New York),  credits his success to his History degree from Wesleyan, with a concentration in African History. Sullivan believes History is a good foundation for many careers in business. Students with an interest in History, he says, should feel secure majoring in the field, because it offers so many elements necessary not only to landing that first job after graduation, but also to being able to move around, as is typical for careers today. History gives a broad and deep view of the world that is critical to the many career paths nowadays that link people across locations, across classes, and across languages, ethnicities, and faiths. Learning to understand the people of the past, both their deep differences and their deep similarities, translates to being able to negotiate with, work with, buy from, and sell to with people from all over the world. Mastering the history of an era or a nation means assessing and integrating information from many sources, applying abstract principles to concrete data and vice-versa, and producing solutions to problems. These skills, too, are necessary in an information-heavy world marketplace and in an era of rapidly-changing technology. 

Finally, History teaches excellent written and spoken presentation skills, necessary to anyone who wishes to sell a new product, excite investors, promote a policy, or explain to employees and team members how a project will proceed. CEOs considering job candidates often demand to see a writing sample. As Nell Minow, editor and co-founder of a research firm, The Corporate Library, put it to reporter Adam Bryant: “It’s the best way of finding out all sorts of things. Do they have a sense of curiosity about the world?  Are they just repeating things they’ve read, or is there some sense of engagement with it? And their ability to express themselves, I think, is tremendously important… Ultimately I won’t hire anybody who can’t write.” (p.135)  notes that today’s students are tech-savvy and sociable, and can benefit most from an education that develops their creative initiative and their follow-through, often as part of a team. A History major is a gateway to many different jobs, including those that have not yet been invented!

History majors and minors considering business careers might take courses such as:

  • HIUS 130. U.S. Cultural History to 1865
  • HIUS 131. U.S. Cultural History, 1870-1920
  • HIUS 140/Econ 158A. Economic History of the United States I
  • HIUS 141/Econ 158B. Economic History of the United States II 
  • HIUS 159/ETHN 131. Social and Economic History of the Southwest II
  • HISC 131. Science, Technology, and Law
  • HIEA 126. The Silk Road in Chinese and Japanese History
  • HIEA 140: China in the Contemporary World 
  • HIEU 118. Americanization in Europe
  • HIEU 126. Age of Expansion: Europe and the World, 1400–1600
  • HIEU 127. Sport in the Modern World
  • HIEU 154: Modern Germany (focus on economic development)
  • HIEU 161 class (coinage and panegyric)

Global Relations

“Three words: 'leave the country',” Quintin Primo, CEO of Capri Capital told reporter Adam Bryant (The Corner Office, pp. 74-5).  “Get out of here. That’s what I tell everybody – just go. I don’t care where you go, just go. Because the world is changing…  You have little chance of being successful if you speak only one language… You have to leave the country.” 

  • HIAF 111. Modern Africa since 1880 
  • HIAF 113. Small Wars and the Global Order: Africa and Asia 
  • HIEA 113. The Fifteen-Year War in Asia and the Pacific
  • HIEA 125. Women in East Asia
  • HIEA 126. The Silk Road in Chinese and Japanese History
  • HIEA 140: China in the Contemporary World
  • HIEA 152. History and Cultures of the Korean Diaspora
  • HIEU 103. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  • HIEU 104. Byzantine Empire
  • HIEU 110. The Rise of Europe.
  • HIEU 111. Europe in the Middle Ages.
  • HIEU 114. Preindustrial Light and Magic.
  • HIEU 116. The Greek Diaspora
  • HIEU 116A. Greece and the Balkans in the Age of Ottoman Expansion
  • HIEU 116C-D. Greece and the Balkans during the Twentieth Century
  • HIEU 118. Americanization in Europe
  • HIEU 126. Age of Expansion: Europe and the World, 1400–1600
  • HIEU 127. Sport in the Modern World
  • HIEU 128: Europe since 1945
  • HIEU 134. The Formation of the Russian Empire, 800–1855
  • HIEU 141. European Diplomatic HistoryHIEU 146. Europe 1919-1945
  • HIEU 147A. Women in the Middle Ages
  • HIEU 149.   Women in Europe, 1870-Present
  • HILA 106. A Re-reading of Latin American History through an Environmental Lens
  • HILA 116. El Salvador and the United States: Human Rights and Revolution
  • HILA 121A. History of Brazil through 1889
  • HINE 108. The Middle East Before Islam.
  • HINE 119. US Mid-East Policy Post-WWII
  • HISC 106. The Scientific Revolution
  • HISC 110. Historical Encounters of Science and Religion
  • HITO 105. The Jews and Judaism in the Modern World
  • HITO 127A. History of Seafaring in the Age of Sail
  • HITO 133. War and Society: The Second World War 
  • HITO 140. History of Emotions
  • HIUS 104. The Revolutionary Atlantic
  • HIUS 110. America and the World: Revolution to World War I
  • HIUS 111. America and the World: World War I to the Present
  • HIUS 133. The Golden Age of Piracy
  • HIUS 135. The Atlantic World, 1492–1803
  • HIUS 183. African American Internationalism

Articles Related to History Careers

A History major is a gateway to many different jobs – including those that have not yet been invented.

Career Resources

UCSD Career Center

The Career Center has a number of resources (job listings, resume workshops, major-specific career advising, and career assessment tools) to help students find a job while pursuing their degree and after graduation. 

Career Diversity for HistoriansThe AHA's Career Diversity for Historians initiative is working to better prepare graduate students and early-career historians for a range of career options, within and beyond the academy. Check out a range of resources on how to explore possible career paths during and after graduate school.

Careers for History Majors: This guide from the American Historical Association describes the many professional opportunities available to students of history. Be sure to check out our ongoing blog series “What to Do with a BA in History.”

Employment and Career Resouces for International Students: International students can find information about jobs and employment while at UC San Diego, and learn about career options after graduation.

UCDC Program: UCDC is an academic program that allows students to continue their studies and gain valuable on-the-job experience. Open to all majors, Washington, DC hosts extraordinary internship opportunities in every field.

Office of International Affairs: It is the mission of the Office of International Affairs (OIA) to work with global partners that advance UC San Diego's goals to be a world leader in teaching and research while contributing to global well-being through international partnerships and service.

Research Experience and Applied Learning Portal (REAL Portal): The REAL Portal offers research, internship, international, and other co-curricular opportunities that help students build real-world skills and apply knowledge gained in the classroom.

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