History

What is History?

In high school, students often are given the impression that the study of history simply requires memorization of names, dates, and other facts about events in the past. At the college level, however, the study of history facilitates the development of research, analytical, evaluative, and interpretive skills. The study of history involves a careful search through existing evidence to determine what happened in the past, but understanding how and why that evidence was created and then saved stands at the center of the discipline. It’s all about asking tough questions.

History/Social Studies focuses on locating and accessing a wide range of sources to analyze historical evidence, including textual and visual sources to evaluate historical interpretations, and to develop and support one’s own interpretations. The quantity of writing and discussion required in history courses also helps students to develop effective communication skills. The required courses in economics, geography, and political science are intended to prepare students to teach these subjects in middle and high schools.

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History Degrees

History, BA

If you like to read, write, and learn about the experiences of people in different places and times, you should consider the history major. The research, analytical, and evaluative skills that history majors develop prepare them for graduate study in many humanistic disciplines, public affairs, and library science and for careers as journalists, government officials, and attorneys.

Contact

Susan Costanzo, History Department Chair
costasus@wwu.edu | 360-650-3062

History/Social Studies, BA

Degree Type: Teaching Endorsement

Secondary Education students who wish to be endorsed in Social Studies may choose this major. However, the History/Social Studies degree does not require that a student pursue a teaching certificate. History/Social Studies majors interested in Secondary certification must apply separately to the certification programs.

Contact

Secondary Education Information, Woodring College of Education
wce.advising@wwu.edu | 360-650-3347

Susan Costanzo, History Department Chair
costasus@wwu.edu | 360-650-3062

History—Elementary, BAE

Degree Type: Teaching Endorsement

This major is designed for students who plan to become elementary school teachers. It satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in elementary education and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in Elementary Education.

Contact

Teacher Education Admission, Woodring College of Education
TeacherEd.Admission@wwu.edu | 360-650-3313

Susan Costanzo, History Department Chair
costasus@wwu.edu | 360-650-3062

History at Western

That’s why the History major at Western prepares students for many different careers. Due to the quantity of reading, writing, and discussion, History majors have strong communication and analytical skills, which are valued by all employers, including businesses and government agencies. History majors learn how to locate and access a wide range of sources, to analyze evidence, including textual and visual sources, to evaluate competing interpretations, and to develop and support their own interpretations. They can help make sense of the kinds of challenges faced by almost any organization or business.

The History/Social Studies major at Western is designed to prepare students to teach history and social studies in secondary schools. However, this major also prepares students for a wider range of careers. The History/Social Studies degree does not require that a student pursue a teaching certificate. History/Social Studies majors interested in a Secondary Education certification must apply separately to the certification program in Woodring College of Education.

The History—Elementary major at Western is designed for students who plan to become elementary school teachers. In their history courses, History—Elementary majors learn how to locate and access a wide range of sources, analyze historical evidence including textual and visual sources, evaluate historical interpretations, and develop and support their own interpretations. The quantity of writing and discussion required in history courses also helps students to develop effective communication skills. 

The History—Elementary major satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in elementary education and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in Elementary Education. See the Elementary Education section of the University catalog for program admission, completion, and teacher certification requirements.

Western’s History Department is part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Explore courses

HIST 158 – Race and Identity in Modern America

HIST 285 – African History to 1800

HIST 289 – Islam in France

HIST 377 – Japanese History Through Film

HIST 392 – Tribal Sovereignty and Washington History

Hands-on-Experience and Internships

Organizations and Clubs

Students often get involved with the National Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta. Phi Alpha Theta offers many fun and scholarly activities to participate in through the chapter. Involvement with the chapter is a good way to expand your knowledge of history and the association with the honor society is a great way to make connections for future opportunities in history. 

Internships and Scholarships

The History department encourages students to find internships and explore their passions. Recent student internships include: 

  • Friedman Rubin Trial Lawyers: Investigation Intern 
  • Skagit County Public Works: Records Intern 
  • WA State Archive: Northwest Regional Intern

What can you do with History?

Liberal Arts and Sciences majors show some of the highest gains in critical thinking and analytical skills, the skills employers consistently say that they want most. History majors, in addition, learn to think about other cultures past and present, an important career skill in an increasingly diverse world. In short, History majors’ skills prepare them to be effective citizens, lifelong learners, and to have successful careers. Some choose to work in history-related fields such as teaching, library science, museum studies, or public history. The vast majority of History majors, however, go on to successful careers in business, government, and the nonprofit sectors. Studies show that History majors have some of the largest gains in earning over time because of their impressive skills.

Employers of Recent Western Graduates: 

  • Google
  • Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust: Processing Archivist 
  • Skagit County Public Works: Records Assistant 
  • United States Postal Service 
  • King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office: Legal Administrative Specialist 
  • Friedman Rubin Trial Lawyers: Investigator 
  • CEP Felipe II (Madrid, Spain): Language/Culture Assistant 

Western graduates who pursue graduate studies are doing so at such schools as: 

  • University of Maryland: Library and Information Science (MLS) 
  • Western Washington University: Archival Studies and Records Management (MA)

The knowledge students acquire and the skills they develop in their history and social science courses prepare them for law school; graduate programs in teaching, public policy, or international affairs; and careers as journalists, government officials, and attorneys.

The History—Elementary major at Western is designed for students who plan to become elementary school teachers. The major satisfies the academic major requirement for teacher certification with an endorsement in elementary education 

Employers of Recent Western Graduates: 

  • Federal Way School District 
  • Seattle School District

History careers

  • Foreign Service Officer 
  • Attorney 
  • Museum Curator 
  • Government Official 
  • Journalist 
  • Business Manager 
  • Social Studies Teacher 
  • FBI/CIA Agent 
  • Librarian 
  • Archivist 
  • Historical Preservation Specialist
  • Politician/Attorney 
  • Elementary Teacher 

Related Majors

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