What is History?

Explore this UC major to find out if it’s the right fit for you

The study of history in the University of Cincinnati's College of Arts and Sciences gives students the tools to examine and understand the world of the present by examining and learning about the world of the past.

Each student designs a course of study tailored around those elements of the past that most fascinate them, whether a geographic region (e.g. Europe, Asia, the United States, Latin America) or a theme that crosses regional and temporal boundaries (e.g. religion and culture; race, ethnicity and inequality; law and society; globalization and transregional connections; technology, science and medicine).

At UC, students can make the major customizable to their individual interests, allowing them to pull from a wide range of history classes to create a major that matches their specific area of focus. Students may focus on one of these five areas of thematic concentration within the major, or if none of these fit, students can pick a self-directed concentration comprised of courses of selected in consultation with a faculty mentor.

With UC’s vast body of archives, rare books, and a library filled with 4.4 million volumes —making it the 36th-largest academic library in the nation — students have the materials to go into any direction of study.

Notable classes

UC associate professor of history Susan Longfield Karr.

Susan Longfield Karr

Because History is the study of reality, from politics and economics to society and culture, it fits naturally with interdisciplinary interests. It’s common for students to double major or pick up minors and certificates. Common double majors alongside history are international affairs, archaeology, economics, and journalism. 

“UC is unique in the ways our history program is integrated with other programs,” says Susan Longfield Karr, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies. “We take a more inclusive and expansive approach by working with other programs and disciplines in the college to help students get something holistic.”  

Like all Arts & Sciences majors, history students are required to take a foreign language, social science courses, and fulfill general education requirements, but outside of that the curriculum is mainly filled with history electives.

Some notable classes include:

  • Politics of Resistance: Gandhi and Social Justice.
  • Why the World Needs Superman: Heroes, Comics and Modern American Society.
  • Aztec, Inca and Maya: Indigenous Empires in Latin America.
  • Global Environmental History.

Career and graduate possibilities

While many history students pursue higher education upon graduating, a history major opens a door to a vast range of career opportunities for graduates. Many history majors go on to work in education, legal professions, business, nonprofits, research, and more.

One of the most valuable aspects of a history major is the transferable skills that give graduates a step up in any career path they choose. As Longfield Karr puts it, those with history majors are often the ones that get the promotions. “History is a training of different skills like research, analysis, synthesis, presentation, empathy, and awareness that you have to ask questions,” she says. “It makes you somebody people want to work with.”

Take it from a student

Kathryn Siemer’s love of history was awakened when she saw the musical Hamilton in high school. As a current junior, Siemer’s classes in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences have further fueled her passion for the subject.

“I love the research,” she says. “I love being able to go onto data bases and look at historical documents,” she said. 

Siemer credits the faculty to her developing skillset, emphasizing the professors’ knack for helping students digest material and come to insights on their own, rather than relying solely on lectures to teach subject matter. 

“I love the professors that I’ve had so far. They’ve all been amazing,” she says. “They’ve all been really passionate about their subjects which has made classes a lot of fun.”

Take it from an alum

Ava Gyurcsik is an alumna that took full advantage of the major’s interdisciplinary nature, graduating with a major in history, a minor in French, a certificate in business French and a certificate in European studies. 

One course in particular, History Out There: Careers for History Majors, helped her bridge the gap between college and post-graduate life. “It really helped me put in perspective what I can do with history,” she says.

It was in that class where Gyurcsik connected with an alumna of UC History now completing her PhD in Oxford, England, who inspired Gyurcsik to pursue higher education abroad.

As a result, Gyurcsik plans to complete her post-graduate degree from King’s College London and Luiss Guido Carli University this fall, studying in both London and Rome from 2023-2025. “It was just a chance meeting, but being able to connect with those people to help me piece together my next steps was really helpful.” 

Featured image at top: Museum in London. Credit/graham5399 for Pixabay

Headshot of By Sydney Asher

By Sydney Asher

Student Journalist, A&S Department of Marketing and Communication


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