Career Opportunities

The study of history and political science opens the way for careers in almost any field. For example, the National Park Service, the CIA/FBI, and the House of Representatives employ historians and political scientists at various levels. Careers are open as city managers, editors, government consultants, and analysts in fields ranging from mineral mining to archaeology or international finance.

In business, banking and investment companies need financial and risk analysts. Communication media such as television and film companies require research, script writing, and consultation. Mineral extraction industries depend on analyses of political and legal situations, land-use histories, and mineral claims research.

Non-profit organizations such as historical societies and associations, both public and private, produce publications that require research, and organize activities based on knowledge of the past. Museums employ personnel in the areas of administration, preservation, research, interpretation and display. Philanthropic organizations require policy analysis and program and proposal reviews.

The field in which one chooses to work is the primary determinant of income potential. Job outlook for liberal arts graduates is improving as more and more CEOs are discovering the value of a broad education. One group of 30 Hi-Tech CEOs recently stated: "A liberal arts and science education nurtures skills and talents increasingly valued by modern corporations. Our companies function in a state of constant flux. To prosper we need creative thinkers at all levels of the enterprise who are comfortable dealing with decisions in the bigger context. They must be able to communicate-to reason, create, write and speak-for shared purposes. . . They provide leadership."   (www.trentu.ca/news/ceo.html)

History

What Can I Do As A History Major?
Only a small percentage of history majors go on to be professional historians. Instead most go on to become lawyers, librarians, businesspersons, writers, archivists, researchers, teachers, politicians, and even entertainers. Leaders in every industry, from business to the arts, can point to their training as history majors as the starting point for their success. Indeed, historical study plays an important part in fostering well-rounded intellectual development as well as developing valuable career skills in research, writing, argumentation, and documentation.

What skills does one learn as a history major?

  • Effective Writing skills: The ability to successfully and precisely communicate one's ideas in text is vital to any job for which a college degree is a necessity.
  • Critical Analysis skills: A key part to the decision-making process for any job, critical analysis means the ability to analyze a situation and come up with creative and practical solutions.
  • Research skills: Vital to any job, research skills mean the ability to understand past practices and policies and to trace the roots of any issue, to find new information which bears on that issue, and to incorporate that information into one's analysis of an issue.
  • Interdisciplinary Thinking and Training: Interdisciplinary thinking and training means the ability to think about a problem in a multitude of ways, to analyze it using multiple tools, and to provide solutions which draw from different traditions of thought.
  • Curiosity and Inquisitiveness: The desire to learn more, to examine reasons beneath issues, and to come to understand them as part of a continual, life-long, education process is an important skill both professionally and personally.

What are some common career paths for history majors?
We believe that an undergraduate History degree has many advantages that will help prepare students in a variety of different career areas. The market for teachers in primary and secondary schools remains good, and students with a solid background in history will be well-suited to teach in subjects such as history, social studies, government, political science, humanities, and general studies.

The rigorous research and writing requirements asked of history majors also offer excellent preparation for careers in law, journalism, public relations, technical writing, fund-raising, administration, domestic and foreign government service, to name the more obvious. Interestingly recent trends in medical and business school admissions suggest that these professional schools are looking for students who possess training in humanities and social sciences. Obviously students wishing to attend medical schools still need the necessary science prerequisites, but in an increasingly competitive market, students who stand out with something unique such as a History honors thesis or a background in the history of medicine might call positive attention to themselves.

In short, history majors have many options if they put their minds to it because a History degree provides essential training in basic research and communication skills that are central to so many careers today. On the other hand, the academic job market in most areas of history is very tight. Students considering graduate work should discuss career prospects with faculty in the area of history they wish to pursue.

Historians as Educators
Many history majors go on to become educators, focusing on the communication of their ideas. Educators include teachers in Elementary and Secondary education. They also include Higher Education on many levels, including teaching at community and junior Colleges, undergraduate colleges, and universities. But educators are also important members of other educational institutions that you may not think of as immediately as schools. These include historic sites and museums, where history majors can become docents, education directors, curators, guides, and interpreters. In addition, there are other forms of teaching than standing up in front of a classroom. These include work as historical consultants, contract archivists, public historians, writers, and even filmmakers.

Historians as Researchers
Many history majors go on to careers as researchers, emphasizing their skills in evaluating and analyzing documentary evidence. Historians as researchers include public historians as well as policy advisors, who serve as planners, evaluators, and policy analysts, often for state, local, and federal governments. In addition, historians often find employment as researchers for museums and historical organizations, or pursue additional specialized training to become professionals in cultural resources management and historic preservation.

Historians as Writers and Editors
Because success as a history major depends upon learning to write effectively, many historians become writers and editors. They make their living as authors of historical books, or more commonly, they work as editors at a publishing house. Many historians become print and broadcast journalists, and others become documentary editors who oversee the publication of documents such as those produced by government agencies. Because history majors must learn to deal with documents, many pursue a one- or two-year graduate program in library studies (commonly, a Master of Library Science, or MLS, degree) or archival management and enter careers as information managers. With this additional training, they enter the fields of archives management, information management, records management, and librarianship.

Historians as Advocates
Many history majors find that historical training makes a perfect preparation for Law School, as historians and lawyers often do roughly the same thing--they argue persuasively using historical data to support their arguments. Many history majors become lawyers; others undertake careers in litigation support as paralegals. Others enter public service and become policymakers, serve as legislative staff at all levels of government, and become officers of granting agencies and foundations.

Historians as Businesspeople
Most people overlook the value of a history major in preparing an intelligent person for a career in business. Yet, historians track historic trends, an important skill for those developing products to market or engaged in corporate or financial planning. Many history majors enter banking, insurance, and stock analysis. Historians also learn how to write persuasively, and this training gives them an edge in advertising, communications media, and marketing. Finally, many industries depend on an intimate knowledge of government policies and historical trends; thus, history majors have found their skills useful in extractive industries and in public utilities.
 

Thanks to: Professor Catherine Lavender, Department of History, The College of Staten Island, CUNY. (http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/major.html)

Famous History Majors

  • John F. Kennedy: President of the United States
  • Richard Nixon: President of the United States
  • Joe Biden: Vice President of the United States
  • Anthony M. Kennedy: Supreme Court Justice
  • Sonia Sotomayor: Supreme Court justice
  • Newt Gingrich: Former Speaker of the House
  • Bill Bradley: Former U.S. Senator and NBA Player
  • George Mitchell: Special envoy to the Middle East
  • Eric Holder: Attorney General of the United States
  • Robert Johnson: Founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET)
  • Lee Iococca: Former CEO of the Chrysler Corporation
  • Carly Fiorina: Former president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard

  • Ben Silverman: Co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Entertainment
  • Larry David: Actor; writer; comedian; producer; film director
  • Conan O’Brien: Comedian; former host of “The Tonight Show”
  • Steve Carell: Comedian; star of “The Office”
  • Jimmy Buffett: Songwriter; singer; restaurant-chain owner; businessman
  • Wolf Blitzer: Journalist
  • David Brancaccio: Host of PBS’s “Now”
  • Ray Suarez: Senior correspondent for the “PBS NewsHour”
  • Charlie Rose: Host of “Charlie Rose”
  • Chris Berman: Anchor of “SportsCenter”
     

Political Science

What Can I Do As A Political Science Major?
Political Science majors have an opportunity to engage in numerous positions, while most go on to be become lawyers, advocates, diplomats, businesspersons, writers, researchers, teachers, politicians, advisors and government staffers at all levels of government. Government and political leaders can point to their training as political science majors as the starting point for their success. Indeed, political science study plays an important part in fostering well-rounded intellectual development as well as developing valuable career skills in research, writing, decision-making, and analytical thinking. For those with an eye on the international scene, political science studies opens doors to work with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Peace Corps, United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and employment as embassy diplomats.

What skills does one learn as a political science major?

  • Effective Writing skills: The ability to successfully and precisely communicate one's ideas in text is vital to any job for which a college degree is a necessity.
  • Critical and Analytical Thinking/Writing skills: A key part to the decision-making process for any job, critical analysis means the ability to analyze a situation and come up with creative and practical solutions.
  • Research skills: Vital to any job, research skills mean the ability to understand past practices and policies and to trace the roots of any issue, to find new information which bears on that issue, and to incorporate that information into one's analysis of an issue.
  • Curiosity and Inquisitiveness: The desire to learn more, to examine reasons beneath issues, to work as a team, and to come to understand them as part of a continual, life-long, education process is an important skill both professionally and personally.
  • Leadership: The ability to lead and engage in current issues and events is vital to the success of future endeavors.

Careers for Political Science Majors

  •     Activist, Advocate/Organizer
  •     Business Administrator
  •     Campaign Worker 
  •     City Manager  
  •     Congressional Office/Committee Staffer
  •     Congressional Research
  •     Consumer Advocate
  •     Diplomat
  •     Editor
  •     Education/Teacher 
  •     Events Planner
  •     Executive Assistant 
  •     Executive Search Consultant
  •     Financial Planner 
  •     Foreign Service Worker
  •     Historical Archivist/Researcher
  •     Human Resources Specialist
  •     Human Rights Advocate
  •     Intelligence Agent
  •     International Market Researcher
  •     Journalist
  •     Labor Relations Specialist
  •     Lawyer/Paralegal
  •     Legal Investigator 
  •     Lobbyist/Organizer 
  •     Media Specialist
  •     Parole/Probation Officer
  •     Policy Analyst
  •     Political Consultant 
  •     Political Correspondent
  •     Politician
  •     Public Opinion Analyst
  •     Public Relations Director
  •     Sales Manager
  •     Social Worker 
  •     Strategic Planning Consultant
  •     Technical Writer
  •     Urban Policy Planner

Additional online resources for career information
Government and Political Science Resources
Public Service Jobs
Michigan Nonprofit Association

Famous Political Science Majors

  • Barack Obama, President of the United States
  • Joe Biden: Vice President of the United States (double major with History)
  • Gerald Ford: President of the United States
  • Dick Cheney: Vice President of the United States
  • Condoleezza Rice: Former US Secretary of State
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton, Former US Senator and Secretary of State
  • Henry Kissinger: Former National Security Advisor and US Secretary of State
  • Nancy Pelosi: House Minority Leader and Former Speaker of the House
  • Anderson Cooper: Journalist
  • Rachel Maddow: Journalist
  • Pete Wentz: Musician
  • Rebecca Lobo: WNBA player and member Hall of Fame
  • Bill Simmons: Sports Writer
  • Francis Fukuyama: Political Scientist and author