History studies past human experience in all its imaginable aspects: economic, social, political, cultural, intellectual, scientific and technological. Our temporal scope covers the ancient past to our own days, while cultural and spatial interests involve the peoples of Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.
What makes the study of history distinct is the extensive use of original sources in various forms: written (old letters, diaries, memoirs, travelers' accounts, laws, newspapers), visual (photographs, film and TV footage, paintings, posters, postcards); oral (interviews, songs, radio broadcasts), and material (tools, buildings, pots, clothes). Relying on these different kinds of documents, historians develop interpretations of a wide range of the human experience, including scientific and technological breakthroughs, famines, the formation, evolution and conflicts of family groups, mass migrations, wars, cultural encounters, and revolutions. Historians strive to write about such situations in a graceful style that combines clarity with probing analysis. Professional historians display their skills through teaching, lecturing, and providing expert guidance.
History can be studied as a single major or in combination with other majors and certificate programs. History makes even more sense in combination with political science, international relations, sociology and anthropology, religious studies or literature. Also, history majors can take advantage of the various certificate programs, such as women's studies, Latin American or other area studies, and teaching. Any student who completes 4 upper-level history courses and has a 3.2 overall GPA can become a member of the national honor society Phi Alpha Theta.
History majors can also expand their experiences by participating in exciting and life-altering activities and through which they can put their historical training and skills to work early on in their educational development. These activities include study abroad, participation in honor societies, and student publications.
History students are trained to be critical readers, good writers, and astute analysts. These qualities and skills are fundamental for success in business activities, public and professional careers, teaching, and advanced studies. A major in history is highly valued in law, journalism, and other professional schools; it is immediately useful for work in museums, libraries, public service, and the business world. It is also instrumental in acquiring teaching certificates.
To get a sense of why studying history is not just an occupation for future historians read Paul B. Sturtevant's (Smithsonian Institution) insightful and up-to-date analysis here.