The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) forms the academic core of degree programs at the Department of History. An eight semester taught-degree, the B.A. can be tailored to Bachelor of Education majors and also serves as the scholastic qualification for students wishing to pursue a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Education (M.Ed.). Students enrolled in the History B.A. will begin their program with survey-level courses designed to introduce them to core methodologies and chronological periods. As their studies progress, history majors must declare a chronological focus in two or more eras. Program content will vary greatly from student to student – a flexible program structure allows students to build a degree program that suits their personal interests and needs. Courses will primarily take the form of seminars, participatory exercises and discussion sections. The Department of History also encourages its B.A. majors to pursue internships and actively engage in career planning and networking events.
Graduates of the History B.A. are invited to apply for our consecutive Master of Arts (M.A.). In contrast to the B.A., the M.A. is a research-based degree program. Students enrolled in the M.A. will specialize in one chronological era and conduct scientific research in this area. This methodology allows M.A. students the opportunity to further refine their research skills while acquiring academic depth in their chose specialization. Coursework will take the form of essays, term papers and the Master’s thesis. Designed to advance the students’ analytical skills, these writings require students to familiarize themselves with contemporary source material and formulate their own arguments as fledgling scholars within the international research community.
Many of our M.A. graduates continue on to pursue their PhD, electing to write their doctoral thesis within our department. Various scholarship opportunities provide financial support to PhD candidates during their program; doctoral students may also take on research assistantships in one of the department’s numerous projects. Several PhD candidates in the Department of History also belong to research training groups (Graduiertenkollegs) and carry out their studies within the framework of a structured research program. These doctoral researchers enjoy both strong academic guidance as well as the chance to implement self-organized training strategies.
The Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in History prepares students for a range of professions well beyond the traditional sphere. A large percentage of our graduates do not pursue careers as professional historians, but seek employment in the media, politics, political consulting or within educational institutions, foundations or corporations. The transition from student to working professional is made easier through internship placements and networking opportunities offered by the department. History students can expect good employment prospects – unemployment rates among graduates of the humanities have been steadily sinking over recent years. Employers particularly value the general knowledge and skills that history graduates possess – the ability to quickly familiarize oneself with new topics, think independently, and articulate sophisticated arguments.
Why study history?
The study of history is fundamental to understanding human nature and reality. It traces the emergence of social, political and cultural configurations while providing an essential context for the assessment of contemporary culture and governmental institutions. Its study also serves to strengthen our understanding of historical continuity and change as well as the complexities of an era. The history degree teaches students a broad range of critical thinking, analytical writing and research skills – qualifications highly applicable for careers in a variety of fields. In recent years history students have enjoyed expanding employment opportunities, finding employment in both traditional teaching roles at schools and universities, as well as non-traditional positions such as journalists, lawyers, media and communications specialists and political consultants.
What is the Study of History – a Definition
History is the analysis of the human past using critically evaluated source material. Its study aims for the most accurate and comprehensive interpretation of historical facts as well as the clear representation of historical commonalities and effects. Methodologically critical in its approach, history dialectically uncovers the roots of the present to illustrate their historical framework. Curriculum at the Department of History follows the classical periodization of Ancient, Medieval and Modern (Antiquity, Middle Ages, Modern Era).
Traditional chronological division for introductory and specialization modules at the Department of History:
a) Ancient History: Greco-Roman Antiquity from 2000 B.C. - Fall of the Roman Empire in the 5/6th Century (Western Roman Empire/Justinian/Arabian Expansion)
b) Medieval History: Migration Period from 5/6th - end of the 15th Century (Columbus/Luther)
c) Modern History: 15-18th Century (French Revolution) and Contemporary History: 19-20th Century