History Beyond Beloit
Off-Campus Study and Beyond Beloit
No matter what your long-term career plans, there are many opportunities to study history and to work as an historian off-campus during your time at Beloit.
We urge all History students to seriously consider spending one or two semesters abroad. The opportunity to study a foreign culture, its history, and its language for an extended period will not only enhance your knowledge of that country's past, but also allow you to deepen your understanding of your own country and its distinct history when you return. Almost every Study Abroad program available to Beloit students offers opportunities for historical study; you should consult with your advisor about how specific programs might help you fulfill the requirements of Beloit's History Major or Minor.
Students are encouraged to begin planning for Study Abroad by the beginning of their sophomore year. A good place to start is the Office of International Education's website followed by a visit to International House to read through the brochures they have about specific programs and to consult with their staff. When you have ideas about two or three possible programs, you should discuss the possibilities with your advisor, who may have useful information about where other history students have gone in recent years.
Off-campus Study at the Newberry Library
Students who are considering graduate school in History should strongly consider spending a semester in Chicago and participating in the Newberry Library's Seminar in the Humanities. While the faculty and the theme of this ACM-sponsored seminar change each fall, every seminar gives students an opportunity to engage in extensive independent research in a world-famous library's collections. Historians at the Newberry have access to an extraordinary range of primary sources about American and European history, religion, and literature (to name only a few broad topics). For more information about the library and its collections, visit the ACM website and consult the Beloit program advisor.
Students who wish to participate in the Newberry seminar should have some experience writing significant research papers before they go; for that reason, it is often best to apply in your junior year for the fall semester of the senior year. Students receive a full semester credit for their work at the Newberry and normally some of those credits can be counted towards the History Major. Depending on the individual research topic, participation in the Newberry Seminar usually counts towards one of a student's required 300-level courses. Students who will participate in the program should plan to apply for departmental Honors (see section on Honors).
If you are interested in an internship during the summer or during the school year, there are lots of opportunities available locally, throughout the country, and even abroad. You will need the support of a History faculty member in order for such an internship to qualify for departmental credit, however, so consult with your advisor. Internship opportunities are described and sometimes posted on the Field and Career Services website, which is a good place to start your search.
Other opportunities are sometimes available by making direct contacts with potential employers, or by visiting the website of the SCA (Students Conserving America), which coordinates internships at historical sites run by the National Parks Service.
Graduate School in History
Some of the most promising undergraduate history students plan to attend graduate school, whether to study a field of history at the Master's or Doctoral level, or to become a public historian. Students who wish to pursue careers in other fields, such as law or social work, should speak to appropriate college staff at FACS. Choice of program, requirements, admissions, timing, and advice are critical components of the decision to go to graduate school.
Choice of Program
Students should research programs whose strengths match their interests and locate financial resources to complete the degree. Well before applications are due, a student should identify potential advisors and arrange visits to a number of campuses. In those visits, students should speak to both faculty and current graduate students. While some of the best programs accept and fund students all the way through their graduate programs, including paying a monthly stipend for living expenses, in many programs students teach classes in exchange for tuition benefits and a stipend. Students may choose to pay for their M.A. if funding is not available from the university.
Graduate programs vary in length, but students generally complete a Master's in history or in public history in two years, including taking classes, passing language proficiency and qualifying exams, and writing a thesis. A double M.A. in history and education can take three years. Doctoral programs often require students to take classes, complete qualifying exams, pass one or more language proficiency exams, and write a dissertation in 5-7 years.
Because graduate school applications are generally due in mid-December, it can be difficult to manage a thorough application in the senior year. In addition to a very polished writing sample of 20-30 pages, students will need three letters of recommendation from professors well-acquainted with their work, as well as impressive grade point averages (GPA's) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Although standards vary, a 3.5 GPA and GRE scores of 85th percentile and above are acceptable at many schools, while the best programs require 3.75 GPA and GRE scores above the 90th percentile. Proficiency in one or more foreign languages is required by virtually all programs.
Beloit students aiming to attend graduate school the year following their senior year should approach their faculty advisor near the end of junior year or the beginning of senior year. Students who plan to take a year off between undergraduate and graduate school should approach advisors in spring semester of their senior year.
Where to Begin
A very good place to begin researching Ph.D. programs is the American Historical Association's website.
Aspiring public historians should check the National Council on Public History website.
Opportunities After Beloit
What Can You Do With A Undergraduate Degree in History?
Many, many things. As a liberal arts major, of course, the world is your oyster and you can consider a multitude of careers. Among the jobs you can consider are: advertising executive, analyst, archivist, broadcaster, campaign worker, consultant, congressional aide, editor, foreign service officer, foundation staffer, information specialist, intelligence agent, journalist, legal assistant, lobbyist, personnel manager, public relations staffer, researcher, teacher . . . the list can be almost endless.
More specifically, though, with your degree in history you can be an educator, researcher, communicator or editor, information manager, advocate, or even a businessperson.
Here is a brief list of the career opportunities available to the undergraduate history major. This list is based on a very useful pamphlet, Careers for Students of History, written by Barbara J. Howe and jointly published by the American Historical Association and the National Council on Public History in 1989. While this online miniguide is based on this pamphlet (now out of print), with appropriate paraphrases from its text, it discusses also some of the new opportunities that became available to the history major in the recent past.
History BAs intending to pursue an advanced degree in history may profitably consult the excellent new guide, Careers for Students of History, by Constance Schulz, Page Putnam Miller, Aaron Marrs, and Kevin Allen (2002: 64 pages, $7 members, $9 nonmembers. ISBN 0-87229-128-6).
Historic Sites and Museums
Museums and Historical Organizations
Cultural Resources Management and Historic Preservation Think Tanks
Lawyers and Paralegals
Legislative Staff Work
Historians in Corporations
Historians in Nonprofit Associations
For more information on all these career opportunities as well as other possibilities, consult the pamphlet referred to above and, of course, the career guidance office.