History shapes the world we inhabit; it substantially determines the constraints and the possibilities of our experience; it colours the aspirations and aversions that drive us, individually and collectively. We can choose to live in ignorance of history, but we cannot live independently of it. History, in other words, is a burden we all share, but for some of us it is also a resource. It imposes limits but also supplies opportunities.
History is more than mere facts; it is a dynamic discipline built on analysis, debate and interpretation. When you study history, you develop a cultural vocabulary that examines humanity through events, culture and context. Our modern multimedia facilities bring history to life through images, texts, and sound recordings. Our faculty specialize in areas that reflect the world’s diversity. Whether your heart lies in modern Africa, medieval England or contemporary Japan, you will have the opportunity to study the historical periods and geographical locations that capture your attention. Complement your studies with thematic courses such as film in history, gender, the history of peace and war or environmental history.
Honours programs: Students applying directly to an honours program should list it as their first choice. If not admitted to honours, they will automatically be considered for the next highest program (i.e. specialization or major).
Minimum cut-off averages should be used as indicators. The cut-off data may change depending on the applicant pool. Applicants who meet the stated minimum requirements are not guaranteed admission to these programs.
We consider complete applications year round and we give priority to applicants who apply by official deadlines. Late applications will be considered if places are still availablefor the fall term only.
Graduates leave with indispensable skills in communication, research and critical thinking, and are equally ready for graduate studies or careers in education, law, journalism, publishing, business, public service, museums and archives.
What Can I Do with a History Degree?
Any history student will at one point or another be faced with the question, whether from a concerned parent or a skeptical friend: “What are you going to do with your degree?” And it is quite likely you have posed the same question to yourself. What follows is a brief guide that will provide you with an answer, and give you some sense of the many opportunities that are open to history students upon graduation.
Part of the reason some people view history degrees with a skeptical eye is that they do not lead to a single, clearly-defined career path – as is the case with professional degrees such as engineering, accounting, education, journalism, or law.
On the other hand, as a history student you develop a range of skills that are prized by employers in a wide range of occupations. In particular, a history student can be expected to display:
Communication skills: In writing papers and participating in class discussions, you develop an ability to articulate complex ideas in a clear and succinct manner. This facility with words is useful in business, law, politics, and a wide range of other fields.
Research skills: A term paper requires you to gather information from disparate sources, compare your findings to those of other researchers, analyze your sources, and present your conclusions to others. These skills translate well into fields such as business, journalism, public policy, and law.
Attention to detail and context: History students are expected to get their facts straight, but they also need to place historical figures and events in a broader context. This combination of meticulous precision and wide-ranging vision is a quality that makes history students very attractive as employees.
Cultural knowledge and sensitivity: As L.P. Hartley once wrote, “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” In studying the societies of the past, you develop an ability to empathize and understand cultures that are very different from our own. This ability to comprehend and broker cultural differences is useful in fields ranging from international relations to social work.
The challenge for any history graduate is to turn these skills to work into a job – and ultimately a career. With this in mind, the best way to approach this problem is to decide which career interests you the most, and then take steps to prepare yourself for employment in the field. Some possible areas might include:
Writing, publishing, media, journalism: If you are interested in writing or documentaries, you might look to publishing companies, radio/television stations, newspapers, or non-profit organizations. You might be able to get a foot in the door by working or interning at a local media outlet, learning skills in editing software and web design, or by completing a graduate diploma in journalism.
Law: If you are interested in legal work, a history degree is a common stepping stone toward a law degree. You might also consider working or interning at a law firm, or volunteering with a public advocacy/non-profit organization.
Politics: Many people who work in politics and policy get their start as history students. If you are interested in these fields, you might want to participate in student or local government, intern or volunteer with government agencies or political campaigns, and take courses in related fields.
Public interest/advocacy: If you have an interest in a particular cause or want to educate the public about a particular topic, you may want to intern or work with public interest or advocacy groups and take courses on specific issues related to your interest.
Information science, museology, and archives management: If you are interested in working as an archivist, curator, or librarian a history degree is a very good starting point. Potential employers might include libraries (public, private, and university), archives, museums, government agencies, corporations, art galleries, and museums. A master’s degree in information sciences or related fields is often required, but not always necessary.
Education: Many history students become teachers, whether at the high school, CEGEP or university level. Typically, teaching positions require a certificate (at the high school level) or a graduate degree. But it is also possible to teach outside the university and public school system, whether in private schools, museums, or federal or provincial parks. Internships might be useful in terms of getting a foot in the door in these fields, as would coursework in related fields.
In all these fields, one effective way of getting a sense of job requirements and employment opportunities is the “informational interview”. This entails finding someone who works in your field of interest and arranging for a short meeting to gain a better understanding of the industry. You should make it clear that the point of the interview is not to ask for a job. Instead, you should use the meeting as a means of gathering information about the typical career path in the field, as well as an opportunity to make new contacts in your area of interest. The interview should help you decide whether the field is for you or not, and should also give you a more realistic idea of what a typical career path might be.
For more examples of careers that are possible for History graduates of Canadian universities, as well as helpful advice on how to pursue them, see the Canadian Historical Association’s website: https://historydegreediplomehistoire.blog/
If you are interested in some of the careers that other history graduates from Concordia have taken in recent years, you might want to visit our History Alumni Profiles.
Students should also take advantage of Career and Planning Services at Concordia, which provides a wealth of information related to career and job-related questions. A full list of history-related occupations is available on their website.