About the Study of History

Studying history is essentially a study of the story of humankind.  It is about studying not only what happened in history but also why and how it happened. This requires critical thinking, identifying useful sources, processing those sources, and presenting findings in a meaningful way. Due to this, many history students go into teaching, politics, and law. But the study of history also provides a framework that helps students develop skills that businesses covet, as this article in the Harvard Business Review points out. The skills developed throughout the study of history--a better understanding of the past, increased analytical and critical thinking skills, a stronger sense of community, and improved writing and presentation skills--provide the tools necessary to adapt and succeed in a complex and ever-changing world. In short, the study of history prepares students for success in their future careers, but it also provides them with the tools and experiences that will enrich their lives.

Why Study History?

What Can I Do with a History Degree?

Many students who study history aspire to teach while others desire to research and publish, but the skills acquired while one pursues a history degree extend into nearly every profession. The study of history teaches students how to take in a lot of data, analyze it, and communicate their findings to others. This process takes place every day in classrooms, board rooms, town halls, congressional offices, court rooms, museums, law offices, and more, all across the country. In short, the skills you learn while pursuing a degree in history are applicable in a number of diverse careers. The American Historical Association has a wealth of published information on career opportunities.

Testimonials of Alumni

Vanessa Madrigal-Lauchland Answers Question at the Graduate Student Symposium

Vanessa Madrigal-Lauchland
MA in History, 2017
PhD Candidate, University of California, Davis

The faculty facilitated a strong and dynamic support structure, including mentorship, professionalization opportunities, and connected me to valuable academic resources. This support structure, strengthened by the fellowship and assistance of my colleagues, prepared me to present and publish my research, teach in the classroom, and pursue my PhD at UC Davis.

My fondest memory in the program is the collaboration that took place with my colleagues to create the First Annual Student Research Panel.

Aaron Jackson Presenting on WWI Trench Journalism

Aaron Jackson
MA in History, 2016
PhD Candidate, Univeristy of California, San Francisco

Access to the faculty has to be one of the greatest strengths of the MA history programs at Sacramento State. From the time I applied to the program through my last seminar, it has never been difficult to get one-on-one attention from all of the faculty and staff. They have truly cultivated a collegiate environment and put their students' concerns first. The curriculum, too, has to be counted among the program's strengths. It is difficult, no doubt, but also engaging in a way that going through the program becomes one of the hardest things you will ever look forward to doing!

The faculty's efforts at fostering professional development in their students really stands out. Whether it is Dr. Michael Vann taking time out of a seminar to explain how to find a job in academica, Dr. Candace Gregory-Abbott sharing her advice on how to lecture, or Dr. Mona Siegel encouraging her World War I seminar students to present their research to a wider audience, the program at Sac State has really helped me develop a strong curriculum vitae, which made me a strong candidate for PhD programs.

Finally, the diversity and camaraderie that develops with your peers at Sacramento State is something that cannot be understated. We share in each other's success and bond in our common experiences. I know that in this program, I not only gained an invaluable education, I made friends for life!

Chelsea at the Statue of Lucy Stone in Boston

Chelsea Del Rio
MA in History, 2009
PhD, University of Michigan, 2016

Nothing has better prepared me for a career in academia than working closely with the History Department faculty during completion of my Master's degree. Their advising, guidance, and support helped me develop groundbreaking research and get into an R1 PhD program. They have continued to serve as trusted friends and mentors in the years since I graduated, remaining invested in my professional success.

The camaraderie developed in the History Department's graduate student community was vital to my educational experience, successful completion of the program, and admission to a top-ranked PhD program. Our spirited scholarly discussions and personal friendships continue to be a part of my professional development in the form of peer review, writing retreats, conference panels, and late-night pep talks.

2013 hooding Ceremony with Brittany Long, Megan Randolph, and Katie Healy

Katie Healy
MA in History, 2013
PhD Candidate, Yale Univeristy, History of Health Science and Medicine
Improviser and Sketch Writer, Upright Citizens Brigade, NYC

The history department's professors are equally inspiring as top-notch scholars and unflaggingly commited as mentors. They provide opportunities for and encourage students to publish with Clio, present at Phi Alpha Theta meetings and conferences, and lecture in undergraduate classes--all invaluable preparation for PhD programs or teaching.

Damian Harmony

Damian Harmony
High School Teacher & Comedian

The MA History program at Sacramento State has at its core two attributes that make it a stand-out program: diversity of content, and accessibility of professors. You would be hard-pressed to find a topic to write about which does not fall under the purview of one or more professors, and you would be equally hard-pressed to find a professor unwilling to help you, whatever your skill level in writing history.

I am a public school teacher in the Sacramento area, and I have taught history, which meant I taught teenagers how to write history. It was the skills I developed in my MA program, specifically under Dr. Mona Siegel, that enabled me to pull apart the Rubik's Cube of writing and teach my students how to put it back together. My studies in history have given me an incredibly broad base to draw from.

My most fond memories of the program are, whithout a doubt, the seminar classes. I was in a room of similarly-interested, though not always like-minded, individuals and discussing history. By far, it was the greatest chance for me to grow intellectually.