For its majors, the history department offers a broad program of courses designed to discipline and develop the mind. When combined with appropriate courses in other fields, this program prepares history majors for careers in law, government service, management and administration, library science, education and journalism. A departmental honors program offers special opportunities for independent work to advanced students.
One of the most common questions asked by students and parents alike is “what can one do with a history degree?” The answer to this question is not as simple as one would think. Most people see a B.A. in History as a path to a career in teaching, be it in primary or secondary schools or, in some cases, in a college or university. While these are common destinations for history majors (Le Moyne College History graduates can be found teaching in schools throughout Central New York and across the state), they are far from being the only ones. Like the other core disciplines in a liberal arts curriculum, the study of history prepares students to be good writers, critical thinkers, analysts of data, and knowledgeable global citizens. These are skills that are essential in today’s world and make anyone a very marketable job candidate.
The curriculum for History majors at Le Moyne College teaches all students research skills, the ability to analyze critically source material, communicate their findings both through in-class discussions and in the writing of research papers, and, unlike any other major at the college, gives students a global and historic perspective, a skill that has become increasingly important in our ever globalizing world. Additionally, the History major gives students thirty credits of free electives that allow students to pursue minors, additional foreign language study, or other courses of interest to help students to prepare themselves for life after graduation. So what career paths are available to History majors? Below see some profiles of our alumni, graduate and law schools to which our majors have been accepted, and careers open to history majors.
Kathleen Grabowski Forbush ’90 BA History, Integral Honors Degree
When I arrived on the Le Moyne campus I was not sure what I wanted to study, but loved social studies in high school so declaring as a history major seemed like a good idea. History requires the student to master both the details (who, what, where, when, and how of a historical event) and at the same time the why and context shaped by all these individual elements. I have always found this traversing between the big picture and the detail so fascinating (I still do). I also appreciated that many of my professors would also require us to learn and understand elements of culture, art, and literature of the historical period and it made the history more interesting.
Studying history also prepared me well for the professional life and graduate work I would later pursue. The requirement to read with a critical eye, research thoroughly, write coherently, and verbally articulate a point of view are skills I use and I can directly attribute my experiences as a history student at Le Moyne. I was also an integral honors student, and I was able to utilize the skills I honed during sophomore and junior year history classes in research and writing when it came to my senior honors project.
When I graduated from Le Moyne, I took a position in sales for a large food company and within two years I decided to pursue a graduate business degree. I turned to one of my former professors for advice on school selection and a letter of recommendation. I completed an MBA from Syracuse University, and the time at Le Moyne served me well when it came time to research, write and voice opinions in class. It was pursuing my MBA that I became interested in the field of human resources and organizational development. Again, I think this interest has roots from my love and study of history. I became fascinated at the various factors and elements that make up an organization, again I liked both the details and how they contributed to the big picture of organizational life.
While pursuing my MBA, I took an entry level job in Human Resources with the same food company and rose through the ranks. I would eventually begin to concentrate on the field of Organizational Development working for other companies in diverse industries such as healthcare, information technology, and academia. I was able to work in varied companies and organizations, while my field of expertise stayed the same. I discovered that many challenges in organizations are common, just like many experiences in history are common. It is the differences in how aspects of history play out that make things so interesting!
Within the last few years, I completed a second master’s degree in Organizational Development from Johns Hopkins University. Again, I pulled on those habits and practices learned at Le Moyne, particularly because this program was incredibly research and writing intensive. I was confident to be back in a classroom engaging with professors and students again. I think my time at Le Moyne instilled in me a love of constant learning. Recently, I started my own consulting business so I can balance my love of work with my family and other interests. I still read the occasional history book for fun, and love to help my son with his social studies homework, though I am sure he wishes I would not pull out my old history books for reference!
My final thoughts are these, if you love history, study it! You can turn a history and a liberal arts degree into a successful career whether in education, law or business, or anything you can imagine and have not even imagined yet. The skills you will learn will last you a life-time and you will be glad you have those experiences.
Amy Kostine ’10 BA History
I arrived at Le Moyne in 2008 as a transfer student, having previously earned an A.S. in Photography from Onondaga Community College. While earning my A.S., I learned both the technical craft of photography and its role in history. It was this lesson, along with learning how to digitally restore antique photographs, that began to blend my love of photography, history, and preservation. I certainly surprised some of my peers when I made the unforeseen decision to transition to a major in history, but we all have many varied interests, and sometimes those interests can meld together and send you on a path to an unexpected career.
While earning my B.A. at Le Moyne, I continued studying the history of photography, but I also began to focus on another topic in which I was greatly interested: the Cherokee Trail of Tears. The importance of understanding historiography, contextualization, conducting original primary- source research, and writing effectively were strongly emphasized in every class. The student-centered professors in the history department helped me hone these skills, which prepared me for both my graduate coursework and my professional career.
My senior year came too quickly, and I had to decide what career I wanted to pursue after I graduated. At the time, I had the incorrect notion that a degree in history only meant a career in teaching. Knowing full well that teaching was not the right fit for me, I asked my professors, “What other types of jobs can you get with a history degree?” It was then that my professors opened my eyes and introduced me to the field of Public History and its variety of careers in archives, museums, and historic preservation.
After graduating, I followed in the footsteps of one of my Le Moyne history professors, Dr. Holly Rine, and chose to earn an M.A. in History with an emphasis in Public History and Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University. Like my former professor, I was also awarded a coveted Graduate Research Assistantship with the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP) at the university. In both my coursework and my work at the CHP, I consistently drew upon my skills in research and writing that I had learned at Le Moyne. As a Graduate Research Assistant, I worked on educator materials, National Register nominations, heritage development plans, tourism brochures, and museum exhibits. Many of the topics that I studied at Le Moyne, including Farm Security Administration photography and the Trail of Tears, became the focus of a number of my projects at the CHP.
I now work full-time as the Trail of Tears Project Coordinator/Historian at the CHP and oversee a number of partnership projects with the National Park Service’s National Trails Intermountain Region that are aimed at the preservation and interpretation of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. Those projects have ranged from a nine-state survey to document all historic buildings associated with the Trail, to a Tennessee Trail of Tears brochure, to kiosk and wayside exhibits for David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg, TN. Whether I am in the office or out in the field, the imprint of my Le Moyne professors remains evident in my work. Had it not been for their support and guidance both inside and outside of the classroom, I can certainly say that I would not be where I am today.
I’ll end with this: If you love history but feel that teaching is not for you, then continue doing what you love and remember that there are many other careers for historians that are sure to fit your interests.
Historians in Museums, Archives and Historic Preservation
- For many people their interest with history developed from childhood trips to museums or historic sites. The development of these exhibits and sites is largely done by individuals trained as historians. Additionally, for-profit businesses and public sector agencies require historians to collect, assemble, and preserve archival documents for reference and research. Thus employment at places as diverse as the National Park Service, Ford Motor Company, and the New York State Archives require trained historians.
- Le Moyne College offers an excellent internship opportunity for History majors interested in historic preservation and archival work at the Le Moyne College Archives housed in the Noreen Falcone Library on campus.
Historians in Government and Politics
- What do Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, George W. Bush, Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, W.E.B. DuBois have in common? They all were History majors in college.
- The study of History in college opens many doors for individuals interested in careers in government service or politics, be it local, state, or federal. Some opportunities include work for the U.S. State Department, FBI, CIA, and as a Congressional staffer.
Historians in the Business World
- Would it surprise you that numerous CEOs at Fortune 500 companies were history majors in college? Among these companies are IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Morgan Stanley, and Omnimedia.
- The skills that many businesses seek in their employees such as the ability to research and evaluate data, to communicate their findings in both writing and orally, to possess a global mindset, and to understand the big picture are all required of History majors.
Historians in Publishing
- Writing skills stressed in our History curriculum can help graduates land jobs in the publishing field as editors and writers for both scholarly journals and documentary projects.
Historians Helping Others
- Another option for History majors is spend one to two years providing much needed services to others through the Peace Corps, Teach for America, and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, among others. Participation in these programs provides the participants with much needed experience and skills that usually result in numerous job and graduate school opportunities.
For a more detailed description of careers for students of history see the American Historical Association’s publication: www.historians.org/pubs/careers/index.htm
Graduate Programs and Law Schools to which recent History majors have been accepted
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Colorado
University of Delaware
Penn State University
Loyola University of Chicago
West Virginia University
University of Rochester
University of Oklahoma
Oswego State University
University of Pittsburgh (archival studies)
Middle Tennessee State University (public history)
Emory University Law School
Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago Kent School of Law
Michigan State University College of Law
Penn State University: The Dickinson Law School
Syracuse University Law School
University at Albany Law School
University at Buffalo Law School
University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
University of North Carolina, Charlotte School of Law
University of Wisconsin Law School
Wake Forest University School of Law
William & Mary Law School