What Can You Do With a PhD in History?

A Ph.D. in History is the terminal degree in the field and can take up to seven years of study beyond any undergraduate studies. Individuals who hold a Ph.D. in History might work as history professors or historians.

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Careers for Graduates with a History Ph.D.

Most students earning their Ph.D. in History go on to become professors at the university level. Professors are required to both teach and conduct research on behalf of the university and then present that research at conferences with other professors. Some history PhD graduates become historians, compiling and interpreting historical information contained in various archives and artifacts.

Overview of a Ph.D. in History

Earning a Ph.D. in History generally requires between five and ten years of graduate study. Because history is such a broad subject, students looking to earn their Ph.D. will likely have to choose a specialty of history in which to earn this advanced degree. Some potential Ph.D. programs in history include American history, ancient history, medieval Europe, modern Europe, Jewish history, East Asian history, women's history and Latin American history. The specific subject of history the student chooses to specialize in may be based on his or her undergraduate or master's degree work.

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  • American History
  • Ancient Studies
  • Asian History
  • Classical Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies
  • Cultural Resource Management
  • European History
  • Historic Preservation
  • History of Science and Technology
  • Holocaust Studies
  • Medieval and Renaissance Studies
  • Museum Studies
  • Public History and Archival Administration

Course Requirements

Within each history major, students will be required to study the culture, politics, foreign policy, potential colonialism, reformations, gender theory and writings of the place and time they choose. Students may also be required to work as teaching assistants during their Ph.D. studies, which involves assisting professors in teaching courses to undergraduate students, as well as completing a doctoral dissertation. The doctoral dissertation is a research report summarizing a specific piece of work the student has chosen within his or her history specialization. The student often works on this with an advisor, who is usually a university professor, over the course of his or her studies.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

Professors may advance in both pay and standing within the university by publishing their research work in a university press and independent journals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary teaching positions were expected to increase 13% from 2014-2024, which was faster-than-average growth. History postsecondary teachers earned a mean yearly wage of $73,720 in May 2014. Meanwhile, historian jobs were predicted to grow 2% from 2014-2024. This was slower than average, due in part to decreased federal funding expected. The BLS also reported that historians made an average yearly salary of $61,180 in May 2014.

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