What is History?

image of woman in class

“History is who we are and why we are the way we are.” -David McCullough, American historian (1933-2022)

History is the laboratory of human experience. While other fields can design experiments to test hypotheses, history requires a different approach. Historians engage in a dialogue with the past: they collect sources from the people who came before us, find their voices, and reconstruct their experiences.

History is much more than memorization! Rather, history is a discipline centered around understanding the paths that led us to where we are today, the people who led us here, and where their lessons will lead us in the future.

What is History at Illinois?

An opportunity to hone your historical skills with world-renowned faculty and become a critical consumer and producer of a key tenet of our shared human experience.

Our History Major (36 credit hours in history), Secondary Education Track (33 credit hours in history + 36-39 hours in social science education core), and History Minor (18 credit hours in History) provide you the opportunity to create an educational experience tailored to your unique historical interests. Meaning, unlike many of our experiences with history in high school, your path in our program will be your own.

Why Study History at Illinois?

Everyone is affected by history, and everyone can benefit from studying history.

Whether this is your main area of study or one of many, history at Illinois provides you the necessary skills for long-term professional success. In fact, skills you will develop in our program are some of the most sought out by all employers in the 21st century!

Because of this, our program sees history majors and minors pair their studies with other areas from across campus. While many of these programs are in other humanities and social sciences, STEM majors can benefit from our classes as many STEM careers require the ability to communicate clearly, understand different points of view, make arguments from areas of ambiguity, and work with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

What History at Illinois Offers

Our program focuses on research. Beyond our required small research seminars (HIST 200 and 498), you will have the opportunity to work with faculty in their research program or even complete independent research projects and even have them published in our student-run Undergraduate History Journal at Illinois.

To complete this research, take advantage of the country’s third largest library system. Spend time getting lost in the Main Stacks or dive into our vast archives! We even offer a course on creating digital publications focusing on accessibility in the digital age (HIST 207) as part of the SourceLab Digital Documentary Publishing initiative (yet another opportunity to publish as an undergraduate).

Since every place has history, there will be no shortage of study abroad programs that you can choose from while more being added each year. Or if you are looking for something more local, we will help you find local jobs and internship on campus with the help of the LAS Career Services located in Gregory Hall Room 105.