Why major in history at Illinois?
There are two basic answers to this question, one idealistic and one realistic. The idealist would say that no true understanding of the world is possible without a deep knowledge of the past and of our own place in ongoing historical processes. The realist might respond that history is the study of power and the sources of power – and those who don’t know how power works will be forever at the mercy of those who do. Both perspectives are valid.
In either case, the History Major will equip you with a range of essential, life-enriching skills that will prepare you for many different career paths. In particular, the fact that every Illinois History major has successfully completed a work of original independent historical research means that our graduates can be trusted to contextualize complex problems, assemble and analyze data, assess competing arguments, and offer new interpretations of – and solutions to – problems old and new. In recent years, our alumni have accordingly gone on to careers in the media, government, public policy, business, film-making, advertising, social work, teaching, publishing, law, law enforcement, diplomacy, and military intelligence. Many have also gone on to graduate school in history and related disciplines; in fact, our own Professor James Brennan was an Illinois undergraduate.