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A Brockport history degree prepares students for a range of professional careers. The study of history is widely regarded for developing students’ abilities to analyze material, write well, and communicate with others orally and across cultural divides, skills that are highly desired by employers in our information-driven and globally connected world. Indeed, only one of the Ivy League colleges offers an undergraduate major in business, yet graduate business programs are filled with Ivy League graduates who majored in one of the traditional liberal arts.
Students interested in professional careers should take additional courses in their perspective field that will help them explore possible career paths and provide them with the knowledge they need to gain entry into their first job or a graduate or law school program. These courses can contribute to a minor, a second major, or be taken as electives.
Professions & The History Major
Below you can find advice on selecting minors and electives that will prepare you for the following careers.
- Public Administration
- Public History
- Library Science and Information Science
- Urban and Regional Planning
- Social Work
Please see the Pre-Law Program for History Majors. History has long been one of the most popular undergraduate majors for successful law school applicants. The analytical and writing skills developed through historical studies are critical in the legal profession. We strongly suggest, that students also take formal course work in logic and have a legal internship experience. The latter not only makes for a better application to law school, but it also provides students with the direct experience of the legal system, giving them insight into both the way the law works and the life lawyers lead.
At Brockport, history majors will want to meet with Dr. Mark Chadsey, the pre-law advisor (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You do not have to major in biology to get into medical school. Currently, medical schools are filled with students who majored in a wide variety of disciplines, including history. Like graduate business schools, the medical schools are looking beyond the academic major to a collection of courses that demonstrate an interest in and ability to handle scientific studies. Consequently, medical schools recommend that applicants complete introductory courses in biology, chemistry, biochemistry and mathematics through calculus II. History majors are able to get these courses as easily as are majors in the natural sciences, and some can count for General Education requirements.
Business in the 21st century covers a wide variety of skills and professional abilities. Neither corporate recruiters nor graduate business schools demand undergraduate majors in business, since many want to provide the specific skill education for young management trainees themselves. But, they do require an understanding of the basic tenets of modern economics and mathematics. Consequently, history majors interested in business careers are strongly encouraged to take courses in basic micro- and macroeconomics, mathematics, logic, even computing science. In addition, courses that help develop writing and speaking skills, such as English and public speaking, are essential to successful careers.
History majors interested in business can apply to a wide variety of MBA (master’s in business administration) programs, but may want to consider one in particular. Brockport has an agreement with Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), titled the 4+1 MBA Program that allows the College's liberal arts majors to take courses here that will count for requirements at RIT, thus saving you time and tuition costs. You can take up to 42 credits of a variety of business, psychology, economics and math courses to have up to seven RIT courses waived. For the specifics, talk with your faculty advisor or the department advisement coordinator. Some of these courses may also count toward General Education.
Journalism, Advertising &Media
For students who wish to work in journalism or advertising, the single most important qualification for consideration is experience, not an undergraduate journalism or communication major. Successful students come from many academic majors, including history, along with extensive experience on the college newspaper or other media, even internships in local news media. In addition, there are graduate schools for journalism, such as the distinguished schools at Syracuse and Columbia Universities, and at the University of Missouri-Columbia, that provide the graduate education that can make you stand out from other job applicants.
At Brockport, you can pursue a minor in communication studies, or cluster a variety of journalism and broadcasting courses. You can get involved with The Stylus, 98.1 The Point, or campus television. You can also work with Career Services to find a journalism internship in the local area.
One of the fastest growing areas of employment in the past several decades has been in the management of public (i.e., government) agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, a trend that is expected to continue in the next several decades. The Master’s of Public Administration degree is the public-sector equivalent of the MBA, and like the MBA does not require a specific undergraduate major. There are excellent MPA programs across the state and country, many of which identify courses that students should take as undergraduates to make them competitive applicants and successful graduate students. SUNY Brockport’s MPA program, for example, suggests some courses in business, computer science, political science, health sciences, economics, sociology, and psychology as useful background. Regardless of what MPA programs you apply to, you may want to consider taking one or more of: PLS 312: Public Administration, PLS: 318 State and Local Government, PLS 401: Local Government Internship, and PLS 492/493: Albany Internship. Basic courses in sociology, economics, and psychology can satisfy General Education requirements as well. For further information see the American Society for Public Administration’s Web site at www.aspanet.org.
Museums & Public History
An undergraduate major in history combined with some kind of technical skills with computers or artifacts, as well as with a master’s degree in History, Museum Studies, or Library Science can lead you into a rewarding career in public history. Whether as a manager, an archivist/librarian, or curator, you can work for museums, colleges, government (perhaps National Parks), corporations, even law firms. Internship experience as an undergraduate would be invaluable in getting a foot in the door of a competitive field. The Department of History offers two avenues of Public History education 1) the Interdisciplinary Minor in Museum Studies/Public HistoryThrough and/or 2) the American Public History MA track. HST 371 and 372 (Career Exploration) you can set up an internship with one of a number of local and regional museums and archives. Through the Albany semester program you may be able to secure an internship with the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, even the State Historic Preservation Office (nysparks.state.ny.us/shop). You may also want to consider taking archaeology courses in the Anthropology Department and/or participating in an archaeological field school run by Dr. LouAnn Wurst. For further information on public history careers see the American Association of Museums’ Web site at www.aam-us.org
Library Science & Information Technology
The stereotype of the librarian chained to a card catalogue is passé. With the influence of the Internet and on-line databases, library science is one of the most cuttingedge professions for the 21st century. History majors gain excellent preparation for Master’s of Library Science (MLS) programs, but can also consider relevant computer science courses. You can apply to a wide variety of MLS programs across the country, but a very good local one is at the University of Buffalo (UB), which prefers liberal arts majors. Their only other prerequisite is basic computer literacy - the ability to create and manage files, use an operating system and e-mail, and use a spreadsheet. The MLS can lead you to jobs in the public schools, higher education institutions, law firms (at UB you can do a joint JD-MLS program), the music industry (UB also has a joint MLS-MA in music history program), and any other organization or business where information management is important. For further information see the American Library Association’s Web site at www.ala.org.
Urban and Regional Planning
Master’s and PhD programs in planning accept applicants with backgrounds in a wide variety of undergraduate majors, including history. The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (www.acsp.org) lists the main branches within the profession as land-use planning, environmental planning, transportation planning, economic development planning and social policy/community/housing planning. SOC 304: Urban Sociology, would be relevant background for many of these, as would PLS 318: State and Local Government. Also pay attention in HST 212 when post-WW2 suburbanization is discussed. The ACSP Web site lists all accredited graduate programs in the US and Canada, so you can check out specific undergraduate prerequisites listed by a variety of schools. Planners are in high demand, and the percentage of women and ethnic/racial minorities in the profession is growing.
A pattern is evident in the cases cited above: a traditional liberal arts academic major, like history, can be used by students to prepare for careers in the professions, especially when it is combined with a small number of courses that are specifically chosen because of their importance for graduate education and with internships and international education.
Social work no longer defines itself simply as a helping profession, but rather one which aims for the empowerment of disadvantaged or oppressed social groups, and the fulfillment of social justice and equality. The Master’s in Social Work degree (MSW) can lead you to a rewarding career in a variety of settings within this field. A Bachelor of Social Work degree is not a required prerequisite, and a history major is excellent preparation for professional graduate training. There are many fine MSW programs across the state and country that you can apply to, each of which will suggest specific kinds of undergraduate courses that will make you a competitive applicant. Brockport’s MSW program (run jointly with Nazareth College), for example, requires, in addition to an undergraduate degree, specific courses in human biology, statistics, social sciences, humanities, and quantitative reasoning. Many of these can be satisfied through your General Education courses. While the ability to work in a second language is not necessary for a successful career in social work, it can open up additional job opportunities. For further information see the National Association of Social Workers’ Web site at www.naswdc.org.
The College's Office of Career Services and its professional staff can be of great benefit to you as you search for internships, jobs, or just career ideas. Check out their Web page at www.brockport.edu/academics/career/ for more information, and current events. The CSO is open 8 – 5 (8 – 4 during the summer) and has career advisors on duty 11 am – 3 pm, available on a drop-in basis. These advisors can help on a number of levels, including the preparation of curricula vitae, statements of purpose, etc. The CSO also maintains a large library of career exploration and development materials, including internship and job databases. They also host and publicize local and regional job fairs. You can try out a computer program that will give you advice on suitable careers for your interests and talents. The CSO offers the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test) regularly, and offers a discounted LSAT preparation course each summer for SUNY Brockport students.
- Federal Government
- The Federal Government offers numerous internships each year relevant to history or that require the skill you will build in history classes.
- Public History Internships in the Rochester area
- The Brockport Washington Program
- Semester or Summer internships that earn Brockport credit. Recent Brockport History majors have interned with the Smithsonian and lobbyist groups.
- The Brockport Albany Semester Program
- New York State Division of Human Rights
- Most appropriate for History majors considering Law school or law-related professions. A Brockport History major recently interned here and highly recommends the experience.
History majors can get credit for history-related internships through HST 371 and HST 372, Brockport Career Exploration in History I and II (1-6 credits, but normally 3 credits). To register you must have at least a 3.0 GPA in your history courses, at least a 2.8 GPA overall, and have sophomore, junior, or senior status. Participants must work 40- 250 hours depending on the number of credits (125 hours is normal for 3 credits) and keep a journal, and will receive a grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory. The history department has relationships with several Rochester-area public and corporate archives, historical societies, oral history projects, and museums where internships can be set up. For a complete current list of internships, contact Dr. Paul Moyer in the History Department or Career Services in Rakov.
For more career advice, please consult