History is the study of human experience of all kinds, considered in relation to particular times and places. It is also a method of thinking characterized by its attention to the contexts in which people have lived and worked. By mastering this method of thinking, students of history gain invaluable skills and techniques. They learn to analyze and interpret many different kinds of evidence---cultural, social, economic, and political---to organize it into a coherent whole and present it clearly with style in written or oral form. In so doing, students also learn to justify and to question their own and others’ conclusions, for history is always an argument about what actually happened. Indeed, rethinking and revising accepted historical conclusions is one of the most important –and most interesting—tasks of the historian.
Most undergraduate students of history do not become professional historians. However, the skills and techniques learned in studying history—the ability to analyze, interpret, and organize data of any kind and to communicate conclusions, particularly to write well—are invaluable in every profession. History students develop these skills and go on to use them in many careers, including law, teaching, business, film, international affairs, and even medicine and science. The History Department’s program is aimed at all these possible careers.