History is the study of past human events – who, what, why, when, and how. It examines the structure of societies at a particular time and the motivations and political context of how and why events developed the way they did. The best colleges in this field are expected to imbue their students with the ability to view and analyze the past unfiltered by systemic biases of the present.
At most universities the history department is a part of the College of Arts and Sciences (sometimes referred to as humanities). Typically undergraduate college history majors will choose a concentration in specific area of history, such as regional or era histories. Examples of the concentrations include such regional fields as American history, African history, European history, and Asian history. Era histories might include Pre-Columbian history, Islamic conquest, Native American history, or Middle Ages. Different universities may excel in one specialty but lag in another.
30 Best Colleges for History Majors
We have analyzed over 200 colleges in ranking the best colleges for history majors. This ranking analyzes the reputational and real-world value excellence of the history departments as a whole.
|1||Stanford University||Palo Alto||CA||Visit|
|2||Yale University||New Haven||CT||Visit|
|3||University of Texas - Austin||Austin||TX||Visit|
|5||Columbia University||New York||NY||Visit|
|7||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor||MI||Visit|
|8||University of California - Los Angeles||Los Angeles||CA||Visit|
|9||University of Chicago||Chicago||IL||Visit|
|10||University of California - Berkeley||Berkeley||CA||Visit|
|11||University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia||PA||Visit|
|12||University of North Carolina||Chapel Hill||NC||Visit|
|13||University Of Wisconsin||Madison||WI||Visit|
|14||University of Virginia||Charlottesville||VA||Visit|
|17||University of Florida||Gainesville||FL||Visit|
|20||Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore||MD||Visit|
|21||University of Washington||Seattle||WA||Visit|
|22||Penn State||University Park||PA||Visit|
|23||New York University||New York||NY||Visit|
|24||College of William and Mary||Williamsburg||VA||Visit|
|25||University of Minnesota||Minneapolis||MN||Visit|
|26||University of Illinois||Champaign||IL||Visit|
|28||The Ohio State University||Columbus||OH||Visit|
More information on our RealRankTM analytics used in creating this ranking can be found on the About page.
Have you attended any of these programs? What is your experience at these universities?
Economic Value of A History Degree
History-specific careers are somewhat limited as with many other liberal arts fields, and many students who decide to major in history go on to graduate schools, whether continuing a focus on history or going into another field, such as law or business. For pure history careers, these are some options:
- Academics and teaching.
- Historians (advanced degree typically required).
History is a Relatively Low Paying Career
History, like many humanities in general, provides a somewhat limited career path. Typically students who choose to major in history as an undergraduate will seek an advanced degree of some sort to pursue a career, since there are not all that many opportunities available for pure undergraduate history majors. For example, a lot of attorneys may major in history as an undergraduate.
We try to be candid here in the analyses we provide. To put it bluntly, history (as opposed to another profession such as law or business, which also can be pursued with a history degree) is a relatively low paying career path. Of course, there are some people who achieve economic success and personal fulfillment with a history degree, and it certainly can be a viable career path for some people. Because of the comparatively low earnings potential for history career paths in general, my recommendation is that you avoid incurring a lot of college debt, if this field is your passion, as you do not want to get out of college overburdened with debt.