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What is History?

Through the examination of past events, actions, and decisions, history students gain skills that give them an objective perspective on current events and allow them to predict and respond to future consequences. The Department of History in the Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences offers students a wide range of courses covering virtually every major epoch in history. Students can choose to specialize in one of these areas, including Pre- and Post-1865 United States History, History of the American West, American Indian History, American Social and Intellectual History, European History, and Judaic Studies.

The career opportunities for history students are many and varied. Many find their training is ideally suited for a career in law and continue their education with graduate studies at OU's School of Law or other law schools. Businesses often find graduates with history and other liberal arts backgrounds to be prime candidates for executive training programs. History graduates often apply their knowledge in museum and archival work, due to the increased interest Americans have developed in U.S. history.

So, what's my degree?

A history student graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in history degree. Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in history, as well as a minor, are also available.

Do my interests fit?

History students typically have interests in:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Identifying and evaluating records of past events, ideas, and facts
  • Objective observations

History students may choose to pursue a second major or minor in international and area studies, communication, business, European studies, Asian studies, women's studies, African American studies, journalism, education, or political science, among others.

How can OU History help me?

Studying the past – whether it’s near or distant, foreign or familiar – is fascinating. And understanding the past enhances your ability to understand the present. As a history major at the University of Oklahoma, you will work closely with a faculty distinguished for both its teaching and research. The research, analytical, and writing skills that you develop as a history major will help you advance in a wide range of careers. In fact, most of our majors do not become professional historians. Instead, they pursue careers in fields such as law, public service, business, journalism, information management, military service, or even medicine. Others use their historical expertise and knowledge of other cultures more directly as teachers, museum curators, public historians, workers in non-profit agencies, or Peace Corps volunteers. Some even go on to graduate school to become professional historians. For those students entering the field of education, the OU Rainbolt College of Education has a scholarship fund to assist with student debt. For more information, see Debt-Free Teachers.

The Department of History at OU has an extensive alumni network, robust student awards, and extensive opportunities for professional development. Think about pursuing an internship at an archive or museum for college credit. History faculty regularly advise students on the best tactics to secure employment and admission to law school, business school, or other professional programs. In this dynamic department, each student receives academic and professional counseling tailored to their own interests. 

Students interested in history have two valuable resources on campus that provide them the opportunity to use primary historical documents and research references. The Western History Collection contains 65,000 books, 10,000 cubic feet of manuscripts, and 160,000 photographs, making it one of the most important facilities in the world for the study of American history. OU's Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, one of the nation's largest connected to either a public or private university, offers rich research opportunities for those interested in studying Native American, Western American, and environmental history.

History faculty are frequently published authors and conduct historical research in specialized areas of interest while concurrently teaching classes. Recent publications include "With Arrow, Sword, and Spear: A History of Warfare in the Ancient World" by Alfred S. Bradford and "The Indian Southwest 1580-1830: Ethnogenesis and Reinvention," for which author Gary Anderson won the Julian J. Rothbaum Prize.

How can I get involved?

If you decide that the history major is for you, consider joining the Department of History’s honor society, Phi Alpha Theta. Founded at the University of Arkansas in 1921, Phi Alpha Theta now boasts almost 500 chapters with more than 80,000 initiates since its organization. Be sure to check out some of our other opportunities to get involved here.

What courses will I take?

History courses include:

  • U.S. History
  • History Sleuth
  • Courses from Premodern Western Civilization 
  • Courses from Modern Western Civilization
  • Courses from Premodern Non-Western Civilization
  • Courses from Modern Non-Western Civilization

Wait, I can have a minor?

Recommended minors for History majors include:

  • International and Area Studies
  • Communication
  • Business
  • European Studies
  • Asian Studies
  • Women's Studies
  • African American Studies
  • Journalism
  • Education 
  • Political Science

How can I study abroad?

The Department of History faculty regularly lead study abroad programs. OU has numerous study abroad opportunities for students of all majors. Whether you want to take electives, lower-division courses, or major requirements, be sure to check out what education abroad opportunities are available to you through the College of International Studies. 

What kind of career could I pursue?

Historical societies
Editing & Publishing
Foreign service
Military service

Chambers of commerce
Small business owner
Non-profit agencies
Community and social services
Consultants and Contractors
Libraries and Archives

How much will I make?

Visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website to explore the median pay for jobs you can pursue with this degree. 

Contact Us

Department of History
Phone: (405) 325-6002