Bachelor of Arts in History
The study of history is the embodiment of a liberal education. It is the attempt to understand the human story through the lens of time and place. In our interconnected world, in which both events and our awareness of them occur with increasing speed, a deep and nuanced sense of the past has never been more important. It is vital to interpreting the world today, and to envisioning what it might be tomorrow.
At Brandeis, you will learn about the development of the modern world from faculty who are dedicated teachers as well as distinguished scholars. Together you will examine the conflicts and achievements, the politics and economy, the language and arts of pre- and post-1800 American, European and non-Western societies.
In seminars, you will hone your critical thinking, reading and writing skills and become adept at developing insightful analysis and articulating well-reasoned arguments. You will become familiar with the wide variety of methods and sources that historians draw upon to explore and interpret the past.
The major is flexible, enabling you to tailor your selection of history courses to your particular interests. If you are interested in a career in law or business, you can design a course of study that includes classes offered by other departments and programs—for example, in legal studies or economics.
Your history degree will equip you to pursue advanced study or find a job in a number of professional fields, including education, law, business, museum studies, publishing and public service.
Academics and Research
If you are planning a career in history, you may wish to undertake a senior thesis, the capstone experience of our department's Honors Program. This requires a substantial piece of original research in and writing on a topic that is of particular interest to you and that is not addressed in depth by the curriculum. Writing a senior thesis is essential if you are planning to do graduate work in history. Brandeis offers a wealth of resources for the student of history, as do the numerous other academic and historical institutions of nearby Boston.
Our faculty regularly receive honors in their field:
Michael Willrich has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and from the American Council of Learned Societies. In addition to winning several academic prizes, his book "Pox: An American History" was selected as a New Yorker Favorite Nonfiction Book for 2011.
Brian Donahue was elected to the membership of the American Antiquarian Society, an honor bestowed by his colleagues in recognition of his scholarship and for exceptional contributions to community or national leadership in humanistic affairs.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Professor Emeritus David Hackett Fischer recently received the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.
Internships and Networking
Internships in History (HIST 92a) enable you to gain work experience and improve your writing and analytical skills in real-world settings with faculty guidance. As an intern in Brandeis' special collections department, for example, history major Hallie Appel ’15 catalogued some 60 photographs of Caribbean and African blacks in the United States from 1847 to the 1960s. Other students have interned at Chinese Historical Society of New England, the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Additionally, the department has instituted Research Internships, where students get a chance to work closely on research with faculty.
As a history major, you'll have the opportunity to participate in student-run organizations such as the Medieval Society, the George Washington Club and Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society.
Careers, Graduate Study and Alumni
Many of our alumni go on to pursue a master's or doctoral degree in history, often becoming professors and authors. Others pursue careers in finance, media, entertainment and law.
Our alumni have gone on to careers at Princeton University, George Washington University, Barnard College, International Relief and Development, the FBI, the Journal of American History, the New Republic, the Organization of American Historians, CBS News and E*Trade.