Historian - Education and Profession

Education and Profession

An undergraduate history degree is often used as a stepping stone to graduate studies in business or law. Many historians are employed at universities and other facilities for post-secondary education. In addition, it is normal for colleges and universities to require the PhD degree for new full-time hires, and a Masters degree for part-timers. Publication is increasingly required by smaller schools, so graduate papers become journal articles and PhD dissertations become published monographs. The graduate student experience is difficult—those who finish their doctorate in the United States take on average 8 or more years; funding is scarce except at a few very rich universities. Being a teaching assistant in a course is required in some programs; in others it is a paid opportunity awarded a fraction of the students. Until the 1980s it was rare for graduate programs to teach how to teach; the assumption was that teaching was easy and that learning how to do research was the main mission.

Professional historians typically work in colleges and universities, archival centers, government agencies, museums, and as freelance writers and consultants. The job market for new PhDs in history is poor and getting worse, with many relegated to part-time "adjunct" teaching jobs with low pay and no benefits.

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