Why Study History?

Why Study History?

The study of history introduces students to peoples, ideas, and cultures that may be unfamiliar, and thereby helps put our own world into perspective.

Because the past is as big as the world itself, history offers something for everyone. Indeed, historical study plays an important part in fostering well-rounded intellectual development as well as developing valuable career skills in research, writing, argumentation and documentation.

Students of history study individuals, groups, communities and nations from every imaginable perspective, and apply various analytical techniques to raise questions and think critically about the past. The study of history helps put our own modern world into perspective.

The undergraduate program at UC Davis has 33 faculty members offering courses in seven broad fields of concentration: Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Latin America, United States and World. Within these fields students have the opportunity to focus on more specific topics and tailor their studies to meet their particular interest.

Students considering a graduate degree in history should discuss career prospects with faculty members in the area of history they wish to pursue. Are you interested in pursuing a major in history? Explore our major program requirements.



The history faculty at UC Davis is distinguished by the high quality of both its teaching and research. Faculty interests range far afield in time and topic. The Department of History has strength in the fields of social and cultural history, women's history, and the history of science. We also offer geographically defined courses of study in: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and World. Faculty members hold Ph.D. degrees from a range of distinguished institutions from across the country. Visit the People area for a list of Department of History professors and their areas of interest.



One of the key ways of thinking about what majoring in history prepares you to pursue after graduation is to focus on the skills that a student acquires in an undergraduate history curriculum. These include:

  • Effective writing skills: The ability to successfully and precisely communicate your ideas in text is vital to any job for which a college degree is a necessity.
  • Critical analysis skills: A key part to the decision-making process for any job, critical analysis means the ability to analyze a situation and develop creative and practical solutions.
  • Research skills: Vital to any job, research skills enable you to understand past practices and policies and to trace the roots of any issue, to find new information that bears on that issue, and to incorporate that information into your analysis of an issue.
  • Interdisciplinary thinking and training: Develop the ability to think about a problem in a multitude of ways, to analyze it using multiple tools, and to devise solutions that draw from different traditions of thought.
  • Curiosity and Inquisitiveness: The desire to learn more, to examine reasons underlying situations, and to come to understand them as part of a continual, lifelong, education process is important, both professionally and personally.