The History major prepares students for a lifetime of personal growth and professional success grounded in critical thinking, creativity, scholarly inquiry, effective oral and written communication, public service, and global understanding.
What is history?
History is a discipline devoted to understanding the past through careful reading, research, and analysis of sources and evidence. In addition to acquiring knowledge of past events, the process of historical inquiry develops the skills of analytical writing, critical thinking, creativity, and effective oral and written communication. Historians are skilled at evaluating evidence, synthesizing data, and undertaking research using a wide array of sources.
Where is history used?
History is used in almost every aspect of modern society. History informs public policy, shapes business decisions, and provides citizens with a deeper understanding of contemporary issues. Historians' research, writing, communication, and analytical skills are useful and applicable in a wide array of professional settings.
What kinds of career choices can I expect?
The Department of History offers two degrees, the B.A. and the B.S.Ed. Students who elect the B.A. often use that degree as the springboard to graduate school, government service, and business careers. One of the biggest fields for career opportunities is the variety of positions available in local, state, and federal government. History majors are extremely well prepared to take civil service exams successfully and to provide the skills needed and wanted in most government jobs.
Students interested in working for museums, historical societies, or archives often need a history major as a first step toward their careers. The department’s Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Public History Concentration introduces students to the specialized methods used by history professionals. History internships allow these students to explore historical careers and to gain valuable work experience while earning credit towards their degrees. This combination of training and on-the-job experience provides a solid foundation for students who wish to pursue the advanced degree often required for employment in these fields.
A history major can also prepare one for a writing profession. Media outlets, non-profit organizations, and business frequently hire history majors because they can research, think, organize, and communicate. Many other fields also look for these skills.
Many of our students major in history to prepare to teach in middle and high schools. At Shippensburg University we offer a B.S.Ed. degree which prepares students for Comprehensive Social Studies certification in grades 7 through 12.
Students in a wide variety of majors can benefit from a history minor. Such majors could include, but are not limited to, English, business, journalism and political science.
What is the curriculum?
The department’s curriculum emphasizes a global and comparative approach to the past. Therefore, history majors are expected to do work in three major areas: American history, European history, and non-Western history. Courses are also offered in public history.
Within each of these fields, there is a broad variety of courses organized by topic or by time period. Students have opportunities to sample a range of topics. All courses emphasize content knowledge and skills development. Students in the B.S.Ed. program receive professional training as educators in addition to their history coursework. The B.A. program also requires one course in the theory and practice of history and a capstone seminar in comparative history during the senior year.
Why take history at Shippensburg?
Our faculty is a dynamic community of teachers and scholars dedicated to exploring the world’s historical traditions through research, experiential learning, engaged scholarship, and innovative teaching. Our department offers courses in every world region during every major time period. The department fosters active collaboration between faculty and students, and has a strong commitment to engaging undergraduate students in faculty-student research projects.
A distinctive feature of our B.S.Ed. program is that we have three faculty members who serve as special academic advisors to our students pursuing teacher certification. Each of these faculty members were high school history teachers who chose to return and earn their doctoral degrees, so they are both experts in history scholarship and experienced classroom teachers. These faculty members help students to navigate the university and state requirements for teacher certification, teach the department's course on social studies teaching methods, and supervise student teachers in the field.
Nearby historical sites and institutions offer unusually rich resources for the study of history. Recently, students have arranged internships at such places as Gettysburg National Military Park, the United States Army Heritage and Education Center, the U.S. Civil War Museum, the Cumberland County Historical Society, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Internships may also be arranged with approved historical institutions anywhere in Pennsylvania or the United States.
For those who qualify, there is an active chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honorary society. This organization, dedicated to history, provides special opportunities for the department’s outstanding students,, such as participation in regional and national professional conferences. We also have an active History Club, open to any student who loves history, that organizes a variety of co-curricular activities and historical field trips for the department’s students and faculty.
What opportunities exist for students majoring in other fields?
Every student who enters Shippensburg University must take HIS105: World History I and HIS106: World History II.
Students who are receiving Grade 4-8 certification may choose a concentration in Social Studies, which includes history.
Beyond that, non-majors may take as many history courses as time, program requirements, and seats allow. There is a history minor available for interested students. Advanced history courses are especially appropriate for those majoring in social science fields.
Where can I get more information about history at SU?
For specific program information, contact:
Dr. Steven Burg, Chair
Department of History and Philosophy
122-124 Dauphin Humanities Center
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257-2299