Degree type(s): Bachelor's; Minor
Degree field(s): Humanities
Location(s): Bismarck, ND
Program offerings by location and modality are subject to change.

History Degree Program Overview

Why study history?

The historian seeks to enrich
 the world of the present through knowledge and preservation of the past. The Belgian historian Henri Pirenne once said: “If I were an antiquarian, I would have eyes only for old stuff, but I am a historian. Therefore, I love life.” Historians cultivate affection for the past in ways that give new insights into the present. They develop an enlarged sense of spiritual and chronological continuity so essential to the survival of a culture.

Fulfilling the Greek maxim to “know thyself” necessitates understanding of the past. The histories of region, country, church, civilization, and world have made us who we are. Knowledge of the past helps us to navigate the ideas and problems of the world today. It helps us to ask large questions about how civilizations rise and fall or about the ways that peoples of different religions and cultures have peacefully interacted and learned from each other.

The study of history helps us to see the world through the eyes of others. The struggles people faced during the Great Plague, the rise of modern industry, or the Second World War widen our views through empathy and exposure to alternative perspectives on events and choices. Encountering the other in history trains one in that moderation and openness so essential to Servant Leadership in a diverse society today. History frees us from the limits of the present. By immersing students in the record of human experience, history teaches prudence. This is a “practical wisdom” that aids one in applying general truths to particular circumstances.

History trains the mind. It is a question-driven, investigative approach to the past based on analysis of primary and secondary sources. The kinds of questions historians ask involve causation, change, context, complexity, and contingency. What caused the military failure of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan? How did sexual norms in the US change from 1950-1970? In the context of Mongol rule in China, how did Chinese people maintain their culture? Historical events are often complex, so what other causes besides Martin Luther brought about the Reformation? How was the failure of the Spanish Armada contingent on accidental circumstances such as the weather? These “five c’s” of causation, change, context, complexity, and contingency constitute historical thinking. The use of evidence, the weighing of hypotheses, and the reconciling of different historical perspectives in trying to answer historical questions train students in valuable research and intellectual habits.

“The study of history is the best medicine for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you can find for yourself and your country both examples and warnings; fine things to take as models, base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.”



The History and History Education majors at the University of Mary prepare students for graduate school (history, archeology, anthropology, law) or to enter the workforce in schools, museums, businesses, government, the military, historical societies, research organizations, libraries, publishing or touring companies, archives, and historical consulting firms. The History Education degree prepares students for careers in history education for grades 7-12. Students will be highly qualified to teach in history and in one of the following areas: economics, political science, or geography.

Historians possess skills in research, communication, and the formation of arguments based on evidence, and for many employees these skills are more important than the actual subject. In a recent survey of 225 employers, thirty-percent said that they specifically sought to hire students with liberal arts majors. Jennifer Floren, Founder and CEO, Experience, Inc., said this: “Of all the things employers look for when hiring entry-level talent, it’s the so-called ‘soft skills’ that 
are valued most: communication, teamwork, flexibility 
and positive attitude are by far the most sought-after skills. Employers understand that everything else can be taught, so they look for the most promising raw material to work with.” The History and History Education majors at the University of Mary excel in preparing students in these ways.


Employment of historians is projected to grow six percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations.

Federal government, which employed nearly one-quarter of all historians in 2012, is expected decline 12 percent over the coming decade, which will limit overall employment growth for historians.

Historians will experience faster employment growth outside of the federal government in historical societies, research organizations, and historical consulting firms. However, many types of organizations that employ historians depend on donations or public funding. Thus, employment growth from 2012 to 2022 will depend largely on the amount of funding available.

Major in History:

For a major in history, students are required to take the following courses:

  • HIS 101
  • HIS 102
  • HIS 250
  • HIS 271
  • HIS 202 or 272
  • HIS 300 level elective
  • HIS 400 level elective
  • HIS 300 level (modern)
  • HIS 300 or 400 level (medieval)
  • HIS 480
  • CTH/HSS 220 or ANT 171
  • PHI 317
  • PHI 318
  • CLA 310
  • CLA 311 or CLA 320
  • ENG 330 or ART 121
  • THE 303 or 306 or 440

Minor in History:

For a minor in history, students are required to take the following courses: 

  • HIS 101
  • HIS 102
  • HIS 250
  • CLA 310 or 311 or 320
  • HIS 300-400 level
  • HIS 480

Scholarships/Financial Aid

Admission Requirements