What if there were a way to tell the story of why we are the way we are? To study human behavior as if in a lab with unlimited evidence? To preserve what makes us unique and understand what keeps us going? History helps us discover new meaning in the past, present and future. Our students learn the best practices of historical research while developing the skills for a successful career: thinking critically, communicating effectively and tackling complex problems. Our majors excel in careers in politics, the legal profession, business and marketing, human resources, information and library sciences, law enforcement, journalism, public relations, intelligence or security analysis, sales and recruitment, education and more.
West Virginian and Appalachian history is a strength of our department. Our faculty also specialize in a diverse range of historical time periods, teaching courses in everything from ancient Greece to modern day Africa. Members of our faculty have won the Mellon Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Law and Social Sciences Grant and the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. Their lectures have aired on C-SPAN and become the basis for award-winning books. With faculty guidance, our students begin their own work as researchers, working in local or national archives to make their own discoveries.
How will I focus my studies?
All history majors declare a minor to personalize their studies. Many students select another minor or a second major based on their long-term goals. Students are encouraged to find and apply for internships or study abroad opportunities.
History majors in our department have worked at National Park Service sites and the National Main Street Project in Charleston, WV. They have studied abroad in Turkey, Germany, England, Poland, South Africa, Australia and more.
Any student may pursue a minor in history. Students are advised to design their own minor to complement their major.
Katherine Fiaschi, Midland Park, N.J.
>Working as a recruiter for an information technology staffing firm has more to do with history than you might think. When Katherine changed her mind about attending law school, she decided to continue with the history major she had grown to love. Today, she uses her skills in research, writing and the analysis of evidence to succeed in a dynamic, fast-paced position as a recruiter. A course she took on America in the 1960s helped develop her understanding of her current recruiting territory today. Learning about the dynamics that shaped famous leaders in the past sharpened Katherine’s ability to research potential candidates. She recommends paying attention to how current events tie into the past.
Jennifer Walker, High Point, N.C.
Recreating a mock trial of the Princes in the Tower scandal of the 15th century, Jennifer Walker, a dual history and political science major, began learning to develop arguments that would later benefit her career path in becoming a lawyer.
“My history classes at WVU encouraged me to develop independent ideas that relied on existing information or research — a trait that is indispensable to the legal field,” Walker said.
A positive experience with her history teachers in high school prompted Walker to dive further into the subject in college.
“My undergraduate history studies have been incredibly helpful with my studies in law school,” Walker said. “Like historical research, legal research requires attention to detail, critical thinking and successful argument of a thesis or idea.”
During her time at WVU, the High Point, North Carolina, native interned for U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito and worked as an administrative clerk at a local law firm.
Her advice to incoming students of the program is to utilize the library’s resources when conducting historical research.
Walker is currently in her first year of law school at the University of Houston.