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Grad student in Hoover Library.


It’s a paradox: as a history major at McDaniel, you’ll spend countless hours exploring and investigating things that happened long ago, but you’ll also be developing a skillset—an instinct for research and critical reading, a knack for writing precisely and persuasively, the good judgment required to summarize large volumes of information—that’s more coveted in today’s workplace than ever before.

Degree Types
Major , Minor
Distinctive Requirements
Research Opportunities
Carroll County, Washington D.C., Baltimore

So whether you want to become a professional historian, an archivist, a professor, a lawyer, a consultant, a writer, a teacher—or any other profession that requires the historian’s vast toolkit, our History department is a great place to start.

The study of History is an engagement with the past—the individuals, societies, and civilizations that have shaped the modern world. Our department offers courses in the social, cultural, and political history of the ancient world, America, Europe, and Asia.

Students can also choose to minor in Art History, Education, American History, or European History. Aspiring educators can also earn their Teacher Certification Secondary (middle/high school) in Social Studies.

Future Career Paths

Students who study history are trained in a number of skills that employers value, including:

  • Writing
  • Close reading
  • Critical thinking
  • Editing
  • Public speaking

Historians are employed as researchers in business and government, as archivists and preservationists, and some work for themselves or in partnerships as consultants. Recent graduates have:

  • Joined business and brokerage firms
  • Enrolled in law and graduate studies
  • Begun military and government service
  • Embarked on teaching careers

Distinctive Courses

HIS 2106 - Holocaust in Film and Literature

The German philosopher Theodor Adorno famously wrote that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” by which he meant that no representation was possible of such a horrific human event. And yet, there has been a relentless outpouring  of film, memoirs, historical fiction and, even, poetry itself that deals directly with the Holocaust and some of which, such as the works of Italian survivor Primo Levi or Steven Spielberg’s film “Schindler’s List,” has become practically canonical.  This course examines a wide range of both filmic and literary efforts to grapple with the Nazi Holocaust with a view to the larger question of the problem of representing history that seems to defy all explanation.

HIS 2229 - U.S. History in the Cold War Era, 1945-1991

A survey of some of the main currents in United States history since the end of the Second World War. Topics include: the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the countercultural movement, and the Post-Cold War Era.

HIS 2236 - Black America and the Civil Rights Era, 1865-1968

This course examines the long view of the civil rights era, beginning with Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War and continuing on to the climactic events of the 1960s.

HIS 2237 - Religion and Society in China

This course will introduce some of the basic concepts and changing practices of religion at important moments in Chinese imperial history prior to the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911. After a brief introduction to the diversity of religions of China (from Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism and popular religions to the introduction of Islam and Christianity), the course will focus on the impact of religions on the daily lives of ordinary people. Readings will include primary sources-religious tracts, biographies of religious figures, and works of fiction in which religion plays a central role. Lectures will provide a critical framework through which students will interpret these materials and learn about the liveliness of the practices of Chinese religions.

Senior Capstone

History major Michael Nims talks about his senior capstone on science fiction during the Cold War.

Special Opportunities

Students outside of Budapest campus.

The McDaniel History Club

The McDaniel History Club gives students the opportunity outside the classroom to share their interests and promote history studies through films, lectures, and other extracurricular activities. Annually, senior history majors give their best advice to juniors on how best to plan and carry out a successful capstone research project and everyone gets invited to the annual History Picnic.

The McDaniel Commitment in Action

The McDaniel Commitment—a series of opportunities guaranteed to all students—provides enhanced mentoring and coaching, and ensures every undergraduate student completes at least two meaningful experiential learning opportunities.

History professor Stephen Feeley and senior Josh Irvin

Deep into a summer of research, senior Josh Irvin found the proverbial needle in a haystack — the one document, a letter written in 1805 by Revolutionary War general Jeremiah Slade, that detailed the deal that enabled the Tuscarora Indian nation to sell their reservation lands in North Carolina.

Abbi Wicklein-Bayne folding the American flag while wearing her ranger uniform.

Impressive Outcomes Abbi Wicklein-Bayne ’94 Living History

Abbi Wicklein-Bayne's ’94 passion for history was firmly established during her time as a History major at McDaniel. Post-graduation, she remained in Maryland for graduate school, immersing herself in local history, and found her ideal career as a ranger in the National Park Service at Fort McHenry.