Skip to main
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 1112 - Twentieth Century World

This course will investigate the major political, economic, social, and cultural developments of the twentieth century. It is designed as a study of world history, taking account of events on all continents. Broad topics include the world wars and their impact, European imperialism and decolonization, the world's entanglement in superpower rivalry during the Cold War, and the challenges to US power since the collapse of Soviet Communism in 1991. Within this broad framework the course will address the Arab-Israeli conflict, the rise and fall of Apartheid in South Africa, the Indochina Wars, the struggle between Nationalists and Communists in China, and authoritarianism and the quest for democratic government in Latin America. The course will also consider the impact of technological innovation and economic globalization in recent decades.

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 3332 - China's Troubled Waters

Two conflicting images dominate our views of China. One is of a people engaged in harmonious relationships with nature. Another is of overpopulation, resource depletion, and environmental degradation. This course will examine Chinese relations with nature through its history of dams great and small, canals, rerouted rivers, and irrigation projects. We will examine how such water-control projects affected Chinese local societies from the Song dynasty through today. We will explore which regions, which groups (ethnic, gender, class), and which hydraulic projects have been the winners and losers in different eras. From there, we will further examine continuity and ruptures in state policies, political ideology, and institutional politics behind hydraulic projects in their historical contexts. Finally, we will examine crucial turning points in the history of water control in China and see how past historical visions live on in the present.

Senior Capstone

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

Special Opportunities

Three students sit on a blanket outdoors while facing the camera.

The McDaniel History Club

The McDaniel History Club gives students the opportunity 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.

Two students sit with Professor Qin Fang in front of a computer that shows a map.

Student-Faculty Collaborative Summer Research Program Bringing the Past to Life

McDaniel History majors receive close faculty mentorship while conducting research in a broad array of subjects through cutting-edge techniques. Recently, two History majors worked with Associate Professor Qin Fang to create digital versions of ancient Chinese maps as part of their collaborative summer research. 

A male student holds a video game controller and smiles at the camera next to a large TV screen with a video game playing on it.

Unique First Year Seminars Dive into History from Day One

First-year students take a unique First Year Seminar during their first semester on campus. Course topics like The Middle Ages Through Video Games will take you on a journey through your favorite subjects.

Zach Paugh History Academic Symposium 2024

Present at a Conference

McDaniel represents at the annual Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference - and often takes home a win. 

In 2024, senior Zach Paugh, History major from Easton, Maryland, won second prize in the American history division for his paper titled "John F. Kennedy’s Leadership: A Diplomatic Prevention of Nuclear War," which marked the 12th time since 2007 that a McDaniel student has won a prize at the conference. 

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.

A student sits outside at a table while reading a book.

Meet a Green Terror Class of 2024: Sydney Lewis English and History

With a dual History and English major, Sydney Lewis was well-equipped to contribute to McDaniel’s Westminster Detective Library through student-faculty research. 

"In the summer of 2022, I had the privilege of being an editorial assistant for Dr. Mary Bendel-Simso’s Westminster Detective Library, where I spent six weeks exploring online databases and archives to discover and recover detective stories that were written before the syndication of the Sherlock Holmes stories. In addition to actual research and work with the databases and archives, I curated, transcribed, edited, and uploaded these nearly forgotten detective stories to the Westminster Detective Library website."

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.