Want to learn more about the disciplines of History and Political Science?
Start by checking out the American Historical Association (AHA) and the American Political Science Association (APSA), the major professional associations of the disciplines in the U.S. Their websites provide information about the state of the disciplines, more about subfield specializations, advanced graduate study, and employment trends and career opportunities for Political Science, History, and History & Political Science majors.
Thinking about advanced graduate study in History or Political Science?
Some career paths will require an advanced degree beyond your four-year undergraduate education. If you are considering graduate study (a master's or doctoral program) in a field, it is advantageous to have an undergraduate degree in the same or closely-related disciplinary subject.
Master's (MA) Programs in History and Political Science: For some career fields, such as public history or applied public policy, the master's degree is the preferred credential. A master's is a specialized professional program, generally consisting of a two-year course of study culminating with a thesis or major research project.
Doctoral (PhD) Programs in History and Political Science: A doctorate of philosophy (or PhD) is the required credential for teaching at the college or university level and is required for most advanced research positions. Most doctoral candidates will earn an MA on the path to the PhD (although some programs do accept students straight into the PhD program). A doctorate is generally a 5-to-8 year course of study with specialization in 2 to 3 major disciplinary subfields, and requires completion of oral/written comprehensive examinations and the successful defense of a doctoral dissertation (a book-length original research project).
Applying to graduate school is a major undertaking. If you are contemplating graduate school you will want to work closely with your undergraduate faculty and faculty advisor to discuss undergraduate course selection and the requisite knowledge and skill development during your undergraduate years. Advanced graduate study requires a high GPA, strong research and writing skills, high quality letters of recommendation and a strong score on the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). You will also want to work closely with your undergraduate faculty when choosing a graduate school and applying to graduate programs!
Thinking about Law School?
If you want to be a practicing attorney, you will have to attend law school after you complete your undergraduate degree. Law schools do not require or recommend any specific major or course of study -- that is, you can major in any discipline. To be accepted, you will need a strong GPA and competitive score on the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), so you definitely want to choose an undergraduate major in which you are interested and will do well, and which builds the critical reasoning, logic and strong writing skills that law schools demand. You may also want to consider having multiple, possible career paths, so consider majors and minors that give you flexibility beyond the study of law.
History and Political Science are popular majors for prospective law school students, and a high percentage of students with those majors are accepted (according the the Law School Admission Council). Majoring in History or Political Science also gives you multiple, alternative career paths.
Whatever your undergraduate major, you may wish to take a few law-oriented courses to help you determine whether a career in law is the right choice for you and to build necessary skills and knowledge. Our Pre Law minor provides rigorous, structured bundling of courses and our active Pre Law Student Association (PLSA) hosts an annual Moot Court Experience. Law schools prefer broadly trained, well-rounded applicants, so you should balance your interest in law with other undergraduate experiences and a broad range of skills-building course work. Experiential learning and work experiences are also highly valued by law school admissions committees.
You should speak directly with the Daemen College Pre Law Advisors, Dr. Lisa Parshall (History & Political Science) or Associate Professor Bridget Niland (Business Administration) when it comes time to take the LSAT and begin the application process. See our Frequently Asked Questions About Pre Law.
Thinking about Teaching?
Teaching at the high school level requires a degree from an accredited education program (like History & Political Science - Adolescent Education), and state certification. Our major in History & Political Science - Adolescent Education includes substantial Education coursework.
If you are interested in teaching History or Political Science at the college level you will need a PhD in the teaching area (or a master's degree with unique professional qualification).
Internships, Experiential Learning and Work Experience
Graduate schools, law schools, and future employers value experience outside of the classroom. As a History or Political Science major, you are required to complete an internship and must fulfill a Service Learning requirement in the core curriculum. We strongly encourage our majors to pursue multiple internships, study abroad opportunities and to engage in experiential learning opportunities (like our Model UN and Moot Court simulations). Several of our recent graduates have successfully coordinated their internship experiences with their senior research projects, and are now employed or pursuing graduate studies in these same areas of interest.
The History and Political Science faculty strongly advise students to:
- Meet regularly with your faculty advisor to talk about what your career plans are after you graduate. Knowing about your career goals will help us to better identify learning and experiential opportunities that can put you on the pathway to success
- Work with the Office of Career Services, which provides a wide range of workshops, including professional etiquette and resume assistance
- Customize your learning experience through course selection, minors, internships and co-curricular activities to build requisite skills and knowledge in and out of the classroom
- Select a thesis topic that is relevant to your individual academic and career interests
Careers in History
History majors pursue careers in research analysis, community agencies, political campaigns, consulting, business, government, editing and publication, foreign service, law, museums and historical societies, archives, foundations, non-profit organizations, intelligence agencies, lobbying, journalism, personnel management, public relations, research, and education (teaching and administration).
Careers in Political Science
Our Political Science majors are well-positioned to pursue careers as lawyers, legal assistants, law enforcement officers, elected officials, campaign coordinators, legislative assistants, lobbyists or interest group advocates, municipal consultants, public sector and service employees, community organizers and leaders, business owners, diplomats or consuls, international organization researchers and leaders, policy analysts or researchers, non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, journalists and military or intelligence officers.