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History at Calvin

Why study history?

Studying history will give you more than just a detailed knowledge of where our modern world came from; it will equip you with a powerful and versatile set of intellectual skills.

History is an eclectic discipline. It examines the record of human social behavior, drawing on a wide array of other disciplines from psychology, economics, and political science, to art, archaeology, literature, and philosophy. Like the "hard sciences," history teaches rigorous analytical thinking and hones crucial research skills, but it also sharpens reading and writing skills. Like the other liberal arts, the study of history exercises essential Christian virtues like empathy, humility, and creativity. In short, history teaches skills, perspectives, and attitudes that are essential in many spheres of life and work.

Read more about the benefits of studying history in an article by Calvin History Prof. Will Katerberg published in Practically Human: College Professors Speak from the Heart of Humanities Education.

Employers want history graduates

So says New York Times columnist David Brooks and Norm Augustine, former undersecretary of the Army and CEO of Lockheed Martin, in a Wall Street Journal article.

Their arguments are backed up by a survey of 225 employers conducted by Millennial Branding and Experience Inc. who found that companies want graduates with liberal arts degrees. A recent study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that at peak earnings ages, workers who majored as undergraduates in the humanities or social sciences earn more annually than those who majored in professional or pre-professional fields. The same study shows that, contrary to what you might have heard on the news, unemployment rates are low for libreral arts grads, and those rates decline over time. Inside Higher Ed presented data from the same study to show that while liberal arts majors may start off slower when it comes to to their career paths, but they close much of the salary and unemployment gap over time.

A degree in History will equip you for a variety of fields including education, law, justice ministry, archaeology, cultural resource management, writing, missions, international relations, medicine, and more. Read more about what Calvin history graduates are doing now.

Explore your world

At Calvin, you can tailor your history major or minor degree to fit your interests and vocational goals.

You will also have many opportunities to go out in the world where history happened, from off campus programs to interim trips in January or May. Recent off-campus program opportunities include York, England, and Budapest, Hungary. Students have also spent semesters in China and Ghana.


Department Blog

We recently launched our department blog, Historical Horizons. Connect with us there to read more from our department members about the field of history, current events, ongoing research, and more.

Scholarship Applications

Applications for 2014-15 history department scholarships were due March 14, 2014.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, April 16: Colloquium, Larry Eskridge, "'Jesus Knocked Me Off My Metaphysical Ass': LSD, Counterculture, and the Origins of the Jesus People Movement in the Summer of Love."

Tuesday, May 6;
Wednesday, May 7;
Thursday, May 8:
Honors Thesis Symposium. Graduating honors students will present their research at this three-day symposium.

Wednesday, May 14: End-of-Year Awards and Party.

Find out about all of this semester's events on our Colloquium & Events page.


The History department offers a general History degree and a secondary education History degree.

Minors in History include general History and secondary education as well as a number of related minors including:

African and African Diaspora Studies
Asian Studies
Gender Studies
International Development
Latin American Studies
Medieval Studies

History also offers an honors program.