Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content
Students overlook village in the morning

Expand your horizons...

Our mission statement: We study the past to understand humanity's place in the world, to remember those who came before us, and to help us live more wisely in our own time.

Visit our department blog, Historical Horizons, to join us in discussions about the field of history, contemporary issues, our ongoing research, and more.

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.

Anthony Grafton and James Grossman summarize the value of studying history and doing historical research in their article, "Habits of Mind," in The American Scholar:

When a student does research in this way—when she attacks a problem that matters to her by identifying and mastering the sources, posing a big question, and answering it in a clear and cogent way, in the company of a trained professional to whom she and her work matter—she’s not becoming a pedant or a producer of useless knowledge. She’s doing what students of the humanities have always done: building a self and a soul and a mind that she can take with her wherever she goes, and that will make her an independent, analytical thinker and a reflective, self-critical person. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?

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 many 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 liberal 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.


Upcoming Events

Wed, May 4: Honors student presentations

Wed, May 11: End of year party and awards


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
Medieval Studies

History also offers an honors program.