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History at California State University, Fullerton

Accessible Web Version of History

Is History Right for You?

As a History student you will study multiple global cultures and acquire a number of skills relevant to any professional or occupational setting and life situation, such as the importance of cross-cultural understanding and empathy, the development of critical and analytical reading, writing, and research, and presenting one's ideas in a clear, concise, and coherent oral presentation. You will also have an opportunity to join a community of engaged students and work with an outstanding and diverse faculty who will know you and help you fashion a career that makes sense of your needs and interests.

What Can I Do With a Degree in History?

Almost anything!

There are two key questions that help determine how a history degree prepares you for a promising career of your choice – “Who needs your Knowledge?” And “Who needs your Skills and Methodology?”

Our graduates spend years specializing in European, World, or American history, acquiring the knowledge that makes them ideal for teaching careers in California’s public and private schools. Those who go on to earn an M.A. qualify for positions at the community college level and can continue on to Ph.D. programs for careers as academic research historians or college professors.

But don’t think that teaching is your only option. Your knowledge can be put to use in fields such as publishing, digital media, or public advocacy. Our graduates work in the entertainment industry on documentaries, and in the field of public history for banks, breweries, law firms, city governments, theme parks, and museums and archives.

The skills you will gain here can also prove invaluable in areas such a journalism, law enforcement, and government agencies, politics, and business.

There are far too many opportunities to possibly list them all. The knowledge, skills, and methodology of history allow you do almost anything. So perhaps the more appropriate question is “What CAN’T I Do With a Degree in History?”

Learn More About a Degree in History

We encourage you to learn more, and find out if a Major or Minor in History is right for you! Visit out website or call to speak to an adviser who can answer all of your questions, and help lead you down the right path.

Talk to an Adviser

  • Jasamin Rostam-Kolayi, Chair
  • jrostam@fullerton.edu
  • 657-278-3474

Alumni Feature

Nicole Rhoton

Historian, US Government

"I get to travel the world conducting research and field work!"

“I was inspired by my teachers.” That’s the simplest and most honest response that Nicole Rhoton can give when asked why she decided to major in History. Among the many great professors she had while at CSUF, to her it seemed that her history professors were consistently the best and most passionate, “interested in exploring concepts, asking meaningful questions, and encouraging the development and articulation of ideas.” Nicole explains.

After earning her BA, Nicole immediately joined the workforce, and spent time in a few positions that she described as “good-enough.” But apparently “good-enough” was not good enough for Nicole as not too long later she decided to return to school to pursue her MA in History.

In route to earning her degree, Nicole worked as a ghostwriter, editor, and copywriter. With those experiences and her degree, Nicole was able to land her dream job, just a few months after graduating, as a Historian for the US. Government.

“Now I get to travel the world conducting research and field work!” Nicole explains. Her current work entails identifying loss sites for men killed during World War II, but never recovered. After Nicole identifies these sites, another team excavates the sites in order to recover and repatriate the remains for identification and burial in the US.

Nicole credits her education with teaching her “a lot about success and failure.” She believes that the work she did while in school instilled the belief that it is possible to achieve what you want through hard work. Furthermore, she credits her education in the field of history for her ability to “think critically and be more open-minded.”

Brad Bauer

Head of Archives and Special Collections; New York University Abu Dhabi Library

"Be open to exploring a variety of fields and disciplines. Take courses outside of your projected major. Study, not only in anticipation of your career goals, but develop interests and learn for the sake of learning as well....some of those courses and topics you study now, may stick with you, shape you, and benefit you in ways you wouldn’t expect now.”

Brad Bauer transferred to CSUF from Orange Coast College but not an entirely clear idea of how to pursue history as a degree, or to what careers it might lead. As the first in his family to attend college, and although his parents were very supportive and valued higher education, none of them knew how best to do that. Bauer’s enthusiasm in history was sparked as a child by his father’s stories about his own family’s history. Courses at OCC and CSUF confirmed that history was the area he wanted to pursue.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have drawn upon lessons learned or questions asked in the Historical Thinking (Historiography) class in my daily work. The professor challenged us to ask ourselves critical, probing questions about why we “do” history, what does it mean, and what is its value, as well as helping us explore the multitude of ways that historians go about practicing this craft.”

During his final semester at CSUF, with career plans still uncertain, he sought an internship. One of his professors was able to place him at the Anaheim Public Library. His experiences there demonstrated the possibilities of careers in library and information science. The internship led to a job and pursued a Master’s in Library Science at UCLA. The combination of a history undergraduate degree and library science revealed further possibilities in the field of archives and archival management, where Bauer discovered a good match between his skills and interests. Most recently he moved to the United Arab Emirates to build a new program in archives and special collections for the library of New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi.

“Suffice it to say that the affordable and accessible university education that CSUF provided has opened many doors for me."

Isaac Lee

History Teacher, Diamond Bar High School

"Studying history was absolutely valuable for me and anybody who wishes to go into a career in education."

Isaac began life at Cal State Fullerton as a Biology major. During his first year, however, he realized that biology just wasn’t for him. Simply put, he wasn’t passionate about it. Thankfully though, during that same year, while taking classes to fulfill his GE requirements, Isaac found something that he was passionate about – History.

“I feel in love with the subject!” Isaac exclaims, “I think I had always enjoyed the topic, but it did not get my full attention until I was in college. It might be due to the fact that I had the great privilege of having wonderful professors , who inspired me to become better student.”

And so, Isaac made the decision to drop his first major, and re-declare as a History Major – not knowing where it would lead him, but knowing that he enjoyed, and was passionate about it.

“I think subconsciously, I really liked the idea of being an educator.” Isaac recalls, adding “After I graduated, I took a short break from academia. But after a year I came back to Cal State Fullerton and earned my preliminary credential.” From there Isaac began substitute teaching in multiple districts before eventually landing a full-time teaching position at Diamond Bar High School, where he continues to teach today.

“Studying history was absolutely valuable for me and anybody who wishes to go into a career in education.” Isaac explains, “as teachers we are expected to use and implement a variety of resources, reading, and writing in our lessons to help students make deeper connections… Those are precisely the things that I learned how to do in my undergrad courses.”

Daniel Barbeau

Foreign Service Officer, US State Department

"I do really believe that students will receive as much intellectual enrichment as they are willing to invest with their personal time and effort.”

Daniel chose to pursue an MA in history at CSUF for a couple of reasons. The first was based on the fact that he always enjoyed the study of history, “I like to draw modern parallels from the past to interpret the present.” he explains. The second reason was a bit more pragmatic. In 2012, Daniel had recently left the military and thanks a generous monthly stipend via the GI Bill, he had the opportunity to earn his MA with very little financial cost.

Daniel completed the program in 2 years, and in 2014 was hired by the State Department. Today he is a Foreign Service Officer, a position that typically requires a majority of time to be spent overseas, where officers work in an embassy or consulate performing various activities both within the embassy/consulate and within the local community.

“An MA has been helpful to me… in particular the experience as a writer that I gained in the program” Daniel says, “the program helped me to think critically about casual versus causal relationships between events, and to examine the incentives and constraints facing individuals acting in rational self interest.”

Daniel’s message to future students is simple – when it comes to education, you get what you give. With hard work comes great reward. “I feel I got a lot out of my 2 years at CSUF” Daniel recalls, “I do really believe that students will receive as much intellectual enrichment as they are willing to invest with their personal time and effort.”

Contact Information

  • Jasamin Rostam-Kolayi, Chair
  • jrostam@fullerton.edu
  • 657-278-3474

About Our College and Campus

The Department of History is a part of the larger College of Humanities and Social Sciences at CSU, Fullerton. H&SS offers its students more than 20 unique degree programs ideal for students who plan to continue their studies in graduate programs, or who want to work in areas such as education, law, politics, business, psychology, public administration, and more.

To learn more about our college and our campus, visit our Prospective Students and our College of Humanities and Social Sciences pages below.

Photo Credits: Wheat field by Takkk, CC BY-SA 3.0, modified

"State_Department_11" by US Department of State is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0, modified

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