College History Professor: Career and Salary Facts

Explore a career as a college history professor. Get the facts about education requirements, job duties, tenure and salary to see if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Teaching - Social Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a College History Professor?

College history professors usually have both teaching and research responsibilities. They may teach general and/or specialized history courses at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels. They may also serve as thesis or dissertation mentors for graduate students, as well as undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research projects. In addition, college history professors research and publish journal articles and books on their area of expertise. They must also stay on the cutting edge of their field, so they may attend history conferences or give lectures on their work at other universities, where they can discuss the latest research with other leaders in the academic community.

Check out the following chart for an overview of this career.

Degree Required Doctoral degree, master's degree for some community colleges
Education Field of Study History or closely related field
Key Skills Teaching, research, developing and grading assignments
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%*
Median Salary (2015) $69,400*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Be a College History Professor?

Most community colleges and universities require you to hold a graduate degree in history or a related area. A 2-year college might accept a master's degree, though you could gain an advantage by completing a doctoral program. Public universities usually require you earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) to qualify as a professor. You can begin by enrolling in a 4-year bachelor's degree program in history to learn introductory topics, such as the history of the early and modern world, Asian, Middle Eastern and European history or the history of world wars. Pursuing graduate studies allows you to focus your coursework and research in a particular era, geographical location or historical culture.

A Ph.D. program consists of intense coursework, research studies, comprehensive exams, teaching assistantships and a doctoral dissertation. Most schools offer teaching assistantships to provide financial assistance and offer mentored classroom experience for your postgraduate employment.

What Job Duties Could I Have?

As a history professor, you'll offer teaching and mentoring aid to undergraduate and graduate students. You'll create lesson plans, grade assignments, assess academic performance and give lectures. You could continue your research work, seek publication in academic journals and possibly serve as a guest lecturer at other universities, conferences and symposiums. You might also be required to monitor graduate teaching assistants and serve on committees that focus on academic and administrative concerns.

How Do I Earn Tenure?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that it can take up to seven years to gain tenure, an often coveted career goal that virtually assures job security. Tenure offers you more intellectual freedom and requires unbiased cause for termination. Though not receiving tenure could be cause for dismissal, the BLS stated that many schools are moving away from tenure, and you could instead work in adjunct or contract positions. If you are offered tenure, you'll usually also receive an increase in responsibility, such as departmental management.

How Much Could I Earn?

In May 2015, the BLS reported that postsecondary history teachers earned a median annual salary of $69,400. How much you could earn could depend on the institution where you work and your experience. If you have more published work, serve on reputable committees or offer lecture services, you could achieve respectability and distinction in your field and demand a higher salary.

What Are Some Related Alternative Jobs?

Individuals who love history may also consider jobs as archivists. Archivists need to hold at least a master's degree in history or a related field. They are involved in the evaluation and preservation of historical artifacts and documents, as well as museum administration. Alternatively, aspiring educators may pursue a career as a high school history teacher. Although a Ph.D. is not necessary for this job, public school teachers must hold at least a bachelor's degree and have a teaching license; a master's degree is often preferred and even required in a few states.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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