Renaissance and Medieval Studies

The multidisciplinary field of Renaissance and medieval studies explores art, history, culture, religion and philosophy through study of these eras. Learn about education and employment possibilities below.

Are Renaissance and Medieval Studies for Me?

Career Overview

Renaissance and medieval studies examine the culture of Europe from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance, a period that ranged from about the 5th through 17th centuries. Programs are available at both undergraduate and graduate levels. As a student in such a program, you'll consider the perspectives of philosophy, music, literature, art and language, as well as history and religion, and how together they shaped European development.

With an education covering so many disciplines, your career possibilities are numerous and varied. You might become a historian, work in a museum, conduct archaeological research, give tours of historic locations or be a teacher. If you've an interest in fashion or theatre, perhaps you could design costumes for Renaissance fairs or join in a Renaissance fair as an actor.

Employment Information

Career prospects vary with the profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that from 2012-2022, employment will grow by 6% for historians and 13% for curators, with archaeologist jobs increasing by 19% (www.bls.gov). Postsecondary teachers are expected to experience an increase of 19%, while high school teacher jobs are predicted to grow more slowly, at a rate of 6%.

Salaries differ by profession as well. As of May 2013, historians took home median pay of $55,180, and curators earned $50,550. Archaeologists earned $58,360 during the same year, while tour guides made $23,770. Teaching salaries were highest at the college level; according to the BLS, history professors made a median annual salary of $66,790 in May 2013. High school teachers earned $55,360.

How Can I Work in Renaissance and Medieval Studies?

Education

Medieval and Renaissance education varies by school. There are some specialized bachelor's and graduate degree programs; however, it's more common to take a certificate or minor program in a related field of study. For example, you may study aspects of culture by learning about period architecture. In medieval history courses, you may discover the differences among the great European cities, in addition to examining major events like the bubonic plague. Literature courses cover myths, poetry and prose from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, including the works of Shakespeare and Chaucer. Knowledge of these medieval and Renaissance subjects might lead to a career as a tour guide, a fashion designer or a museum technician. You'd also have the foundation to enter a graduate program.

Graduate Programs

Graduate-level programs allow you to probe your special interests at a deeper level. You might do research, for instance, on Renaissance and medieval interpretations of Biblical texts and how this influenced the rise of Christianity. Or you might be interested in the study of medical practices, the history of science and beliefs concerning magic. With a master's or doctoral degree, you'd be qualified to be a museum curator, archivist or college professor, or do scholarly research in areas such as archaeology or religion.

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