Bachelor of Arts in History

View the specific degree requirements and course descriptions in the Undergraduate Catalog.


The history department at Western made me fall even more in love with history....the history department made me feel seen.
Joshlyn, History Major

History majors select one of three options of study within the major:

  • History: Macomb or Online, preparation for careers in business and public service
  • Pre-Law: Graduates have the skills and background necessary to do well on the LSAT exam and in law school.
  • Teacher Education: Majors graduate with state licensure to teach history and/or other social studies subjects at the high school level and middle school levels.

The fundamental goal of the study of history is to provide students with an understanding of cultures and traditions that have shaped the present and to develop their ability to solve problems by asking relevant questions, drawing meaningful conclusions from disparate evidence and presenting those conclusions clearly and cogently in oral and written forms.

History students at Western have many opportunities to participate in individual undergraduate research projects with History faculty members. Our students contribute each year to the University’s Undergraduate Research Day and are eligible to compete for Undergraduate Research Grants from the College of Arts and Sciences each semester.

Western Illinois University’s history graduates have entered a variety of careers. Many have pursued careers in education, primarily as secondary school teachers of history and social studies. Others have found jobs in business, primarily in research, management, and sales. Other graduates have pursued careers in archival or library work, government and the military. A substantial number have elected to continue their education in either graduate or professional schools; the study of history is excellent preparation for law school and for graduate programs in museum studies, historic preservation, liberal arts disciplines and business.

The history department stresses:

  • Excellent teaching - Professors with Ph.D. degrees teach all classes.
  • Outstanding advising - The department's academic advisor works closely with students in planning their course of study.
  • Close student-facultyinteraction - Students benefit from small classes and individualized study.
Integrated BA/MA

The integrated baccalaureate and master’s degree in history provides the opportunity for outstanding undergraduates to earn both degrees in five years. View the Integrated Program details in the Graduate Catalog.

Online History Degree

The Bachelor of Arts in History (History option) is available to be completed fully online. You can complete the degree in standard sixteen-week classes, or, in summers, with four-, six-, or eight-week classes, all delivered completely online, asynchronously or livestreamed. Courses offer the same quality content as an on-campus course, spanning modern world history and American history. Methodology courses offer training in historical theory, public history, and digital history.

Online students gain the skills needed to succeed in a variety of fields: business, law, education, public history, and policy-making.

  • Flexibility to pursue a degree while working
  • Ability to schedule coursework around other personal responsibilities
  • Stronger collaboration with classmates in diverse locations
  • Sharpen time management skills
  • Option to revisit course materials, such as video presentations, as necessary
  • Save time and money on travel to-and-from campus


The history major prepares students for various careers in data research, sales, and consulting, government and public service, including military service, and public history. In studying the past, students learn transferable skills that employers seek:

  • evaluation of an information source’s credibility and relevance
  • contextualization of historical data
  • comparison of historical data to present and future trends
  • target audience analysis
  • skills in argumentation
  • digital manipulation and interpretation of data

In study of the world’s history and cultures, students learn cultural awareness and empathy, and appreciate how the present was not inevitable, but shaped by decision-making in the past.

View History Careers: 2023 Guide to Career Paths, Options & Salary for more information on careers in history.

Increasingly, history majors develop careers in public history. The National Council on Public History maintains a public history job listing.

The WIU Center for Career Preparation and Employer Engagement offers information on job opportunities, as well as resume writing, job search strategies, and interviewing techniques. You can sign in to Handshake, using your ECOM username and password, to access an online library full of information about employers and career opportunities. Remember, it's never too early in your college career to visit one of the Career Fairs sponsored regularly by the Center for Career Preparation and Employer Engagement.

View the Model Degree Plan for the History option of study.


As the only History – pre-law degree offered by a public college or university in Illinois, Western’s pre-law major prepares students for success in law school. The pre-law option offers courses in constitutional law, comparative law, the nature of justice, law enforcement, and the relationship between law and social institutions.

Harvard University recently ranked history as the top undergraduate major as preparation for entering law school. And Forbes found that history majors enjoy the highest admission rates to law schools.

Lawyers are in high demand in business, government service, and non-profit causes.

The WIU Department of History co-sponsors WIU’s Annual Pre-Law Symposium, which features a keynote speaker from the legal profession, as well as a panel of law school admissions counselors, faculty and students, who all provide advice on applying to law school and pursuing legal careers.

View the Model Degree Plan for the Pre-Law option of study.

Teacher Education

The history – teacher education major at WIU has a long tradition of excellence and preparing its students for career success and satisfaction teaching history and a variety of social studies subjects. History teachers play a crucial role in young people’s knowledge of citizenship in a democracy.

Upon graduation, WIU graduates will be licensed to teach secondary school History and social studies in the state of Illinois. History teacher education majors at Western have the highest pass rate - 100% - on the licensure exam among Illinois state institutions. Illinois has reciprocity agreements with a number of other states, allowing those certified to teach in Illinois to gain a license in those additional states. Our graduates teach in Illinois, across the United States, and abroad.

Many graduates have gone on to positions of leadership in their districts as well, serving as principals and school administrators.

The website TeachIllinois maintains a listing of teaching positions open in Illinois.

View the Teacher Education requirements in the Undergraduate Catalog.

View the Model Degree Plan for Middle Level Education - Social Studies.