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History is a pragmatic discipline in which the analysis of change over time involves sifting the influences and perspectives that affect the course of events, and evaluating the different forms of evidence historians exploit to make sense of them. Teaching students how to weigh these sources and convert the findings into persuasive analysis lies at the heart of the department’s teaching.

The history program at Holy Cross prepares students for graduate study in history, as well as other fields (such as law, politics, administration, journalism, librarianship, and so on) which make use of the transferable skills it teaches. In this article, the National Association of Scholars says, “And small though the history department is at Holy Cross, its major, by NAS lights, compares very favorably with most of the programs included in our survey…[P]ound for pound, it’s one of the most solid history majors that I’ve seen for some time, the kind that can really prepare students for teaching, law school, graduate work in history or any number of professional callings.”

Program Focus

Holy Cross trip to RomeHistory courses at Holy Cross offer students the opportunity to enrich their knowledge of their culture, their country, and their world through exposure to both survey and period-specific courses.

Upon completion of a history degree from Holy Cross, students should:

  • Understand what it means to think historically, as in locating subjects in time and place and being sensitive to the contingencies of context and to change over time;
  • Be able to exhibit critical and interpretive thinking skills using primary sources;
  • Be able to identity different types of sources of historical knowledge;
  • Display analytical writing skills and close reading skills; and
  • Display effective oral communication skills.

Why you should study history.

Major and Minor Requirements


Angel Cortes, Ph.D.
Chair, History Department
The history major at Holy Cross is focused on developing research skills, critical thinking and disciplined study. I have spent my career conducting thorough, detailed research, and there is nothing more thrilling than finding and reading material for the first time. My new book is Sectarianism & Orestes Brownson in the American Religious Marketplace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). I have also conducted research in the following libraries and archival depositories:

  • Sterling Memorial Library & Beinecke Library (Yale U.)
  • Widener Library & Pusey Library (Harvard U.)
  • Firestone Library, Marquand Library, & Mudd Manuscript Library (Princeton U.)
  • Bancroft Library & Newspapers/Microforms Library (U. of California, Berkeley)
  • Thompson Library & Archives/Special Collections Library (Vassar College)
  • Clapp Library (Wellesley College)
  • Hesburgh Library, Rare Books/Special Collections, and Archives (U. of Notre Dame)
  • Butler Library (Columbia U.)
  • Neilson Library (Smith College)
  • Joseph Regenstein Library (U. of Chicago)
  • Bentley Historical Library (U. of Michigan)
  • Archives of the Archdiocese of New York & Boston

Christopher Beiting, Ph.D.

Thomas Spencer

Fr. Michael Sullivan C.S.C.


All students in upper-division history classes will produce a research paper that meets collegiate standards. Such an exercise will help students develop an appreciation for the rigorous process of historical interpretation. Students will learn to generate a question that extant historical resources help to answer; collect relevant scholarly materials; generate a precis and annotated bibliography; read selected sources; formulate a thesis and organize identified themes to support it; write the research paper according to the Chicago Manual of Style featuring an argument.

Career Paths

Holy Cross College history graduates have entered a variety of career path, including archives, museums, education and SOMETHING. But the possibilities are endless. Here are some of the most popular jobs for history majors according to Payscale.com.

Popular Jobs for History Majors National Median Pay
High School Teacher $50,200
Paralegal / Legal Assistant $53,100
Intelligence Analyst $80,200
Insurance Claims Adjuster $56,200
Human Resources Manager $70,300
Receptionist $28,000
College/University Admissions Counselor $33,500
Legal Secretary $52,200
Data Analyst $57,200
Restaurant General Manager $56,600
Elementary School Teacher $46,500
Non-Profit Organization Executive Director $65,100
Inside Sales Representative $50,600
Non-Profit Organization Program Coordinator $38,600
Operations Manager $72,500
Marketing Manager $73,100
Customer Service Representative $34,900
Retail Store Manager $49,800
Office Manager $42,200
Administrative Assistant $35,100

Methodology:All data is limited to those with a Bachelor’s degree and no higher degrees who work full-time in the United States. Jobs are listed in order of relative popularity among graduates with a Bachelor’s degree in the given major from any college. Median salaries listed. See full methodology for more at www.payscale.com.


Ángel Cortés Book Launch

Department Contact

Angel Cortes, Ph.D.
Chair, History Department