Hey there Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

How valuable is a History degree?

Announcements Posted on
Post on TSR and win a prize! Find out more... 10-04-2014
Interview Discussion 30-01-2014
    • 13 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I love how an 18 year old who isn't even at university yet is advising recent graduates on how to get graduate jobs.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I love how someone who didn't study History or anything remotely similar has the urge to comment on the usefulness of a History degree. :rolleyes:

    All I was doing was pointing out the fact that History isn't useless, doing nothing to make yourself more employable is.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    It's worth it's weight in copper.

    http://www.metalprices.com/
    • 13 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by victoryshinesonus)
    I love how someone who didn't study History or anything remotely similar has the urge to comment on the usefulness of a History degree. :rolleyes:

    All I was doing was pointing out the fact that History isn't useless, doing nothing to make yourself more employable is.
    Idrink2muchcoffee's experience agrees with my own from industry: namely that having a relevant degree is, for a great companies, a key requisite. There are some companies that take on graduates from any discipline for many positions, but they are few and far between and you can guarantee that almost every graduate applies for them thus making the competition extremely high.

    How would you define useless? In terms of getting a job at the end of the degree there are much, much better options.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Smack)
    Idrink2muchcoffee's experience agrees with my own from industry: namely that having a relevant degree is, for a great companies, a key requisite. There are some companies that take on graduates from any discipline for many positions, but they are few and far between and you can guarantee that almost every graduate applies for them thus making the competition extremely high.

    How would you define useless? In terms of getting a job at the end of the degree there are much, much better options.
    I'm just saying a History degree is part of a puzzle, as with many other arts/social science and humanities degrees. If you find something you want to do by the end of your first year, which I think people doing these subjects should be aiming for, then you can get relevant experience/build contacts etc.

    In fact, I know what I can do with a History degree because I've been researching. Yes, I admit, it might not be worth anything as I haven't even started it yet, but I've looked at many of the top 100 and I'd say around 80% don't ask for a specific degree. On the grad profiles, you see a fair few with History in fact.

    The person you are and how sociable you are are also quite important. Finally, the institution you study at, and more importantly what grades you got at A-level are crucial, as said, I think ABB minimum is important for non-vocational grads.
    • 13 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by victoryshinesonus)
    I'm just saying a History degree is part of a puzzle, as with many other arts/social science and humanities degrees. If you find something you want to do by the end of your first year, which I think people doing these subjects should be aiming for, then you can get relevant experience/build contacts etc.

    In fact, I know what I can do with a History degree because I've been researching. Yes, I admit, it might not be worth anything as I haven't even started it yet, but I've looked at many of the top 100 and I'd say around 80% don't ask for a specific degree. On the grad profiles, you see a fair few with History in fact.

    The person you are and how sociable you are are also quite important. Finally, the institution you study at, and more importantly what grades you got at A-level are crucial, as said, I think ABB minimum is important for non-vocational grads.
    That's good that you've already been researching future career options as that already puts you ahead of much of the game, but you are still forgetting that for a great many companies a relevant degree is a prerequisite. See as an example:

    "They have gained a qualification because they have enjoyed the subject matter, without thinking where it is going to lead,” he says. “There is a mismatch between what employers want and what is on offer. If you are an old-school employer you don’t understand going to university to study something you will never use."

    Source

    Competition for the top 100 (I presume you mean the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers) is obviously going to be fierce given that they usually accept applications from all disciplines. There is a whole world of employment opportunities beyond that fairly arbitrary list of employers i.e. the "old-school" employers that the quote refers that you may never get the opportunity to experience without a relevant degree.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Smack)
    That's good that you've already been researching future career options as that already puts you ahead of much of the game, but you are still forgetting that for a great many companies a relevant degree is a prerequisite. See as an example:

    "They have gained a qualification because they have enjoyed the subject matter, without thinking where it is going to lead,” he says. “There is a mismatch between what employers want and what is on offer. If you are an old-school employer you don’t understand going to university to study something you will never use."

    Source

    Competition for the top 100 (I presume you mean the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers) is obviously going to be fierce given that they usually accept applications from all disciplines. There is a whole world of employment opportunities beyond that fairly arbitrary list of employers i.e. the "old-school" employers that the quote refers that you may never get the opportunity to experience without a relevant degree.
    But these days there are so many jobs which ask for a bachelors, without one, you're usually confined in career progression. Also, as so many people have one, not having one today makes you look less employable. 20 years ago, people with History degrees were walking into the same occupations I listed above. Today, they still are. I think it's important to note that History isn't some 'walk in the park' like mickey mouse degrees. Not everyone is good enough to do maths/sciences and engineering, which I put down to poor teaching if I'm being honest, so are you saying if you can't do that, or something like Law, then it's not worth going to uni? Also, the majority of top and mid tiered law firms have a 50/50 split between those who have done LLB and those who they will pay to do/or have achieved a GDL.

    As for your quote, it was in the middle of the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s, and I stick to my argument, 20/30 years ago, people studied subjects such as History and went into commerce. Yes, there are mickey mouse grads these days, and they're in their thousands, but you need to ensure you distinguish academic rigour with the ex-polys, which I have read still come some way behind the Red Brick unis (i.e. type that I'm going to). Thus A-levels are somewhat of a saviour for filtering.

    Also, in your same article - "Adam Dilworth has learned the hard way. Now 23, he graduated in microbiology from Liverpool University last year. He has applied for 25 jobs in management and sales without success, and has been working full-time in a university coffee shop, earning £14,000." Something like microbiology is supposedly more technical and this fella couldn't get a job. To be honest, anyone gets into sales, so this further shows the economic cycle wasn't benefiting grads when this article was published.

    Sorry but there are many sectors where having a relevant degree won't give the industry a large enough pool to fill vacancies and thus grow businesses. Take the big4 for example, they take any solid academic degree usually, even though you have A&F grads. I've read on the A&F forum that History grads go into accountancy in their drones, if people stopped taking these academic degrees, productivity would fall. Why? Because a degree like History prepares you well for professional exams you need to sit afterwards.

    Everyone will have their own view, but degrees of academic rigour, not just History but things like English, are still sought after. I don't know what you mean 'for a great many companies a relevant degree is a prerequisite'? As said, the top 100 on the whole don't give a toss about your degree and are more interested in how you can fit into their business. These are the largest employers, I've also looked at smaller firms for industries I'm interest in and they don't ask for anything specific, they can't afford to given their lower applicant rate. People who do arts/humanities and social sciences know that they're not technical people who are going to programme the next-gen software etc. but there's a massive service sector in the UK who need highly skilled grads.
    • 13 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by victoryshinesonus)
    But these days there are so many jobs which ask for a bachelors, without one, you're usually confined in career progression. Also, as so many people have one, not having one today makes you look less employable. 20 years ago, people with History degrees were walking into the same occupations I listed above. Today, they still are. I think it's important to note that History isn't some 'walk in the park' like mickey mouse degrees. Not everyone is good enough to do maths/sciences and engineering, which I put down to poor teaching if I'm being honest, so are you saying if you can't do that, or something like Law, then it's not worth going to uni? Also, the majority of top and mid tiered law firms have a 50/50 split between those who have done LLB and those who they will pay to do/or have achieved a GDL.
    No. What I'm saying, and have said many times to you in this thread, in language that is fairly simple to understand, is that you should realise that in many cases you will find it harder to get into certain areas than people with relevant degrees. In some cases you won't but in many you will, as Idrink2muchcoffee noted.

    As for your quote, it was in the middle of the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s, and I stick to my argument, 20/30 years ago, people studied subjects such as History and went into commerce. Yes, there are mickey mouse grads these days, and they're in their thousands, but you need to ensure you distinguish academic rigour with the ex-polys, which I have read still come some way behind the Red Brick unis (i.e. type that I'm going to). Thus A-levels are somewhat of a saviour for filtering.
    The article that I linked to was from November 2011 which I don't think was that long ago, although granted I'm not particularly good with dates and timelines seeing as I'm no historian.

    Sorry but there are many sectors where having a relevant degree won't give the industry a large enough pool to fill vacancies and thus grow businesses. Take the big4 for example, they take any solid academic degree usually, even though you have A&F grads. I've read on the A&F forum that History grads go into accountancy in their drones, if people stopped taking these academic degrees, productivity would fall. Why? Because a degree like History prepares you well for professional exams you need to sit afterwards.
    So are you saying that the UK does not produce enough accounting graduates to keep up with the growth of accountancy firms?

    Everyone will have their own view, but degrees of academic rigour, not just History but things like English, are still sought after. I don't know what you mean 'for a great many companies a relevant degree is a prerequisite'? As said, the top 100 on the whole don't give a toss about your degree and are more interested in how you can fit into their business.
    Firstly, I know many companies in the "top 100" care very much about your degree discipline. Secondly, you do realise that there are much, much more companies that recruit graduates than the 100 listed in the "top 100"?

    These are the largest employers
    No, they are the employers that a small survey of students felt offered "best opportunities for graduates". We have no idea how clued up the students surveyed were or what industries they wanted to enter so as far as I am concerned the list is nothing more than a random list of big companies.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    What is the need for all of these people to lay **** on someone else's degree? Its been a long time since OP posted and he's probably already taken his answer away from this thread, but I'd like to throw in my two cents regardless. Any degree is as usefulness is specific to the person taking it. If you've no interest in history then obviously taking a degree in it is going to be of **** all use to you, but if its something you've got a real passion for, enough to motivate you to get a good grade then its a good degree to have. I'm sure an employer would rather taken on someone that got a good grade in history because they really care about something, it shows that person has a passion, and maybe that passion can be distilled in their work for the company. I'd rather have a good history degree than a science degree that's second rate because I had no interest and therefore no motivation in the subject.

    I think people should spend less time worrying what other people are going to think of their degree choice - because it seems to me that the people doing the judging don't have a clue what they're talking about - and concentrate on deciding which degree most interests them. If you're going to university for 3 years, maybe more, at least do yourself the courtesy of enjoying what you're doing. You'll only be wasting your time otherwise.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by victoryshinesonus)
    History grads CAN and DO walk into IT, accountancy, law and finance (non-quant) jobs. Listen, no degree guarantees you a job these days, so you may as well study something that is academically respected and something you enjoy. Honestly, the employment picture is much different in NI compared to England so I think you need to really bare that in mind.

    Also, what were your A-levels? Anything lower than ABB can cause huge restrictions. And yeah, accountancy is fine, but in all honesty, everyone I know has said the training years are boring as is the degree. It's only upon qualification that things get really tasty and provides you with an array of opportunities. Personally, I don't want to study for accountancy for 5/6 years of my life. I'd do it for the ACA as it let's you move into many, many different sectors and gives you valuable insight should you wish to start your own business.
    I got AAB at A level and have lots of extra curricular activities to boast about on my CV. Also it is bleak for history grads in England too as I have friends who studied in England in similar situations. I don't really believe that a history graduate walks into IT.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    About as valuable as a drum kit in Anne Frank's hideout.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I got a 2:1 in History from a good university, and while I definitely don't feel it equipped me with an advantage over any other subjects when it comes to job hunting, I am still at a place where I'm not sure what I want to do with the rest of my life.

    I spent my whole degree having fun, playing sports, going out and travelling in between, without sparing many a thought for the future. I have a decent degree which will count for something eventually, but regardless of the degree, spending some of your time at university getting work experience, networking, taking courses put on by the university, getting elected in campus elections, captaining teams etc will boost whatever degree you take.

    History was something I enjoyed, was passionate about, gave me WAY TO MUCH free time, and as I am still trying to work out what career I want to embark on, it was the right choice for me at the time.

    If you know you want to become a lawyer, or an accountant, or a rich city boy banker, then of course history is a useless degree.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Spurslh)
    I got a 2:1 in History from a good university, and while I definitely don't feel it equipped me with an advantage over any other subjects when it comes to job hunting, I am still at a place where I'm not sure what I want to do with the rest of my life.

    I spent my whole degree having fun, playing sports, going out and travelling in between, without sparing many a thought for the future. I have a decent degree which will count for something eventually, but regardless of the degree, spending some of your time at university getting work experience, networking, taking courses put on by the university, getting elected in campus elections, captaining teams etc will boost whatever degree you take.

    History was something I enjoyed, was passionate about, gave me WAY TO MUCH free time, and as I am still trying to work out what career I want to embark on, it was the right choice for me at the time.

    If you know you want to become a lawyer, or an accountant, or a rich city boy banker, then of course history is a useless degree.
    Sure, if you get an average 2:1 degree in most subjects your employment prospects will be limited - probably at best - these days. Not even a 2:1 degree in Economics will be of much use, unless you want to work in retail banking or something equally as tedious and unrewarding.

    If you actually put the effort in and come out with a First Class degree then your chances of employment are greatly increased. Despite that, however, employment for Bachelor-level graduates isn't as common as it once was. A Bachelor degree on its own isn't particularly impressive anymore. Postgraduate study is the way to go.

    A First Class degree in History will give you a great chance to admit you into many different world-class Masters programs and that's where the future is for employment prospects - that will set you apart.

    If you have a First Class BA and a good MSc degree your chances of employment are greatly increased. Bare in mind that only ~20% of Law graduates go straight into employment. The percentage is much higher in History - and many of both go into post-graduate study. Some, even, as someone pointed out, will cross disciplines and go into Law/Finance/Management etc.

    Although, it does have to be said, that the statistics for Economics graduates' average salary in comparison to History graduates don't really match up. The former earn around 1/5th more in the graduate jobs market.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Idrink2muchcoffee)
    History and politics is an easy degree. It made uni fun and the whole experience developed me as a person.
    Must be why you got a 2:1 then, because they're so easy.

    I study politics and history, and can understand your issues but I don't agree. You clearly went into it without much of an idea. It is a deep passion of mine and I want to take it to academia. I am on a strong first, and it hasn't been easy at all. I feel the grade boundaries like '2:1' are completely arbitrary. What about %? The difference in class between a 62% and 68% candidate is immense, and to achieve 70%+ and above over the year is impressive. One bad mark can destroy your grade.

    History isn't about learning just the content. The skills it (should) teach you are completely (buzzword) 'transferable'. How to write, present and argue are all taught emphatically.

    University isn't just about the degree either. It gives you some free time to participate in volunteer work, elections, campaigns and so on to prepare you for those presentations.

    Though, of course, you said you had too much free time, so I guess you didn't read too extensively or participate all that much but took the usual average Uni student route and did some fun stuff. There are many average 2:1 students out there, especially in the humanities. On that basis I would suggest it is a hard degree simply because you have to perform so well.
    • 5 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by firechao)
    Who controls the past now controls the future
    Who controls the present now controls the past
    Who controls the past now controls the future
    Who controls the present now?
    Now testify!
    Yes. :headbang:
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Of all the humanities, I think History is the most respected (imo) and can open many doors if you get a good degree from a reputable University. Its not uncommon for history graduates to be employed in finance, journalism, human resources, government, education, the armed forces and research, to name but a few. The economy is bad at the moment but in 3 to 4 years time by the time you graduate the economic prospects will probably have improved, and from a History degree, you will be equipped with a high level of analytical and critical skills that are required in any graduate level job.

    Additionally, if you do a combined honours such as History and Economics, as a previous poster mentioned, even more opportunities are opened. However it is completely up to you. If History is your passion, do it
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Well at the gym I work in, there's a guy working as a fitness instructor there who got a 2.1 in History from Cambridge, dunno what he's doing with that job. He's really into fitness and stuff though, so it might just be that more than anything.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Waterstorm)
    Well at the gym I work in, there's a guy working as a fitness instructor there who got a 2.1 in History from Cambridge, dunno what he's doing with that job. He's really into fitness and stuff though, so it might just be that more than anything.
    No one is saying you'll walk into a top graduate job and be on big money, even from Cambridge. It's not a golden ticket.

    Being a fitness instructor requires a lot of training and qualifications in its own right. It's probably a choice of his, or could be work until he finds a grad job!
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by CUFCDan)
    No one is saying you'll walk into a top graduate job and be on big money, even from Cambridge. It's not a golden ticket.

    Being a fitness instructor requires a lot of training and qualifications in its own right. It's probably a choice of his, or could be work until he finds a grad job!
    It doesn't need a degree though, I'm a personal trainer myself (who are level 3, and fitness instructors are level 2), and I'm just in my second year at uni

    But yeah, I know what you mean.

Reply

Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?

    this is what you'll be called on TSR

  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?

    never shared and never spammed

  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. By completing the slider below you agree to The Student Room's terms & conditions and site rules

  2. Slide the button to the right to create your account

    Slide to join now Processing…

    You don't slide that way? No problem.

Updated: May 10, 2012
Article updates
Useful resources

Quick Link:

Unanswered History

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups
Reputation gems:
You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.