The History Major is in Decline, but not at Yale


Last week we reported on an American Historical Association study that revealed a 33% decline in the number of history majors in United States colleges and universities.  But this is not the case at Yale.  Here is a taste of Carly Wanna’s piece at Yale News:

Despite national trends, Yale’s undergraduate program remains one of the five most popular majors at Yale, with 129 students declared in the class of 2019 alone.

According to department chair Joanne Meyerowitz, Yale’s Department of History plans to add as many as 11 new professors of history, six of which would focus on non-American and non-European history.

“Yale has a long tradition of a robust history major, and the college places emphasis on the importance of the liberal arts,” Meyerowitz said. “Over the past few years, we’ve made a concerted effort to hire more faculty in African-, Asian- and Latin American history and, more generally, in international and transnational history.”

Read the entire piece here.

Here is my quick take:  Yale graduates get jobs regardless of major simply because of the Yale name and alumni base.  Yale students are thus able to take more risks in choosing a major.  Thoughts?

One thought on “The History Major is in Decline, but not at Yale

  1. John,
    I concur with your observation that Yale graduates probably don’t have to be as job-focused as students coming out of other institutions. With that being said, I found it interesting that professors were being added in the more esoteric branches of history. I use the word esoteric somewhat jokingly for lack of a better word. Not too many U.S. schools have extensive studies in Asian, African, and Latin American history. It’s a good thing that someone will be paying attention to these neglected fields.
    When I read biographical sketches of certain historic British figures who have played prominent roles in foreign policy, government, and business, I find myself amazed at the specialization in their academic lives. For example, wasn’t T.E. Lawrence an Arabist? Others studied the most arcane subjects and found use for these studies later in life.


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