Although historians can study anything that has transpired in the past, in practice we choose topics, eras, people, and events that reveal insights about the present and offer inspiration for the future. History illuminates the breadth of human possibility, keeping alive and interpreting for our own time the tribulations and triumphs of women and men both renowned and otherwise forgotten.
People across time and space have pondered the meaning of the past. Here at UNC, the study of history has been a cornerstone of the curriculum since the University’s founding, although, appropriately, the Department’s areas of focus, underlying values, and educational strategies have changed over time. Regularly ranked among the top history departments in the country, we combine prolific, cutting-edge research with dedicated, creative teaching and a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The skills of analysis, problem-solving, research, and communication that are honed by studying history open up a world of possibilities. History courses at UNC-Chapel Hill equip students for careers in law, journalism, education, business, public service, museums, and international relations—just some of the innumerable occupations in which the ability to analyze conflicting information and viewpoints, write clearly and communicate complex ideas, find reliable evidence for judgments about human actions and motives, and place events in a wider context are essential. Our innovative doctoral program not only provides outstanding training in graduate students’ research fields, but also equips them for an evolving job market within and beyond educational institutions. More generally, we strive to help students and the wider public appreciate the responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society and the challenging ambiguities that everyone encounters in their relations with others—no matter what they do or where they travel in the world.
Whether you are a prospective undergraduate or graduate student, a colleague from another institution, a member of the media, or an alumnus, we hope you will explore our website and see how UNC’s History Department engages in historical inquiry and exchange. Please don’t hesitate to contact individual faculty members directly if you have additional questions about our curriculum or specific areas of historical research. We are delighted to share with you our passion for the study of history!