Program Summary

History remains one of the cornerstone majors at Samford. The history major has remained popular despite increasing vocational pressures for students to concentrate on job training. History is a popular major with limitless career opportunities. History is fun and interesting. It deals with real people and events, not abstractions. It offers a boundless variety for selecting favorite topics and pursuing personal interests. Everything has a history — nations, wars, ethnic groups, sexuality, jazz, gambling, postage stamps. History is visible everywhere in American society. In short, we study the past to understand humanity's place in the world, to remember those who came before us, and to help us live more wisely in our own time.

My time as a history major at Samford University was enriching and invaluable. My professors taught me to think critically, the art of storytelling, the importance of writing in plain English, and the need to be scrupulous in researching a subject—all skills that are crucial for lawyers and judges. To put it plainly, I would not be where I am today without the exemplary education that I received from the History Department of the Howard College of Arts and Sciences.Chief Judge Stephen Louis A. Dillard '92, Court of Appeals of Georgia

Objectives and Curriculum

Majoring in history at Samford offers many marketable skills. History majors learn to write well and think critically. By studying the past, including primary and secondary source research, undergraduate majors learn to think with rigor, to write with clarity and precision, to organize and assess evidence, to analyze problems and interpret complex events. They study with professors who are distinguished not only for their scholarly research but also for their classroom teaching, men and women who inspire as well as instruct. Possessed of the skills that are the hallmark of an educated person, our majors go on to careers in any number of fields-- education, business, law, finance, policy-making, government service, entertainment, and more.

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Is This Program for Me?

History majors are intellectually curious and engage in meaningful interactions with the faculty and other students. Our students thrive in a hands-on, problem-solving environment where they become detectives in pursuit of sources and answers.

As a history major at Samford, I got the chance to truly learn the content I wanted to teach, but I learned so much more than facts and figures. I learned how to research and find truth, how to think deeply and help others to do the same. I was encouraged to dive into primary sources -- to see history as it happened, to search for and truly listen to multiple perspectives, and to think for myself. The rigor of this major was the best preparation possible for the rigor of teaching. When a textbook glosses over something my students need to learn, I don't panic because I have the knowledge and skills needed to do the research and make the resources myself. I left the Samford History Department prepared to engage my students in a lifelong discourse about the impact of the past and their role in shaping the future, because that's what my professors did for me.Lauren Ziemer '13, Teacher, Cornerstone Schools of Alabama

Engaged in an interactive learning experience, our students are constantly working through and discussing problems, concepts, and ideas. History students embrace “learning by doing” through researching and analyzing sources. They are both challenged and empowered to engage the past and to draw their own conclusions in pursuit of answers to today’s challenges.

Many students love history, but choose a more “practical” major with an unimaginative career path. Study what you are passionate about, because your interest in History will be reflected in your grades and your work.

What Makes Us Different?

The Department of History at Samford University is home to a vibrant and dynamic community of teachers and scholars. This is demonstrated through our productive scholarship, our American, Western, and Global focuses, our commitment to hands-on teaching, and our guided mentoring. We believe that teaching and research only reach distinction when they are integrated by a faculty devoted to excellence in both.

Our faculty members take seriously the role of advisors and mentors. We work closely with students to help them achieve personal, academic, and career goals.

Career Preparation

Market Ready

A recent major study of college students nationwide asked students to read a series of documents on a political or business problem and then write a memo about how to respond to it. History majors consistently outperformed their peers in business, communications, and other newer “practical” majors. Studying History teaches you critical thinking as well as imagination, empathy, and resourcefulness. It teaches you to research, evaluate evidence, communicate, and problem solve. Rather than train you narrowly for today’s job world (which will be obsolete twenty years from now), it teaches you how to learn for a lifetime. It teaches you not what to think (which will one day be outdated) but rather how to think.

A new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce shows that history majors earn higher median salaries than all other humanities majors and earn the same or more than those who majored in education, communications, or international relations. Twenty percent of those history graduates were employed in management positions.

Career Opportunities

You’ll be well-equipped for a wide range of careers as employers increasingly seek out majors in History for their creative thinking, clear writing, and critical insight. Remember, companies want to hire smart, creative people and often value those with educational backgrounds that set them apart from the crowd. When one bestselling author and journalist was asked to name the kind of major she looks for in a successful job candidate, without hesitation she endorsed study in the humanities. “And really,” she added, “History is kind of the king. We need people who are good at explaining facts, who are good at editing, and who can visualize things in creative ways. We need good artists and we need good writers.”


Internships give you academic credit toward your history major, at the same time offering you valuable field experience that enhances your résumé and lets you explore career options.

Whatever your ultimate career path, a history internship can help you find the kind of job that interests you, while providing valuable work experience and even academic credit. Helping to create a museum exhibition or interviewing civil rights foot soldiers are just two of the many opportunities our majors have accomplished in their internships. Whether it’s working with authors and editors on a writing project, researching legislation, restoring a historic landmark, preparing teaching materials, or serving with missionaries or ministers, interns gain beyond-the-coursework experience in doing history, during the regular academic year or the summer.


Alumni Careers

Business entrepreneurs, lawyers, journalists, ministers, doctors, teachers, missionaries, archivists, librarians, judges, internet technology directors, corporate trainers, historians, museum curators, public relations/marketing executives, and many, many more.

Notable Alumni

Zach Brown '14, received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for Tajikistan for the 2014-2015 academic year. In addition to teaching, Brown hopes to further his research on Tajik media during his assistantship.

Chase Trautwein '13 spent a year teaching English in a German school while introducing students to elements of American culture as part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistants program. He then entered the master's degree program in German at the University of Alabama.

Becca Wilcox Haley Aaron '10 recently graduated from the University of Alabama with her Masters Degree in Library and Information Studies and started work as an Archivist at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Aaron works in the Public Services division processing manuscript collections.

Michelle Little '01 is the Assistant University Historian at Samford University. She is assisting Dr. Jonathan Bass in writing the first scholarly history of the school.

Evan Musgraves '13 is serving as a Graduate Research Assistant for the University History Project while pursuing a graduate degree at Samford's Beeson Divinity School.

Carey Heatherly '01 is a reference librarian and the University of Montevallo's first professional archivist. He co-authored Montevallo, part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing, in May 2011. The book is a pictorial history of both the town and the school, with photos predating the Civil War. Dr. Heatherly has also participated in the Lyrasis Mass Digitization Project, which created a digital presence for the University of Montevallo's yearbooks and catalogs, highlighting the early days of women's education in the South.

David Fleming '94 is president and chief executive of Operation New Birmingham, a downtown advocacy organization. He and Mary Allison Haynie co-authored Ensley and Tuxedo Junction, part of the Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing. The book contains 200 vintage photographs chronicling the annexation of Ensley into Birmingham and the establishment of the "Magic City."

Annesley H. DeGaris '88 (J.D.) of Cory, Watson, Crowder, and DeGaris, is a member of the advisory board of the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of American and the board of directors of the Alabama Association for Justice. DeGaris was elected to Birmingham magazine's Top Birmingham Attorneys 2010 in the practice area of environmental litigation.

Don Blankenship '78 was elected as Jefferson County (Alabama Circuit 10) circuit court judge in 2012.

Mary Ann Buffington Moon '76 and her husband, Rick, were honored as the 2012 Alumni of the Year Award from Samford. The Moons are the fifth couple to be honored as Alumni of the Year. Moon is a teacher at Huntsville (Ala.) High School and was named the secondary teacher of the year in 2009-2010 by the Alabama state Parent-Teacher Association. Moon earned her Samford degree in History and holds a Master's degree from Alabama A&M University.

Marlin Harris '75, former healthcare administrator and foreign missionary to Paraguay (1986-2000), is presently a Spanish teacher and foreign language department head at Prattville High School, state president of the Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers, first vice president of the Alabama Federation of Spanish Clubs, and president of the Paraguay Baptist Medical Center Foundation. Marlin recently authored the book, Let the Beatitudes BE My Attitude in You, WestBow Press, 2012.

Bill Sumners '72, director of the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville, TN, received the W.O. Carver Distinguished Service Award during the 2011 Baptist History and Heritage Society's meeting at Dallas Baptist University. The award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions the the cause of Baptist history.

James Huskey '69, was recognized with an Alumni of the Year Award from Samford during Homecoming 2012. He is a career diplomat with the U.S. State Department, serving in embassies in China, Liberia, and Lebanon. He was a top U.S. official during the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989 and was in Beirut when the U.S. Embassy there was bombed in 1983. He earned a doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill.

Sigurd Bryan '46, Howard College Graduate in History and English and professor emeritus of the Department of Religion, was honored with the 2013 Department of History Alumnus of the Year Award, which was presented at the annual banquet. He also received the Lockmiller Award as the representative of the earliest class present at the 2012 Samford University Homecoming.

Notable Faculty

We have nationally-recognized faculty scholars who delight in teaching freshmen core courses and are deeply committed to mentoring students. Our faculty combines a deep commitment to teaching with active scholarly research because we recognize that each endeavor reinforces and invigorates the other. The Department’s dedication in the classroom can be seen in the many university- and college-wide teaching awards received by the faculty. At the same time our award-winning faculty have remained at the forefront of research and publication in their respective fields.