History majors earn biggest paychecks


By Gigi Jeddi | The Duquesne Duke

A 2015 report from George Mason University revealed that history majors are the highest-earning liberal arts graduates, with a median annual wage of $54,000.

Duquesne’s history department currently has 47 history undergraduate and graduate students. According to department chair Jay Dwyer, it makes sense that history majors are successful after school.

Dwyer said the study of history encourages “more reading, more writing, more critical thinking and discussion.”

Because of the large amount of reading that history students must complete, those students understand a broad range of topics, which makes them “marketable” for a variety of jobs, Dwyer said.

Dwyer said history majors are well-equipped to succeed in business, and in some cases can “move up the corporate ladder” to become CEO’s. He said this is because “history is transferable to the real world.”

Amanda Gillen is a graduate from Duquesne with a master’s degree in history. She now serves as director of education at the Frick Art and Historical Center in Point Breeze.

Gillen began her history studies with a desire to teach elementary school. She then wanted to be able to teach at a college level.

“Duquesne gave me the idea to work at a historical site,” she said.

Gillen said, several of her fellow history majors went on to attend law school, which opened career possibilities for them in legal firms and banks.

According to the Georgetown report, a graduate degree in history, such as Gillen’s, is “the only humanities and liberal arts major that leads to wages that are higher than the average graduate degree holder.”

The report also showed that history is the second most popular liberal arts major, falling slightly behind English.

Dwyer said he believes this is because “All people have a history, an individual past, their family’s past…” Dwyer said. “Human beings are aware of their past, and that attracts students,” Dwyer said.

Many history students at Duquesne chose to double-major, Dwyer said, which he thought makes them more “marketable” and attractive to potential employers.