Interested Students

Why study history?

Those who study history better understand constant change and can provide orientation in times of upheaval. The study of history provides a unique insight into past worlds. It can show how people in the past dealt with hunger, wars and scarcity, which festivals they celebrated, and which religions and ideologies shaped their view of the world.

The study of history deals with the historical roots of current phenomena such as migration, racism and global inequality and questions the relationship between humans and the environment or the change in gender roles. Furthermore, historical studies questions how the historical past is used as an argument in political disputes and, if necessary, even instrumentalised.

Studying history is more than just learning about the past. During their studies, students of history learn how to deal critically with historical sources and scientific literature. They are able to argue convincingly in discussions, structure texts or present research results in a generally understandable way. Depending on the area of research students can also work with the statistical evaluation of quantitative data. These are valuable skills that are becoming increasingly important in today's world and open up diverse and attractive career prospects. Students of history are able to make neglected connections visible and counter popular conventions. They therefore possess competencies that are essential for a society to critically engage with itself.

History graduates are employed in a wide range of professions. They work in research, public administration, private industry, journalism, media/communication or teach at schools. Employers particularly appreciate history graduates' networked thinking, their ability to grasp things quickly, and their ability to independently master complex tasks and convincingly communicate their chosen solutions. This makes them sought-after employees who are able to assert themselves in a dynamic working environment with their ingenuity and structured way of working.

The graduate survey of the Federal Statistical Office, evaluated by the University of Bern 2021, holds various data and facts about the study of history in Bern. Some positive points are particularly worth highlighting:

Statistik Erwerbsquote
  • Bernese Master's graduates in History are more satisfied than average with their choice of study: 77.7% of them would choose this field of study again after graduation (average for all subjects at the University of Bern: 72%; average for all subjects in Switzerland as a whole: 70.9%).
  • The employment rate among Bernese Master's graduates in history is comparable to that of graduates in other subjects: 91.5% of former history students found a job within one year of graduation (of the remaining history graduates, 4.25% were unemployed and 4.25% were inactive). This means that the employment rate of Bernese Master's graduates in history is slightly below the Bernese average (94%) and slightly above the national average (90.5%) for all university subjects.
  • In both the Bernese and the national comparison, Bernese Master's graduates in history show an above-average level of satisfaction with their current employment.
  • Compared to all Master's graduates at the University of Bern, those who have completed their degree in history receive above-average starting salaries.

History as a profession

Historians work in very different professional contexts. In professions related to the subject, they contribute significantly to the diffusion of historical knowledge into society and increasingly occupy the field of "public history". Other careers move far away from historical education and yet benefit from it in one way or another. The Swiss Historical Society repeatedly makes the interaction between history and the profession a topic. One focus in the past has been on providing documentation for freelance historians.

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