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Old February 14th, 2018, 08:49 AM   #1

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How to become a history professor


I've recently found a love for history, and would really love to do something with it for a job. Looking around, I found that I would love to become a history professor at a college such as Stanford. Since I'm still in school, what could I do to start preparing for this career path? I actually know quite a bit about history considering my age and that classes that I've taken.

(P.S. I'm especially interested in Europe from the Norman Conquest to the Napoleonic Wars)

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Old February 14th, 2018, 11:39 AM   #2

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* BA in History with excellent grades, and high Graduate Test scores.

* PhD. in History, and it helps if your Dissertation is noted by other historians.

* Presumably highly developed reading, writing, and analytical skills were develped in getting the prerequisite degrees. If not, things become much more difficult.

* Excellent language skills relevant to your specialty. Several are better than one. Latin, Greek, French, Russian, German and Spanish are popular for specialists in European and the West. Chinese, Sanskrit, Japanese and Hindi are core languages in Asian Studies. If you want to specialize in Classical Antiquity then Greek and Latin are most essential.

* Once you have your shiny new Doctorate, you can expect years of teaching as an nontenured lecturer. You teach fundamental and survey courses to lower-division under-grads that more senior faculty avoid. You are pretty much at the beck and call of the tenured, especially the Department Chair. Much of your time will be spent trying to get tenure, and that means campus/academic politics and getting published. I think typically, the path will lead from one small college to another for years as you build a reputation for professionalism, and the ability to generate grant money.

* Tenure! At last! Now you can order the new kids around and make 'em carry part of your load. Now your title will be something like, Associate Professor. Be patient and publish a lot of good stuff, and in another five-ten years you will be a full professor. Finally, at the end of your career you might become Department Chair, and consort only with God.
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Old February 14th, 2018, 11:56 AM   #3

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Hello PoochieMoo

To be a good teacher of universal history you have to study hard, and take your time.I hope your friend will be a great teacher of universal history.
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Old February 14th, 2018, 12:13 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asherman View Post
* BA in History with excellent grades, and high Graduate Test scores.

* PhD. in History, and it helps if your Dissertation is noted by other historians.

* Presumably highly developed reading, writing, and analytical skills were develped in getting the prerequisite degrees. If not, things become much more difficult.

* Excellent language skills relevant to your specialty. Several are better than one. Latin, Greek, French, Russian, German and Spanish are popular for specialists in European and the West. Chinese, Sanskrit, Japanese and Hindi are core languages in Asian Studies. If you want to specialize in Classical Antiquity then Greek and Latin are most essential.

* Once you have your shiny new Doctorate, you can expect years of teaching as an nontenured lecturer. You teach fundamental and survey courses to lower-division under-grads that more senior faculty avoid. You are pretty much at the beck and call of the tenured, especially the Department Chair. Much of your time will be spent trying to get tenure, and that means campus/academic politics and getting published. I think typically, the path will lead from one small college to another for years as you build a reputation for professionalism, and the ability to generate grant money.

* Tenure! At last! Now you can order the new kids around and make 'em carry part of your load. Now your title will be something like, Associate Professor. Be patient and publish a lot of good stuff, and in another five-ten years you will be a full professor. Finally, at the end of your career you might become Department Chair, and consort only with God.
Interpretation..

Unless you have an unending passion and desire to teach history, do something else.
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Old February 14th, 2018, 01:15 PM   #5

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When I figured out that getting that Doctorate would only get me out of the starting gate, and that it would be years, decades probably before I could support a family properly, I shifted over to Law School, followed by a Masters and unending mostly self directed education. I did alright, and now as evening falls we are reasonably comfortable. My character and integrity are unsullied, and I can thumb my large nose at the world.

Do what you love, and work hard and smart. If you are any good, you will eventually become Master of your craft, trade or profession. Being Master Maintenance Worker, or Master Hod-Carrier are honorable and worthy careers ... for some.
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Old February 14th, 2018, 01:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoochieMoo View Post
I've recently found a love for history, and would really love to do something with it for a job. Looking around, I found that I would love to become a history professor at a college such as Stanford. Since I'm still in school, what could I do to start preparing for this career path? I actually know quite a bit about history considering my age and that classes that I've taken.

(P.S. I'm especially interested in Europe from the Norman Conquest to the Napoleonic Wars)
When you say you are "still in school," I assume you mean high school. Here are some things you can do for now...

1. "from the Norman Conquest to the Napoleonic Wars" covers two basic eras; medieval history and early modern European history. You probably will not specialize in both, but end up picking one over the other. But for now you should read histories on these eras by recent academic historians. Don't read stuff written before, say 1980, because history professors will want you to be involved in the recent trends and arguments in history. Read both political history and social-cultural history. You will probably focus on one or the other in grad school, but you'll need to know some of both.

2. Work hard on your English composition and write, write, write. Writing book reviews is an excellent practice. You can find them in academic history journals to learn how they are written. If you can afford it, get a subscription to a academic journal in an historical era you are interested in. Otherwise, try libraries, especially university libraries. Or see if your library provides access to an academic database like JStor.

3. Learn at least on foreign language you will be using. For instance, if you like French history, learn French.

4. Most universities have academic advising. Go to a university near you and ask your questions there. There is little sense in asking people who don't have PhDs in history how to get one when people that have them will give you free advice. They can tell you which colleges have good programs in the eras of history you are interested in and what it will take to get into one of them.

Last edited by Jax Historian; February 14th, 2018 at 01:46 PM.
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Old March 29th, 2018, 01:38 PM   #7

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Originally Posted by Voltaires Hat View Post
Interpretation..

Unless you have an unending passion and desire to teach history, do something else.
To be fair, though, he could become a history teacher. Indeed, I myself was thinking of going in this direction considering that I love history and yet it is extremely hard to become a history professor.
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Old March 29th, 2018, 04:16 PM   #8

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To be fair, though, he could become a history teacher. Indeed, I myself was thinking of going in this direction considering that I love history and yet it is extremely hard to become a history professor.
I suppose that in the USA it also depends to what grade level you want to teach. Teaching to younger students is probably much easier to achieve than to PhDs.

I had the idea that in the USA there is a specific course for history teachers for Basic and High Scholl level.
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