The major in History is structured to provide undergraduates with an understanding of the past as well as to teach skills enabling them to attack any sort of problem, to ask appropriate questions, to assemble valid evidence, and to arrive at rational conclusions. Given such training, the student majoring in History is prepared for graduate work in history or law, or to pursue careers in international business, communications, teaching, government service, museum administration, social work, and library science. The department also has a fully accredited teacher‑training program, administered in conjunction with the Department of Education.
An integral part of the department is the Institute for Massachusetts Studies, which publishes the Historical Journal of Massachusetts as well as books related to the history and culture of the region. The Journal draws important contributors and reviewers nationally, and has a circulation of well over one thousand, including university and college libraries in the United States and in several foreign countries. Students serve on a board of student editors, and outstanding student research papers are occasionally published.
The campus supports an active chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the National Honor Society in History, and qualified students are inducted into the society in the junior or senior year.
A number of internship opportunities allied to the study of American History are available. These include museum work at Old Sturbridge Village, the Holyoke Museum, the Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum, and archival and library work at the Springfield City Library and the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library in Boston.