“The skills I learned as a history major have been incredibly helpful. Being able to do deep research on a topic, analyze and synthesize your findings, come to a conclusion, and then communicate that all effectively is something I have to do on a weekly basis. It was my love for doing historical research that led me on this path, and even though I don't do too much historical research these days, the research and communication skills you learn are very applicable to other fields.”

Alice Kalinowski, History '15

The craft of history interprets the past. History examines the lives of people, the consequences of ideas, and the products of human ingenuity. Historians engage in deep inquiry and persuasive debate. They craft narratives about the past based in evidence. The skills students gain through the study of history allow them to analyze and interpret evidence and evaluate how human societies change over time.

Choose from a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in history, or a minor in history or history of science, or select history as a teachable minor. Careful training in research, writing, critical reading, and interpretation makes history graduates attractive to a wide number of employers who value those abilities, especially in fields of law, library and museum work, finance, journalism, and public administration. Students also study history to advance their own liberal education and to train their minds.

Or, choose the major in Group Social Studies that is designed for students seeking teacher certification to teach in high schools or middle schools. Students study a variety of academic fields including History, Geography, Political Science, and Economics. Students acquire a strong background to engage their classrooms with vibrant content. Students have historically had great success in landing jobs in classrooms in Michigan, but also across the United States, particularly in Texas and Utah. A significant number of alumni have gone into educational administration, graduate school, and a wide variety of other professions. Social studies students can choose from a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S). We also support the Pedagogical Content Knowledge for Elementary Teaching major designed for students seeking teacher certification in elementary education.

The Department of History is a unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

History Scholarships

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Benefits students regularly enrolled in any history course.

This fund is for History or Social Studies students studying abroad.

Benefits deserving junior or senior history majors.

Supports students majoring in history and group social studies.

The Public History badge allows students to enhance their degree program through place-based and community engaged projects drawing on current practices and methodologies.

The Certificate in Medical and Health Humanities allows students to broaden their understanding of medicine and health by incorporating the diverse perspectives of a variety of disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences. 

The Civic Change Agent Badge aims to inspire students to align democratic ideals and civic commitment with deep knowledge of context, history, and policy. It teaches students the values and practices required to sustain democracy through formal curricula, project learning, and co-curricular activities.

Outstanding Alumni and Students

Ricky Benavidez '14 & '19

History Department Grad Ricky Benavides to receive Young Alumni Reward!

Ricky Benavidez graduated from Grand Valley in 2014 and 2019 with bachelor's degrees in history and public and nonprofit administration as well as a Master of Public Administration. After graduating, he held several positions at GVSU and served on the GVSU Young Alumni Council for 6 years. Ricky is a Senior Associate at Ktisis Capital, Adjunct Professor at GVSU, Strategist and Communications Director at West Michigan Progress, and DEI learning coordinator for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. He sits on multiple community boards and committees, including the City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission, is the Board President of Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, and is Co-Chair of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s LGBT Fund Advisory Board.

94% of GVSU alumni respondents rated their academic experience in the History and Social Studies majors as excellent or good.

Erica Vanderlaan, Social Studies '07 Spotlight

Erica Vanderlaan, Social Studies '07

Implementation Manager, Munetrix

Meghan Forest, History '17 Spotlight

Meghan Forest, History '17

Archives and Curatorial Assistant, The Biltmore Company

Brad Lundvick, Social Studies '07 Spotlight

Brad Lundvick, Social Studies '07

Principal at CA Frost Environmental Science MHS and Zoo School, Grand Rapids Public Schools

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Where Are Our Social Studies and History Graduates?

GVSU History Alum Eric Baumgarten

Eric Baumgarten, GVSU History Alum

GVSU History Alum-in-Residence and Lead Buyer for GE Aviation Eric Baumgarten speaks about the value of a History degree in the Business world, October 2019

Current Students

What Does Truth Mean in History?

What Does Truth Mean in History?

How to Find Truth in History

How to Find Truth in History

Daisy Soos, a History and Nursing double major, worked on a research project in 2021 titled "Truth in History," which resulted in the compilation of two videos in connection with University Libraries.  

Scholarship Recipients

Eric Pinder, History & Secondary Education '21 Spotlight

Eric Pinder, History & Secondary Education '21

2020 Glenn A. and Betty J. Niemeyer History Scholarship and The Quirinus Breen Prize Recipient

Coltrane Bodbyl-Mast, History & Arabic/Middle East Studies Spotlight

Coltrane Bodbyl-Mast, History & Arabic/Middle East Studies

2022 Glenn A. and Betty J. Niemeyer History Scholarship Recipient

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Department News

GVNext: History Department News

A person is talking while being viewed on a computer screen. A keyboard is in the foreground.

U.S. ambassador to Russia gives history class insight on Russia, Ukraine

John Sullivan joined David Stark's class via Zoom.

May 24, 2022

GVSU experts Paul Isely, Scott Lingenfelter and Heather Tafel

Hauenstein Center hosting panel discussion on Ukraine-Russia conflict

The Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies will host a discussion April 13, featuring three GVSU lecturers analyzing the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its political and economic ramifications for the two nations, Europe and the world.

Apr 11, 2022

View More GVNext: History Department News

Twitter feed for @GVSUHistoryDept

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GVSU History Department
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GVSU History Department
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GVSU History Department
Some little breakfast munchies at the Devos Center for the Great Lakes History Conference!

Follow @GVSUHistoryDept on Twitter

Recent Faculty Doings and Achievements

Professor Covey publishes chapter in new book

Professor Covey published “From Playa Girón to Luanda: Mercenaries and Internationalist Fighters,” The Tricontinental Revolution: Third World Radicalism and the Cold War, edited by R. Joseph Parrott and Mark Atwood Lawrence, Cambridge University Press Studies in US Foreign Relations, 2022. 304-31.

Professor Moore interviewed by NYTimes for a story about Muhammad Ali

Professor Moore was recently interviewed by the New York Times for a story about Muhammad Ali's popularity with filmmakers and authors

Professor Shan Publishes Article in the book Chinese Ideology

“Li Dazhao and the Chinese Embracement of Communism,” in Chinese Ideology, Routledge, 2022, 94-110.

Professor Smither speaks at a Grand Rapids Chicks mural dedication ceremony

Professor Smither spoke at the dedication ceremony for a mural depicting the Grand Rapids Chicks women's baseball team, part of the Women's Way project co-sponsored by Downtown Grand Rapids and the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council

Professor Stabler co-authored two recent publications

Professor Stabler co-authored a journal article with an alum who is currently the archivist for the state of Texas. “The Odd Couple: William T. Sherman, O.O. Howard, Loyalty, Soldiery, and the Freedpeople” with Eleanor Gleason cover article in The Journal of America’s Military Past,46: 1 (Winter 2021), 5-24.


Professor Stabler is the 2021 recipient of the Outstanding Educator Award

Alumni nominate a faculty member who has had a significant impact on the careers of alumni, and the Grand Valley Alumni Association presents the award annually over Homecoming weekend.

Check out the newest issue of History Highlights!

Upcoming Events and Opportunities


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Page last modified September 9, 2022