Where Historians Work: An Interactive Database of History PhD Career Outcomes

Based on the ground-breaking "The Many Careers of History PhDs," the AHA has gathered data from more than 30 departments that grant history PhDs. Using this information, we have created the only interactive, discipline-specific, and cross-institutional database of career outcomes for PhDs. The data from each program represents a snapshot of the employment of a 10-year cohort (2004–13) of graduates. The AHA plans to continually update that underlying data to expand the number of departments included and to provide data useful to our members.

Use the database to get a fine-grained sense of the range of careers open to history PhDs (using the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Standard Occupational Classification system, or SOC) and to compare program outcomes by field of study, geographic location, gender, date of graduation and more. For information about the methodology used in gathering this data, please see About the Data.

Exploring the Visualizations

To read the storyboard, click on the captions in the band along the top to navigate through the sequence of slides. Check or uncheck categories within the filters that appear on the side of each chart to narrow or broaden the data underlying each visualization. Place your cursor over data points to reveal additional details about the data.

We hope site visitors will explore the data, make discoveries, and share them with us. Please send any comments to AHA Manager of Academic Affairs Emily Swafford at eswafford@historians.org.

About the Data

The procedure for gathering the data resembles the methodology used by the "Many Careers" project. To find PhDs from particular programs, names and dissertation titles are pulled from AHA's Directory of History Departments and Historical Organizations. Employment status is determined through digital research using publicly available resources, such as employer websites, LinkedIn, and social media. AHA staff then classifies employers and job titles under the following categories:

Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning

This framework designates an employing college or university's size, research activity, and the highest type of degree it awards (across all subjects). Only historians working at US higher education institutions are classified under the Carnegie system. For example, the classification "Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity" is commonly known by the alternate title "R1."


Drawn from self-categorizations provided to the AHA and pronouns used in online profiles.


The city, state, region (US-only), country, and continent where the individual’s place of work is located.

Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Codes

Developed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, each SOC code carries a label that resembles a real-world job title. For example, library media specialists, reference librarians, and similar workers can be classified under the code "25-4021.00 – Librarians."" This system represents the best way to link the data to official occupational statistics.

Employer Category and Occupation Type

All employers are classified under the following categories:

  • Business (Organizations or companies that earn a profit)
  • Government (State/local and federal; includes public K-12 schools or libraries)
  • Higher Education (Includes university libraries and publishers)
  • Non-profit (Includes private or religious K-12 schools)
  • Self-Employment (Either incorporated or unincorporated)
  • Not employed (Labeled as Deceased, Retired, or Unemployed)
  • Not found (The individual’s employment status could not be determined after a reasonable amount of research)

We have also broken down "Higher Education" into more specific occupation types to account for their diversity. Faculty are designated by tenure status and institution type. "2YNTT Faculty," for example, is given to non-tenure-track faculty members who work at two-year or community colleges. Non-faculty are designated by their SOC code. For example, postdoctoral research fellows are known as "Higher Education Historians,"" combining the Higher Education employer category with the title of SOC code 19-3093.00, "Historians."

The data has certain limitations. These results represent what history doctorates were doing at particular points in time over the 2-3 year-period in which the AHA has attempted to find out how they were employed. While it shows what graduates from ten sequential years were doing when the data was collected, from one to ten years after graduation, it is not longitudinal data, i.e. it does not reflect the various different jobs that anyone has held over time. It cannot tell us about the life cycle of a particular graduate or group of graduates, or how their professional life has evolved or progressed. Further, some of the data points represent very small numbers of individuals, for example, data from smaller programs or fields with fewer graduates, and so one-to-one comparisons are not always the most fruitful.