This collection of resources was developed as part of the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians initiative. They include sample assignments, syllabi for professionalization seminars, and how-to guides for setting up workshops and presentations that can prepare your graduate students for professional success inside and beyond the academy. Each resource is introduced with a statement of purpose that connects the content to the Career Diversity Five Skills: specific qualities graduate students need to succeed as professors and in non-academic careers.


Graduate Students on What They’ve Learned

In the spring of 2018, 20 PhD-granting history departments were awarded Career Diversity implementation grants to support a team of faculty and a graduate student fellow to collaboratively build sustainable cultural and structural change in their doctoral programs. After two years of work at our partner institutions, we asked the fellows to discuss what they’ve learned and share some of the innovative ways they are creating student-centered doctoral programs that prepare history PhDs for a range of careers.

Brian Campbell, Vanessa Madrigal-Lauchland, and Derek Kane O’Leary, “Creating Community in Your Department: Lessons Learned from Career Diversity,” Perspectives on History (July 2020).

Alejandra Garza, Stephanie Narrow, Matt Reeves, Shuko Tamao, and Lillian Wilson, “Creating Connections to Your University and Community: Lessons Learned from Career Diversity,” Perspectives on History (July 2020).

Andrew Brown, Tim Herbert, Stacey Murrell, and Joseph Stuart, “Including Pedagogy in Graduate Education: Lessons Learned from Career Diversity,” Perspectives on History (July 2020).

Allison Faber, Trishula Patel, and Hope Shannon, “Internships for Graduate Students: Lessons Learned from Career Diversity,” Perspectives on History (July 2020).

Leah Burnham, Tyler Krahe, Ramya Swayamprakash, and Matthew Villeneuve, “Alumni Involvement in Graduate Education: Lessons Learned from Career Diversity,” Perspectives on History (August 2020).

AHA Career Diversity Fellows, “The Purpose of a History PhD: Lessons Learned from Career Diversity,” Perspectives on History (August 2020).


Syllabi & Assignments


Writing as a Historian

Univ. of New Mexico
This syllabus is designed to provide faculty with a framework for developing a nonfiction writing workshop or course.

Historiography: Video Book Review Assignment

Univ. of New Mexico
This assignment provides faculty with a framework to instruct students on the process of researching, developing, and presenting a scholarly video book review in an undergraduate or graduate historiography course.

Professional Lives of Historians Syllabus

Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
This syllabus, developed for a course offered at UNC-Chapel Hill in Spring 2016, provides sample texts, discussion questions, and practical assignments that can be utilized in similar classes or seminars.

The Many Professions of History

Univ. of California, Los Angeles
This syllabus outlines course readings, in-class activities, and project assignments that can be useful in constructing a professional development seminar.

Teaching History in the University

Univ. of California, Berkeley
This syllabus is used to train graduate teaching instructors at UCB. It introduces graduate students to Scholarship on Teaching and Learning (SOTL) produced by and for historians.

Orientation to a Career in History Provisional Syllabus

Univ. of Washington
This syllabus is designed to introduce graduate students in history to career diversity and life as a professional historian both within and outside academia. It covers topics including preparing for different kinds of job markets, finding support for successful on-time degree completion, and applying skills learned from academic training to a variety of professional settings. Informational interviews serve as the core of this professionalization course. Purnima Dhavan’s blog post on teaching this class can be found on Perspectives Daily.

Introduction to Public History (Public History and Career Diversity)

Univ. of Texas at El Paso
This syllabus, developed for a course offered at the University of Texas, El Paso in Spring 2017, is a graduate seminar combining training in public history with a range of assignments designed around the AHA’s five Career Diversity skills.

Proseminar on History Teaching

Univ. at Buffalo
This proseminar, organized around a series of conversations on effective and thoughtful teaching of history, was offered at the University at Buffalo in the Fall of 2019. Taught by rotating series of guest instructors, the non-credit bearing course was required for new teaching assistants, but open to all history graduate students in the department.

History Practicum

Wayne State Univ.
This syllabus outlines readings, assignments, guest speakers, and in-class discussions that address professional development, the basics of history teaching, and career exploration for history graduate students.

Professionalization Seminar

Brown Univ.
This syllabus introduces students to strategies for career planning, resources available to them as they pursue their career goals, and practical skill development. It also emphasizes discussion of the “hidden curriculum” to help students navigate a PhD program.

History of the Body: Choose Your Path Assignment Structure

Mississippi State Univ.
This assignment incorporates career pathways exploration into a history graduate course. After completing an annotated bibliography, students apply their bibliographic research to one of three assignment tracks (pedagogy, research, or public scholarship), introducing them to some of the many ways historians engage with the past both in and outside academia.


Event Planning

How to Run a Public Speaking Workshop for Historians

Univ. of Chicago
This guide provides an overview of how to launch a public speaking workshop for graduate students, including basic organizing logistics and suggested topics and resources for each session.

How to Run a History Presentation Extravaganza

Univ. of Chicago
This guide provides an overview of how to run a History Presentation Extravaganza. This event challenges graduate students to distill some aspect of their research—a seminar paper, a dissertation chapter, an analysis of a primary source—into an engaging five-minute presentation followed by four minutes of audience questions. A panel of judges evaluates each presentation for style, substance, and accessibility, providing feedback to each student and awarding a prize to the top three presentations.

How to Run a Dissertation Lightning Round

American Historical Association
This guide takes you through the steps of setting up and running a dissertation lightning round. It could be particularly useful in a graduate-level research seminar, but it could easily be adapted for any graduate-level topical seminar.

How to Run a Career Fair

Columbia Univ.
This guide helps graduate history department administrators or career counselors think through the process of organizing and running a career fair or networking event for graduate students within your department or from several universities in one area.


Programmatic Resources

Connected Academics Proseminar Syllabus

Modern Language Association
This syllabus is a useful framework for organizing and selecting topics for a large- or small-scale workshop on prospective career paths. While this example is geared toward literature and language PhDs, the themes address humanities-wide issues.

Internship Program

Univ. of New Mexico
This internship program guide and the attached application packet are designed for history graduate directors and university student career officers who are interested in developing an internship program for PhD history students. While initially designed for PhD students, the guidelines can be modified for undergraduate or master’s students.

History Gradline

Univ. of Washington
When asked “what do you wish you had learned in graduate school?” alumni often report that their programs lacked a venue beyond the classroom to discuss employment horizons and find professionalization opportunities. This website and blog is a model for departments who want to build a one-stop, user-friendly resource to fulfill these needs.

Modern Language Association Toolkit

This toolkit offers strategies and resources for departments and faculty interested in helping students understand the versatility of doctoral training and the broad range of occupations available to PhDs in the humanities.

Texas Graduate Internships Resource Guide

Created by a team of Career Diversity Fellows in graduate programs across Texas, this guide to graduate internship opportunities for history PhDs in Texas was designed for faculty, staff, and students interested in exploring professional development outside of their departments.

A Career Diversity Resource Guide for History PhD Programs

Univ. of New Mexico
Based on several years of experience in the AHA’s Career Diversity for Historians initiative pilot program, this handbook explores the theoretical and practical considerations of implementing nonacademic and professional programming for graduate students. It includes advice on diversifying course development; engaging faculty, graduates, and alumni; lessons learned along the way; professionalization workshops; and related topics.


Personal Narratives

Career Contacts

Since its launch in early 2015, the AHA’s Career Contacts program has arranged hundreds of informational interviews between current PhD students (junior contacts) and history PhDs (senior contacts) who have built careers beyond the professoriate. Senior contacts work in a variety of fields, including academic administration, nonprofit management, public policy, archives and libraries, K–12 teaching, as well as a range of positions in the federal government and private industry.

Career Paths

Career Paths is a series in Perspectives on History that highlights the work of historians working outside academia.

What I Do

The What I Do: Historians Talk about Their Work videos address some questions about where historians work and what they do.


Conversation Starters

These articles introduce important concepts behind the AHA’s work to improve graduate education, giving faculty and students ideas about how to frame conversations about PhD career paths. Other articles on graduate education can be found in Perspectives on History.

Hope J. Shannon and Emily Swafford, “Four More Years: A Where Historians Work Update,” Perspectives on History (October 2022).

Emily Swafford and Dylan Ruediger, “Every Historian Counts: A New AHA Database Analyzes Careers for PhDs,” Perspectives on History (July 2018).

Jim Grossman and Emily Swafford, “The Purpose-Driven PhD,” Perspectives on History (April 2019).

Jim Grossman, “Imagining PhD Orientation in 2022,” Perspectives on History (October 2017).

Jim Grossman, Katja Kelljadt, Steve Wheatley, Len Cassuto, and Lynn Pasquerella, “You’re Part of Something Big: The Landscape of Change in Doctoral Education,” Career Diversity for Historians Faculty Institute (June 2017).

Jim Grossman, “To Be a Historian is to Be a Teacher,” Perspectives on History (November 2015).

Anthony Grafton and Jim Grossman, “No More Plan B: A Very Modest Proposal for Graduate Programs in History,” Perspectives on History (October 2011).