Explore the past and create the future. 

If you're fascinated by the past, Mercyhurst’s Thomas B. Hagen Department of History can help prepare you for a successful and rewarding future with studies in traditional history, public history and museum studies, or preparing to teach history at the secondary level. A wide-ranging curriculum, coupled with an outstanding faculty, equips students with skills sought by employers in virtually any field: to research, analyze, and evaluate information; and to produce sound, convincing arguments orally and in writing. Our History department is committed to promoting a constant search for answers and a holistic approach to learning. Students research movements and events from the past as they analyze how different social, political, and cultural trends affect our society today.

Our graduates pursue a wide range of career paths including teaching, research, journalism, law, public service, museums, and historic sites. Whatever career you pursue following graduation, a Mercyhurst History degree will prepare you for today’s rapidly changing job market. Students without a concrete career goal in mind are guided to pursue their passions through interactions with dedicated faculty, internships, service opportunities and the senior capstone experience.

Fast Facts

  • Our History graduates who pursue Secondary Education certifications enjoy an exceedingly high (over 90%) placement rate. Recent graduates have secured high school teaching positions with schools in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia.

  • We help facilitate student internships all over the United States and abroad. Our students have interned at such prestigious sites as the Gettysburg National Battlefield, Historic Mount Vernon Gardens and Estate, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Petrie Museum of Egyptology in London.

  • History will take you places! Students and faculty explore historical sites at home and abroad — from the industrial heritage of Pittsburgh to Rome’s ancient ruins, and countless places in between.

The Public History and Museum Studies concentration prepares students for careers in museums, historic and cultural sites, archives, and applied history in a range of fields. Through internships, a senior Public History project, class projects, and travel experiences, our students get to see — and to experience — what professional public historians do. They have produced museum exhibits, cataloged Civil War artifacts, given tours, produced driving and walking tours of historic sites, and helped to produce exhibition catalogs, just to name just a few. Students must complete the Public History curriculum (8 courses, or 24 credit hours), as well as an additional 18 credit hours in History courses.


  • HIS 235: Intro to Public History/Museum Studies                
  • HIS 236: Intro to Historic Preservation                                                             
  • HIS 240: Museum Studies II                                                                                    
  • HIS 305: American Material Culture/Built Landscape           
  • HIS 475: Public History Internship                              

HIS 490 senior project in Public History

Two (2) additional courses among the following:    

  • HIS 238: Intro to Archives and Records Management           
  • HIS 295: Digital History: Storytelling              
  • HIS 296: Digital History: 1.0-3.0                                 
  • HIS 394: Special Topics in Public History                    
  • ANTH 205: Historical Archaeology                             
  • ANTH 227: Ethnographic Field Methods                    
  • ART 128: Computer Design for Non-Designers OR ART 220 Introduction to Website Design OR ART 1390 Introduction to Gallery Management    
  • COMM 402: Documentary Film Production               
  • OL 630: Grant Writing                                    
  • GEOL 225: Science on Display/Lab     

3 courses (9 credit hours) in American History

3 courses (9 credit hours) in Western and World Historical Perspectives

Learning Outcomes

  • Critical Thinking
    • Demonstrate an ability to consider critically and determine a well-informed position on an historical problem, evaluating and analyzing appropriate supporting evidence and using it effectively in arguing a reasoned conclusion.
  • Historical and Cultural Knowledge and Understanding
    • Demonstrate a broad understanding of historiography, major periods of United States and world history, and the complexity of economic systems, social and cultural authority, and patterns of political power.  
  • Information Literacy
    • Demonstrate proficiency with the methods of historical research, analysis, and proper documentation of primary and secondary sources of information in advancing a historical argument.
  • Public History Theory, Methods, Ethics, and Technical Practice (Public History and Museum Studies only) 
    •  Students will demonstrate a mature competency of select sub-disciplines of public history, museum studies, and digital history. 
community history


Students frequently collaborate on significant community and regional history initiatives, such as You Are Here - We Are Here, a multi-faceted project to document and celebrate the multicultural history of Erie’s east side.

erie cemetery tour


Understanding and honoring the rich diversity of human experience is at the heart of our program. Students collaborate on dynamic community projects like African Americans in Erie County: A Trail of Shared Heritage.

history alumni


Our students become adept at critical thinking, research analysis, communication, and problem solving. As a result, our graduates find themselves prepared for fulfilling employment in a variety of diverse fields.

u.s. brig niagara


Students experience a journey of a lifetime, setting sail for two weeks on the U.S. Brig Niagara, a reconstructed replica of the 19th century warship that sailed and fought during the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie.

history club


History Club creates opportunities for students to nurture their passion for history outside of the classroom. The club brings awareness to the importance of history through trips, educational speakers, films, and fundraisers.

phi alpha theta


Many of our students join Phi Alpha Theta, a National Honor Society devoted to history, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement and promotes the study of history through research, teaching, and publication.

Contact Us

Benjamin Scharff, Ph.D.
Chair, Thomas B. Hagen Department of History
Office: Preston 118
Phone: 814-824-2326
Email: bscharff@mercyhurst.edu