Associate of Arts in History: Degree Profile

Description of the History program at Central New Mexico Community College. Associate of Arts in History

Purpose of the Degree

For a more in-depth overview of the program philosophy and strengths, see this Degree Profile, which includes the curriculum.

David Lowenthal famously argued, “the past is a foreign country.” Even if we focus on the history of our own hometown or region, our forebears that lived there a century or two ago had different ways of viewing the world around them. Attitudes and actions that were socially acceptable to them may no longer be acceptable to us. Change over time is one of the central problems that historians work to address. CNM’s Associate of Arts in History is designed to provide students with the unique skills and aptitudes that will allow them to make well-reasoned and thought-out assessments of how the past has informed the present, and vice versa.

CNM’s history curriculum emphasizes critical analysis. Students of history drawCritical Thinking on multiple and varied sources in order to construct the fullest and most meaningful picture of past events. Graduates of CNM’s AA in History are able to evaluate and contextualize primary and secondary sources and present their conclusions effectively in written and verbal forms. The AA in History provides students with critical thinking and effective communication skills that allow them to appreciate diversity and act as responsible citizens of their local, national, and global communities.

Characteristics of the Program

The AA in History helps students to develop their aptitude in historical thinking and analysis across a wide spectrum of geographic and cultural cases. Students may choose from a variety of courses in European History, United States History, Latin American History, the History of Vietnam, and the History of the American West. During the first year of study students will take Introduction to Historical Study, a course designed to help them develop historical thinking and evaluation skills. Those skills will serve students throughout the rest of the program as they survey the histories of different eras and geographical locations. Students who plan to transfer to the History BA program at UNM need to complete one survey series (either U.S. History--HIST 1110 and 1120; Western Civilization--HIST 1150 and 1160; or Latin American History--HIST 1170 and 1180) and two other History survey courses. 

Elective courses include New Mexico History, the History of Vietnam, and the History of the American West. The faculty are experts across these varied fields and are distinguished in both teaching and research. Additionally, coursework may be completed in face-to-face or fully online formats.

Career Pathways for the Graduate

Although there is no single, defined career path for history graduates, those with an AA in History develop a wide range of skills that prepare them for a variety of continued educational and career options. Achievement of the AA in History facilitates transfer to History BA programs at all public and private colleges and universities, and prospective employers also recognize the specific skill set held by program graduates. Emphasis on historical thinking, critical analysis, and effective communication prepares History AA graduates for careers as teachers, researchers, writers, communicators, and advocates in a number of industries. Specifically, history graduates become teachers, journalists, curators, archivists, librarians, editors, multimedia producers, filmmakers, politicians, and historical site managers, among other things.

As noted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, nearly half of the top ten attributes that employers seek in college graduates are skills developed through the study of history. These include:

  • The ability to write and speak well
  • The ability to think clearly about complex problems
  • The ability to analyze a problem to develop workable solutions
  • An understanding of global context in which work is now done
  • The ability to be creative and innovative in solving problems
  • The ability to apply knowledge and skills in new settings
  • The ability to work well in teams—especially with people different from yourself
  • A strong sense of ethics and integrity

Educational Style

Drawing on a variety of proven pedagogical approaches, all of CNM’s history courses emphasize historical thinking, critical analysis, and effective communication. Lectures, in-class activities, discussions, and field trips are among the various methods engaged to foster analysis of the written, visual, aural, and verbal sources of the past. History courses may provide opportunities for service learning, engagement of the larger national and global community via social media, direct involvement in the immediate community, and use of local and/or state archival resources to help students develop historical and critical thinking skills. 

Program Competencies and Outcomes

Critical Analysis

Given new information, situation, and/or application, the student will:

  • identify main issues, concepts, problems, and/or techniques;
    • [e.g.: analyze dynamics of change over time and contextualize the past on its own terms]
  • incorporate more than one perspective, source, method, technique, and/or approach
    • [e.g.: compare and critique multiple historical narratives]
  • demonstrate mastery by evaluating, analyzing, interpreting and/or synthesizing.
    • [e.g.: evaluate sources for credibility, distinguish between primary and secondary materials, and decide when and how to utilize each]

Effective Communication

In written, verbal, numeric or visual formats, the student will:

  • demonstrate organization and/or coherence of ideas, content, and/or formulas;
    • [e.g.: formulation of historical questions and articulation of thesis statement]
  • produce communication appropriate to audience, situation, venue, and/or context.
    • [e.g.: draft an effective narrative, explain ethics involved in the production of historical knowledge, defend a position publicly, and demonstrate the ability to revise this position when new evidence requires it]