AHA: More bad news ... History enrollments are way down

Historians in the News
tags: education, history

From the 2012–13 academic year through the 2014–15 academic year, overall student enrollment in undergraduate-level history courses declined at 96 of the 123 academic units for which we now have data. Total undergraduate student enrollment in history courses rose at only 27 of these institutions. Worryingly, large net declines of 10 percent or more affected 55 of the responding institutions. The median drop in enrollment at public institutions was somewhat higher (9.2 percent) than the median change at private institutions (7.9 percent; see fig. 1). The experience of individual departments in each category, however, varied widely. One private institution saw a 29.8 percent increase in history enrollments, while another saw a 42.1 percent decline. One large public institution’s history enrollment dropped 26.4 percent, while another smaller public institution’s rose by 23.8 percent.

Academic institutions in the survey reported that, in aggregate, undergraduate enrollment in all history courses in 2014–15 was 7.6 percent lower than it had been in 2012–13. The corresponding decline in enrollment in introductory-level history courses was only 4.8 percent, suggesting that, while student experiences in lower-­division courses might not encourage them to take additional history courses, these courses are not solely responsible for the decline across the discipline; a greater proportion of the falling enrollments is actually occurring in upper-level history courses.

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