About National History Day

Have questions about National History Day in North Carolina? We have answers. Wondering how effective our program is a teaching tool? Check out the research to find out why participating is worth your while.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to a few questions we often get. Don't hesitate to contact the state coordinator with any additional questions you may have.

Who May Enter?

North Carolina History Day is open to public, private, and home school students in grades six through 12. Students who qualify at their individual schools are eligible to enter the district contest.

To enter the state competition, students at the district contests must place first, second, or third in documentaries, papers, performances or websites, or place in one of the top five spots for exhibits. The top two winners in each category at the state contest can advance to the national contest held in College Park, Maryland.

Students in grades 4 and 5 are eligible to participate in the Tar Heel Junior Historian program.

How Do I Get Started?

To get started with NHD, please get in touch with the state coordinator at karen.ipock@ncdcr.gov or (919) 807-7395.

The coordinator can put you in touch with the district coordinator for your region, and can share resources with you. If you would like someone to visit your school, either the state coordinator or the district coordinator may be able to come to your school to talk to your students or to your fellow teachers about the program.

See Our Resources for Teachers

Does the NHD Program Align with State Standards?

National History Day (NHD) methodology includes extensive primary and secondary research into a topic of choice related to an annual theme. Teachers guide students through a project-based learning experience, which pulls together Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, especially the appendix outlined as Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and the Technical Subjects.

National History Day is unique in the sense that it requires both informative and argumentative writing of students, who conduct research based on their own questions and interests as they relate to the NHD theme.

More on NHD and Common Core 

More on NHD and N.C. Essential Standards

The Benefits of National History Day: A National Evaluation

The first national evaluation of National History Day (NHD) finds that students who participate in the program perform better on high-stakes tests, are better writers, more confident and capable researchers, and have a more mature perspective on current events and civic engagement than their peers. Participants also show a greater ability to collaborate with peers, manage their time and persevere – all skills employers say are lacking in today's workforce.

According to Cathy Gorn, National History Day's Executive Director:

This research confirms what those of us who work with National History Day students have seen anecdotally for years.This program not only helps students improve academically, it can also change their lives. Students who are 'slipping through the cracks' of our education system find their way back and get on track to succeed in school while participating in NHD.

Some of the important findings include that NHD students:

  • Outperform their non-NHD peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies, but in reading, science and math as well.
  • Are better writers, who write with a purpose and real voice, and marshal solid evidence to support their point of view.
  • Are critical thinkers who can digest, analyze and synthesize information.
  • Learn 21st century skills. They learn how to collaborate with team members, talk to experts, manage their time and persevere.

NHD has a positive impact among students whose interests in academic subjects may wane in high school.

You can read more about this 2011 independent study, and the benefits it found in the National History Day Contest, by clicking the links below:

Key Findings  

Executive Summary  

Full Report