National History Day

A competition and experience like no other.

What is National History Day?

National History Day (NHD) is an annual contest that challenges students to explore a unique event or person in history. Each year, a broad theme is announced in the summer (the 2021 Theme is “Communication in History”). Then, students decide on their group and presentation medium for the project and work towards their school competitions. The multiple levels of the contest allow students to improve their work and learn while pursuing the national competition in June. Because of the openness of the themes and the variety of categories, NHD enables students to explore topics and mediums they are passionate about and discover unique connections in history.

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Read about our experience competing in NHD

Why NHD?

Our Tutors Have Been Accepted Into:

Stand Out for High School/College Admissions

NHD is a prestigious program and looks great for admissions offices - it demonstrates an acute sense of curiosity, strong reading/writing proficiency, and reflects leadership capability. Additionally, NHD prepares students directly for aspects of the application process, such as writing essays and alumni interviews.

NHD is also unique. In a world dominated by STEM competitions and awards, NHD sticks out to admissions officers. Because NHD is also restricted to schools that have a NHD program, participating demonstrates initiative.

NHD is Fun!

Team bonding is a key part of the NHD experience. The contest experiences, as well as group research and interviews, help create lasting friendships that go beyond the scope of the contest. Students will also find NHD to be a refreshingly unstructured task that allows them to fully explore the range of their creativity and imagination.


NHD is unlike most other activities - since the competitions don’t begin until February, students have the ability to participate in other activities simultaneously without interference. Additionally, because students have the length of the school year to complete their projects, students often find it easier to balance NHD in their schedule when other responsibilities become more demanding.

Encourages Teamwork and Self-Discipline

For students who choose to work in a group, they learn to delegate tasks and communicate effectively to meet deadlines for such a large-scale project. Students find that collaboration becomes necessary - whether it’s answering questions during the interview or finding images.

For those who choose to complete the project individually, they learn the importance of a strong work ethic and self-discipline. Through the depth of research and creativity that NHD requires, individuals will be stretched to innovate and effectively manage their time.

Students who are successful will be well served when tackling projects in college and beyond.

Improves Research, Writing, and Public Speaking Skills

All NHD projects require students to do deep research and become experts on their topic. Throughout the process, students learn to synthesize a range of both primary and secondary sources while researching. They will analyze documents, read books, and conduct interviews to gather information. Along the process, students learn efficient research habits that will benefit them throughout their educational careers.

No matter what medium students choose for their project, they must condense their information and learn to tell a captivating and informative story through their language. Hands on experience with writing a full research essay or creating the script for a documentary will challenge even the most capable student writers, and will allow them to build the practical applications for their talents. This is also an excellent opportunity for students who are less comfortable with their writing to experiment with different styles and grow their confidence as they progress through the competition.

Students will also improve on public speaking skills. At each level of the competition, students have to complete an interview about their project during the judging process. They will have a firm grasp on their topic, demonstrating the depth of their research. Completing interviews builds confidence and communication skills.

Find Other Passions

Whether you are a theater kid, programmer, aspiring filmmaker, visual artist, or young author, NHD can allow you to express your historical knowledge through a personal passion, or discover a new one.

Conducting Interviews

One process that sets excellent projects apart is interviews. In order to dive deeper and supplement their research, students will interview authors, experts, and historical figures. The interview process teaches students valuable real life skills - outreach, professional interaction, and creative inquiry.

Past is Prelude Tutors/Mentees have interviewed:

  • • Stuart Eizenstat - Former United States Ambassador to the European Union
  • • William Quandt - Former Staff Member of the National Security Council
  • • Lawrence Mishel - Former President of the Economic Policy Institute
  • • David L. Aaron - Former Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • • Robert E. Hunter - Former United States Ambassador to NATO
  • • Frances Fox Piven - Sociologist
  • • Todd Gitlin - Sociologist
  • • Occupy Wall Street organizers
  • • Steven Sharfstein - Former President of American Psychiatric Association

A Plethora of Opportunities

NHD is a nationally recognized competition. As a result, many organizations partner with the National History Day organization to offer students incredible opportunities.

These include:

  • • Winning prize money of thousands of dollars
  • • Scholarships to prestigious universities
  • • Showcasing your project in national museums
  • • Traveling to Washington D.C. for the week-long national competition
  • • Meeting politicians such as U.S. or State Legislator members
  • • Being featured in local news
  • • And many more!