The history major consists of 10 three-credit courses that facilitate a firm foundation in basic historical skills, foster an awareness of the diversity of the global human past, and encourage a specialization tailored to the uniqueness of each student’s individual intellectual interests. The requirements are as follows:
1. The History Workshop (HIST 33000) – the gateway course for new majors
2. Four Breadth Courses (one course from four of the following six major breadth areas), at least one of which must feature significant pre-modern content (defined as prior to the 16th century):
Special (Global, Topical, etc.)
3. Four electives, with three of them making up a concentration chosen by the major in consultation with history advisor
4. The Department Seminar (HIST 43xxx) – the research capstone course for experienced majors
For full details on the history major program requirements and guidelines, see History Major Program.pdf
Study Abroad: Students interested in studying abroad are encouraged to choose a location that meshes with their historical interests. For more information, visit the Office of International Studies' Website.
Requirements in Detail
The History Workshop (HIST 33000)
The history program begins with the History Workshop (HIST 33000), an introductory seminar in which new majors learn why and how historians study the past. They also begin the process of becoming historians themselves by analyzing primary sources, developing original historical narratives, and debating perspectives and conclusions through regular discussion with their peers. Throughout the semester, they meet members of the history faculty and learn about the research, internship, and service opportunities available to history majors at the university.
The History Workshop provides new students with the foundational skills and tools necessary to succeed in the major; it therefore should be taken as soon as a student has declared the major (and must be taken before the senior year). Since there are multiple sections offered each semester, a student should have no problem building a schedule that includes this important course. For a list of the current/upcoming semester’s History Workshop sections, see Course Descriptions
To gain breadth of historical knowledge, the history major will also take a variety of courses emphasizing different geographical areas, chronological periods, and thematic approaches to studying the past. Note that students must take one regular history course from four of the following six areas (with one having substantial pre-modern material, defined as pre-1500 on the timeline):
Special -- this category includes courses that don’t fit into any of the five areas above, such as those on other geographic regions (Australia, e.g.), or courses comparative or global in nature
The heart of the undergraduate history program is the concentration, because each major is empowered to select a specialization tailored to her or his geographic, chronological, and topical interests. In consultation with their history advisor, each major identifies a concentration bounded by place, time, and/or theme and seeks three courses from amongst the regular history offerings to fulfill that concentration. Students should declare a concentration with their history advisor no later than the spring of the junior year; majors are encouraged to think creatively when determining their concentration.
In addition to standard geographic fields such as US history, modern Europe, Asia, or the Middle East, majors may also want to consider topical fields such as religious history, labor history, military history, etc. Majors may also consider limiting their concentration by time period, such as the US in the Civil War Era, 20th-Century Europe, or the global 1960s. To facilitate the fulfillment of unique concentrations, history advisors can approve a course taken in other programs (such as Economics, Sociology, English, Theology, etc.) to count as one of the three concentration courses. For example, a major concentrating in the US Civil Rights Movement might benefit from a social movement theory course offered through Sociology. The primary goal is that each student identifies a concentration of interest and develops that interest with a set of challenging and connected courses.
The Department Seminar is the capstone of the history major, the course where students pursue a research topic of their own choosing, familiarize themselves with the historical literature, seek out a set of primary sources for analysis, and develop an original argument that contributes to the knowledge of the particular historical field within which they are writing. The course is built around the production of a 25-page research paper, which should represent the culmination of the history major’s development as a young thinker and scholar of history.
The history department offers a variety of topics each semester; students are encouraged to register for a Department Seminar that meshes well with their concentration, allowing them to build upon their knowledge and pursue research on a topic that highly interests them. There is no set semester when majors should take the Department Seminar, but since these are not introductory courses and assume a level of familiarity with the topic as well as the nature and methods of historical inquiry, most majors will take this course during the senior year.
For a list of Department Seminars offered in the current/upcoming semester, see Course Descriptions.