Major & Requirements

Our Major

Taken as a whole our curriculum aims for majors to:

Understand history as a discipline.
  • This involves developing knowledge within a chosen area of concentration, realizing that historical interpretations change over time, and seeing the ways in which historians find layered, complex causes and connections in human affairs.
Build critical and analytic skills.
  • This involves defining research questions and framing them as part of ongoing scholarly conversations, establishing what contexts matter to those research questions, finding a variety of evidence – from speeches to visual materials to court records and beyond – and analyzing it to help refine and answer their questions.
Enhance their skills in written communication.
  • This involves writing with clarity and cogency and understanding that, in History, content (what something says) cannot be separated from form (how it is said).

Our curriculum is structured around an area of concentration and book-ended by two hands-on seminars: a Gateway Seminar that introduces students to the fundamentals of historical research and analysis, and a Capstone Seminar that gives students the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in their time as a History major. Gateways are usually taken in the sophomore year. Capstones are generally taken in the junior or senior years. Students interested in pursuing graduation with distinction may choose to write a senior honors thesis in their senior year.

Requirements: 10 History Courses

At least seven courses taken for the major must be at the 200 level or above. The 10 courses may include up to 3 courses cross-listed as history courses regardless of the department through which the student enrolls. Individual courses can fulfill two or more requirements.

  • 1 Gateway Seminar in the topic of your choice
    • These courses (HISTORY150-199) are identified as gateways, and are usually taken by the end of the sophomore year.
  • 3 Courses from an Area of History
    • Select one course each from ANY THREE of the six geographic areas.
  • At least 4 Courses from a Thematic or Geographic Concentration
    • Select at least four courses in your chosen field of concentration. You may propose other thematic areas and seek approval from the director of undergraduate studies and your departmental advisor. One introductory course (0-149, 190A, 190FCS) may count toward your concentration. Concentration courses may also be counted towards the Area of History requirements (see above).
  • At least 2 Pre-Modern Courses
    • Select at least two courses that focus substantially on eras before 1800. 
  • At least 1 Senior Capstone Seminar
    • Select at least one senior research seminar (HISTORY 450S-499S; specifically coded CAPSTONE SEMINAR or CAP SEM. Courses without the CAP SEM designation DO NOT count toward the Capstone Requirement). This seminar is usually taken in the junior or senior year but may also be open to sophomores. A 500-600 level course may be substituted for the capstone seminar if approved by the director of undergraduate studies and the course instructor. The senior thesis seminar (HISTORY 495S/496S) substitutes for the capstone seminar for those students enrolled.

Additional Information

Advanced Placement: One (1) Advanced Placement course (with a score of 4 or 5) in any field of history may count as one of the ten required courses for the history major. This AP credit does not count towards meeting the Area of History, Pre-Modern, or Concentration requirements for the major. Effective Fall 2017: AP courses will not count toward the major for students matriculating after Fall 2017.

Foreign Languages: Majors interested in a particular area of study benefit from knowledge of the language of that area. Students who contemplate graduate work are reminded that a reading knowledge of one or more foreign languages is required.

Majors Planning to Teach: Majors who plan to teach in secondary schools should consult an advisor in education and consider a Minor in Education. Rising juniors who intend to practice-teach in the senior year should consider taking the senior capstone seminar as juniors.

One transfer course may count toward the requirement for the minor.