Majoring & Minoring

The study of history promotes individual and collective self-understanding by examining the record of the past. It develops a way of thinking that enables students to identify trends and relations of human existence and to appreciate both the limits and the possibilities of our own age.

The History Department provides students with a global perspective and a solid grounding in the methods and fields of history, while also encouraging interdisciplinary connections. The History major provides students not with a random collection of courses, but with a program that is concerned with finding patterns and connections. Beginning with introductory courses, the major prepares students for advanced courses on topics, themes and methods of history, and for research experience. 

Major in History: 9 courses  

The major is flexible to allow each student to follow their own interests and schedules while ensuring that all students gain chronological breadth, geographic diversity, and a shared set of historical tools and skills. 

The major can be understood in terms of five different sets of requirements,

  • Students will take one of the World History courses offered, in rotation, each semester (HIS16-014; HIS16-024; HIS16-034; HIS16-044; or HIS16-094). This course need not (and often is not) taken first, but it should be taken within the first two years because it is required before you take the (normally) junior-year Historiography seminar. 
  • Students need to take one upper-level course each from four of the following six areas: Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, US, or Transregional. These courses may be taken in any order you wish. Offerings vary by semester, but there are always multiple options. 
  • Students will also take two additional upper-level courses in History (worth at least 3 credits each). These electives can be anything, so students can use them to deepen their knowledge in one particular era or area or explore new periods and places. 
    • Note: at least one of the world or upper-level courses must have a substantial pre- or early modern content (16-024, 16-044, 16-204, 16-214, 16-234, 16-254, 16-274, 16-434, 16-524, 16-534, 16-614, 16-624).
  • Most students take Historiography (HIS16-854), our methods course on the history and philosophy of History, in their third year; this course is offered every Fall. You must take a World History class before Historiography. We recommend that you take a few upper-level courses before Historiography as well.
  • Likewise, most students complete their Capstone Research Seminar (HIS16-864) in their final year; this course is offered every Spring. You must take Historiography before Capstone. While the seminar will have a theme to give coherence to the readings and discussions, students may choose to study any period or place for their research project.

The flexibility of the History major makes it ideal for students seeking a double major. Additionally, the History Department has paired major options with Art History, English, Feminist Studies, and Political Science. (Check your current course catalog for details.)

Minor in History: 5 courses  
  • One World History course from:
    HIS16-014 Disease, Health, and Medicine in World History
    HIS16-024 Empires and Empires of the Mind in World History
    HIS16-034 Nations and Nationalism in World History
    HIS16-044 Silk Roads in World History
    HIS16-094 Topics in World History
  • Four upper-level courses in History