Majoring & Minoring

By promoting active classroom discussion and innovative research projects, the History program at Southwestern provides students with critical and analytical tools to understand the world they live in by exploring the past and how the past has shaped the present, making historical knowledge meaningful for their personal and professional lives.

Together with its commitment to high-impact learning practices such as faculty-student research, study abroad, internships, and senior honors theses, the Department’s rigorous academic programs represent the best in liberal arts education. Featuring a global orientation and wide chronological scope, our curriculum offers students a wide array of approaches, methods, and themes in their courses while allowing them maximum flexibility to pursue their particular interests and concerns.

Major in History

Students seeking a major in History must complete nine 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 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, 16-204, 16-214, 16- 234, 16-254, 16-274, 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

Students seeking to minor in history must complete five courses. Even more than the major, the minor is flexible enough to allow students to choose the offerings of most interest to them. While all students minoring in History must take one World History course, the other four can be any upper-level course (with no restrictions on geographic or chronological coverage).