Major in History

Departmental Requirements for Students Who Declared After 9/1/13

Note: Effective Fall 2013.

The History Department requires all its majors to choose a concentration within the major. Since History as a discipline is diverse and our students come to it with varied expectations, the student's concentration may aim at a broad exposure to history--General Studies in History--or at deeper immersion in one of (at present) three geographically based or two thematically focused approaches.  The geographic concentrations are: United States, Europe, and Latin America & Non-Western World The three thematic concentrations are: Women, Gender, and SexualityEmpires, Nations, and Citizenship; and Law, Economics & Human Rights. (See "Concentrations" descriptions below.)

Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) Credits

History majors may use a maximum of six (6) hours of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) history credit towards a history major. AP and IB credit cannot be used to satisfy a major distribution area requirement; these credits can be used to satisfy major credit hours only.

General Requirements

  • A student must complete 11 courses (a minimum of 35 credit hours), 7 courses of which must be above the 200-level. Two of the eleven courses required for the history major must be colloquia (Hist. 487R, 488R, or 489R) which meet the College post-freshmen writing requirement GER. Normally, one colloquium will be taken in the junior year, the other in the senior year. Graduate seminar courses (500-level) may be used to fulfill the major colloquia requirement but do not meet College post-freshmen writing requirements, as colloquia normally do.
  • Two research papers are required of all history majors. These papers are written in the junior and senior colloquia courses and are normally sixteen to twenty-four pages in length. To fulfill the history major research paper requirement, the paper must attain a minimum grade of “C”. History majors who have a compelling reason for writing their junior or senior research paper in another course should petition the Director of Undergraduate Studies for permission to do so prior to taking the course.
  • The completion of the major requires a minimum of a C average in history courses counted towards the major.
  • The S/U option may not be exercised in any course counted for the major.
  • Special programs have been developed for students who would like to take joint majors in history and art history, history and classics, history and English, and history and religion. Joint major information may be obtained from the Department office.

Concentration Requirements

  • Each student must choose a concentration within the major upon declaration of the history major.
  • For geographic and thematic concentrations, students must take at least five (5) courses within the concentration, one of which may be a 200-level course if listed as pertinent, while the other four (4) must be at or above the 300-level, including one colloquium (HIST 400-level course).
  • For the General Studies concentration, students must take five (5) courses, one each in the five (5) primary geographic and chronological fields.  At least four (4) of the courses must be at or above the 300-level.
  • One of the major's two research papers must be done within the concentration. Exceptions to this rule can only be obtained through petitioning the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Distribution Requirements

  • All history majors are required to demonstrate chronological breadth by taking at least one course in early and one in modern history within their chosen concentration.
  • History majors with geographic concentrations are also required to take at least two history courses outside their concentration and in separate geographic areas.  For instance, a student concentrating in U.S. history is required to take at least one class each in European history and in World history.  The two courses outside the concentration may be at any level but students should keep in mind that they may only take a total of four (4) classes below the 300-level for major credit (this includes transfer credits from AP courses).
  • Majors with thematic concentrations must explore at least two geographic areas within the concentration, at or above the 300-level (for example, U.S. and European, or U.S. and World history).  General Studies majors automatically satisfy the geographic breadth requirement.

Concentrations for History Majors

General Studies in History

One course each (for a total of five) in: U.S. History before 1860; U.S. History after 1860; European History before 1750; European History after 1750; and Latin America & Non-Western World History.

United States History

This concentration permits majors to study American history in depth, by taking more courses offered by our faculty's U.S. specialists.  Students take advanced courses on pre-Civil War history as well as post-1860 America, enabling them to develop a fuller sense of the contours of the nation's history.

European History

This concentration offers students the opportunity to study the transformative social, cultural, and political experiences of European states, societies, and civilizations from ancient Greece and Rome, through the medieval, Renaissance, and early modern periods, to the modern age of revolution, colonialism, total war, and European Union.

Latin America & Non-Western World History

This concentration allows students to focus on the histories of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East through a rich variety of classes offered by our area specialists.  Topics of interest include: the rise and fall of empires and civilizations, European colonialism, anti-colonial movements, inter-ethnic and sectarian politics, and globalization.

Women, Gender, and Sexuality

This concentration allows students to focus on the history of women, the social construction of masculinity and femininity, and the making of sexual identities across different societies and eras.  Topics include: marriage and the family, definitions of male and female roles by religious institutions and the state, histories of feminism, and changes in notions of sexuality over time.

Empires, Nations, and Citizenship

This concentration lets students explore the social, cultural, and political tensions that have historically shaped relations between societies, and relations within the same societies.  Topics include: the rise and fall of empires, from ancient to modern; the growth of nation-states and of related internal or international conflicts; and the problems of liberty, equality, and diversity that have made questions of citizenship so contested.

Law, Economics, and Human Rights

This concentration allows students to examine issues of law, economics, and human rights in historical contexts from ancient to modern periods.  Topics include: race and slavery, the origins of capitalism, industrialism, colonialism and imperialism, diplomatic history, gender regimes, family history, legal and constitutional history, environmental history, medical history, the Holocaust, totalitarianism, and civil rights movements.

A copy of this information in pamphlet form is available in the History Department office, or you can download it here as a .PDF file.