The Bachelor of Arts in History program is designed to help students see themselves and their society from different times and places, while displaying an informed perspective and a mature view of human nature. The study of history prepares students to use knowledge of the past, of human diversity and complexity, of contingency and of continuity, in order to consider the limits and possibilities of human choices in the modern world. Students develop skills of analysis, including the ability to understand context, to understand change and continuity over time, and to draw conclusions from diffuse, fragmentary and biased sources. The history major prepares students for the choices and responsibilities they will encounter as participants in a free polity and as actors in a global society, while also developing skills in reading, writing, research and analysis useful in diverse professional fields. The program includes opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning through expositions of student research, coursework in museum curation and public history, internships at museums and archives, and travel courses.
All history majors take two introductory survey courses and a core curriculum exploring approaches to history and research methods, culminating in a senior capstone research project. In addition, history majors choose one of three concentrations:
- The Standard Concentration in History: includes pre-modern and modern periods and explores the history of North America; Europe and the Mediterranean; and Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East or the broader Islamic World.
- The Global History and Culture Concentration: includes coursework options in literature, religion, philosophy, languages, music and theatre. This concentration within the history major focuses on the historical study of culture in regionally specific social and political situations from ancient to modern times. It allows students to pursue their interests in particular world regions and specific forms of cultural expression. History majors concentrating in global history and culture receive the same introduction to the history discipline and its research methodologies as the standard concentration and develop the same skill set, but with enhanced competencies in the understanding of cultures around the world. The global history and culture concentration prepares students for the same career and graduate study options as the standard concentration, and provides additional preparation for graduate study and careers in cultural studies, policy studies, international business, international aid and development work, human rights and social justice advocacy groups, and international education.
- The American History and Law Concentration: emphasizes the study of American political and legal history, with course options in law, justice and advocacy. This concentration prepares students to meet the standard history program objectives and to provide traditional historical preparation for law school combined with the study of contemporary legal practice. The history major provides excellent preparation for law school, because students pursue the objectives desired by the American Bar Association for pre-law preparation: “Problem Solving, Critical Reading, Writing and Editing, Oral Communication and Listening, Research, Organization and Management, Public Service and Promotion of Justice, Relationship-building and Collaboration, Background Knowledge, Exposure to the Law.”
A minor in history is also available.
Topics of Study
- United States history
- History of Witchcraft
- European history
- History of natural disasters
- Asian history
- Public history and museum curatorship
- Middle Eastern and Islamic history
- History of gender and sexuality
- African history
- Women's history
- Latin American and Caribbean history
- Cultural history
- History of colonialism and imperialism
- Military history
The history student's critical thinking, research and writing skills are valued in many different fields. The history major is excellent preparation for graduate study and careers in law, teaching, museum work and public history, library science and information management, public administration, business, non-governmental organizations, consulting, military service, non-fiction writing and foreign service.
Experiential Learning Opportunities
The history program provides numerous opportunities for students to get hands-on, real-world learning experience. History majors participate in internships at local museums, historic sites and government archives. In addition to internships, students participate in faculty-led research projects, study-abroad trips, presentations at professional conferences, fieldwork and independent studies. Students are also able to work individually on advanced research and writing projects with their professors.
Minor in Law, Justice and Advocacy
Students interested in the history degree as preparation for law school may also wish to consider combining the history major with a minor in Law, Justice, and Advocacy. The minor provides students with an opportunity to complete a course of study in substantive law at the undergraduate level. The interdisciplinary minor offers courses in business, criminal, constitutional, comparative and international law. The program is administered by the department of History, Sociology, Geography and Legal Studies. Interested students should contact Charles Groh.
History majors also benefit from taking courses in geography, which they may use to partially fulfill graduation requirements for coursework in the social sciences. Geography is a multi-disciplinary field that studies the spatial patterns and dynamics of people, things and processes on the surface of the earth – including economic activity, natural resources, populations and political boundaries, settlements, cities and cultures. Coursework in geography prepares students well for a variety of careers in nonprofits, business and government in an increasingly global world. Spatial thinking and analysis is increasingly in demand in fields such as city planning, environmental conservation, economic development, public health and epidemiology. The department offers courses in world regional geography, cultural geography, economic geography, physical geography and natural resource utilization, as well as in map-making and spatial analysis using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS skills are highly marketable and can be applied to coursework and projects in many disciplines.