Outline of the Requirements and Rationale for the History Majors and Minor
The department offers courses in seven geographical areas: Africa, Ancient Mediterranean, Asia, Europe, Islamic World, Latin America, and the United States. The program must be planned by the student and adviser to include at least one course at the 200 or 300 level in four of these areas for History majors, or two for History-Environmental Studies majors, at least one course (100, 200, or 300 level) in pre-modern history, and two related courses at the 200 or 300 level within one geographic field. All majors must also take History 299 with a minimum grade of C (2.0), History 401, a 400-level seminar, and a "comparisons and encounters" course at the 200 or 300 level. The 400-level seminar may be taken by a junior who has taken History 299 with consent of instructor. In addition, college requirements, including the major exams, must be completed. More detailed descriptions of each major are provided below. A list of all major requirements is also available on the History Major Checklist or the History-Environmental Studies Major Checklist.
The Organization of the Majors
The history majors are organized to provide, within the limits of the department's size, breadth of knowledge, a base in historical method, and a depth of understanding in a particular area. The majors culminate with comprehensive written and oral exams.
At the introductory level, the department offers broad survey courses in Ancient Mediterranean, East Asian, European, Islamic, Latin American, and United States history. These courses introduce students to historical evidence, the ways historians have interpreted such evidence, and the writing of history papers. A student's coursework in the major may include up to two of these classes.
The majority of credits in the major will be earned in courses at the 200 or 300 level. Most such courses are organized regionally or nationally and chronologically (e.g. The US Since 1945, 19th-Century Europe, Modern China) or thematically within a region (e.g. courses on gender, environment, revolution, etc). Some are organized comparatively or with a focus on encounters between cultures. All majors must take one pre-modern class (at 100, 200, or 300 level); further requirements are discussed below.
Early in the major, but after completion of at least one course at the 200 or 300 level, all History and History-Environmental Studies majors study historical research methodology, historiography, and the use of theory in history in History 299. This course explores various "types" of history (e.g. political, social, oral, quantitative), as well as the "how to" of the discipline, culminating in a major research paper using primary source material.
Courses at the 200 or 300 level should be chosen in consultation with the major adviser. They must include courses in at least four (History majors) or two (History-Environmental Studies majors) of the following seven areas: Ancient Mediterranean, East Asia, Europe, Islamic World, Africa, Latin America, and the United States. This requirement encourages understandings of global diversity as well as exposure to different areas of history and different professors. And they must include two related courses in one area, the combination of which is designated a "field." This requirement encourages some depth of historical inquiry, as material in each course informs understanding of topics covered in the other. (See the discussion of major exams for more information on fields.) Finally, these courses must be chosen to include one of the courses focused specifically on "comparisons and encounters." For example, "Cuba and Nicaragua" compares the history of two nations, while "Colonial Latin America" explores the encounters between Natives, Africans, and Europeans in Latin America.
Specialized knowledge and independent research are vital to an undergraduate history education. The culminating work of the major includes both specialized study and comparative history. All seniors take the capstone class, History 401: Topics in Comparative History. It is designed to assist students in integrating and synthesizing what they have studied in the major as well as preparing them for the oral portion of their major exams. All majors also take a 400-level research seminar in which they examine a subject or time period in depth and write a research paper based on primary sources. Research seminars are designed to build upon previous courses in a particular area (prerequisites can be found in the course description for each seminar). The research paper marks in some respects the culmination of the student's development as a history major. It should be noted that students who are seeking honors in major study write a thesis in addition to the other course work outlined above.
A minimum of 36 credits in history, including History 299, History 401, at least one 200 or 300 level course in each of four different geographic areas, two 200 or 300 level courses in one geographic area for a field, pre-modern course (100, 200, or 300 level), a "comparisons and encounters" course at the 200 or 300 level, and a 400-level seminar. The 400-level seminar maybe taken by a junior who has taken History 299, with consent of instructor. No more than four credits at the 100 level will count toward the major.
No more than eight credits earned in off-campus programs (e.g., I.E.S., the Associated Kyoto Program, University of St. Andrews, American University’s Washington Semester and The Philadelphia Semester) and transfer credit may be used to satisfy history major requirements.
Note: Courses taken P-D-F prior to the declaration of a history major will satisfy course and credit requirements for the major. Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy course and credit requirements for the major after the major has been declared.
History-Environmental Studies Major
In addition to core environmental studies courses required of all environmental studies majors, a total of 32 credits in History, consisting of 12 credits in methods and research (History 299 with a minimum grade of C (2.0), History 401, and a 400-level seminar in history), 12 credits in two geographical areas, and eight credits of electives. The 12 credits from the geographical areas must include at least one 200- or 300- level course in two of the department’s seven geographical areas, and one additional course from one of those areas. The eight credits in electives must include two courses in History. Only one of these courses may be at the 100-level.
The 32 credits above must also include the following three areas (note: courses can be applied to multiple requirements):
1) One course at any level meeting the department’s pre-modern requirement.
2) One course at the 200- or 300- level meeting the department’s "comparisons and encounters" requirement.
3) Three Core Environmental History Courses from the department’s offerings in Environmental History, at least one of which must be either History 231 Oceans Past and Future or History 232 Changing Landscapes. Other Environmental History courses include History 150 Animal, Vegetable, Mineral; History 205 East Asian Environmental History, History 262 People, Nature, Technology, History 355 Pacific Whaling History. Applicable recent Special Topics courses are History 279 ST: Ecologies and Economies and History 283 ST: Environmental History of Latin America.
Senior year requirements: Take History 401, and successfully complete a senior oral examination in Environmental Studies (in addition to the senior assessment in History, which consists of an oral examination and a written field exam). Honors Candidates in History will take History 498 for three credits and Environmental Studies 498 for one credit.
A minimum of 19 credits in history from at least two geographical areas; 16 of these credits must be chosen from among courses above the 100 level. History 299 and 401 are recommended but not required. No more than four credits earned in off-campus programs (e.g., I.E.S., the Kyoto Program, Manchester University, St. Andrew’s University, the Washington and Urban semesters) and transfer credit may be used to satisfy history minor requirements.
Last updated December 2017.