The Organization of the Majors

The History department engages in the "five C’s of historical thinking": Context, Causality, Change over time, Complexity, and Contingency. These tools help students formulate both fact-based arguments drawing on primary sources and scholarly debates about the meaning of the past. The department offers courses in seven "geographical areas": Africa/African Diaspora, Ancient Mediterranean, Asia, Europe, Islamic World, Latin America, and North America/United States. History majors choose a "Global" track, a "Specialist" track, or the combined major in History-Environmental Studies.

At the introductory level, the department offers broad survey courses in Ancient Mediterranean, East Asian, Environmental, 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 at least one pre-modern class and one modern class of any 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.

The major program should be planned by the student and advisor to concentrate in either a global or specialist track in the sophomore year, with final declaration of a track or pathway by the end of junior year. All tracks and pathways include geographic and temporal diversity. Courses at the 200 or 300 level should be chosen in consultation with the major adviser, to meet the particular requirements for the major. See below for more details on the different major options.

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. It is designed to assist students in integrating and synthesizing what they have studied in the major. This course, in combination with History 402, focused on the capstone essay, also prepares majors for the major exams. All majors also take a 39x-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; 39x versions are forthcoming). 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 list of all major requirements is also available on the History Major Checklist or the History-Environmental Studies Major Checklist.

History Major

A minimum of 36 credits in history, including History 299 (with a minimum grade of C [2.0] required), History 401, History 402, and a 39x-level seminar. The 39x-level seminar pre-requisite is History 299, or with consent of the instructor.

No more than eight credits at the 100 level will count toward the major. All history majors must take at least one course exploring modern history, and at least one course exploring pre-modern history.

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.

Global Track

Along with the basic history requirements above, students on the Global track take 4 courses at the 200-300 level representing four of seven geographic areas and 2 electives to achieve a broad understanding of major trends and interconnections in the study of the past.

Specialist Track

Along with the basic history requirements above, students on a Specialist track choose a pathway to specialize in. Four courses in the specialty area and 2 further electives are required. This track allows students to focus on a particular approach to the study of the past. See the course catalog for lists of courses which apply to the following pathway options: Cultures & Ideas; Empires & Colonialism; Revolution, War, & Politics; Social Justice; or Before Modernity.

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, History 402, and a 39x-level seminar in history), 12 credits in environmental history courses, and eight credits of non-environmental history electives. Only two of these courses may be at the 100-level.

Of the three core Environmental History courses from the department’s offerings, at least one must be either History 231 Oceans Past and Future or History 232 Changing Landscapes. Other Environmental History courses include History 155 Animal, Vegetable, Mineral; History 205 East Asian Environmental History, History 206 European Environmental History to 1800, History 262 People, Nature, Technology, History 263 From Farm to Fork: Slow Food Fast Food, and European Foodways, History 307 Beastly Modernity, and History 355 Pacific Whaling History.

Senior year requirements: Take History 401 and 402, and successfully complete a senior oral examination in Environmental Studies. Honors Candidates in History will take History 498 for three credits and Environmental Studies 498 for one credit.

History Minor

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.

For Students Who Declared Before Fall 2019: you may choose to use the old guidelines below instead.

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.

History Major

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 may be 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.

History Minor

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 August 2019.