The senior examinations for the history department include:

  • A written capstone paper (either research or integrative)
  • An oral examination based on that paper

Whitman College History Senior Assessment

SAM Format Required Details
Honors, if eligible Yes Honors candidates write a thesis.
Senior Seminar Yes Comparative history seminar that helps prepare them for senior exams.
Thesis Required No
Oral Thesis Defense Yes Only for Honors candidates
Oral Exam Yes One hour exam with two faculty based on capstone paper.
Written Exam(s) ~ Not an exam per se. Seniors write a capstone integrative or research essay. (Honors candidates’ thesis substitutes for this essay)
Pre-Thesis Oral No

History Major Exams

The final aspect of the history major is the major exam. In addition to the capstone paper, there is an oral exam based on that paper and scheduled no sooner than a week after the capstone paper is turned in. Honors thesis writers will have an oral defense of their thesis instead. Instructions concerning the exams, including more detail on all materials for your exams, will be provided in History 401.

Major Examination Documents

Senior history majors must submit the following four documents related to oral and written exams. (This year's due dates and times are in the table at the bottom of the page.)

  1. The Statement of Courses and Exams is different for History and History-ES majors: History Statement of Courses and Exams and History-ES Statement of Courses and Exams.
  2. The Capstone Paper Proposal. In a substantial paragraph, describe your senior essay as specifically as you can at this point. State the question you hope to answer and either the ideas you will synthesize or the topic you will research. Your paragraph should include a brief statement of context as well as the kinds of materials you will use to answer your historical question. Your capstone work will take one of the following formats:

    • Integrative essay: Bringing together coursework completed in your Track. If you are proposing an integrative essay, please detail the courses you will be using as source material.
    • Research essay: Conducting further research on a topic related to your Track. If you are proposing a research essay, please clarify the nature (and extent, if possible) of sources you'll be using. Primary sources are desirable but may not be necessary, depending on your topic.

    The Capstone Paper Proposal must be appended to the Statement of Coursework and Exams.

  3. The Revised Capstone Paper Proposal and Annotated Bibliography. The Revised Capstone Paper Proposal (1-3 pages) discusses how your project has developed since October and restates your historical question and approach in more detail. The annotated bibliography is similar to the one you created in History 299. You should have a minimum of eight sources. Each entry in the annotated bibliography will consist of five parts:

    1. regular bibliography entry
    2. brief description of the contents
    3. any essential information about the author
    4. summary of the main issues, themes, and/or arguments
    5. assessment of the source's potential uses and value for your project

    Both of these documents must be signed by the first reader for your oral exam.

  4. The Capstone Essay is due on the Friday of the 10th week of the semester. Oral examinations of this paper will be scheduled no earlier than a week after this deadline.

The student must provide copies of all required documents to the Department Chair’s box on the following schedules.

Schedule of Due Dates and Exams

May 2022 Candidates

Capstone Paper Proposal & Statement of Courses and Exams Friday, Oct. 15, 2021 4:00 pm
Annotated Bibliography and Revision of Proposal Friday, January 29, 2022 4:00 pm
Final Capstone Paper Friday, April 1, 2022 4:00 pm
Oral Exams (scheduled by the Department) starting Monday, April 18, 2022 TBD