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Information for New Students

The History Department welcomes you to Whitman College! We are one of Whitman’s largest departments, and we offer a curriculum that is incredibly diverse for a school of our size. In small classes, you will be able to explore historical phenomena across the globe and across time. From the origins of colonial oppression to forgotten revolutions and on-going resistance, our courses cover issues that inform the choices that we as global citizens need to make today.

All of our 100- and 200-level courses (with the exception of 299) are suitable for first-year students, and we invite you to peruse our offerings and contact faculty if you have any questions.

Why Study History?

The study of history develops your understanding of the human condition through the ages. Learning about peoples in different times, places, and environments makes you aware of the possibilities and limitations of humanity and helps you to understand your own situation. History is the most comprehensive of the liberal arts, embracing, potentially at least, whatever people in any walk of life, at any time, have done or endured. By liberating us from the confines of our own time and place, history makes life larger and richer.

As professional historians, the History department naturally hopes that students will share our enthusiasm and find in history a lasting source of intellectual challenge, pleasure, and enrichment. History is worth studying for its own sake and for the improvement of the life of the mind. The study of history teaches you to think creatively, independently, and with discipline. In addition, Whitman's history department helps you to hone your skills in analysis, synthesis, and writing. All history courses require writing outside the classroom.

In History, our rigorous program teaches skills in critical reading and writing that translate to career opportunities as rich and varied as the field of history itself. History students acquire analytical and expository skills; they learn to sift and organize information, to formulate arguments, and to express them in oral and written form with force and clarity. These skills are useful in any career, and they are indispensable in such professions as law, business, government, journalism, and education.

While a few of our recent graduates have gone on to become distinguished graduate students and then professors of history, Whitman history alums have succeeded in a great number of fields. Former Whittie historians are now working as physicians, attorneys (including an Assistant DA in New Orleans), archivists, and non-profit consultants, and one has even become a top young photographer in Washington, DC.

The History department offers several major tracks, so you can tailor your major to your interests as well as a minor in History. For more information, see our Major Requirements. Please come talk to us—we are eager to begin the enquiry with you!

Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) Exam Credit

Advanced Placement (AP) AP Score Whitman Equivalent Whitman Credits
History: United States 5 History 106 4
History: European 5 History 183 4
History: World Modern 5 Elective 4

International Baccalaureate (IB) IB Score Whitman Equivalent Whitman Credits
History of Africa and Middle East 5 or higher Elective 4
History of the Americas 5 or higher Elective 4
History of Asia and Oceania 5 or higher Elective 4
History of Europe 5 or higher History 183 4
  • no more than 8 credits at the 100-level can count towards the major
  • no more than 8 credits not earned on campus can count towards the major (this includes AP/IB, study abroad and college transfer credits).
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