Major in History
Introductory courses ask the student to integrate and master lectures and scholarly literature covering long time spans (the medieval world), world regions (modern China), and/or broad comparative themes (the history of capitalism). Upper-division courses are more specialized and encourage in-depth mastery and more sophisticated engagement with relevant scholarly literature, debates, and methods. Our seminars give all majors ample opportunity to interact closely with history faculty and to develop the critical and conversational skills associated with collaborative seminar work.
The student major will also learn to develop effective causal and comparative arguments in writing and to conduct independent historical research. Over and above writing assignments in other classes, the curriculum builds in two key opportunities to hone these skills. The first is the undergraduate seminar, which acquaints students with a wide variety of historical modes of explanation and interpretation and guides students through the steps of a major research project: identifying appropriate secondary and primary sources; posing a significant research question; and drafting a research essay. The second is the senior honors thesis, a yearlong research project coordinated through our two-semester Senior Honors Seminar and supervised by an individual faculty adviser. (Also see BA Honors Program)
History Major Requirements
- Two introductory history courses:>Select A) two introductory, 100-level courses offered by the history department (AS.100.1xx) OR B) one introductory, 100-level course offered by the history department (AS.100.1xx) and one Freshman Seminar offered by the history department (AS.100.2xx “Freshman Seminar”)
- The Undergraduate Seminar (AS.100.193-100.194): a two-semester sequence normally taken in the sophomore year
- Six additional courses in history,at least four of which must be at the 300-level or above
- Advanced work in history: Either two additional advanced history courses (300-level or above), or, for eligible students, completion of a senior honors thesis. (For requirements, see BA Honors Program)
- Language requirement: Proficiency through the completion of the intermediate level in any language taught in the Krieger School or through affiliated programs. Other languages may be used if approved by the student’s departmental adviser and the director of undergraduate studies. Language requirements waived by examination must be documented on the student’s transcript by the end of the sophomore year.
- Other requirements:
- No more than four courses offered outside the history department (AS.100.xxx) may be used to satisfy major requirements (e.g., cross-listed, transfer, and study abroad courses). No more than two of these four courses may be offered outside the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (usually summer transfer credit and/or study abroad courses): these must be approved by departmental adviser and the director of undergraduate studies.
- Students must earn a C- or higher grade in all courses used to satisfy major requirements.
- Courses used to satisfy major requirements may not be taken satisfactory/unsatisfactory.
The Department of History also strongly encourages interdisciplinary work in cognate fields of learning. History majors are therefore strongly advised to take two clusters of courses outside the department—preferably one in the social sciences and one in the humanities—consonant with their interests and complementing their areas of concentration in history.
Minor in History
The minor in history offers students majoring in other programs of study an opportunity to pursue a serious interest in history. This is a six-course, 18-credit minor. Because history is classified as both a humanities and a social science discipline, the minor in history also automatically fulfills the general distribution requirements in the social sciences and the humanities.
History Minor Requirements
- Two introductory history courses: Select A) two introductory, 100-level courses offered by the history department (AS.100.1xx) OR B) one introductory, 100-level course offered by the history department (AS.100.1xx) and one Freshman Seminar offered by the history department (AS.100.2xx “Freshman Seminar”)
- Four additional history courses: One may be at the 200-level or above; three must be at the 300-level or above
- Other requirements:
- No more than one course offered outside the history department may be used to satisfy minor requirements (e.g., cross-listed, transfer, and study abroad courses)
- Students must earn a C- or higher grade in all courses used to satisfy minor requirements
- Courses used to satisfy minor requirements may not be taken satisfactory unsatisfactory.
The Department of History encourages interdisciplinary work in cognate fields of learning. History minors are therefore strongly advised to take additional courses in any department, including the history department, that relate to the student’s major discipline in a historical way.
BA Honors Program
The history department strongly encourages all eligible history majors to pursue the honors track in history. The track culminates in the senior thesis, a yearlong, capstone research project completed under the direct supervision of an individual faculty adviser. Like all capstone projects, the senior thesis is intellectually challenging and its completion almost always brings with it a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It also hones the talented young historian’s capacity to sustain a cogent argument based on primary evidence in the long-form essay. These skills and the completion of a sustained independent project are also important practical assets when seeking a job or a post-graduate education.
A general cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a cumulative GPA in history of 3.5 are prerequisites for undertaking the senior thesis, and to obtain honors students will normally be expected to complete the thesis with a grade of A- or better. All thesis writers must also enroll in both the Senior Thesis (100.507-100.508; 3 credits per semester) and the Senior Honors Seminar (100.494-100.495; 1 credit per semester). Enrollment is by instructor’s permission and will be granted only to students who have obtained a commitment from a faculty thesis adviser. This commitment should normally be obtained no later than April 30 of the junior year.
For questions about the honors track in history or finding a thesis adviser, consult your departmental adviser or the Director of Undergraduate Studies, History.