The History major allows students the flexibility to develop a program that meets their personal interests and needs, while ensuring that students experience the enormous variety of topics the department has to offer. Thus the distribution requirements work together with personally tailored themes to offer range and breadth. Current requirements are explained below and  in the handbook for history majors. 

Since the Fall 2011, the department has implemented a range of reforms. If you declared your history concentration before Fall 2011, you are still governed by the 'old system.' If you'd like to switch to the 'new system' and the new requirements listed below, you may re-declare your major. To do so, please, make an advising appointment.

Current Requirements

Every major must take at least take ten classes in history, five of which must be the 300 level or above and none can be at the 100 level. Every student works with an individual faculty mentor to customize her or his program. After declaring a major, students select their mentors with the help of departmental advisors. In consultation with the mentor, each student will develop a theme for the major, pick a survey sequence and select additional courses that give coherence to the degree program and allowing room for exploration.

In the semester immediately following the declaration, every major must complete History 202 "Doing History" which introduces students to the discipline of history and practices of the historian. Each term, students can choose from several sections of History 202 which will be governed by a special registration process.

Of the remaining nine courses, two courses will serve as the dedicated survey sequence and one course will focus on the period before 1800. In addition, students are to take one course in four of the seven world regions. Lastly, history majors will complete a junior/senior colloquium, which enables them to conduct original research.

History 202

All students who have declared their major in the Fall of 2012 or later are required to take History 202 "Doing History" in the semester following their declaration unless they receive approval for postponement from a member of the Undergraduate Committee, for extraordinary conflict such as study abroad. Starting in the winter of 2013, the department will offer several sections of History 202 per term. Those who declared before this date, are encouraged to enroll if space is available. 

History 202 serves as an introduction to the discipline of history, the conventions of reading and writing academic history, and the analytical skill involved in doing history. History 202 will introduce students to a wide range of sources, primary and secondary, and teach them to analyze and interpret them. As such this course is essential in preparing students for their work in advanced history courses.

History 202 is subject to a special registration procedure, open only to majors. In response to an email invitation, students will be able to register for available sections. Contact the academic coordinator with any questions about registering for 202.

Survey Sequence

Designed to serve as a foundation of the major, the survey sequence will provide a starting point from where students can explore a theme, time period, or region in more depth. Ideally, survey sequences provide a broader context to the theme of each students major. Rather than limiting students in their choices, the survey sequence is designed to open a large window into a general area of interest to provide the background information necessary for more nuanced questions and foci. 

If a student's interests are not addressed by the preapproved survey sequences, the faculty mentor can approve an alternate survey sequence of two chronologically and conceptually related courses that more immediately pertain to the theme the student selected. 

Regional Distribution

While the selection of a theme ensures that each history major can build coherence around their own interests, the distribution requirement is designed to introduce breadth and invites students to explore their questions across various geographical regions. 

Of the seven world regions (Africa; Asia; Europe; Middle East/Central Asia; Latin America; US & Canada; and transregional/global) students must cover four of their choosing with one course each. 

Chronological Distribution

Students are required to take on course that focuses on the period before the year 1800. To meet this requirement, at least 75% of the course material must deal with the pre-modern era. Survey sequence courses cannot be counted towards fulfilling the chronological requirement. 


In their junior or senior year, all majors must take a colloquium. This is a small class that emphasizes discussion, reading, research and writing. The primary goal of this course is an independent research paper based on primary sources. Students can choose either a section of History 496 (which also fulfills the upper level writing requirement of the college) or History 497, which requires the same amount of reading and writing but is not approved as upper level writing credit by the Sweetland Center for Writing. 

Honors students will take the honors sequence of History 499 will replace the colloquium requirement. Students who leave the program after having taken the first part of the honors sequence, History 498 must still satisfy the colloquium requirement.  

Please note that our colloquia and the honors sequence have been renumbered at the 400 level. Students who have previously taken versions of Hist 396, 397, 398 or 399 do NOT have to retake the renumbered version of the course.

Students who declared their major before Fall 2011 are still governed by the old set of requirements. If you are interested in re-declaring, make an appointment with a faculty advisor!