Department of History

Bachelor of Arts

Vivian Bruce Conger, Associate Professor and Chair

The goal of the Department of History is to make students aware of the deep origins and the interconnectedness of contemporary life. Such a perspective places the present in context and challenges our culture’s emphasis on newness and the disconnectedness of events. It prepares students to understand and participate more knowingly in the contemporary world.

Our department emphasizes a close working relationship between faculty and students, and we are committed to small classes and individualized instruction. First-year survey classes are limited to 30 students. Upper-level class sizes range from 25 students down to 10 in our senior seminars, and even one-on-one tutorials with history faculty. History majors may also choose to complete independent studies and honors projects, both of which feature intensive collaboration with individual instructors. Our students have gone into a variety of professional and graduate careers, such as law, business, international business, governmental service, politics, radio-television, and performing arts, as well as archaeological and museum work. For students interested in careers in education, we offer a social studies with teaching option. This major leads to initial certification in the teaching of social studies at the secondary school level.

Requirements for Honors in History

All history majors with at least a 3.3 GPA in the history major and a 3.0 GPA or better overall have the opportunity to graduate with honors in history. Before commencing an honors program in history, a candidate must have completed 21 hours of history courses. The candidate may complete the work for an honors project in level-3 or level-4 independent studies, but all honors candidates must take at least one level-4 seminar in addition to these independent studies. The candidate may receive a maximum of 6 credits for the honors project. If at any point the faculty sponsor deems the work insufficient for honors, the student will receive a grade for any independent studies completed but will not be eligible to pursue department honors. Honors candidates must adhere to the following process:

  1. The candidate will select a department member with expertise in the field to advise the student about the project and, in consultation with that adviser, will create a three-person committee to review the project.
  2. By April 15 of the year before graduation (November 30 for winter graduates) the candidate must apply for honors with a written proposal. The proposal should clearly describe the project and identify primary sources to be used. Committee members will signal their approval with their signatures on the form and the entire faculty of the history department will vote on the proposal and inform the student whether she or he may pursue departmental honors.
  3. The candidate will submit a complete draft of the project to the faculty sponsor by the end of the fourth week of his or her final semester, and a final draft of the project to the committee by the ninth week of the semester.
  4. The candidate will defend the project before the committee approximately one week after the submission of the final draft. The committee will then determine whether the project receives honors.

The completed honors project must fit the following criteria: it will be a 30-50 page scholarly article; it will illustrate an understanding of relevant historiography; it will demonstrate original analysis based on extensive research of secondary and primary sources; and it will use the Chicago Manual of Style citation style.

Advanced Placement

Advanced placement (AP) credit is accepted under the following conditions:

  1. A student must have an AP test score of 4 or higher to receive course-specific credit (i.e., HIST 11100, HIST 11200, HIST 18100, HIST 18200). If a student receives course-specific credit, he or she cannot also receive credit for taking the course.
  2. AP credit does not reduce the number of credits required by the major (including social studies with teaching option) or minor.


The Department of History strongly recommends that each history major, in consultation with his or her adviser, develop a course of study providing a balance between the various historical eras.

It also recommends that history majors take a minimum of three related courses in another humanities department (e.g., English, philosophy, art history) and three related courses in a social science department (e.g., economics, anthropology, politics) that serve to complement the student’s historical studies and provide insights from another discipline.

The history department encourages its majors to declare a minor in another discipline as a means of broadening their historical understanding and general educational background.

See HIST courses

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