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Undergraduate program

Welcome to the web page for the undergraduate program in History at the University of Oregon. By clicking on the sidebar, you can find out about the History major, the History minor, honors options in History, and other information of interest to undergraduates. 

Elsewhere on the site you'll find a list of the courses we offer (together with sample syllabi in many cases) and profiles of the faculty members who teach them.

The B.A. or B.S. in History is an incredibly versatile degree. Besides paving the way to careers in government, law, journalism, business, and education, the study of history cultivates critical skills useful in all walks of life. Among these are the ability to communicate verbally and in writing, to conduct research on virtually any topic, and to analyze, interpret, and synthesize large quantities of information. The history major cultivates the kinds of learning and skills that we regard as crucial for historical thinking and, more broadly, as integral to a liberal arts education.

The UO Career Center offers a number of resources for those wondering what to do with a major in History. History majors who want to become middle and/or high school teachers may also want to consider the five-term teaching licensure program offered by the UO School of Education.

What kind of content do we expect history majors to learn?

  • Depth: All history majors must take a preponderance of their classes for the major at the upper-division level, particularly in 400-level classes specialized enough in scope so that students can both attain a degree of mastery of a period or topic and learn to appreciate the complexity of historical experience.
  • Geographical breadth: All history majors are required to become broadly familiar with at least three geographical regions of the world, an invaluable experience in an increasingly interconnected world.
  • Chronological breadth: All history majors should acquire substantial historical knowledge of premodern as well as modern history because acquaintance with societies and cultures that are remote in time challenges the historical imagination and unsettles assumptions.
  • Cultural and linguistic breadth: All history majors should be challenged to encounter at least one culture other than their own by learning its language.

What skills do we expect history majors to develop?

  • Historical argument: All history majors must learn how to understand historical arguments and assess them critically, including evaluating conflicts of interpretation, examining the use of evidence, and learning how explanations are constructed in historical writing.
  • Inquiry: All history majors must learn how to read primary sources and analyze them critically; each student will eventually define a historical problem, identify primary sources relevant to that problem, and develop a research strategy to address a historical question.
  • Writing: All history majors are expected learn how to synthesize information from a variety of sources, construct cogent arguments, and express them in clear, convincing prose.

Grading policy

What follows is meant to help students understand the departmental consensus, to the degree that there is one, regarding the grading of individual assignments. Each faculty member in the Department of History, however, will have her or his own interpretation of this consensus.

It is the student’s responsibility to attend closely to the course syllabus, assignment descriptions, oral indications in class and in conference, and written comments on graded assignments in order to gain a more precise understanding of the interpretation that guides a given course.

A+: Work of unusual distinction. Therefore, in the History Department, this grade is rarely awarded.
A: Work that distinguishes itself by the excellence of its grasp of the material and the precision and insight of its argument, in addition to being well executed and reasonably free of errors.
B: Work that satisfies main criteria of the assignment, and demonstrates command of the material, but does not achieve the level of excellence that characterizes work of A quality.
C: Work that demonstrates a rudimentary grasp of the material and satisfies at least some of the assigned criteria reasonably well.
D: Work that demonstrates a poor grasp of the material and/or is executed with little regard for college standards, but which exhibits some engagement with the material.
F: Work that is weak in every aspect, demonstrating a basic misunderstanding of the material and/or disregard for the assigned question.