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How to Major in History

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Majoring in history at UO gives students enormous freedom to explore their interests. History courses cover a huge range of regions, topics, and times—a rich variety of themes that is reflected in the classes taught. Requirements for the major are designed to let students pursue their individual interests without being forced to take a particular course. Finally, the HIST 407 seminar is intended to be the culminating research experience for the History major. Most students will take 407 their senior year. History majors who are considering writing a departmental honors thesis, however, should seek to take it during their junior year if possible.

Review the major or minor requirements for full details:

Prospective history majors should start by contacting the department’s Undergraduate Advising Committee (, or any member of the department faculty. When ready to declare a history major or minor, submit an online declaration form using the link below:

Course Levels

In general, lower-division courses are designed mainly with freshmen and sophomores in mind. 300-level courses are best suited for advanced sophomores and juniors, although seniors can also find topics of interest in them. 400-level courses are considered junior- and senior-level courses. HIST 407 seminars are intended mainly for students who are further along in their history studies.

Lower Division

Courses at the 100 and 200 levels introduce students to fundamental historical skills and concepts, such as interpreting primary sources, analyzing the causes and consequences of events, and exploring change over time. These courses are usually framed on a very broad temporal and geographical scale.

Upper Division

Courses at the 300 level further develop historical skills, concepts, and knowledge. These courses typically remain fairly broad in scope and do not assume any prior familiarity with the subject, but compared with the 100 and 200 levels, they require more intensive reading, offer a fuller sense of the historical context, and engage more explicitly with scholarly interpretations. 300-level courses often involve a research component.

Courses at the 400 level generally aim for depth rather than breadth, enabling students to gain a deep, multifaceted understanding of specialized subjects. 400-level courses expect students to demonstrate proficiency in historical thinking, research, and writing.

Sample Course Plans

Below are various course plans provided to show examples of different ways that history majors might meet all the degree requirements in four years, while also pursuing a thematic or regional specialization. These sample paths can be modified to suit students’ individual interests and circumstances.

Examples of Thematic Focus

Environmental History
Indigenous Cultures
Colonialism in World History
War in World History
Race and Ethnicity in World History
Sex and Gender in World History
Culture and Society

Examples Regional Focus

US History
Asian History
Africa and Latin America
European History

Customized Paths

History majors can work with history department advisors and faculty to customize course plans unique to their own studies. Contact to get started.