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How to Major in History

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Majoring in history gives you enormous freedom to explore your interests. History courses cover a huge range of regions, topics, and times, a rich variety of themes that is reflected in the classes we teach. Requirements for the major are set up so that you can pursue your interests without forcing you to take any particular course. That means you have the power to customize your major as long as you satisfy a few basic distribution requirements. Even our one fixed upper-division requirement—the HIST 407 seminar—is flexible; every year, we offer seminars on a wide variety of topics.

(Although not currently required, HIST 290: Historian’s Craft course is strongly recommended to be taken within the first two years of the program.)

Below you will find some sample paths that show how you might meet all the requirements in four years, while also pursuing a specialization. These are models for how you might plan your study, but they are not the only possibility, so it’s best to think of them as examples and not “marching orders.”

However you decide to proceed, you should start by contacting our Undergraduate Advisor (, or any member of the department faculty. Once you are ready to declare a history major or minor, submit an online declaration form using the link below:

Major/Minor Declaration Form

Course Levels

As a rule of thumb, 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. Finally, our HIST 407 seminars are intended mainly for students who are further along in their history studies.

Paths with a Thematic Focus:

Environmental History
Indigenous Cultures
Colonialism in World History
War in World History
Antiquities: The Ancient and Medieval Worlds
Race and Ethnicity in World History
Sex and Gender in World History
Culture and Society

Paths with a Regional Focus:

US History
Asian History
Africa and Latin America
European History