Bachelor of Arts in History

Why We Study History 

An understanding of history requires students to integrate many branches of knowledge. Individual history courses cut across lines of the social sciences, humanities, and even the natural sciences. More important to the history student than learning what has happened is understanding the process of change.

By comparing the human conditions over decades or centuries, history students identify fundamental social trends and analyze critical causal factors. History students develop research, analytical and writing skills necessary not only for work, but for living. A history major builds confidence for making judgments in many fields of human endeavor. To view our history career brief, click here.

What it takes to be a History Major

36 credit hours total, of which only two classes are specified for you by the program. The rest of your history classes are up to you and your interests! Check out our course offerings here. We invite you to explore and expand your academic interests by studying the history of different time periods, geographic regions, and cultures.


History students will

  • Identify people, events, and processes significant to their courses of study
  • examine similarities and differences across chronologies, geographies, and themes
  •  explain how past peoples understood their worlds and how those understandings shaped the ways they acted
  •  analyze the range of social, cultural, political, and economic possibilities available to people in particular contexts
  •  analyze why change occurs

2.1 Inquiry and Analysis – History students will

  • develop a creative, focused, and manageable question for historical research
  • synthesize evidence representing a variety of perspectives
  • explain the challenges of constructing historical narratives using incomplete and contradictory evidence  
  • formulate a thesis and conclusion substantiated by primary and secondary source analysis
  • critique alternative conclusions

2.2 Critical Thinking – History students will

  • identify and analyze the central issues, arguments, and points of view in primary and secondary sources
  • evaluate authors’ arguments and assess their evidence and conclusions
  • critique their own and others’ assumptions and the contexts in which they develop those assumptions
  • use the concept of historiography, in order to compare and contrast a variety of scholarly texts
  • analyze the ways the histories historians write are products of particular historical contexts

2.3 Written Communication – History students will  

  • establish the context, audience, and purpose of their written assignments
  • master the conventions of historical writing, including: clear paper organization (thesis, evidence, conclusion); logical paragraph organization; clear, direct, and engaging language; proper citation methods, using Chicago style
  • compose papers employing narrative, descriptive, and analytical writing to convey their historical knowledge and analytical skills  

2.4 Information literacy – History students will

  • determine the types of sources that are relevant to a research question
  • locate and evaluate appropriate materials for historical research, using book catalogs (Skyline, Prospector, WorldCat), article databases (particularly America: History and Life, Historical Abstracts, and JSTOR), and interlibrary loan
  • demonstrate understanding of the ethical and legal issues surrounding the use of published and unpublished materials, including what constitutes plagiarism and how to cite sources

3.1 Intercultural knowledge and competence – History students will  

  • evaluate how their cultural biases inform their understandings of history  
  • evaluate the ways that historians of different cultural perspectives produce different histories
  • interpret historical evidence with consideration to historical actors’ various cultural perspectives

3.2 Ethical reasoning and action – History students will  

  • analyze the ethical issues embedded in historical events and processes
  • evaluate different ethical choices present in historical decision-making
  • evaluate the ethical assumptions of the texts they read

History students will

  • demonstrate connections between different courses and readings
  • synthesize academic experiences with their experiences outside the classroom
  • seek out applications of their historical knowledge and skills beyond the classroom

View the Major in History requirements worksheet here


Please note: Students must declare a major by the time they have completed 60 semester hours of coursework.