History Studies

Learning goals:

  • To be able to research, write and present a senior project following professional guidelines.
  • To present and defend an historical argument in a public setting.
  • To prepare a career planning portfolio.
  • To participate in at least one off-campus co-curricular activity in which students demonstrate connections to their study of history.

Requirements for the History Major reflect the commitment to history as a way of knowing and thinking about the world.

Breadth courses focus on (a) the scope of civilization, usually in separate geographical areas and (b) teaching students how to think like historians. They introduce students to broad developments while also using specific historical material to help students draw conclusions about these larger trends.

Depth courses are upper-division classes (200 or 300 level) that focus on more specific topics in a specific area or smaller thematic framework. These classes ask students to compare historical material and the arguments of other historians in order to craft their own conclusions about the past.

A methodology course (History Methods), taken in the sophomore year, teaches students the specific skills of the historian: analyzing sources, using theory, comparing perspectives and understanding the contemporary relevance of studying the past. This class then helps students learn to explain their analyses better in verbal and written form, with an eye toward the senior thesis.

Collective Inquiry in History, taken in the junior year, continues to teach students the skills of the historian and prepares them for their senior thesis. Here students also work in groups to edit and publish an online undergraduate journal.

Finally, in the Seminar in History, majors carry out detailed research on a topic of their choice and work one-on-one with a faculty adviser to write their senior thesis that is the capstone of their work as history majors.

In all three of these courses for majors, students spend time working on career plans (creating resumes, interviewing, discussing various career paths) and learning to explain the value of their history major.

Two more upper-division classes are required, at least one of which must focus on Asian, African or Latin American history.

The history major completes at least 40 semester hours in history, with grades of C- or better, and four semester hours in a cognate or related field outside of the major. Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA in their major courses. In summary, the major consists of the following courses:

semester hours


Breadth courses: three survey courses, each in a different geographic area, chosen from the following:



Africa (HIST:171 or HIST:172)



Asia (HIST:151 or HIST:152)



Europe (HIST:131 or HIST:132)



Latin America (HIST:180 or HIST:181)



United States (HIST:111 or HIST:112)


Depth courses: two history courses at the 200 and 300 level, related by geography, chronology or topic


Course in a cognate field complementing the depth courses


HIST:300 History Methods


Another history course at the 300 level


One course at the 200 or 300 level in a geographic area other than US or European History


HIST:401 Collective Inquiry in History


HIST:410 Seminar or HIST:501 Independent Study

Minor in History. Students take two breadth courses, each with a different geographical focus, and two depth courses with a specific emphasis developed in conjunction with an adviser, as well as a third depth course of choice. Requirements include grades of C- or better in 20 semester hours. At least eight hours are required at the 200 level or above.

Honors. The departmental honors program encourages and recognizes outstanding academic performance in history. The department invites qualified students to enter the program. Candidates may earn honors by obtaining at least a 3.5 GPA and completing a senior research project deemed outstanding by members of the department. These students then receive departmental honors at graduation.

Teacher Certification. Each year some Susquehanna history graduates go on to teach history in grades 7–12. Students follow the regular history major program (with the exception that their breadth courses must include a United States and a European survey) and complete the required education courses to earn secondary-level social studies certification. Further information on certification is available in the education requirements section.