To declare either a major or a minor, you must first complete the "Declaration of a Major" or "Declaration of a Minor" form now available online in Webstac. Those students who are not Arts & Sciences students and who are declaring a second major, should complete a "Combined Studies Declaration of a Second Major" form, also available online.
After you declare the major in Webstac you will be contacted by the Department Administrative Coordinator. The Administrative Coordinator will request documents to begin your portfolio. You will need to fill out our New Major Intake Form, provide a copy of your unofficial transcript and a brief writing sample from an introductory history course. If you have not yet taken any history courses, a writing sample from another course will suffice. (This writing sample is for administrative purposes only). The more information you give about yourself on the intake form, the better we can match you to an advisor and answer your questions. After your paperwork is received, you will be assigned a major advisor and we will answer questions you might have about the history major.
Prospective history minors must simply bring the completed "Declaration of a Minor" form to Professor Krister Knapp, the History Minor Advisor. His office is located in Busch Hall.
Planning Your History Major
Your advisor in the Department of History can be a valuable resource. The quality of advice, and whether it extends beyond the selection of history courses, depends largely on your initiative. How does your major relate to your ultimate career plans? Should you do a second major in a foreign language? Should you think about graduate school or other professional training? Can an undergraduate internship lead to a paying job? These are questions to discuss with your advisor. Make your advisor a resource - not merely the person who authorizes you to register.
Many different programs are possible within the general requirements for the history major. The history major is a flexible one, and your advisor can help you identify an appropriate focus. Some typical concentrations are listed below; you may also create your own.
- A particular region: Instead of focusing on a single period, you might choose a region and select courses which cover its history from different perspectives over a broad period of time. Often the history of one area can only be understood in terms of its interaction with other areas; for example, students emphasizing American history will understand interactions here if they understand something of the history of the regions from which immigrants came. Students of Europe will see it from a different perspective if they examine how Europeans interacted with and were influenced by the peoples and cultures of other regions.
- A slice of time: You may emphasize a particular time period, and study it without regard to geography. Almost any period can be examined this way. For example, a student interested in the early modern period could take a variety of courses on Renaissance and eighteenth-century Europe, Ming and Qing China, the colonial period in the Americas, and Africa and the Atlantic World. Courses in art, literature, religion, and philosophy offered in other departments would add even broader dimensions to such a program.
- An approach to the past: Rather than focusing on a particular place or time, you may want to consider important historical concepts. For example, many courses in the history department examine political institutions, while others examine social movements or forms of social organization like race, class, and gender.
There is no single “right” program in the Department of History. The chief concern of the department is that each history major develops a program consistent with their interests and plans and pursues it with foresight.