Consciously or not, all of us operate as historians. We make judgments and decisions based on our knowledge, however inadequate, of what has gone before. Furthermore, we make sense of our own position in the present by composing and telling stories about where we have been in the past. The formal study of history—the critical examination of human accomplishments and failures—does likewise, and it greatly enhances our ability to judge and decide about both private matters and public issues. Although historical awareness does not offer immediate solutions to contemporary problems, it does lead to a better understanding of them. Studying what was remote in time and space provides important perspectives on politics, society, and culture.

Required for the major in history

Students who major in history will learn to analyze historical evidence, synthesize sources into an argument, explain historiographical debates, and appreciate diverse cultures and perspectives.

Required for the history major:  

  1. HIST 110: The Emergence of the Modern World or HIST 115: The Modern World. Students should take this class in their first or second year.  
    1. Students with a 4 or better on any AP History examination may submit their AP credit in fulfillment of this requirement.  
    2. Transfer credit may fulfill this requirement.  
  2. HIST 203: Introduction to Historical Methods. Students should take this course in their first or second year.  
  3. HIST 620: Historiography. Students should ideally take this course in their junior year, but no later than the fall of their senior year.  
  4. HIST 650: The Practice of History (senior experience)  
  5. Four electives, at least three of which must be at the 200 level or above.  
    1. No more than one student-initiated course (SIC) such as a tutorial, directed study, internship or independent study may be used in fulfillment of this requirement.  
    2. AP credit may not be submitted in fulfillment of this requirement.  
  6. Two seminars at the 400 level  
    1. No more than one student-initiated course (SIC) such as a tutorial, directed study, internship or independent study may be used in fulfillment of this requirement.  
    2. AP credit may not be submitted in fulfillment of this requirement.  
  7.  Breadth requirements: 
    1. Students must take at least one elective or seminar in three of the following areas: Asia, Europe, Global and Comparative, Latin America, Middle East and Africa, North America.  
    2. This requirement may not be fulfilled with HIST 110, HIST 115, or AP credit, but other 100-level courses may be counted towards this requirement. 
    3. Students must take at least one course covering material pre-1750.  



Senior Experience in history

The Senior Experience in the history department consists of a collaborative one-term seminar, The Practice of History, culminating in an original and substantial piece of historical research. Students will be introduced to the standards of research and writing common to the historical profession and will be guided through their own individual projects. The Practice of History represents the culmination of a course sequence that includes Introduction to Historical Methods and Historiography. It is open to history majors who have completed an advanced seminar, tutorial, or independent study and have outlined a research topic that they are prepared to pursue intensively.

Required for the minor in history

  1. One introductory course in history (100-199).
  2. Five additional courses in history.
    1. No more than one may be an introductory course (100-199).
    2. At least one must be an advanced seminar or independent study (400-599).

Teacher certification in history or broad-field social studies

History majors can seek certification to teach history or broad-field social studies at the secondary level. For certification in broad-field social studies, students must complete the history major and a minimum of two courses each in two other social studies (anthropology/sociology, economics, government/political science, or psychology) and at least one course in each of the remaining social studies. A course in environmental studies is also required. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education, preferably before the end of the sophomore year.

Advanced placement

Students who have earned a 4 or better in the Advanced Placement Examinations in American History, European History, or World History will receive six units of credit in history and may use that credit in partial fulfillment of the major as a substitute for HIST 110 or HIST 115. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with any member of the department about appropriate placement in courses above the introductory level. Students may submit only one AP course towards fulfillment of the major.

Off-campus study

The history department encourages majors, whenever possible, to participate in one of the off-campus programs offered either by Lawrence or under consortial arrangements. The Lawrence London Centre has proven to be of particular interest to history majors, though majors have benefited from participation in numerous others—especially those that match up with students’ area interests (see Off-Campus Programs).

Graduate school

Students who are considering graduate studies in history should know that most doctoral programs require one or more (usually two) languages in addition to English and should work closely with their advisors to plan their schedules accordingly.