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Major Requirements

You are encouraged to customize your program. Each student can develop a theme for the major, pick a survey sequence and select additional courses that give coherence to the degree program and allow room for exploration.

Every major must take at least ten classes in History, five of which must be at the 300-level or above and none can be at the 100-level. Detailed requirements are described below. All History Department requirements are in addition to College of LSA requirements.

History 202

History 202, Doing History, is the foundation of the history major—a small seminar taught by a regular faculty member and the most important gateway course in the department. All history majors are required to take History 202 in the semester following their declaration, unless they receive approval for postponement from a history advisor because of some extraordinary situation, such as study abroad. 

History 202 provides a structured and cohesive foundation in the analytical, methodological, compositional, and historiographical skills involved in “doing history.” The course is designed to provide a collective experience for all majors and to prepare students for work in more advanced history courses. Students will encounter a wide range of primary and secondary sources, focus on the development of analytical writing and historical research skills, and visit various museums and archives both on and off campus. 

Survey Sequence

The other cornerstone of the major program is the survey sequence, defined as any set of two courses that are conceptually linked together in a way that constitutes a broad introduction to a particular topic, time period, or geographic region. The goal of the survey sequence is to open a window into a general area of interest and provide a broad foundation for each student’s more focused interests and future coursework.

Students may take the two courses in the sequence at any time during their academic studies, in whatever order. Additionally, if a student's interests are not addressed by any of the preapproved survey sequences, the faculty mentor or a history advisor can approve an alternate survey sequence of two chronologically and conceptually related courses that more immediately pertain to the theme the student wishes to pursue. 

Regional Distribution

While the flexibility of the history major allows majors to develop a particular focus and concentrate on specific themes, time periods, and geographic areas, the regional distribution requirement ensures that the coursework also has sufficient breadth by inviting students to explore their questions across various geographical regions. Your ten courses must cover at least four of these seven world regions/categories: Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East/Central Asia, Latin America, United States/Canada, and Transregional/Global.

Chronological Distribution

Breadth is a matter of time, not just space. Hence majors are required to complete at least one course that focuses primarily or fully on the temporal period before 1800. Courses that constitute part of the survey sequence may not be used toward this requirement.


The capstone of the history major is the colloquium, taken during the junior or more often the senior year. History 202, "Doing History," should be taken before signing up for a colloquium, because the skills developed in History 202 are foundational for the capstone course. The colloquia are small, advanced courses that generally include a significant research component as well as extensive reading, writing, and discussion. The primary goal of these courses is to produce an independent research paper based on primary sources. The History 496 colloquia fulfill LSA’s upper-level writing requirement (ULWR); the History 497 colloquia do not.

Students in History Honors fulfill the colloquium requirement by completing History 499, which satisfies the college’s ULWR. Students who take History 498, the junior honors colloquium, but do not continue in History 499 must take either History 496/497 to graduate.