What courses will I take as an History major?

Group photo UMW History class tHIST 449 American Immigrant Experience class trip to National Archives group photo

The History major is a 12-course (36 credit) major that encompasses diverse topics and sub-fields, offering students courses that span a broad geography and also reach in times from ancient to modern. In studying history, students explore dynamics of the past and their relation to the present while also creating personalized learning experiences that shape their own futures.

With faculty specializing and teaching courses in U.S. history, East Asian history, European history, Latin American history, the history of the Middle East, and beyond, students have a broad range of courses to select.

See this link for the official university catalog and the latest listing of major requirements.

The structure of the History Major:History major portrait at the National Archives

  • One of the Introductory Course Sequences (2 courses / 6 credits), including a choice of the following:
    HIST 121-122: Western Civilization I-II
    HIST 131-132: American History to 1865; American History Since 1865
    HIST 141-142: Asian Civilizations I-II


  • Methods Course – HIST 299 (1 course / 3 credits, for which the Intro Sequence is a prerequisite):
    In this one-semester class, students learn how to “think like historians.” They practice the essential skills of historians as they undertake the research and writing of a history research paper and its related projects. This course prepares students for the research, writing, and thinking required in upper-division history courses. (Formerly the History 297-298 course sequence)


  • Electives. Students select six courses at the upper division level (200 and beyond; 18 credits). Many of the courses can be found listed in the catalog at the HIST 300-level, upper division electives in a broad range of subfields and methodological approaches, which also intersect with UMW’s rich minor fields (including Asian Studies, Digital Studies, Environmental Sustainability, International Relations, Latin American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Museum Studies, Security & Conflict Studies, Social Justice, Urban Studies, and Women and Gender Studies.)


  • HIST 400 Level Courses – (3 courses required, 9 credits total) including:
    HIST 400-level Seminars (2 courses). Advanced, small-group seminars in which majors are working closely with faculty and classmates on in-depth topics, research projects, and high-level skills development in analysis, writing, and speaking as well as, in many cases, digital skills applications.

History major carrying archive boxes on UMW trip to National Archives

  • HIST 485: Senior thesis (1 course). An independent study personally guided by a faculty member within the department on an original research topic of the student’s own selection. Students compose theses and share them in an History and American Studies department symposium each semester with an audience of faculty, classmates, and the public. The senior thesis offers valuable research and public presentation experience–and a chance to share in a great event with the full UMW community. Learn more about the topics our students research with this link to symposium programs.


  • A HIST 499 Internship is also encouraged and may serve as elective credit toward the History degree. History majors work in museums, archives, national parks, and other national and regional institutions to gain invaluable career experience before they graduate. See our Internships page and the course catalog for more information.