College of Letters & Science
Goals of the Major
Skills Developed in the Major
Requirements for the Major
Distinction in the Major
Honors in the Major
Joint Major in History and History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
Honors in the Joint Major in History and History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
Breadth Requirement Categories
3211 Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706; 608-263-1800; history.wisc.edu
Professors Bernault, Boswell, Chamberlain, Cohen, Cronon, Desan, Dunlavy, Enke, Enstad, Hansen, Hirsch, S. Johnson, Jones, Kantrowitz, Kleijwegt, Koshar, Mallon, McCoy, McDonald, Michels, Mitman, Neville, Plummer, Reese, Roberts, Scarano, Sharpless, Sommerville, Stern, Sweet, Wandel, Winichakul, Wink, Young; Associate Professors Cheng, Dennis, Kodesh, Ratner-Rosenhagen, Shoemaker, Thal; Assistant Professors Callaci, Chamedes, Chan, Ciancia, Dinces, Hall, Hennessey, Ipsen, Kim, Kinzley, Lapina, Murthy, Taylor, Ussishkin
Undergraduate advisor in the major: Scott Burkhardt, firstname.lastname@example.org, 3211 Mosse Humanities Building, 608-263-2800
Undergraduate assistant: Isaac Lee, email@example.com, 3211 Mosse Humanities Building, 608-263-1800
Faculty diversity liaison: Nan Enstad, firstname.lastname@example.org
History is the study and interpretation of human society as it changes over time. It addresses questions of human identity and transformations of civilizations and societies. Historians study all past human experience, bringing to the task a broad range of methodological and analytical tools. In the process, historians do many things. They compile, analyze, and compare statistics on everything from literacy to poverty. They scrutinize a variety of primary and secondary sources to construct what life was like for people in other times and places. They weave individual lives and collective action into narratives and descriptions of change and continuity in human societies.
The study of history helps us to understand and grapple with complex questions and pressing dilemmas by forcing us to consider how the past continues to shape relationships between people and between societies in the present.
The goal of the history major is to offer students the knowledge and skills they need to gain a critical perspective on the past. Students will learn to define important historical questions, analyze the relevant evidence with rigor and creativity, and present convincing conclusions based on original research in a manner that contributes to academic and public discussions. In History, as in other humanistic disciplines, students will practice resourceful inquiry and careful reading. They will advance their writing and public speaking skills to engage historical and contemporary issues.
To ensure that students gain exposure to some of the great diversity of topics, methodologies, and philosophical concerns that inform the study of history, the department requires a combination of courses that offers depth, breadth, and variety of exposition. Through those courses, students should develop:
- Broad acquaintance with several geographic areas of the world and with both the pre-modern and modern eras.
- Familiarity with the range of sources and modes through which historical information can be found and expressed. Sources may include textual, oral, physical, and visual materials. The data within them may be qualitative or quantitative, and they may be available in printed, digital, or other formats. Modes of expression may include textbooks, monographs, scholarly articles, essays, literary works, or digital presentations.
- In-depth understanding of a topic of their choice through original or creative research.
- The ability to identify the skills developed in the history major and to articulate the applicability of those skills to a variety of endeavors and career paths beyond the professional practice of history.
If desired, students may also choose to pursue a Global Track within the History major that emphasizes the study of cross-cultural and transnational historical connections.Skills Developed in the Major
Define Important Historical Questions
- Pose a historical question and explain its academic and public implications.
- Using appropriate research procedures and aids, find the secondary resources in history and other disciplines available to answer a historical question.
- Evaluate the evidentiary and theoretical bases of pertinent historical conversations in order to highlight opportunities for further investigation.
Collect and Analyze Evidence
- Identify the range and limitations of sources available to engage the historical problem under investigation.
- Examine the context in which sources were created, search for chronological and other relationships among them, and assess the sources in light of that knowledge.
- Employ and, if necessary, modify appropriate theoretical frameworks to examine sources and develop arguments.
Present Original Conclusions
- Present original and coherent findings through clearly written, persuasive arguments and narratives.
- Orally convey persuasive arguments, whether in formal presentations or informal discussions.
- Use appropriate presentation formats and platforms to share information with academic and public audiences.
Contribute to Ongoing Discussions
- Extend insights from research to analysis of other historical problems.
- Demonstrate the relevance of a historical perspective to contemporary issues.
- Recognize, challenge, and avoid false analogies, overgeneralizations, anachronisms, and other logical fallacies.
Students interested in declaring a history major should meet with an advisor in the history department. Information about advising and declaring the major is available on the undergraduate section of the department website.
A minimum of 30 credits in history is required to complete the major, to include:
Geographic Breadth: at least one course from 4 of the following categories:
- U.S. history
- European history
- African history
- Central or East Asian history
- South or Southeast Asian history
- Latin American history
- Middle Eastern history
- Transnational history
Chronological Breadth: At least one course must deal with the history of Europe and/or the Mediterranean before A.D. 1500 or with the history of Africa or Asia before these areas fell heavily under European influence.
The Historian's Craft: one course, History 201
After the successful completion of History 201, at least one Advanced Research Seminar: History 600.
Though some courses may qualify in more than one Geographic Breadth area, a course may only satisfy one category for purposes of meeting the requirement.
Courses in Geographic Breadth may also count in the Chronological Breadth requirement.
Some topics courses in history may qualify for Geographical or Chronological Breadth.
The following courses may not be used for breadth in the major: History 199, 600, 699, 681–682, 691–692)
Students should consult the undergraduate advisor in history regarding current requirements for the major.
Global History Track
Any undergraduate history major may choose to pursue the Global Track by completing all requirements for the history major above, and these additional requirements:
- Geographic Breadth: one additional course, in a fifth breadth area; at least one of the five breadth courses must be from the Transnational category
- Foreign Language or Experience Requirement: one of the following options:
- Completion of the 5th unit of a single Foreign Language, defined as the 5th semester of College instruction or the 5th year of High School instruction
- English 118, English as a Second Language
- 3 credits of coursework from a UW Study Abroad Program
Note: The Global History Track is unofficial and will not be recorded on a student's final transcript. For purposes of graduation auditing, DARS will display the track as an informational section only.
All students must fulfill the L&S requirements for Quality and Residence in the major:
- 2.000 GPA in history and required courses in the major
- 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits in residence (I/A level History). Students may fulfill this requirement with any of the history courses designated as intermediate or advanced.
- 15 credits History taken on campus
Courses are grouped below according to the major requirements that they fulfill. No list can be either complete or definitive; questions about "topics" courses and seminars should be directed to the undergraduate advisor.
To be awarded Distinction in the Major, students must:
- Achieve a GPA of at least 3.7 out of 4.0 in History courses
- Complete a minimum of 21 upper-level credits in major coursework
- Complete all requirements of the major
The Honors in the Major track in history is intended for students who are eager to experience the excitement of original historical research and who wish to graduate with the best possible undergraduate training in this discipline. Honors in the Major is especially appropriate for students who are considering graduate work in history or who want an especially rigorous training in research, reasoning, and writing skills useful to a wide range of career choices.
To earn the B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in History, students must satisfy both the normal major requirements and the following additional requirements:
- GPA requirements: Achieve a GPA of 3.5 in all history courses and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation.
- Coursework requirements: Complete at least 36 credits within the major including 15 credits of honors coursework in residence and 21 upper-level credits in residence.
- Senior honors thesis requirement: Complete a senior honors thesis, a piece of original work of approximately forty pages, in History 681–682, taken in conjunction with the thesis colloquium (History 680) both semesters. The thesis must be approved by advisors in both History 680 and History 681–682.
A minimum of 30 credits in history and in history of science, distributed as follows:
- At least four courses in history. Students are urged to take History 201 The Historian's Craft as one of these courses.
- At least one of these courses must be in U.S. history.
- At least one must be in European history.
- At least one must be from one of the following Breadth categories: Africa, Central or East Asia, South or Southeast Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Transnational.
- At least four courses in history of science. Students are urged to take one or more of these from the 300–599 series.
- At least 15 credits of upper-level coursework (as defined by each department) of which at least 6 credits must be in history and at least 6 credits must be in history of science.
- At least one seminar course chosen from History 600 or History of Science 555.
- Knowledge of a science is recommended but not required for the joint major.
To be awarded honors in the joint major in history and history of science, medicine, and technology, students must:
- Achieve a GPA of 3.5 out of 4.0 in all history and history of science courses and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation.
- Complete a minimum of 36 credits, to include five courses in history (with the same breadth requirements and recommendation for History 201 as the standard joint major above) and five courses in history of science, of which three must be from the 300–599 series (substitutions may be accepted at the discretion of the history of science, medicine, and technology honors advisor).
- Complete at least 21 credits of upper-division work (300–699) in the major while in residence at UW–Madison.
- Complete History 600 and one of the following history of science courses: 180, 280, 284 (in conjunction with 212)
- Complete 6–8 credits of Senior Honors Thesis in History 681–682 or History of Science Senior Honors Thesis 681–682. Students choosing History 681–682 must take History 680 both semesters in conjunction with the thesis. Students choosing History of Science 681–682 must take History of Science 555 before embarking on the thesis; in exceptional cases, it may be taken in conjunction with 681.
- United States: 101, 102, 109, 140, 150, 160, 161, 219, 221, 222, 247, 249, 258, 261, 262, 272, 290, 301, 302, 304, 322, 329, 330, 331, 343, 344, 345, 353, 354, 355, 390, 391, 393, 394, 395, 397, 398, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 406, 407, 408, 411, 412, 416, 427, 428, 433, 434, 451, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 466, 468, 490, 504, 560, 569, 607, 625, 626, 628, 635, 636, 644
- Europe: 110, 115, 119, 120, 121, 123, 124, 208, 212, 215, 223, 224, 251, 253, 254, 270, 271, 303, 306, 307, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 316, 317, 318, 320, 321, 323, 324, 325, 326, 328, 333, 334, 339, 340, 348, 349, 350, 351, 352, 356, 357, 358, 359, 361, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 372, 373, 374, 392, 409, 410, 415, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 423, 424, 425, 426, 429, 430, 431, 432, 437, 447, 467, 469, 470, 473, 474, 475, 476, 477, 478, 479, 502, 507, 508, 511, 512, 513, 514, 515, 517, 518, 529, 531, 532, 539, 540, 541, 554, 561, 568, 570, 577, 578
- Africa: 105, 277, 278, 279, 297, 330, 376, 377, 378, 440, 443, 444, 445, 446
- Central or East Asia:103, 104, 106, 108, 255, 265, 332, 335, 336, 337, 338, 341, 342, 363, 453, 454, 455, 456
- South or Southeast Asia:142, 244, 246, 252, 319, 438, 442, 448, 450, 457, 458, 463, 547, 548, 621, 661, 663
- Latin America: 240, 241, 242, 245, 260, 278, 279, 347, 422, 435, 436, 441, 533, 555, 556, 557, 564
- Middle East: 138, 139, 205, 371, 375, 379, 439, 440, 472, 539, 540, 541, 660
- Transnational: 130, 135, 144, 228, 229, 243, 246, 274, 275, 276, 278, 279, 315, 330, 347, 357, 374, 414, 424, 434, 452, 502, 503, 525, 607
- Chronological Breadth: 107, 110, 112, 115, 121, 123, 205, 208, 215, 251, 303, 306, 307, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 316, 317, 318, 321, 325, 326, 333, 336, 339, 360, 366, 368, 369, 376, 426, 439, 442, 448, 453, 454, 457, 459, 476, 477, 507, 511, 517, 539, 550, 561, 562, 567, 569, 597, 663