College of Letters & Science

History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

(Department of History of Science)

Joint Major in History and History of Science, Medicine, and Technology
Requirements for the Major in History of Science, Medicine and Technology
Honors in the Major

210 Bradley Memorial Building, 1225 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-1406;

Professors Broman, Keller, Lederer, Mitman, Nyhart, Schatzberg, Shank; Associate Professors Houck, Hsia; Assistant Professors Delancey, Gómez, Jackson, Nelson

Chair: Thomas Broman,
Undergraduate advisor in the major: Michael Shank, 326 Bradley Memorial Building, 608-263-1562,
Faculty diversity liaison: Robin E. Rider,

The major in history of science, medicine, and technology offers an unusual opportunity to examine the changing historical content of the sciences, technology, and medicine, as well as their interaction with the surrounding cultures, using the methods of the humanities and, to a lesser extent, the social sciences. The goal is to introduce students to the sciences both as ways of knowing and as multifaceted and changing cultural phenomena. In addition to developing a broad historical understanding of science, technology, and medicine, and their place in world culture, students who complete the major will also develop their skills of critical reading and writing, learning to assess and use historical data to present their own interpretive arguments.

The major offers excellent training to students who seek an intellectually stimulating education across both the humanities and the sciences. It provides special opportunities for students seeking careers in medicine and allied health professions and other fields (such as law, journalism, education, library science, or government service) in which a critical understanding of science and its role in society would open up specialized career tracks. It is also admirably suited to the very small number of students who intend to pursue a graduate education in the history of science, medicine, and technology.

Joint Major in History and History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

This program is administered jointly by the Department of History and the Department of History of Science. The program is described more fully in the section on Joint Major in History and History of Science, Medicine, and Technology within the History section of this catalog.

Requirements for the Major in History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

To be accepted as a major in history of science, medicine, and technology, the student must register with the department undergraduate advisor.

The major requires a minimum of 30 credits, to include at least 24 credits in history of science and 6 credits in science or mathematics above the elementary level (not to include mathematics courses numbered 223 and below).

One 3-credit course toward the 24-credit minimum may be chosen from approved courses in related disciplines. These courses include Philosophy 519, 520, 521, 523, 558; Medical History 565; Sociology 531, 637. Other substitutions may be allowed at the discretion of the undergraduate advisor. Integrated Liberal Studies 201 or 202 may be used in place of History of Science 201 or 202 to count toward the major requirements; Integrated Liberal Studies 271 may be used as a regular course in the major.

All majors are required to take History of Science 555, the department's capstone seminar, in the junior or senior year.

All students must fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Departmental courses above the elementary level count toward this requirement.

Honors in the Major 

The Honors in the Major track in History of Science, Medicine, and Technology is intended for students who want to experience the excitement of original research and who wish to graduate with the best possible undergraduate training in the discipline.  This option is especially appropriate for students who are considering graduate work in the subject, or who want to have an especially rigorous training in research, reasoning, and writing skills useful to a wide range of career choices. Students who are considering Honors in the Major should consult with the honors advisor as early as possible, preferably in the sophomore year. Honors majors are subject to the same requirements as other majors in the department, with the following modifications:

At least 15 of the minimum 24 departmental credits must be drawn from history of science, medicine, and technology or in medical history courses numbered at the 300, 400, or 500 levels. History of Science 615 and History of Medicine 668 and 678 may also be used to fulfill this requirement.  Substitutions may be accepted at the discretion of the honors advisor.

Honors majors are to take one of the following: History of Science 180, 280, 284 (in conjunction with 212), or one seminar (minimum of 3 credits) offered by the department at the upper-division level.

History of Science 555 should be taken in the spring of the junior year before embarking on the Senior Honors Thesis; in exceptional cases, 555 may be taken concurrently with 681.

A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis (681-682) is required.

A grade point average of 3.5 must be maintained in upper-level 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.

Students considering graduate study in history of science, medicine, and technology should acquire a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language as early as possible.

Students should check with the department honors advisor at least once a year to make sure that requirements have not been modified, as well as to seek guidance about planning the Honors in the Major curriculum that best reflects their special interests.

This page was revised 1/8/16.