Academic Programs

History courses foster analysis and interpretation of the past and emphasize the development of cultures and ideas over the accumulation of facts. Courses offer students opportunities to pursue creative studies and develop their critical reading and writing skills.

History Major Course Requirements

To complete the History major, students must take eleven (11) courses distributed across the History curriculum.

Students take any two (2) 100-level courses, which introduce both historical materials and the skills we expect in the major.

They then take seven (7) 200- and 300-level courses. Students select these courses from three different fields of concentration, e.g., Early European History, Modern European History, U.S. History, East Asian History, Latin American History, History of Science and Medicine. Students can also design a field based on courses offered at Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore. Students who study overseas often take advantage of courses abroad to enrich their major.

Finally, all History majors write a senior thesis. Students choose to write either a 1-semester or a 2-semester thesis. Those who opt to write a 1-semester thesis complete it in the fall and then take an additional course in the spring.

Senior Thesis

Recognizing the importance of individual research and writing, the history major culminates in a senior thesis for all history students. Students work closely with a faculty advisor on a topic of their own choosing.

There are two options for completing the thesis. One is to take History 400a and History 400b in the senior year, with the work of the first semester emphasizing the identification, location, and transcribing of sources, and the second semester focusing on writing (synthesis, argument, and eloquence). The other path is to take History 400a in the fall, to complete writing the thesis by the end of that semester to take an additional course in the spring to complete the requirements for the major. The second option is sometimes especially useful for double-majors who are also writing a thesis for another department.

Senior Thesis Resources


Honors in history will be granted to those senior majors who, in the department’s judgment, have combined excellent performance in history courses with an excellent overall record. Typically, a grade of 3.7 or higher in a history course reflects honor-quality work.

Learning Goals and Objectives

In history students

  • Master a foundation of knowledge about specific places and societies over time.
  • Think critically about the nature and production of historical knowledge.
  • Broaden and master research skills.
  • Learn disciplinary writing skills using evidence and crafting persuasive arguments.

Study Abroad

History students are encouraged to study abroad. In addition to acquiring fluency in a foreign language, students abroad benefit from exposure to other historical approaches and the proximity to rich archival resources. The history major is designed to facilitate such study abroad.