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Major Requirements

history department


In addition to the 2-semester (6-credit) University Core sequence in modern history (selected from courses numbered HS 001 through HS 094), a History major is required to take a 2-semester (6-credit) sequence in U.S. History (HS 181/182). Students planning to major in history are strongly encouraged to take the History Core in their freshman year and HS 181/182 in their sophomore year. Note that a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement test in European or world history fulfills the 2-semester (6-credit) University Core requirement in history, and a similar score on the AP test in American history fulfills the 2-semester (6-credit) U.S. History requirement.


The HS 300: Study and Writing of History requirement

Each history major must take one (1) of these courses to complete the major. Several courses are offered each semester, each focused on a different topic. The purpose of this requirement is to introduce our new majors to the methodology and art of writing history within the context of a small class and early in their major. If at all possible, students should plan on choosing one of these courses in their sophomore year. Please click on this link in order to see additional information about Study and Writing of History courses.


Other requirements:

In addition to the coursework mentioned above (6 credits of the Core, 6 credits of U.S. History I and II, and 3 credits of HS 300), the History major is required to complete at least 21 additional credits in history, including 6 credits in non-Western history and 12 credits of upper-division electives (numbered 200-699) in addition to HS 300. All students who are not writing a senior honors thesis in History must take 3 of their upper-division credits in the form of either a senior colloquium (HS 691) or a senior research seminar (HS 692). Note that some upper-division electives also satisfy the non-Western requirement. At least 9 credits of the electives, including 6 credits of the upper-division electives, should be in a field approved by the student's History Department advisor. For a list of possible fields, see below.  The last 3 credits may be taken in courses numbered 100-699.

Students may take a maximum of 12 foreign-study credits, no more than 6 of which may be upper-division credits, among the 30 required major credits beyond the University Core. Likewise, a maximum of 6 summer credits may be taken for major credit, but at least 18 credits, including HS 300 and 6 of the upper-division credits, must be taken at BC during the regular academic year.

In sum, history majors beginning with the class of 2014 must take:

  • 6 credits of history core (HS 001-094): 3 credits in each half of sequence
  • Plus at least 30 credits, including:
    - 6 credits of U.S. History Survey (HS 181/182)
    - 3 credits of The Study and Writing of History (HS 300)
    - at least 6 credits of non-Western history
    - and at least 12 credits of upper-division history (courses numbered HS 200 and higher) in addition to HS 300:
        ☒For all students except those writing a senior thesis, 3 of these  upper-division credits must come in the form of either a senior colloquium (HS 691) or a senior seminar (HS 692).  


Further Notes:

  • Students may not take evening courses for major credit.
  • Student may not take summer courses for upper-division credit.
  • Some upper-division electives also satisfy the non-Western requirement, although in doing so, they count only as 1 course (or 3 credits) each, and they therefore require completion of an additional elective (or 3 additional credits) to complete the major. If your course audit counts such a course only in one category, email the Department Administrator to have it corrected.


Fields of concentration:

Majors should concentrate in a field that interests them. At least 3 of the electives, including 2 of the upper-division electives, should be in a field approved by the student's History Department advisor. The fields include:

  • Social
  • Cultural
  • Political
  • Intellectual
  • Economic
  • Legal and Constitutional
  • Medieval
  • Early Modern
Area and Nation
  • African and Middle Eastern
  • Asian
  • East European and Russian
  • Latin American
  • Modern European
  • United States
Comparative and Transnational
  • Atlantic World
  • Global
  • International
  • Religion across cultures
Individual Specialized Field
  • by arrangement with the student's History faculty advisor


The Preferred Sequence:

Ideally, majors should take the History Core as freshmen. The sophomore year should include the U.S. History sequence, as well as one of the HS-300 offerings, and possibly other history electives. Junior and Senior years should be used to complete the remaining requirements. Remember that 4 of the 7 electives must be upper-division electives (HS-200-699), which are distinguished from introductory surveys (HS-100-199) by their substantial reading and writing assignments. Note, too, that there is no rule against taking more than the 10 non-Core courses (or the 30 non-Core credits) required to complete the major; our strongest majors usually take additional history courses. Beginning with the class of 2014, all majors will have to complete either an honors thesis or one of the senior seminars and colloquia offered by the department.

Students who arrive at Boston College with AP credit in European or World History have already fulfilled the Core requirement in history. They may enroll in the U.S. History sequence in their freshman year; they may also take a HS-300 course as freshmen. Students who arrive with AP credit in both European or World and U.S. History may start the major as freshmen with any elective course offered in the department, including HS-300.