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Major Requirements

history department

In addition to the two-semester (6 credit) University Core sequence in history (selected from courses numbered HIST 1001 through HIST 1111), a History major is required to complete at least 30 additional credits in history, including the following: a two-semester (6 credit) sequence in U.S. History (HIST 2401-2402); 3 credits of The Study and Writing of History  (selected from courses numbered HIST 3301-3899, and preferably taken in the sophomore or junior year); at least 6 credits in non-Western history; and at least 12 credits of upper-division electives (numbered HIST4001-4962, HIST 5001-5499). All students who are not writing a senior honors thesis in History must take three of their upper-division credits in the form of a senior colloquium (courses numbered HIST 5001-5499).  At least nine credits of the electives, including six 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 of concentration, see below.

Students planning to major in history are strongly encouraged to take the University History Core in their freshman 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.  For the Classes of 2015, 2016, and 2017, a similar score on the A.P. test in American history fulfills the two-semester (6 credit) U.S. History requirement (HIST 2401-2402). For the Class of 2018, a History Major with a score of 4 or 5 on the A.P. test in American History Placement must substitute two U.S. History electives for the HIST 2401-2402 sequence.

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 not for upper-division credit), and at least 18 credits, including The Study and Writing of History and six of the upper-division credits, must be taken at Boston College during the regular academic year. (Students should also note that the College of Arts and Sciences accepts summer courses for credit only to make up deficiencies, so that even a course accepted to fulfill a History major or minor requirement will not reduce the 120 credits required for the degree.)

Some upper-division electives also satisfy the non-Western requirement, although in doing so, they count only as a single course (or 3 credits each), and thus 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, contact the Department Administrator to have it corrected.

Majors with strong academic records are encouraged to consider the department's Honors Program, which centers on an honors thesis researched and written in the senior year.


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 Study and Writing of History seminar, and possibly other electives.  Junior and Senior years should be used to complete the remaining requirements.  Upper-division electives (HIST 4001-4901) and the senior colloquia (HIST 5001-5499) are distinguished from HIST 2001-2899 electives by their substantial reading and writing assignments.  Note, too, that there is no rule against taking more than the 30 credits required; indeed, our strongest majors usually take additional history courses.