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Undergraduate Program Description

The Department of History offers the undergraduate student a variety of courses in American, European, African, Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern history. With careful planning and the advice of faculty members, students can develop a sequence of courses that will prepare them for the fields of law, government, and foreign service, as well as careers in various international organizations, journalism, business, or teaching at the elementary, secondary, or college levels.

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Major Requirements

In addition to the two-semester (6-credit) University Core sequence in modern history (selected from courses numbered HIST1001 through HIST1099), a History major is required to complete at least 30 additional credits in history, including the following: a 2-semester (6-credit) sequence in U.S. History (HIST2401–2402); 3 credits of HIST3300 The Study and Writing of History (selected from courses numbered HIST3301 through HIST3599 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 4001–4962). All students who are not writing a senior honors thesis in History must take three of their upper-division credits in the form of either a senior colloquium or seminar (HIST5001–5499). 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, consult the Department's website at:

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, and a similar score on the A.P. test in American history fulfills the two-semester (6-credit) U.S. History requirement. [For students in the Class of 2018 and later: A History major with a score of 4 or 5 on the American History Advanced Placement Examination may substitute 6 credits of U.S. History electives for the HIST2401–2402 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 at least 18 credits, including HIST3300 The Study and Writing of History and 6 of the upper-division credits, must be taken at Boston College during the regular academic year.

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Minor Requirements

The History minor requires six courses worth at least 18 credits. It begins with the two Core courses in history and concludes with two upper-division electives (numbered 4001–4962) worth at least 6 credits. In between, students can choose two other courses (worth at least 6 credits) freely from among the Department’s offerings. Because many Core courses emphasize Europe, students minoring in history are encouraged to take at least one course in non-Western history. Advanced placement credit cannot be used to satisfy minor requirements, but students who have fulfilled the History Core through advanced placement may substitute two electives (worth at least 6 credits) in order to complete the required six courses (and 18 credits).

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Information for First Year Majors and Non-Majors

The University Core requirement is a two-semester sequence in history from late medieval times to the present. Every student must take two halves of a sequence: one first half class, which covers c. 1500–1800, and one second half class, which covers 1800 to the present. Although students are encouraged to take both halves in the same sequence, switching to a different sequence at midyear is permitted.

History Core courses examine the complex historical processes that lie behind modern-day transnational relationships, values, and ideas. They introduce students to key historical concepts, methods, and controversies and examine how present-day concerns shape our understandings of the past. Covering several centuries of time, all History Core courses trace the political, social, economic, and cultural changes that created the modern world. As part of the Core Curriculum, these courses seek to broaden students’ intellectual horizons by exposing them to new places, periods, and perspectives. Through the History Core, students will learn how to (1) use primary sources to interpret the past, and (2) explain change over time.

Taught by historians who specialize in distinct areas, eras, and approaches, History Core courses vary in their emphases on different parts of the world. The History Core currently includes courses focused on Asian, Atlantic, European, Latin American, and global experiences. Students are urged to read the descriptions of the department’s Core offerings to find the choice that best suits them.

Detailed information on advanced placement and the Core may be found on the department's website. Students who would like to apply foreign study courses for Core credit must get permission from the Director of the Core, and they are strongly urged to do so before going abroad. In order for a course taken abroad to fulfill the History Core requirement, it must cover the time periods outlined above (c. 1500–1800 for History Core I, and 1800 to the present for History Core II) and examine more than one country, surveying historical developments in a global or world-regional framework. Similar guidelines apply to summer classes and courses transferred from a previous institution. At least one of the Core courses must be taken at Boston College.

For further information about the History Core, please visit

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Information for Study Abroad

Many History majors and minors profit greatly from spending part or all of their junior year abroad. History majors may take as many as four courses (12 credits) abroad for major credit (and a maximum of two courses—6 credits—for upper-division credit), although six history courses (18 credits) beyond the Core, including The Study and Writing of History, must be taken at Boston College during the regular academic year. History minors may take as many as two courses (6 credits) abroad for minor credit (including one upper-division course worth 3 credits).

Students seeking major or minor elective credit need only show that they passed a course offered in a history department. Students seeking upper-division credit must arrange this with the Director of Undergraduate Studies after they complete the course. In making their case for upper-division credit, they should present the course syllabus and the paper(s) written for the course. (Save everything!) In spite of the limitations on courses accepted for major credit, students who have gotten a good start on Core and major requirements before leaving for study abroad should have no trouble completing them, even if they spend an entire year abroad. It is especially helpful if they complete the Study and Writing of History requirement before studying abroad.

Students who are contemplating a senior honors thesis and who will be abroad during the normal application process in the spring of their junior year are strongly urged to plan ahead. They should try to establish a thesis topic and to identify a faculty member willing to supervise their work before departing and verify that they will be able to be in e-mail contact with their thesis advisor while abroad. They should be aware that the deadline for submission of applications is April 1 of their junior year. For additional information, they should consult with the director of the History Honors Program early in the semester prior to their departure for study abroad.

For additional information on foreign study for history majors, please visit

For more information on the application of these guidelines to the history minor, please visit

If you have further questions about your study abroad or the History Honors Program, please contact Professor Arissa Oh, Director of Undergraduate Studies, at 617-552-3799 or by e-mail at

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