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History | Courses | Faculty

612 Herter Hall

Degree: Bachelor of Arts

Contact: Alice Nash
Office: 611 Herter
Phone: (413) 545-6757

Chair of Department:Professor Joye Bowman. Professors Appy, Barton, Berkman, Glassberg, Gordon, Higginson, Levy, Martin, Owens, Rausch, Richardson, Wilson; Associate Professors Broadbridge, Heuer, Lovett, Miller, Nash, Ogilvie, Wolfe; Assistant Professors Chu, Fronc, Hernandez, Krauthamer, Olsen, Platt, Schmalzer, Taylor; Adjunct Faculty Allen, Ben-Ur, Berkowitz, Bracey, Cox, Gore, Hilbink, Page, Sinha, Stern, Sullivan, Young.

The Field

History is the study of the past based on finding, evaluating, and interpreting recorded evidence. It is a discipline that seeks both to understand the past in its own terms and to explain the present in light of the past. Historical fields are usually defined by period, place, and theme—for example, modern American cultural history. The history curriculum is intended to encourage the exploration of the past in a variety of fields and to foster the skills necessary to discover and express effectively an understanding of the past. Generally, courses of greater breadth are offered at the 100 level and courses of greater depth are offered at the upper levels. Often but not always, the higher the level the smaller the class. The department offers honors courses at all levels and encourages qualified majors to enroll in Commonwealth College. History honors courses are generally taught as seminars.

The department offers a variety of prizes, internships, scholarships, and extracurricular activities to reward academic achievement in history and to enrich classroom learning. A history club, organized and run by students, is open to both majors and non-majors. Club activities include trips to historic sites, lectures, and social events. The national history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, has a chapter at the university. Any undergraduate or graduate student with a GPA in history of 3.100 or above, with at least 12 completed history credits and a general GPA of at least 3.000, may apply. The department also encourages majors to take part in study abroad programs.

The Major

History majors must complete 12 courses totalling at least 36 credits with a minimum GPA of 2.000, distributed as follows:

A. Two to five 100-level courses.
1. One of the following pairs required:
100-101 Western Thought and Culture
110-111 World Civilization
111-112 World Civilization and World Religions
2. Optional: Up to three other 100-level courses if one is a Third-World course.

B. Six to nine courses 200-499

C. One course numbered 591-595. This proseminar involves research and writing, to be completed before the second semester of the senior year (normally in the junior year)

D. A pre-1500 course from among the following: 100, 102, 110, 112, 114, 130, 160, 180, 300, 301, 302, 303, 304, 340 or the equivalent. (The list is updated each semester by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.)

E. At least two non-western courses (100-level or upper-level, in any combination) to be selected from the following areas: Africa, East Asia, Latin America, Middle East, World. A fifth 100-level course may be taken to fulfill this requirement.


1. No upper-level history course may be taken elsewhere without prior approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Majors, including transfer students, must take a minimum of four upper-level courses in the department.
2. History courses taken Pass/Fail will not be counted toward requirements for a major.
3. No history course in which a grade of C- or lower has been earned will satisfy requirements for the major.
4. If appropriate in subject matter, the proseminar (591-595) may be used to satisfy requirements D and E above.
5. Majors may count no more than 20 history courses toward the B.A. degree (a total of no more than 60 credits, in lower- and upper-level work).

Career Opportunities

The study of history provides majors with the research, analytical, and communication skills necessary to every type of career. These skills include the ability to read quickly and pick out important points, to assimilate and synthesize information from a variety of sources, to present information effectively in oral and written form, and to make an informed judgment and to argue its merits. Students of history learn how to ask pertinent questions and to find answers through research and logical thought. In short, history is a particularly appropriate preparation for careers in law, journalism, government service, diplomacy, business, resource management, and teaching.

The Minor


An undergraduate minor in history requires a minimum of six courses totaling not less than 18 credits and distributed among the lower and upper level as follows:
No more than two introductory courses (100 level) and at least four upper-level courses (200 and above).

1. Transfer credits toward the minor will be granted only for introductory courses.
2. The four upper-level courses must be taken at this university. Exception: One such course may be taken during a Study Abroad semester.
3. No history course taken on a Pass/Fail basis may count toward the minor.
4. No history course in which a grade of C- or lower has been earned will satisfy the requirements for the minor.

History | Courses | Faculty