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Department of History

Mission Statement

The Department of History supports the academic mission of James Madison University by providing the highest quality educational experiences within the liberal arts tradition that meet students' needs and prepare students for meaningful careers and active citizenship. The department focuses on the student as individual learner and global citizen. Our dedicated faculty members are classroom innovators and scholars who work responsibly and supportively with students to expand their knowledge and skills, and to create a foundation for their lifelong learning.


To carry out the above mission, the Department of History seeks the following goals, which focus on student knowledge skills and experiences.


Students studying history at JMU will:

  • Acquire knowledge of the world's great literary, philosophical, religious and artistic traditions.
  • Comprehend the historical and social context of major political, intellectual, religious, economic and cultural developments.
  • Comprehend the major achievements in the fine arts in world civilizations and the achievements' historical, social and cultural context.
  • Evaluate the evidence, ideas and models needed to perceive how people relate to each other, to institutions and to communities as well as to make judgments about the world.
  • Discern the values, ethics and legal issues in world civilizations, including their own, and how these issues relate to Western ideas of a free society.


Students studying history at JMU will:

  • Read, write and speak critically, mastering how to make informed judgments based on existing evidence.
  • Locate printed and online information sources to research a topic exhaustively.
  • Critically evaluate textual evidence by identifying a thesis, noting sources used in the argument, discerning the conclusions, and determining the perspective, bias and reliability of the argument.
  • Write clear, well-organized, grammatical prose.
  • Solve problems.
  • Communicate persuasively.
  • Use social media and digital technologies effectively.
  • Speak a foreign language proficiently.


Students studying history at JMU will:

  • Become independent, creative and self-directed learners, and complete scholarly projects on time.
  • Consider thoughtfully a number of perspectives before supporting one.
  • Develop ways of perceiving, evaluating and behaving within cultural systems different from their own.
  • Understand the importance of change and continuity over time, different peoples' responses to change and the importance of cause and effect in history.
  • Discern the dynamics of an increasingly multicultural society.

Career Opportunities

A history degree provides individuals with skills that are sought after by a wide-range of employers. Career opportunities for those with a B.A. in history include:

  • Advertising
  • Archival work
  • Education
  • Government
  • Information Management
  • Legal work
  • Museum Curator
  • Social Media and Technology
  • Writing and Editing

With additional training, many graduates pursue careers in law or academia. Many graduates also have pursued careers in the health and technology professions.

Students completing an undergraduate degree in history possess marketable abilities applicable to a variety of professions, such as:

  • Analyzing
  • Researching
  • Writing

Most also possess skills in:

  • Digital humanities
  • Statistical analysis
  • Website development
  • Social media

Co-curricular Activities and Organizations

Degree and Major Requirements

Bachelor of Arts in History

The requirements for a major in history consist of introductory, mid- and upper-level courses. All courses introduce students to the nature of history and survey the globe in a historical context. In addition to involving reading, writing and critical thinking, these courses develop students' elementary computer skills in identifying and interpreting research sources and presenting research results. The 100- and 200-level courses are world or regional surveys, covering extensive periods of time, while the 300- and 400-level courses focus on specific nations, time periods or themes. The upper-level courses also require more extensive analysis of sources, texts and interpretations. Courses at the 400 level are capstones where students are expected to show an advanced ability to meet all department objectives. Majors in history are strongly encouraged to continue study in foreign languages beyond the minimum university requirement and, when appropriate, to integrate their foreign language studies into their history classes.

This major requires three core courses. Two of these courses are introductory: HIST 101. World History to 1500 and HIST 102. World History Since 1500. The third required course is HIST 395. History Seminar. This seminar on research methods teaches students the most sophisticated computer applications for research and writing.

In addition to the core requirements, majors must take eight elective courses: two on the 200 level and six on the 300 and 400 levels. At least three of the six upper division courses must be taken at the 400 level. For students writing a senior honors thesis, only three hours of HIST 499. Honors Thesis, may be counted among the three 400-level courses required for the major.

Majors must also complete one course at the upper division level in each of the following fields: U.S. history, European history and World history.

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

Credit Hours

General Education1


Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required)2


Philosophy course (in addition to General Education courses)


University electives


Major requirements (listed below)



1 The General Education program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.

2 The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student's chosen language (typically 232) or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures' placement test.

Major Requirements

Core Requirements

Credit Hours

HIST 101. World History to 1500


HIST 102. World History Since 1500


Any two courses at the 200-level, including HIST 2251


HIST 395. History Seminar2


Electives: Six 300- or 400-level courses

At least one course in each of World, U.S. and European history and at least three courses at the 400 level



1 HUM 252 can fulfill this requirement when it focuses on Latin America and is taught by history faculty.

2 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.


HIST courses can be double-counted toward General Education credit. HIST 395 may not be counted toward the 300/400 level course requirement. History majors must have completed HIST 395 in order to enroll in any 400-level history course. All other students wishing to enroll in any 400-level history course are not required to have taken HIST 395, but must get an override from the faculty member teaching the 400-level history course. The faculty member will submit the override.

Recommended Schedule for Majors

First Year             

Credit Hours

HIST 101. World History to 1500 (Cluster Two)


HIST 102. World History Since 1500 (Cluster Two)


Foreign language courses


General education courses


General Education Cluster One: Skills for the 21st Century




Second Year        

Credit Hours

Any two courses at the 200 level


HIST 395. History Seminar


Foreign language courses (if needed) or electives


General Education courses (Cluster ThreeCluster Five)




Third Year            

Credit Hours

Philosophy course


History electives (mix 300 and 400 levels)




General Education courses (Cluster TwoCluster Four)




Fourth Year         

Credit Hours

History electives (mix 300 and 400 levels)




General Education courses (Cluster Four)




Public History

Historians today practice their discipline in a variety of careers as well as in more traditional academic settings. Those historians who work in museums, archives, government agencies, libraries, historic preservation organizations, businesses, contract history firms, cultural resource management firms and historic sites are known as public historians because they use their skills as historians to serve a public audience. The concentration in Public History trains students in the broad range of skills and issues associated with public history while providing them with a solid general background in history.

Students pursuing the public history concentration augment their foundation of traditional history courses by taking introductory and specialized public history courses and completing a semester-long internship. History majors opting to pursue the public history concentration will complete seven elective courses, six of which must be 300/400 level history courses. The public history concentration consists of five courses (15 credit hours).

Students are required to complete two public history core courses and three elective courses. Two of the three elective courses should be chosen from the list of primary electives; the remaining elective course may be chosen from either the primary or secondary list of elective courses.

History Major with Public History Concentration

Core Requirements

Credit Hours

HIST 101. World History to 1500


HIST 102. World History Since 1500


Any two 200-level History courses


HIST 395. History Seminar1


Seven electives2


300/400-level HIST courses


Public History Concentration


Required Courses


HIST 340. Internship in History


HIST 396. Introduction to Public History


Primary Electives


HIST/ANTH 331. Historical Archeology


HIST/ARTH 394. Introduction to Museum Work


HIST 407. Digital History


HIST 438. Workshop in Local History


HIST 440. The History Museum


HIST/SCOM 441. Oral History


HIST 491. Editing Historical Documents


HIST/ANTH/ARTH 492. Material Culture


HIST/ANTH 493. Historic Preservation


HIST 495. Introduction to Archives and Manuscripts


Secondary Electives


HIST 326. The Automobile in 20th Century America


HIST 327. Technology in America


HIST/SOCI 338. U.S. Urban History


HIST 360. Research Apprenticeship in History


HIST 391. Travel Studies Seminar: Summer in Ghana Program


HIST 391. Travel Studies Seminar: Paris and Normandy: Civilization, Culture, and Memory


HIST 402. Workshop in Colonial American Life


HIST 403. Workshop in Civil War Virginia


HIST/ARTH 406. Monticello


HIST/ARTH 408. The Museum: Histories and Controversies


ANTH 494. Field Techniques in Archeology



1 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.

2 Six (18 credit hours) of the seven electives must be 300/400-level history courses. At least three courses (9 credit hours) must be 400-level history courses. For honors majors, only three hours of HIST 499. Honors Thesis, may be counted among the three 400-level courses required for the major.


Many graduate business schools encourage applications from liberal arts majors. History majors who wish to prepare specifically for admission to a Master of Business Administration degree program should schedule from these courses.

A history major may choose no more than 27 credit hours in this program from courses offered by the College of Business. Students should consult regularly with the associate dean of the College of Business. In addition to the major in history, students are advised to choose from the following courses:

COB Course Electives for History Majors    

Credit Hours

COB 191. Business and Economic Statistics


COB 204. Computer Information Systems


COB 218. Legal and Ethical Environment of Business


COB 241. Financial Accounting


COB 242. Managerial Accounting


ECON 200. Introduction to Macroeconomics


ECON 201. Principles of Economics (Micro)


FIN 345. Finance for Non-Financial Managers


MKTG 380. Principles of Marketing



Teaching Licensure

Students interested in becoming teachers must meet specific curriculum requirements in their major as part of the undergraduate academic degree. History majors desiring secondary teaching licensure must complete HIST 225.

In addition to the general education and academic major requirements, history majors desiring secondary teacher licensure must minor in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. They must also be admitted to teacher education, complete the pre-professional program in secondary education at the undergraduate level and complete the graduate level Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

It is critical that students seeking licensure consult regularly with their education adviser, their ISS adviser, and their major adviser to support their progression through the programs. For a full description of the requirements see the teaching history section of the history department website.

Minor Requirements

History Minor

The minor in history is available with any degree. The minor requires 21 credit hours of history, including HIST 101 and HIST 102. At least six of the remaining 15 hours must be at the 300 or 400 level with at least one of these courses in world history.

Cross Disciplinary Minors

For more information about the following minors, refer to Cross Disciplinary Programs.

Africana Studies Minor

The minor in Africana studies broadens students' world perspectives by enhancing their acquaintance with and understanding of the peoples, cultures and institutions of Africa and the African Diaspora in the Western Hemisphere. The minimum requirement for a minor in Africana studies is 19 credit hours.

American Studies Minor

The minor in American studies is based on the desirability of developing a coordinated understanding of American civilization, past and present, acquired through selected courses offered by the traditional academic units  and special courses offered by the program itself. Focus in humanistic subjects and the social sciences will provide the student with the means of exploring the interrelationships among diverse aspects of our culture and changing patterns of ideas and values.

Asian Studies Minor

The purpose of this cross disciplinary program is to broaden the students' perspective by enhancing their understanding and appreciation of Asian culture and institutions. This program combines the offerings of several academic units, such as art, economics, history, foreign languages, political science, religion, and sociology and anthropology. The minimum requirement for the Asian studies minor is 18 credit hours.

Classical Studies Minor

The minor in Classical studies introduces students to the literature, culture, philosophy, history  and languages of Greco-Roman civilization. The requirement is successful completion of 24 credit hours. Students who take Latin or Greek can apply up to 12 credit hours to the minor.

Environmental Humanities Minor

The environmental humanities minor invites students from all majors to discover how their creative and critical thinking skills associated with such areas as literature, religious studies, philosophy, art and art history, arts performance, communications, and history can lead them to environmental engagement now, and in a professional future.

Historical Archaeology Minor

While open to all majors at JMU, the minor in historical archaeology is designed as a complement to existing majors in anthropology and history, though it should be of interest to students in art history, museum studies and administration. While guided by the theoretical underpinnings of history and anthropology, the minor in historical archaeology is highly field and research oriented. Students enrolling in the program should anticipate courses that require significant effort outside the classroom. The minor requires a minimum of 23 credit hours.

Latin American and Caribbean Studies

This minor allows students to acquire a deeper understanding of Latin America. Students are encouraged to explore the possibility of studying in a Latin American country for a semester or summer session. In addition to a B.A. degree language requirement in Spanish, the Latin American and Caribbean studies minor consists of a minimum of 18 credit hours.

Medieval and Renaissance Studies Minor

This minor focuses on the period from the fall of Rome (5th century C.E.) to 1700. Students can take courses in art history, English, history, music, philosophy, political science, religion, and a range of languages (Arabic, French, Spanish, German, Italian and Latin as well as medieval languages such as Old English and Middle English) in the original or in translation. Students focus on either the Medieval or the Renaissance periods or combine course work from both periods.

Middle Eastern Communities and Migrations Minor

This minor concentrates on social and political issues involving Muslim, Christian and Jewish populations in their own right and in relation to one another in the territory between the Nile and Indus rivers during the modern period. The program is also designed to accommodate consideration of other communities including Hindu and other South Asians, Anatolian and Central Asian Turks, and Mediterranean peoples in the larger area stretching from North Africa to Southeast Asia as well as Middle Eastern diaspora communities in Europe and the Americas from the ancient period to the present.

Russian Studies Minor

This minor offers a broad, cross disciplinary perspective on Russian culture, history, political institutions, economy and geography. This program deepens the students’ understanding and knowledge of the Russian and non-Russian peoples of the former Soviet Union, and prepares them for careers in teaching, government, and international business. The minimum requirement for the Russian studies minor is 18 credit hours.

Science, Technology and Society Minor

Science, technology and society (STS) offers students the opportunity to critically examine science, technology, and medicine as expressions of human cultures, past and present. Students learn to scrutinize the ideas, values and materials embedded in the world they inhabit today and to relate them to other times and places. They explore how choices made within various social, economic and political structures influence the development of science, technology and medicine. They also see how the adoption and diffusion of ideas, artifacts and techniques can then influence individuals, society, politics and culture. Courses in this minor draw students together from diverse majors across the campus and encourage open inquiry into the role of science and technology in society.

Women's and Gender Studies Minor

The women's and gender studies minor is an 18 credit hour cross disciplinary program that explores the scholarship related to gender and equity issues. The program incorporates many academic fields.

Credit by Examination

The Department of History offers credit by examination for HIST 101, HIST 102 and HIST 225. Students who want permission to take an examination must apply in writing to the department head during the regular registration period. The examinations are administered during the first month of each semester at a time and place set by the department. Additional information on credit by examination may be found at the Department of History website.