Dr. Maura Hametz presents the ins and outs of JMU History.

History Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone major in History?

Yes! There are no prerequisites to become a History major. We recommend that all interested incoming first year students get in touch with our First Year Advisor Dr. Fitzgerald fitzgetj@jmu.edu.

Do I have to know what type of history I want to specialize in or choose a geographic or chronological period?

Some students have strong preferences, for example a passion for medieval history or Southern history, others are interested in history more generally. Either way you will be encouraged pursue your passion for history and to take a range of courses. For example, in 2020-2021, we will have exciting new courses in life cycle and aging (Dr. Brannon), Women and Advertising (Dr. Westkaemper), and our new Africanist Dr. Dinka will offer a course on worldwide pandemics.

Can you do history as a double major?

Yes. Everything has a history, and history is a natural complement to any other major. Many students double major in history and other fields --- from justice studies and international affairs to business and economics, even chemistry and biology.

What kind of projects do students do in the History Studio?

The Studio is a dedicated lab located in the History Department’s home in Wilson Hall. It is a unique space that gives history majors experience with cutting-edge technologies in projects that take advantage of virtual reality, 3-d printing, podcast recording, map making and large-scale printing, among others. Recent projects have included historical mapping of downtown Harrisonburg with Dr. Borg, study of “objects of faith” with Dr. Witmer, map making with Dr. Sandman, and pod cast recording with Dr. Reich.

What kinds of careers do History graduates have?

History is an ideal foundation for careers across the broad spectrum of society.

36% go on to careers in writing and research related to journalism, entertainment, cultural institutions, libraries, etc.

go into business and management (with research and communication skills that set them apart from business majors).

go into education (teaching, educational administration, or furthering their education in history).

go on to careers in law, politics, and public life (history is one of the majors recommended by the Law School Admissions Council).

Can I study abroad as a History major?

Yes. Students are encouraged to study abroad on sponsored programs lasting from a couple of weeks to a semester or year on four continents. Faculty regularly sponsor programs in Ghana, Argentina, Austria, Greece, Spain, and France among others.

Are there internships or field experiences available?

Yes. We have students working in a variety of internships from local organizations to national and international institutions. Students can choose from internship opportunities we have set up or can tailor their own experiences to suit their interests. Our internship coordinator Dr. Borg borgkl@jmu.edu can answer any questions.

What kind of work do faculty and students do in the Public History concentration?

Our projects are varied and wide-ranging. To name just a few ---  Dr. Friss has worked with students on historic walking itineraries and urban landscapes; Dr. Herrington guides projects focused on architecture and historic preservation; Dr. Mulrooney explores the history of JMU’s campus and debates on the naming of sites and buildings.

Are scholarships and financial aid available?

We have competitive department scholarships and funding for various student projects, and we work closely with Financial Aid. Check out JMU’s scholarship hub at: https://www.jmu.edu/admissions/apply/scholarships.shtml.

Does the history major extend beyond the classroom for students?

Yes. Our department has bi-annual thematic foci — for 2020-2022, we are focusing on Mobilities.

We bring renowned speakers and lecturers to campus. In the Fall 2019, students met with novelist John Grisham and biographer Jon Meacham to discuss writing and history. We sponsor the “Democracy in Peril?” lecture series and encourage research in our History Forum. We sponsor two History student groups Madison Historians (for everyone) and Phi Alpha Theta (History honor society), and we work with students for conferences and public presentations. Dr. Amin has taken students into the community to study records at the Rockingham Courthouse, and Dr. Dillard has taken students to Civil War battle sites. Faculty are engaged in community related projects including Dr. Gayne’s “World is Harrisonburg,” Dr. Hardwick’s work with the national James Madison Fellowship promoting graduate study of the Constitution, Dr. McCleary’s work with Spanish teachers, and Dr. Fitzgerald’s mentorship of high school students in underserved communities.  

For further information contact us at: history@jmu.edu. Or consult our website at https://www.jmu.edu/history/ and look under the “For further guidance” tab on the right hand side.

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