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The department welcomes all students to the study of history. The program blends core requirements with great choice, permitting students to pursue particular interests while developing a broad understanding of the historic past.  History students gain historical knowledge and understanding of many societies and cultures; improve their research, writing and digital skills; become independent, creative, and self-directed learners; and work with a superior and dedicated faculty. It's a strong preparation for any path in life.

The requirements for a major in history consist of introductory and upper-level courses. All courses introduce students to the nature of history. In addition to involving reading, writing and critical thinking, these courses help students develop skills in using historical thinking and conducting research and interpretation for the 21st-century world. 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.

JMU students view a display panel at the Lucy Simms Exhibition


JMU students are working with Chaz Evans-Haywood (Clerk of Courts) to organize and preserve historical documents.

Core Courses
The major requires five core courses. The three introductory courses include HIST 101. World History to 1500 and HIST 102. World History Since 1500, and HIST 225.  HIST 300 is a required course in research methods and thinking about how to do history. Entering majors should take HIST 300 as soon as possible. HIST 299 helps students to gain knowledge and confidence to translate academic learning to the post-college workforce
Majors also take five elective courses: two on the 400-level, and three open electives at the 300- and 400-levels. For students writing a senior honors thesis, only three hours of HIST 499 count toward this requirement. Honors may be counted among the two 400-level courses required for the major.  400 level courses are research capstones that offer all students an opportunity for undergraduate research.
Public History and Secondary Education Concentrations
Students may elect a major concentration of either public history or teacher education. A concentration is not required. Students who elect a concentration must fulfill all the specific requirements for those programs.

Learn more about the Public History Concentration

Teaching Social Studies

Connected and Applying Courses
All majors take a 300-level course that emphasizes the “big picture” of global history and the way ideas spread across space and time. We call this a connected history.  All majors also take a 300-level course that applies historical thinking to today’s world and to skills outside the classroom. This can include internships, courses that use the dedicated History Studio and courses that delve into the archives.  We call this an applying history course.  Students may choose from the list of courses that meet these requirements.

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