The past is all around us. What we are now is the result of that past. If you are fascinated by thinking about how cultures and societies evolve, how historical events have shaped our identities, and how values, ideas and people have influenced civilizations, history is the perfect major for you. Studying history at Catholic University will train you in the analytical disciplines necessary to understand continuity and change.
History majors learn how to discover and evaluate the information of the past. They hone their skills in original research and analysis, and in written and spoken communication. The department’s teaching and research encompass a wide spectrum of approaches: social, political, cultural and intellectual history, with particular emphasis on religious history in line with our mission as a Catholic university. Students have a wide range of options to combine history with study abroad, to double-major, and to earn minors or certificates in a variety of area studies.
The career paths of our graduates are as diverse as our students. The history major develops a rich understanding of past and present, along with research abilities, careful thinking and clear communication. Our alumni find rewarding careers in business, government, journalism, information technology, non-profit organizations, teaching, libraries and museums, and law.
A history major provides an excellent preparation for a variety of careers including law, teaching, business and marketing, journalism and government. The stress in all parts of the program on student participation through discussion in small groups, writing and critical analysis, provides majors with skills that are highly transferable to other disciplines and employment.
The major program requires: two to four 100- or 200-level surveys, two junior research seminars (History 400-429), History 496 (senior thesis), and further 300-level History courses to bring the total to a minimum of 11 courses.
To be accepted as a major, a student must have a cumulative 2.0 GPA and grades of C or better in all history courses. Normally, students complete at least two 200 level surveys and two additional elective courses before the junior year.
The department also offers a special program in collaboration with the education department combining history with secondary education. This program has additional requirements for entry and completion and offers students multi-state certification in the teaching of social studies at the high school level. Interested students should consult the information on the program offered in the education department's website.
Advanced Information about the History Program
Where can you go in history?
Just about anywhere!
Studying the subject of history is an ideal form of liberal arts education that leads to almost any career you can imagine. The proof lies in the lives of our many graduates from this Department during the past ten years. Some of them go on to law school, and report back to us that they found our intellectual training a perfect preparation for the rigors of legal education. A small number go on to become history teachers in secondary schools, and we offer an excellent dual major program with our Department of Education for that purpose. But most of our History-major graduates go on to careers in business, government, non-profit foundations and the like, and take paths too numerous and diverse to summarize simply. For more information, see the Career Outlook for History majors page.
The History major at The Catholic University of America can lead in so many directions because it is both an education in the "what" of history and a training in logic, research, and writing. How do you seek out and weigh the evidence of the past in all the forms it offers? How do you pose questions about it and arrive at some answers? And how do you learn to write and speak analytically about the results? In recent years, the discipline of history has exploded in all directions, and historians now involve themselves with questions that extend into the realms of art, literature, politics and economics. Our aim is to give you a rich, deep, and critical knowledge of the past and how to think about it.
We pride ourselves in offering a friendly, lively atmosphere of approachability and open doors for our students. As a Catholic University History major you'll engage in lively discussions in small classes: our upper-level undergraduate courses typically number well below twenty students in each class. Unlike the situation at many universities, full faculty members do the teaching, and our students value the close contact and open exchanges they can have with professors, both in the classroom and outside. You'll be challenged to read carefully, to think, speak and write clearly, and to master basic research techniques.
History students can get course credit toward the major through internships in Washington. We also strongly encourage study abroad, most typically in Europe or in Latin America. Catholic University has a number of programs for study abroad, including opportunities to work as Parliamentary aides in London and Dublin, and all these offer course credits, including the chance to study another country's history while living in its midst.
Guide to the Undergraduate History Degree
The purpose of this guide is to give students majoring in History, or thinking about majoring in History, as clear an outline as possible of the requirements for the major. The Department seeks to provide as high and consistent quality of advising as possible to its majors. But it also regards students as having fundamental responsibility for knowing the requirements. Any questions about these guidelines or their application to particular cases should consult the department's director of undergraduate studies, who can rule on situations that might be unclear.
The Major, At a Glance
To satisfy the major, a student must complete a minimum of eleven courses in history (university regulations permit a maximum of 14 courses in any one discipline) with a grade of C or better. Credit toward the major may also include Advanced Placement courses taken in high school, and comparable courses taken at other institutions prior to matriculation at The Catholic University of America. In only the most extraordinary circumstances are students permitted to transfer courses from other institutions taken after enrollment at The Catholic University of America and never without prior approval by the department's director of undergraduate studies.
The program must include the following elements:
At least two and no more than four History courses at the 100 or 200 level
Two semesters of the junior research seminar, HIST 400-429
The senior thesis seminar, HIST 496
Further elective courses in History at the 300 level
At the end of the sophomore year students are formally accepted as history majors. In order to be accepted, a student must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 and grades of C or better in all History courses taken up to the point of acceptance.
Majoring in history at The Catholic University of America offers employment opportunities as diverse as the field itself. While some history majors go on to teach, many pursue careers in law, politics, business, government, non-profit foundations, and more, using the valuable analytic and research tools they learned to excel in nearly any field.