The History Department allows our majors to tailor their upper-division coursework to reflect their historical interests. The lower-division requirements (surveys) are structured to build a strong foundation for all majors, and show students the full range of possibilities before moving on to upper-division coursework. After fulfilling the survey requirements, every major has the choice of two major coursework "tracks"—the geographic and thematic fields of concentration, which allows students to focus on their preferred countries/continents or historical themes, and the traditional major, which allows students to experience a variety of different geographic or thematic interests. Both "tracks" give students the ability to choose the coursework that they will find interesting and challenging! The History Department also offers several undergraduate awards, and sponsors an honors society, Phi Alpha Theta, for our majors. The College of Arts and Sciences also has scholarships available for CAS students who qualify.
Note: The requirements listed below are those for the current degree plan, which was implemented in 2009. Students who became history majors before 2009 and who wish to remain on their original degree plan should consult their department advisor.
History majors are expected to take 15 hours of surveys; 12 of those hours will include a US History Survey (either HIST1492 or HIST1493, required of all OU students) and any one course from any three of the four following areas: Ancient/Medieval; Near/Far Eastern; European; or Latin American/African. To view all courses offered to fulfill survey requirements, check our Course Listings.
All students are expected to complete survey coursework in a variety of geographical and temporal areas before "tracking" into one of the two options for upper-division coursework. Students may already know that they're interested in, say, Tudor England; but in an increasingly global world knowledge of other continents, countries, and cultures is essential, and we want our majors to be prepared to face a variety of professional situations and be competitive in an increasingly international job market. So the usefulness of that survey in Asian, African, or Middle Eastern history may surprise you, even if you concentrate on US or European history!
All majors take three seminars: HIST 2573: History Sleuth; HIST 3573: The Junior Colloquium; and HIST 4973: The Senior Capsone; it is recommended that majors take the three seminars in that order, since each course teaches skills that are very useful for the next course in the sequence. All three seminars are only open to history majors, and are limited to about 18 students. The department offers three sections of each seminar every semester.
HIST2573: The History Sleuth, emphasizes how historians (like detectives) search for clues to the past and piece them together. The History Seluth course counts as a survey, bringing the total required survey course hours to 15. Since this course teaches students how to perform historical research, it is recommended that students take the course in the first year as a major.
HIST 3573: The Junior Colloquium, is a small seminar course in which history majors intensively practice researching and writing skills. The course serves as preparation and practice for the senior capstone, so it is recommended that students take the course in their second year as a history major. (Students can take more than one colloquium if they so choose; additional colloquiums count as 3000+ level coursework required for the major.) The three different sections offered every semester cover a wide vareity of geographic and thematic topics.
HIST 4973:The Senior Capstone is, of course, the senior-level research paper the university requires of all CAS majors to graduate. History majors, having taken HIST2573 and HIST3573, will find themselves well prepared to undertake and write a significant research paper. The three different sections offered every semester also cover a wide variety of geographic and thematic fields.
Additional History Requriements
All history majors, regardless of "track" complete 21 hours of upper-division coursework, including HIST3573 and HIST4973. Upper-division courses are any courses with an assigned course number of 3000 or 4000. 4000-level courses (with the exception of the Senior Capstone) are not different from 3000-level courses in terms of course expectations or assignments.
Should I choose the traditional plan or the geographic/thematic field?
The answer to this is up to you! If you are nearly finished with the traditional degree, it would probably make more sense to stick to the current degree plan, since switching might delay your graduation. Those of you who plan to teach history at the secondary level should also follow the traditional plan, as you will probably be called upon to teach different types of history (typically US history, Western Civ., and World Civ.). If you are not already close to graduating and have a strong interest in one of the fields, then the chance to focus your courses within a particular area might be a better choice for you. Either option offers a strong platform for graduate school, law school, and other career paths. If you'd like to know more about the very full variety of courses the history department's 40+ excellent professors offer, check our Course Listings.
Geographic & Thematic Fields of Concentration
Below are links to the lists of courses for each geographic and field of concentration. We will keep the website lists updated as new courses become available or as additional existing courses are deemed appropriate for a field. (We leave it to the professor who teaches each class to determine which field or fields best fit the subject matter of the course).
- Asian History
- European History
- Latin American History
- Middle Eastern History
- U.S. History
- Premodern History
- Cultural and Intellectual History
- Race, Ethnicity, and Identity
- Women's and Gender History
- History of War, Revolution, and Diplomacy
- Legal and Constitutional Heritage
To have a concentration in a specific field, you will be required to take 15 upper division credit hours within that field (out of a total of 36 hours for the major). History colloquia and capstone classes may all be used for the completion of a field, but it is not required to have them in your field. (We will encourage you to take them in your field whenever possible, but we realize that scheduling difficulties sometimes occur!) Some classes offered under non-HIST designations such as International and Area Studies (IAS) or Honors (HON), which are taught by members of the History Department faculty using historical methodology may, upon approval by the department, be counted towards the completion of a field. Your remaining major elective hours can be met by classes in any type of history.
The new College of Arts & Sciences degree checksheets list 15 hours for a field in the major elective section (since you will need at least 15 upper-division hours for the field). To complete the field, however, you will need a total of 18 hours in it. The remaining 3 hours can be either lower or upper-division, so if there is an appropriate survey course you may use it for both a survey requirement and your field requirement. You can find the CAS check sheet for the geographic/thematic concentration here. (Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader). Unfortunately, there wasn't enough space on the college checksheets to include a full explanation of the new options. We apologize for any confusion!
The Traditional Major
The traditional major "track" emphasizes geographic breadth and a variety of coursework. Majors following the traditional "track" are expected to take 21 hours of courses; 3 hours can be taken at the 2000 level; 15 hours must be at the 3000 and 4000 level; 6 hours must be the Junior Colloquium and Senior Capstone. (A 2000-level course that has been used to fulfill a survey requirement cannot be used toward the 21 elective hours.)
18 hours of 3000 and 4000-level coursework must come from among three categories; students must choose 6 hours in each category; with the capstone, 21 total hours.
1. United States
2. African/Asian/Latin American/Russian/Near East
If you're interested in the traditional major, here's the check sheet.
If you have any questions feel free to contact one of the History Department advisors. Over the summer you can email any questions to Professor Roberta Magnusson at email@example.com. Please include your student ID number if you would like her to review your records or course selections to see how they would fit into a particular field.