The History Major
For decades the University of Chicago has been a leader in the study of history. Through its pioneering civilization studies programs, its intensive research-based undergraduate curriculum, and its training of academic historians as both researchers and teachers, the University of Chicago has taught undergraduates skills and habits of mind that prepare students for a wide field of endeavors—from law, government, and public policy to the arts and business. Majoring in history not only enables you to become a consumer of academic knowledge, it also prepares you to become a producer of knowledge. Undergraduate history courses first train you to explore large-scale social, cultural, and political processes by teaching historical thinking and by defining concrete questions for research. In addition, you learn how to locate the primary and secondary sources necessary to develop answers to these questions. Finally, faculty assist you in transforming your research into historical arguments that shed light on the multiple ways our world, our very reality, has changed over time.
History majors have the option of pursuing the BA thesis track, the capstone track, or the colloquium track. Each track allows you to gain expertise in a specific historical period, place, or theme by defining a major field and gives you an opportunity to complete an original research project.
Students who pursue the Colloquium track are required to complete twelve courses: six in a major field, five electives, and Historiography. Students must take a Research Colloquium, which may count toward either the major field or the electives. In the Research Colloquium you will have the opportunity to pursue the research and writing of an original research paper of approximately 15 pages. The Colloquium Track is designed for students with broad-ranging interests who want to take more electives, as well as those who are double-majoring. This track also offer greater flexibility to take the Research Colloquium at any time before graduation.
Students who choose the Capstone Track are required to complete twelve courses: six in a major field, four electives, Historiography, and one Capstone Seminar. The Research Colloquium may count toward either the major field or the electives. Capstone Track students develop and carry out an original research project that does not take the form of a BA thesis. This Capstone project allows students to draw on innovative trends within the historical discipline, such as digital history, spatial history, and public history. Projects such as a podcast, an online exhibit, or a documentary "short" will cultivate new skills as well as new modes of communication and presentation with an eye to engaging wider audiences for students' scholarship.
BA Thesis Track
Students admitted to the BA Thesis Track are required to complete twelve courses for the major: six in a major field, three electives, Historiography, and two BA seminars. The Research Colloquium may count toward either the major field or the elective field requirement. As students complete they major, they will produce a major research project, culminating in a 40-50 pages BA thesis. Students planning to pursue graduate study in history or those wishing to go into a research-intensive career, such as journalism, law, or policy analysis, are encouraged to pursue the BA Thesis Track.
For further details about the major requriements, please explore the history program pages in the College Catalog.