Regular Track—12 Courses Total

  • 6 courses in your major field
  • 6 electives
  • 1 history research colloquium (HIST 29600), which can count as one course toward either your major field or elective requirements.

Courses without a HIST number may be used only with departmental permission; you should submit a petition to the associate director to have them considered (see "Petitioning for Credit" below). You may use one Civilization sequence (up to three courses in the same sequence) to count towards history-major requirements, but only if these courses are not also being used to count towards Core requirements.

Major Field

You are required to take six courses in, or directly related to, your chosen main field. You construct the main field and choose your other courses in close consultation with the associate director, subject to final approval by the faculty chair of the Undergraduate Studies Committee.

The major field is usually defined by time and space. Examples are nineteenth- or twentieth-century US history, colonial Africa, the Atlantic world in the early modern or modern period, ancient Greece, or medieval Europe. Thematic major fields are also possible; for example, African American, Jewish, or gender history. Major fields may also be methodologically defined: for example, intellectual, economic, political, or urban history. If you pursue a major field in urban history, for example, you might take courses ranging from "Jewish Spaces and Places: Imagined and Real" to "Cities from Scratch: The History of Urban Latin America"; a focus on economic history might include "Economic Change in China" and "The History of US Capitalism." In the case of thematically or methodologically defined major fields, it is particularly important to consult closely with the associate director to ensure coherence.


You must take a number of elective courses. If you pursue the regular track, you take six electives. Electives should complement the main field, extend the range of your historical awareness, and explore varying approaches to historical analysis and interpretation. You are encouraged to take courses that introduce significant civilizational or chronological breadth into your studies, or a different methodology or theme than you are studying in your major field.

Research Colloquium

You must take at least one history colloquium (HIST 29600s) though you are welcome to take more than one. Regular-track students can take a colloquium at any point prior to graduation. The colloquia are offered on a variety of topics each year and enable advanced College students to pursue research projects. Depending on the topic, the colloquium may count as one of the six courses comprising the your major field or as one of your history electives. These courses expose you to the methods and practice of historical research and writing. You are required to compose an original research paper that is at least fifteen pages in length.

Reading and Research Courses

If you are interested in pursuing a program of study that cannot be met by means of regular courses, you have the option of devising a reading and research course (HIST 29700 Readings in History) that is taken individually and supervised by a member of the Department of History faculty. Such a course requires the approval of the associate director and the prior consent of the instructor with whom you would like to study. As a general rule, only one reading and research course can be counted towards the History major.

Petitioning for Credit

The Department of History offers a wide variety of courses each quarter, and you are encouraged to take history courses to fulfill the requirements of the concentration. In some instances, courses that originate outside the department can be used to fulfill the course requirements of the major. To receive history credit for nondepartmental courses, you must petition the Undergraduate Studies Committee for approval. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Petitions must include a course description, a syllabus, and a statement of purpose that addresses the value of the course for your proposed course of study.
  • Allow sufficient time for committee review and to enable you to take one or more additional history course(s) should your petition be denied.
  • You should give your petition to the associate director, who shares it with the chair of the Undergraduate Studies Committee.
  • Courses taken abroad may also be used towards the major, pending approval of the petition, however more than half of the requirements for the major must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.
  • Petitions for courses abroad must include course syllabi, descriptions, and course work.
  • Generally, no more than two petitions per student will be approved


Courses counting towards the history major are normally taken for quality grades. The History Research Colloquium (HIST 29600s) must be taken for a quality grade. In exceptional circumstances, you may petition to allow a course taken for a pass grade (work of C– quality or higher) to count towards the requirements of the major. You should consult with the associate director and your College adviser about the appropriateness of a pass grading in your larger program of study.

Double Major

We encourage you to double major in history and another discipline. Courses that are cross listed with your other major may be used for both majors.

Study Abroad

The Department of History strongly supports study abroad. We have arranged the coursework requirement to make that possible, but a little planning is required. If at all possible, it is best to study abroad during autumn and/or winter quarters of the third year.

Course Numbering

History courses numbered 10000 to 29999 are intended primarily for College students; 10000-level courses are introductory. Some 20000-level courses have 30000-level equivalents when they are open to graduate students. To register for 20000/30000 cross-listed courses, undergraduates must use the undergraduate number (20000). History courses numbered 40000 to 49999 are intended primarily for graduate students, but are open to advanced College students with the consent of the instructor. Undergraduates registered for 40000-level courses are held to the graduate-level requirements.