history

3211 Mosse Humanities Building, 455 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706; 608-263-1800; history.wisc.edu

To study history is to study change: historians are experts in examining and interpreting human identities and transformations of societies and civilizations over time. They use a range of methods and analytical tools to answer questions about the past and to reconstruct the diversity of human experience: how profoundly people have differed in their ideas, institutions, and cultural practices; how widely their experiences have varied by time and place, and the ways they have struggled while inhabiting a shared world. Historians use a wide range of sources to weave individual lives and collective actions into narratives that bring critical perspectives on both our past and our present.  Studying history helps us understand and grapple with complex questions and dilemmas by examining how the past has shaped (and continues to shape) global, national, and local relationships between societies and people. 

Students interested in declaring a history major should meet with an advisor in the history department. Information about advising and declaring the major is available on the undergraduate section of the department website. There are no prerequisites for declaring the history major, and students are encouraged to declare as soon as they feel comfortable doing so.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.

Requirements of the Major

A minimum of 30 credits in HISTORY is required to complete the major, including:

Chronological Breadth:

History majors must complete at least one course that deals with the history of Europe and/or the Mediterranean before C.E. 1500 or with the history of Africa or Asia before these areas fell heavily under European influence.

Chronological breadth courses

HISTORY/​CLASSICS  110 The Ancient Mediterranean4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  112 The World of Late Antiquity (200-900 C.E.)4
HISTORY 115 Medieval Europe 410-15004
HISTORY 123 English History: England to 16883-4
HISTORY/​LCA/​RELIG ST  205 The Making of the Islamic World: The Middle East, 500-15003-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  208 Western Intellectual and Religious History to 15003-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  215 Life in the Middle Ages: An Inter-Departmental Course3-4
HISTORY 303 A History of Greek Civilization3-4
HISTORY 307 A History of Rome3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  309 The Crusades: Christianity and Islam3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  312 The Medieval Church3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  313 Introduction to Byzantine History and Civilization3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  314 Problems in Byzantine History and Civilization3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  318 Medieval Social and Intellectual History, 1200-14503-4
HISTORY 333 The Renaissance3-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  337 Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-19193-4
HISTORY/​ENGL/​RELIG ST  360 The Anglo-Saxons3
HISTORY/​JEWISH/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  368 The Bible in the Middle Ages3
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  379 Islam in Iran3
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  426 The History of Punishment3-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  439 Islamic History From the Origin of Islam to the Ottoman Empire3-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  454 Samurai: History and Image3-4
HISTORY/​LCA  457 History of Southeast Asia to 18003-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  459 Rule of Law: Philosophical and Historical Models3-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  476 Medieval Law and Society3
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  507 Health, Disease and Healing I3-4
HISTORY/​CLASSICS/​RELIG ST  517 Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean3
HISTORY/​CLASSICS/​FRENCH/​ITALIAN/​MEDIEVAL  550 Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies in Medieval Civilization3
HISTORY/​CLASSICS/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST/​S&A PHM  561 Greek and Roman Medicine and Pharmacy3
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST/​MEDIEVAL/​S&A PHM  562 Byzantine Medicine and Pharmacy3

Geographic Breadth:

At minimum, history majors must complete one course from four of the eight geographic breadth categories.

Geographic Breadth: European history Courses

HISTORY/​CLASSICS  110 The Ancient Mediterranean4
HISTORY 115 Medieval Europe 410-15004
HISTORY 119 The Making of Modern Europe 1500-18154
HISTORY 120 Europe and the Modern World 1815 to the Present4
HISTORY 123 English History: England to 16883-4
HISTORY 124 British History: 1688 to the Present4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  208 Western Intellectual and Religious History to 15003-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  209 Western Intellectual and Religious History since 15003-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  212 The History of Western Christianity to 17504
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  215 Life in the Middle Ages: An Inter-Departmental Course3-4
HISTORY 223 Explorations in European History (H)3-4
HISTORY 224 Explorations in European History (S)3
HISTORY/​GEOG/​POLI SCI/​SLAVIC  253 Russia: An Interdisciplinary Survey4
HISTORY/​GEOG/​POLI SCI/​SLAVIC  254 Eastern Europe: An Interdisciplinary Survey4
HISTORY 270 Eastern Europe since 19003-4
HISTORY 271 History Study Abroad: European History1-4
HISTORY 303 A History of Greek Civilization3-4
HISTORY 307 A History of Rome3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  309 The Crusades: Christianity and Islam3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  312 The Medieval Church3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  313 Introduction to Byzantine History and Civilization3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL  314 Problems in Byzantine History and Civilization3-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  318 Medieval Social and Intellectual History, 1200-14503-4
HISTORY 320 Early Modern France, 1500-17153-4
HISTORY/​HIST SCI  323 The Scientific Revolution: From Copernicus to Newton3
HISTORY/​HIST SCI  324 Science in the Enlightenment3
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST  328 Environmental History of Europe3
HISTORY 333 The Renaissance3-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  334 The Reformation3-4
HISTORY 348 France from Napoleon to the Great War, 1799-19143-4
HISTORY 349 Contemporary France, 1914 to the Present3-4
HISTORY 350 The First World War and the Shaping of Twentieth-Century Europe3-4
HISTORY 351 Seventeenth-Century Europe3-4
HISTORY 352 Eighteenth Century Europe3-4
HISTORY 357 The Second World War3-4
HISTORY 358 French Revolution and Napoleon3-4
HISTORY 359 History of Europe Since 19453-4
HISTORY 361 The Emergence of Mod Britain: England 1485-16603-4
HISTORY 367 Society and Ideas in Shakespeare's England3-4
HISTORY/​JEWISH/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  368 The Bible in the Middle Ages3
HISTORY/​JEWISH  373 Modern Political History of the Jews: 1655-19194
HISTORY/​JEWISH  374 Modern Political History of the Jews: Era of Mass Movements, 1870-19704
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  392 Women in History3-4
HISTORY 410 History of Germany, 1871 to the Present3-4
HISTORY 417 History of Russia3-4
HISTORY 418 History of Russia3-4
HISTORY 419 History of Soviet Russia3-4
HISTORY 420 Russian Social and Intellectual History3-4
HISTORY 424 The Soviet Union and the World, 1917-19913-4
HISTORY 425 History of Poland and the Baltic Area3-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  426 The History of Punishment3-4
HISTORY/​SCAND ST  431 History of Scandinavia to 18153
HISTORY/​SCAND ST  432 History of Scandinavia Since 18153
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  437 Western Christianity from Augustine to Darwin4
HISTORY 467 Economic and Social History of Europe 1500-17503-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  470 Religious Thought in Modern Europe3-4
HISTORY 474 European Social History, 1830-19143-4
HISTORY 475 European Social History, 1914-Present3-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  476 Medieval Law and Society3
HISTORY/​ED POL  478 Comparative History of Childhood and Adolescence3
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  502 Law and Colonialism3
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  507 Health, Disease and Healing I3-4
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  508 Health, Disease and Healing II3-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  512 The Enlightenment and Its Critics3
HISTORY 514 European Cultural History Since 18703-4
HISTORY/​CURRIC/​JEWISH  515 Holocaust: History, Memory and Education3
HISTORY/​CLASSICS/​RELIG ST  517 Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean3
HISTORY/​JEWISH  518 Anti-Semitism in European Culture, 1700-19453
HISTORY/​JEWISH/​RELIG ST  529 Intellectual and Religious History of European Jewry, 1648-19394
HISTORY 540 Balkans and Middle East, 1700-1918: The Rise of National States3-4
HISTORY/​CLASSICS/​FRENCH/​ITALIAN/​MEDIEVAL  550 Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies in Medieval Civilization3
HISTORY/​CLASSICS/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST/​S&A PHM  561 Greek and Roman Medicine and Pharmacy3
HISTORY/​SCAND ST  577 Contemporary Scandinavia: Politics and History3-4

Geographic Breadth: African history Courses

HISTORY 105 Introduction to the History of Africa3-4
HISTORY/​AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​GEOG/​POLI SCI/​SOC  277 Africa: An Introductory Survey4
HISTORY 278 Africans in the Americas, 1492-18083-4
HISTORY 279 Afro-Atlantic History, 1808-Present3-4
HISTORY/​AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​POLI SCI  297 African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction4
HISTORY 377 History of Africa, 1500 to 18703-4
HISTORY 378 History of Africa Since 18703-4
HISTORY 444 History of East Africa3-4
HISTORY 445 History of Equatorial Africa3-4

Geographic Breadth: Central or east Asian history Courses

HISTORY/​E A STDS  103 Introduction to East Asian History: China3-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  104 Introduction to East Asian History: Japan3-4
HISTORY 108 Introduction to East Asian History - Korea3-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS/​POLI SCI  255 Introduction to East Asian Civilizations3-4
HISTORY/​LCA  265 An Introduction to Central Asia: From the Silk Route to Afghanistan3
HISTORY/​ASIAN AM/​E A STDS  276 Chinese Migrations since 15003-4
HISTORY 332 Islam Reform and Revolution in Central Asia3-4
HISTORY 335 Korean History, 1945 to present3-4
HISTORY 336 Chinese Economic and Business History: From Silk to iPhones3-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  337 Social and Intellectual History of China, 589 AD-19193-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  341 History of Modern China, 1800-19493-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  342 History of the Peoples Republic of China, 1949 to the Present3-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  363 China and World War II in Asia3-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  454 Samurai: History and Image3-4
HISTORY/​E A STDS  456 Pearl Harbor & Hiroshima: Japan, the US & The Crisis in Asia3-4

Geographic Breadth: South or Southeast Asian history Courses

HISTORY 142 History of South Asia to the Present3-4
HISTORY/​GEOG/​LCA/​POLI SCI/​SOC  244 Introduction to Southeast Asia: Vietnam to the Philippines4
HISTORY/​ASIAN AM/​LCA  246 Southeast Asian Refugees of the "Cold" War4
HISTORY/​GEOG/​LCA/​POLI SCI/​SOC  252 The Civilizations of India-Modern Period4
HISTORY/​E ASIAN/​LCA/​RELIG ST  308 Introduction to Buddhism3-4
HISTORY 319 The Vietnam Wars3-4
HISTORY/​LCA/​RELIG ST  438 Buddhism and Society in Southeast Asian History3-4
HISTORY/​LCA  450 Making of Modern South Asia3-4
HISTORY/​LCA  457 History of Southeast Asia to 18003-4
HISTORY/​LCA  458 History of Southeast Asia Since 18003-4
HISTORY 463 Topics in South Asian History3
HISTORY/​LCA/​RELIG ST  547 Religion, Colonialism & Modernity in Southeast Asia3

Geographic Breadth: Latin American History Courses

HISTORY 240 Colonial Latin America from Conquest to Insurgency4
HISTORY 241 Latin America from 1780 to 19404
HISTORY 242 Modern Latin America, 1898 to the Present4
HISTORY/​CHICLA/​GEN&WS  245 Chicana and Latina History3
HISTORY/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​C&E SOC/​GEOG/​LACIS/​POLI SCI/​SOC/​SPANISH  260 Latin America: An Introduction3-4
HISTORY 278 Africans in the Americas, 1492-18083-4
HISTORY 279 Afro-Atlantic History, 1808-Present3-4
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  347 The Caribbean and its Diasporas3
HISTORY/​CHICLA/​POLI SCI  422 Latino History and Politics3
HISTORY/​CHICLA  435 Colony, Nation, and Minority: The Puerto Ricans' World3
HISTORY 441 Revolution and Conflict in Modern Latin America3-4
HISTORY 533 Multi-Racial Societies in Latin America3-4
HISTORY 555 History of Brazil3-4
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  564 Disease, Medicine and Public Health in the History of Latin America and the Caribbean3

Geographic Breadth: Middle Eastern History Courses

HISTORY 139 The Middle East in the 20th Century3-4
HISTORY/​LCA/​RELIG ST  205 The Making of the Islamic World: The Middle East, 500-15003-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  309 The Crusades: Christianity and Islam3-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  379 Islam in Iran3
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  439 Islamic History From the Origin of Islam to the Ottoman Empire3-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS/​LCA  472 Women in Turkish Society3
HISTORY 540 Balkans and Middle East, 1700-1918: The Rise of National States3-4

Geographic Breadth: Transnational History Courses

HISTORY 130 An Introduction to World History3-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  134 Women and Gender in World History3-4
HISTORY 135 Colloquium in Comparative World History4
HISTORY/​LCA  144 Traveling the World: South Asians in Diaspora4
HISTORY 228 Explorations in Transnational/Comparative History (Social Science)3
HISTORY 229 Explorations in Transnational/Comparative History (Humanities)3
HISTORY/​ASIAN AM/​LCA  246 Southeast Asian Refugees of the "Cold" War4
HISTORY 274 History Study Abroad: Transnational/Global History1-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN AM/​E A STDS  276 Chinese Migrations since 15003-4
HISTORY 278 Africans in the Americas, 1492-18083-4
HISTORY 279 Afro-Atlantic History, 1808-Present3-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  315 Gender, Race and Colonialism3
HISTORY 319 The Vietnam Wars3-4
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  347 The Caribbean and its Diasporas3
HISTORY 357 The Second World War3-4
HISTORY/​JEWISH  374 Modern Political History of the Jews: Era of Mass Movements, 1870-19704
HISTORY 424 The Soviet Union and the World, 1917-19913-4
HISTORY 434 American Foreign Relations, 1901 to the Present3-4
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL  452 World Forest History3
HISTORY/​CHICLA  461 The American West to18503-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  502 Law and Colonialism3
HISTORY 503 Irish and Scottish Migrations3
HISTORY 525 The World and the West from 14923-4
HISTORY 607 The American Impact Abroad: The Historical Dimension3

Geographic Breadth: U.S. History Courses

HISTORY 101 Amer Hist to the Civil War Era, the Origin & Growth of the U S4
HISTORY 102 American History, Civil War Era to the Present4
HISTORY 109 Introduction to U.S. History3-4
HISTORY 150 American Histories: The Nineteenth Century4
HISTORY/​ASIAN AM  160 Asian American History: Movement and Dislocation3-4
HISTORY/​ASIAN AM  161 Asian American History: Settlement and National Belonging3-4
HISTORY/​JEWISH  213 Jews and American Pop. Culture3-4
HISTORY/​JEWISH  219 The American Jewish Experience: From Shtetl to Suburb4
HISTORY 221 Explorations in American History (H)3-4
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  261 American Legal History to 18603
HISTORY/​LEGAL ST  262 American Legal History, 1860 to the Present3
HISTORY 272 History Study Abroad: United States History1-4
HISTORY 302 History of American Thought, 1859 to the Present3-4
HISTORY 304 United States, 1877-19143-4
HISTORY 305 United States 1914-19453-4
HISTORY 306 The United States Since 19453-4
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  321 Afro-American History Since 19003-4
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  322 Afro-American History to 19003-4
HISTORY 329 History of American Capitalism4
HISTORY 343 Colonial British North America3-4
HISTORY 344 The Age of the American Revolution, 1763-17893-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  353 Women and Gender in the U.S. to 18703-4
HISTORY/​GEN&WS  354 Women and Gender in the U.S. Since 18703-4
HISTORY 355 Work, Freedom and Democracy in the Americas, 1491-the Present3
HISTORY 391 The Age of Jefferson and Jackson, 1789-18483-4
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  393 Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction, 1848-18773-4
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  394 Science in America3
HISTORY 403 Immigration and Assimilation in American History3-4
HISTORY 408 American Labor History: 1900-Present3-4
HISTORY/​ED POL  412 History of American Education3
HISTORY/​JEWISH  416 Eastern European Jews in the United States, 1880s-1930s3-4
HISTORY/​CHICLA/​POLI SCI  422 Latino History and Politics3
HISTORY 427 The American Military Experience to 19023-4
HISTORY 428 The American Military Experience Since 18993-4
HISTORY 434 American Foreign Relations, 1901 to the Present3-4
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  460 American Environmental History4
HISTORY/​CHICLA  461 The American West to18503-4
HISTORY/​CHICLA  462 The American West Since 18503-4
HISTORY/​ECON  466 The American Economy Since 18653-4
HISTORY/​CHICLA  468 Popular Culture in the Multi-racial United States3-4
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  469 The Making of the American Landscape4
HISTORY/​AMER IND  490 American Indian History3-4
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  504 Society and Health Care in American History3
HISTORY/​JOURN  560 History of Mass Communication4
HISTORY/​L I S  569 History of American Librarianship3
HISTORY 607 The American Impact Abroad: The Historical Dimension3
HISTORY/​AFROAMER  628 History of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States3

Notes on History Breadth Requirements

History Writing and Research Sequence:

History majors must complete both of the following:

  • HISTORY 201 The Historian's Craft.  Students are encouraged to complete History 201 as early as possible.
  • HISTORY 600 Advanced Seminar in History, to be taken after satisfactory completion of History 201. Enrolling in a History 600 seminar requires instructor consent. Available seminars can be found on the history department website.

L&S requirements for Quality and Residence in the major:

  • 2.000 GPA in HISTORY and required courses in the major
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits in residence. HISTORY courses designated as intermediate or advanced are upper level in the major.
  • 15 credits HISTORY taken on campus

Global History Track

Any undergraduate history major may choose to pursue the Global Track by completing all requirements for the history major above, and these additional requirements:

  • Geographic Breadth: one additional course, in a fifth breadth area; at least one of the five breadth courses must be from the Transnational category
  • Foreign Language or Experience Requirement: one of the following options:
    • Completion of the 5th unit of a single foreign language, defined as the 5th semester of college instruction or the 5th year of high school instruction
    • ESL 118 Academic Writing II
    • 3 credits of coursework from a UW–Madison Study Abroad Program

Note: The Global History Track is unofficial and will not be recorded on a student's final transcript. For purposes of graduation auditing, DARS will display the track as an informational section only.

Distinction in the Major

To be awarded Distinction in the Major, students must:

  • Achieve a GPA of at least 3.700 out of 4.000 in HISTORY courses
  • Complete a minimum of 21 upper-level credits in major coursework. HISTORY courses designated as intermediate or advanced are upper level in the major.
  • Complete all requirements of the major

Students should consult the undergraduate advisor in history regarding current requirements for the major.

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the History Major in consultation with the History undergraduate advisor.

Honors in History Major Requirements

To earn the B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in History students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA in all HISTORY courses
  • Complete at least 36 credits in HISTORY coursework, 21 of which must be upper-level1 credits in residence
  • Complete at least 15 Honors credits in HISTORY coursework
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis, a piece of original work of approximately forty pages, in HISTORY 681 Senior Honors ThesisHISTORY 682 Senior Honors Thesis, taken in conjunction with the  HISTORY 680 Honors Thesis Colloquium both semesters. The thesis must be approved by instructors in both the thesis and colloquium courses.
1

Courses with intermediate or advanced level are upper level in the history major

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

Goals of the Major

The goal of the history major is to offer students the knowledge and skills they need to gain a critical perspective on the past.  Students will learn to define important historical questions, analyze the relevant evidence with rigor and creativity, and present convincing conclusions based on original research in a manner that contributes to academic and public discussions. In History, as in other humanistic disciplines, students will practice resourceful inquiry and careful reading. They will advance their writing and public speaking skills to engage historical and contemporary issues.

To ensure that students gain exposure to some of the great diversity of topics, methodologies, and philosophical concerns that inform the study of history, the department requires a combination of courses that offers depth, breadth, and variety of exposition. Through those courses, students should develop:

  • Broad acquaintance with several geographic areas of the world and with both the pre-modern and modern eras.
  • Familiarity with the range of sources and modes through which historical information can be found and expressed. Sources may include textual, oral, physical, and visual materials. The data within them may be qualitative or quantitative, and they may be available in printed, digital, or other formats. Modes of expression may include textbooks, monographs, scholarly articles, essays, literary works, or digital presentations.
  • In-depth understanding of a topic of their choice through original or creative research.
  • The ability to identify the skills developed in the history major and to articulate the applicability of those skills to a variety of endeavors and career paths beyond the professional practice of history.

If desired, students may also choose to pursue a Global Track within the History major that emphasizes the study of cross-cultural and transnational historical connections.

Skills Developed in the Major

Define Important Historical Questions

  • Pose a historical question and explain its academic and public implications.
  • Using appropriate research procedures and aids, find the secondary resources in history and other disciplines available to answer a historical question.
  • Evaluate the evidentiary and theoretical bases of pertinent historical conversations in order to highlight opportunities for further investigation.

Collect and Analyze Evidence

  • Identify the range and limitations of sources available to engage the historical problem under investigation. 
  • Examine the context in which sources were created, search for chronological and other relationships among them, and assess the sources in light of that knowledge.
  • Employ and, if necessary, modify appropriate theoretical frameworks to examine sources and develop arguments.

Present Original Conclusions

  • Present original and coherent findings through clearly written, persuasive arguments and narratives.
  • Orally convey persuasive arguments, whether in formal presentations or informal discussions.
  • Use appropriate presentation formats and platforms to share information with academic and public audiences.

Contribute to Ongoing Discussions

  • Extend insights from research to analysis of other historical problems.
  • Demonstrate the relevance of a historical perspective to contemporary issues.
  • Recognize, challenge, and avoid false analogies, overgeneralizations, anachronisms, and other logical fallacies.

Students declared in, or interested in, the history major have numerous advising resources available to them. The advising team is comprised of professional and peer advisors who are excited to talk with students about everything from academic planning to professional development for future careers. Information on the History advising team, how to contact an advisor, how to schedule an appointment, and drop-in advising hours can be found on our website.

The Honors in the Major track in history is intended for students who are eager to experience the excitement of original historical research and who wish to graduate with the best possible undergraduate training in this discipline. Honors in the Major is especially appropriate for students who are considering graduate work in history or who want an especially rigorous training in research, reasoning, and writing skills useful to a wide range of career choices.

Upcoming career events and internship opportunities are also available on the History Advising Blog.

The History Lab

The History Lab is a resource center for undergraduate students studying, researching, and writing about the past. It is staffed by talented and experienced graduate students from the Department of History.

Through individual and group tutoring, the Lab focuses on honing students' abilities to form suitable topics, conduct research, develop arguments and thesis statements, cite evidence properly, and write using an effective process. The lab is equipped also to support challenges faced by English-language learners.

For more information or to make an appointment, see the History Lab website.

research fellowships and Scholarships

The Department of History is committed to supporting  undergraduate achievement and encourages applications for the various scholarships and research fellowships made possible by the generosity of its donors. Scholarships are designed to reward outstanding History majors and are awarded annually. Research fellowships allow undergraduates to pursue in-depth historical research under the guidance of Department of History faculty. These awards help defray research costs such as supplies and travel expenses or pay for living expenses to allow students time to craft their papers and conduct research in UW Libraries.  

Detailed instructions on how to apply can be found on the Department of History website. Applications need to be submitted online, via Scholarships@UW-Madison

Undergraduate writing prizes

The history department offers an assortment of essay prizes designed to reward a broad range of undergraduate writing—from Senior Theses to term papers to specialized essays in German-Jewish history. The prizes are made possible thanks to the tremendous generosity of our alumni and former members of our faculty. The history department expresses its gratitude for their support in recognizing the achievements of our undergraduates. 

Detailed instructions on how to apply can be found on the Department of History website. Applications need to be submitted online, via Scholarships@UW-Madison