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WHY STUDY HISTORY AT UW-MADISON?

History is so much more than memorizing names and dates. Are you interested in technology? Religion? The environment? Human rights? If you have a question, History can help you find an answer.

The certificate in history at UW-Madison is a great option for people who are interested in studying change.  History asks, “How did the world get to be this way?” and “What factors might influence where the world is heading now?” 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. The skills that history students develop are used in a wide range of careers and prepare students for graduate or professional study in fields such as law, business, medicine, public policy and much more.

The certificate in history requires five courses, which may be taken from both History and History of Science (see the Requirements tab on the right for more details). Please consult with the undergraduate advisor, Scott Burkhardt (stburkhardt@wisc.edu), with any questions about the certificate in history.

There are no prerequisites for declaring the History Certificate, and students are encouraged to declare as soon as they feel comfortable doing so.  Students must meet with a member of the history advising team to declare the certificate.  Information about advising and declaring the certificate is available on the undergraduate section of the History Department website.  History Majors are not eligible to declare the History Certificate.

Certificate Requirements

Students may use courses from HISTORY and HIST SCI to meet the requirements of the History certificate.  The certificate requires 15 total credits/5 courses, including:

History Research and Writing Course3
The Historian's Craft
(HISTORY 201 should be completed before the Capstone)
Elective Coursework
Any undergraduate courses in HISTORY or HIST SCI may be used to count toward the elective coursework requirement. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with an academic advisor or faculty mentor to select a group of courses that fits well with their interests and fulfills their academic or career goals.
One Intermediate or Advanced HISTORY or HIST SCI course3
Two additional courses in HISTORY or HIST SCI at any level6
Capstone Course3
Complete at least one of the following:
Public History Workshop
Reading Seminar in History
Undergraduate Seminar in History of Science
Advanced Seminar in History
Total Credits15

Residence & Quality of Work

  • At least 12 certificate credits must be completed in residence.
  • Minimum 2.000 GPA on all certificate courses.

notes

Up to 3 credits awarded for approved examinations (e.g. AP or IB) or a transfer course may count toward elective coursework.  The 12-credit residence requirement is meant to encourage students to engage with UW-Madison faculty and advisors and to choose their elective coursework intentionally.  Ideally, these courses will complement their major or be related to other intellectual or career interests. 

  1. Pose a historical question and explain its academic and public implications.
  2. Present original and coherent findings through clearly written, persuasive arguments and narratives.
  3. Examine the context in which primary sources were created, search for chronological and other relationships among them, and assess the sources in light of that knowledge.
  4. Identify primary sources available to engage the historical problem under investigation.
  5. Use appropriate research procedures and finding aids to find the secondary resources in history and other disciplines available to answer a historical question.
  6. Use appropriate presentation formats and platforms to share information with academic and/or public audiences.

ACADEMIC ADVISING

Students who are declared or interested in the history certificate have numerous advising resources available to them.  The history 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.

CAREER ADVISING

History is a rigorous but flexible certificate, and history students are known for being excellent communicators and savvy researchers.  Historians are experts in synthesizing disparate pieces of evidence into coherent, persuasive arguments.  The real world is filled with disparate facts and incomplete sets of data, so this is a real-world skill that history alumni utilize throughout their entire careers.  The department's career advisor, Christina Matta, helps history students map out future career plans and connects students to a variety of resources on campus and beyond, including history alumni who volunteer as career mentors (see below for more information).

Information on upcoming career events and internship opportunities for history majors and certificate students are available on the History Major Gateway, a Canvas site that serves as a resource for prospective and declared history students.  Alumni of the history department have enjoyed careers in medical research and practice; broadcast and print media; sports management; museums, archives, and libraries; finance and business, and community service and nonprofit organizations—as well as law, academia, and many other fields.  History provides excellent preparation for the study of law, but our students also go on to study medicine and many other graduate fields.  The centers for Pre-Law Advising and Pre-Health Advising are especially helpful resources on campus for students interested in those areas of study.    

Want to see what some of our alumni have done with their history majors? Check out our “featured alumni” profiles on the department website.

HISTORY CAREERS COURSE: “HISTORY AT WORK”

HISTORY 300 History at Work: Professional Skills of the Major is a course intended to help history students understand how their academic studies apply to the world of work.  Students explore how their history skills relate to the needs of professional employers and are guided in the process of finding and obtaining professional internships and jobs.  In this course, history students can polish their written and oral communication skills in forms appropriate for professional situations and learn from the experiences of guest speakers from a variety of fields.

INTERNSHIPS

The Department of History recognizes the importance of internships in helping students develop professional skills and explore potential career paths.  Positions can vary depending on availability and students’ interests, but recent sponsors have included the Wisconsin State Historical Museum, the University of Wisconsin Archives, offices of elected officials in the Wisconsin State Legislature and United States Congress, the Milwaukee Brewers, and Community Shares of Wisconsin—just to name a few!  History certificate students can also get academic credit in conjunction with an internship by taking HISTORY 301 History at Work: History Internship Seminar.

ALUMNI MENTORING

Like internships, networking can be a valuable tool in opening professional doors and learning more about the professional value of the history certificate.  The department often matches students with alumni mentors drawn from our Board of Visitors and other graduates who can help them get started building a professional network, answer questions about a specific field, provide guidance in applying for jobs or preparing for interviews, and providing general career advice.

Students interested in participating in an internship or talking with an alumni mentor should meet with Christina Matta, the department’s undergraduate career advisor, to discuss their interests and possible career goals.

Professors Boswell, Cheng, Cronon, Desan, Enke, Hansen, Hirsch, Hsia, Kantrowitz, Keller, Kleijwegt, Kodesh, Lederer, McCoy, McDonald, Michels, Mitman, Neville, Nyhart, Plummer, Ratner-Rosenhagen, Reese, Roberts, Shoemaker, Sweet, Thal, Wandel, Young

Associate Professors Bitzan, Callaci, Chamedes, Ciancia, Dennis, Gómez, Hall, Haynes, Hennessy, Houck, Iber, Ipsen, Kim, Kinzley, Lapina, Murthy, Taylor, Ussishkin

Assistant Professors Banerjee, Bitzan, Bloch, Brown, Glotzer, Kennedy, Nelson, Ramírez, Rock-Singer, Stolz, Suarez, Whiting, Williford

HISTORY: THE WISCONSIN EXPERIENCE

The history department is committed to integrating undergraduate historical study into the Wisconsin Experience, UW–Madison’s vision for students’ growth inside and outside the classroom.  History students at UW–Madison have a wide range of opportunities available to help them make the most of their history coursework and carry the study of the past beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR HISTORY STUDENTS

ARCHIVE

ARCHIVE is an award-winning journal of historical work published annually by the UW–Madison chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.  See ARCHIVE’s website to view past volumes and find out how you could be published.

Phi Alpha Theta

Phi Alpha Theta is a national history honors society whose purpose is to promote the study of history and to bring students, teachers and writers of history together in intellectual and social ways.  See the UW–Madison chapter’s page for more information.

Language and Regional/International Studies

History classes and faculty are at the center of UW–Madison’s remarkable collection of resource centers for area studies. IRIS is the umbrella organization for UW–Madison’s eight area studies programs.  Students interested in these areas can combine their history certificate with a major in international studies or any of the area studies majors and/or certificates.  UW–Madison also has one of the largest selections of language instruction in the United States.

Study Abroad

History is a great certificate for students interested in studying abroad due to its flexibility and because History courses are available in most study abroad programs.  The History Department encourages study abroad, and our advising team is happy to help students ensure that they are meeting degree requirements while studying abroad.

Wisconsin Historical Society

Scholars and researchers from all over the country (and world) come to the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) to do historical research.  History students at UW–Madison simply walk across the street to make use of this world-class institution.  The collections of the WHS are an amazing resource for our students and are utilized by a wide range of our courses. History students can also develop internships related to the WHS collections and programs.  Students who are interested in the history of film and television often explore, or major in, communication arts and can also get involved with the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research.

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, and UW-Madison is one of only a handful of universities in the U.S. to have this kind of history-specific writing support.

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 also equipped 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 students 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 the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WISH)

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 the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WISH)