Undergraduate Program

Overview of Program

Prizes, Awards, and Assistance

Senior Comprehensive Examination

Requirements for Major and Minor Programs

Major in History

Minor in History

Minor in Geography

Undergraduate Bulletin (pdf file)

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Overview of Program

Studying history contributes to the development of a liberally-educated individual, brings one into intimate communion with the collective memory of the peoples of the world, and allows one to approach and understand current developments from the perspective of experience.

The Undergraduate Program in history is designed to provide the student with an understanding of the processes of historical research and reconstruction, an appreciation of the discipline of history as a way of thinking and learning, and substantive knowledge in those areas of history in which the student may concentrate. The undergraduate curriculum is comprehensive in scope, thus permitting the student to choose from a wide variety of courses in completing the requirements for the major and minor. In addition to standard courses on various geographical areas and topical subjects, the department offers courses in the African Diaspora, public history, and the history of women. Students may receive practical experience as historians by serving as interns in history in the Smithsonian Institution, the National Archives, the State Department, and other public agencies as well as in private institutions and projects in the Washington area. Such experience may lead eventually to jobs or careers in public history.

The history program has been redesigned to increase the ability of our majors to assimilate and analyze evidence, to conduct research, and to formulate and critique arguments. This has been accomplished through establishing requirements for students to take colloquia and seminars. Colloquia courses introduce students to a major topic in history such as Jacksonian America. In small classes taught by the faculty, students discuss what historians have written about the topic, analyzing the studies for their strengths and weakness in methodology, use of evidence, reasoning, and interpretation. Building on the knowledge they gain in the colloquia, students advance to seminar courses in which they apply their knowledge of the literature by conduct original research. They may, for example, research and write about the banking crisis or race relations in Jacksonian America through the use of evidence from the 1830s. In the course of completing the major, students will conduct research and write essays in two areas of specialization selected from the fields of Africa, the African Diaspora, Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States, and Public History. By placing original research at the heart of the major, the Department has embraced the College of Arts and Sciences’ goal of making primary research a significant aspect of every undergraduate’s experience.

To aid the student in selecting appropriate courses each semester for fulfilling Departmental requirements, all faculty members have been designated as undergraduate academic advisors. These advisors are available during their posted office hours for consultation. In addition, each student majoring in History will be assigned to one faculty member who will advise the student throughout that student's undergraduate career. Faculty advisors are available to answer general questions, but questions relating to course waivers, transfer course equivalents, and substitutions of required courses should be submitted in writing to the Undergraduate Director.

Prizes, Awards, and Assistance

The Department of History sponsors one (1) loan fund for its majors who are full-time students at Howard University. When other funds are available, the Department may award a number of undergraduate fellowships annually.

The Rayford Whittingham Logan History Scholarship Fund makes two (2) awards annually to one (1) undergraduate student and one (1) graduate student as a result of an essay competition. Announcement of the scholarship winners is made during the month of April. Guidelines for the essay competition may be secured from the Undergraduate Program Director. Information on and applications for the Carter G. Woodson Loan Fund may be secured from the Chairman's office.

The Department sponsors two (2) student organizations. The Chancellor Williams Historical Society is open to all majors and minors of the Department of History. The Society sponsors a variety of activities directed toward expanding the members' knowledge and appreciation of the discipline of history.

The Zeta Gamma Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta is an historical honor society for undergraduate and graduate students who have demonstrated exceptional ability in history through their course work. Undergraduate applicants must have taken at least twelve (12) credit hours in history and have no less than a 3.2 average in history courses and a cumulative average of 3.0.

Senior Comprehensive Examination

Effective as of the academic year 1983-84, and mandatory for graduation, all history majors are required to pass the Senior Comprehensive Examination administered by the Department of History. The examination is given in November and April of each academic year. It is a threehour essay examination consisting of two parts. Part I examines the student's understanding of historiography; and Part II examines broad topics reflecting the core curriculum. Students will be duly notified of the time and place of the examination. The required course, The Senior Colloquium, will help to guide and aid students in their preparation for the Senior Comprehensive Examination. Further information relative to the examination may be obtained from the Director of the Undergraduate Program, the Department of History.

Requirements for Major and Minor Programs


Major in History

31 Semester hours

The major in History has the following fields of specialization: Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States, the African Diaspora, and Public History. Students are required to complete 31 semester hours of history successfully, focusing on two fields of specialization. The major is designed to prepare students to conduct research, to assimilate and analyze data, and to think critically and creatively about the past.

The following courses constitute the core of the field and are required by all majors: Introduction to History, which introduces students to historiography, research methods, and interpretive trends, and the Senior Colloquium, which prepares students for the comprehensive examination in history. Introduction to History is recommended to students considering history as a major and must be taken upon declaration of the major.

Majors will successfully complete a lecture course, a colloquium, and a seminar in each of their two selected fields of specialization. Taken after the freshman year, colloquia are small discussion classes in which students read secondary works to learn the nature of historiography and explore the methodologies employed in the field to address historical questions. Taken after the sophomore year, seminars require students to conduct primary research and analysis and to write original historical essays. The requirement for work in two distinct fields exists to ensure that students understand historical developments beyond a single nation-state or geographical region.

Majors will complete nine hours of electives selected from courses offered by the Department. Three hours must be completed outside of the fields of specialization. Electives should also be selected to expand the chronological breadth of the major’s program of study. Geography courses above 100 may be taken as history electives. Students specializing in the African Diaspora are strongly encouraged to take Geography of the Black Diaspora.

Minor in History

15 Semester hours

Students who minor in History are required to complete successfully fifteen (15) hours of history courses, including Introduction to History. Each student must choose a specialty from the major fields and complete a lecture course, a colloquium, and a seminar in that area. Students must take an additional three hours in history.

Minor in Geography

15 Semester Hours

The minor in Geography consists of fifteen (15) credit hours. Since students will be expected to become familiar with the basic language, fundamentals and terminology, World Geography (101) has to be taken as the first course. Then the students can be exposed to regional, topical and systematic geography. To complete the minor requirements in Geography, students will be required to take three other courses with at least one from each group; regional (199 - Geography of the Black Diaspora; 165 - Geography of North America), topical (102 - Economic Geography; 106 - Environmental Conservation), systematic (170 - Climate, People and Environment; 172 - Hydrology).

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Howard University College of Arts and Sciences Department of History