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Major and Minor in History

How do I sign up to be a History Major or Minor?

updated August 8, 2018

The procedure is the same whether you are a sophomore declaring for the first time or an upperclassman changing to History or adding it as a second major.

First, you need to get two copies of the Declaration of Major card, available from the Office of Academic Services (350 Buttrick Hall, 2-7414), the History Department (227 Benson Hall, 2-2575), or on the forms locator online. If you are declaring a double major, you will need three cards.

Bring the cards to Heidi Welch, office assistant, Benson Hall, Room #227. The student requests a specific professor for their adviser and Mrs. Welch checks on availability. The student may change advisers by filing another declaration of major form. Mrs. Welch will keep one of the cards for department records and add the student to our electronic mailing list for History majors. The second card goes to the Office of Academic Services in 350 Buttrick Hall. If you are a double major or a joint interdisciplinary major, take the third card to the other department. The student must meet with his/her adviser before each registration period to make sure he/she is fulfilling the major requirements.

If you have any questions about the declaration procedure or the History major in general, feel free to contact Lauren Clay, Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Link to the online Undergraduate Catalog 2018-19 here. The History major requirements begin on page 110.  The Law, History and Society Major requirements begin on page 111.  The Economics and History major requirements begin on page 99.  The course listings for history begins on page 181. 


MORE than one hundred courses in the Department of History are available to Vanderbilt undergraduates. Some focus on a particular historical period, others on a particular region of the world, and still others on topics that may cross traditional chronological and geographical boundaries. The department is committed to the principle that in a changing world, the way we learn about the past must also change. It will continue to develop new courses for the twenty-first century, with an emphasis on those that recognize the interconnections among the various civilizations and regions of the globe.

Unless indicated otherwise in the course description, history courses have no prerequisite. Except for History 3980, 4960, 4980–4981, and 4999, courses numbered below 5000 are open to all majors and nonmajors. History 4960 is limited to seniors and juniors who have previously taken History 3000W. History 3980, 4980–4981, and 4999 are limited to students who have been admitted to the History Honors Program.

Students will find that the study of history offers not only a strong foundation for a liberal education but also a means of understanding the contemporary world. The skills developed in gathering, assessing, and synthesizing information have wide application in many careers, including business and the professions.

The Department of History offers a major and minor in history; a major in law, history, and society; and, in cooperation with the Department of Economics, a joint major in economics and history, which is described in this catalog under Economics and History.

Program of Concentration in Law, History, and Society

As a human institution self-consciously aware of its past, "The Law" raises a complex set of issues that can be addressed historically. Legislation and jurisprudence, for example, allow historians a privileged perspective into how societies sought to define themselves, their values, and their membership. Constitutions provide maps of political power, and serve as sites of struggle over goods both real and symbolic. Records of legal practice are often well preserved, allowing access to the voices and actions of people who are usually left out of systems of political organization.

This major approaches law from both a historical and an interdisciplinary perspective. Emphasis will be placed on close reading of legal documents, research in legal archives, and analytical writing. Students will be encouraged to develop reading programs and research topics that stretch across national and chronological boundaries, and to think comparatively. Stu- dents may not major both in history and in law, history, and society. Students majoring in law, history, and society may apply to receive honors through the History Honors Program.

The major program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours in history; no more than 3 credit hours of AP or IB credit may count toward this total. Note: AP and IB credit will not count toward the 15 credit hours for the concentration. No more than 6 credit hours may be from courses outside the Department of History.
Course work is distributed as follows:

Program of Concentration in Economics and History

This is an interdisciplinary program split between economics and history that provides a more focused program of study while requiring fewer credit hours than a double major in the two fields. See the Economics and History section of the Undergraduate Catalog for details.

Students declare this major through the Department of History office, Benson Hall, room 227, with Mrs. Welch. Please note that Econ-History majors do NOT need to fill out the “Interdisciplinary major Course Plan” when filing a Declaration of Major.  Major in Economics and History link here.

Honors Program

The Honors Program in History is a three-semester program of study. It offers superior undergraduate history majors a program of advanced reading, research, and writing. The Honors Program combines seminar work and independent study under the supervision of a thesis adviser. This structure provides participants an introduction to historical research and writing, as well as the opportunity to study defined areas of history and significant historical problems that accord with their own interests. The final objectives of the Honors Program are successful authorship of the honors thesis and graduation with honors or highest honors in the major.
Students apply to the Honors Program in the first semester of the junior year. Students meeting college and departmental requirements will enroll for a total of 12 credit hours: History 3980, Junior Honors Seminar in History (3 credit hours); History 4980–4981 Senior Honors Research Seminar (6 credit hours); and 4999, Senior Honors Thesis (3 credit hours). In addition, the Honors Program requires an oral defense of the honors thesis before a faculty committee at the end of the third semester. Read more here

Minor in History

The minor in history requires a minimum of 18 credit hours in courses that are offered by the Department of History or that are listed above in programs A–G of the history major, among which no more than two courses may be outside the Department of History. At least 9 credit hours must be taken at the 2000 level or higher. Students must complete 3000W. No more than 3 credit hours of AP or IB credit may count toward this total.

Teacher Licensure for History Majors

History majors may choose to "double major" in Secondary Education and History, a prudent choice if interested in teaching. Each year U.S. News & World Report ranks Peabody among the best graduate schools of education in the country with Secondary Education consistently in the top 10 of the programs list. Another option is Peabody's Master's degree program for History majors interested in teaching offering either a four semester or one year track option. Upon graduating with a B.A. in History, History majors in our fifth year program would spend the summer following undergraduate work and the next academic year earning their M.Ed. and teaching licensure.

Students seeking teaching licensure in history or other social science disciplines at the secondary level should refer to the chapter on Certification for Teaching in the Peabody College section of the Undergraduate Catalog or the Department of Teaching and Learning section of the Undergraduate Catalog. In addition, Secondary Education web resources can be found here or at Please contact Professor Andrew Hostetler, Coordinator of Social Studies Secondary Education, at for more information.

Special Degree Programs - Combined BA/MA (4+1) Program

The Department of History offers a combined BA/Masters in History called the 4+1 program.This is coordinated through the Director of Graduate Studies in History and the Office of Academic Services, please contact Tish Cox for more information. Please see the guidelines here