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History Undergraduate Degrees

Why history?

In a culture that places primary value only on living in the present, studying history can offer a rare foundation for critiquing or at least comprehending the current state of the world. Studying history helps you cut through the myths that cloud our understanding of ourselves and others, and offers a depth of comprehension that few other disciplines can promise. The following are some key characteristics of the history department and major:

  • Welcoming: Few limits exist to what you may study. Politics, sexual relations, art, labor, literature, rebellion, war - the Department of History draws no boundaries between what you may and may not examine. To that end it also shares students and faculty with other programs such as African and African American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Environmental Studies, Indigenous Nations Studies, and all of the geographical area studies programs.
  • Flexible: Students must take only two required courses - a course on historical methods (HIST 301) and a senior research seminar (HIST 696) or honors thesis (HIST 498 & 490). Because few courses have sequential prerequisites, History is easy to take as a minor or as a second major.
  • Intimate: Courses in the department are usually small, and the larger courses always include trained Graduate Teaching Assistants to give individual attention and feedback. All students take at least two seminars of no more than fifteen students, and honors students work one-on-one with a faculty member. Further, students in the Department have organized movie nights, lectures, and informal get-togethers, so you are never lost in the crowd.
  • Prominent:  Faculty in the department are nationally and internationally recognized leaders in their field, and they bring this advanced knowledge to bear on their teaching.
  • Resourceful: Resources for history research at KU are rich. Watson and Anschutz libraries help make up a major research library collection, and the Spencer Research Library offers such resources as the Wilcox Collection on extremist politics, the University Archives, and major collections in British and Irish history, among others.
  • Worldly: History is excellent preparation for travel and work abroad, and around thirty majors yearly participate in KU’s Study Abroad program. The Department of History itself offers overseas opportunities, such as a pre-law institute at Cambridge University.
  • Useful: That’s right. The skills of research, analysis, and communication you develop in History carry over to all your other undergraduate courses. But the benefits don’t end there. History is the premier preparation for law school, and many other graduates go on to advanced degrees or careers in teaching, international relations, journalism, business, social welfare, and even medicine, and they find that their history training has prepared them exceptionally well for these fields. 

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