Aerial of Jayhawk Boulevard

The Undergraduate History Degree

Does learning about the past fascinate you? Do you want to know more about different cultures around the globe? Pursuing a History major or minor will help you gain a better understanding of yourself and the world around you by exploring the past, comprehending the present and building a successful future.

Why History?

  • Useful: The research, writing, analytical and communications skills you will gain with a history major will carry over to many future career options. 
  • Welcoming: We draw no boundaries between what you may and may not study, from labor, literature and art to war and rebellion. History shares students from a wide range of disciplines such as Environmental Studies, African and African American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.
  • Flexible: Because few courses have sequential prerequisites, History is easy to take as a minor or as a second major.
  • Worldly: History is excellent preparation for travel and work abroad, and around thirty majors yearly participate in KU’s Study Abroad program. 
  • Intimate: Courses in the department are usually small, and the larger courses always include trained Graduate Teaching Assistants to give individual attention and feedback.

Explore the Major

A history student receives their diploma at the 2019 commencement ceremony

Major Requirements for Students Entering KU prior to Fall 2018

*For students entering KU prior to Fall 2018* 

First- and Second-Year Preparation 

Prospective majors are encouraged to enroll in 1 or 2 introductory courses at the 100 or 300 level in the first 2 years. Many introductory history courses fulfill the College’s HT or NW principal course requirements, and prospective majors might choose one of them to explore their interests in history. Students who come to KU with AP or transfer credit should be aware that only 6 hours of history course work numbered 100-299 may be counted toward the major. Students interested in history as a major are encouraged to meet with a department advisor early in their careers at KU to discuss their academic goals and interests. Contact the undergraduate secretary to schedule an advising appointment. 

Majors must complete a course in the following area: 

The Historian’s Craft. Satisfied by: (3 Credit Hours) 

HIST 301: The Historian’s Craft 

HIST 302: The Historian’s Craft, Honors 

History Required Electives (24) 

Majors must complete 5 courses (15 hours) in either Category 1 or 2 and 3 courses (9 hours) are required from the other category. 

Category 1: Western Orientation. Satisfied by courses in Ancient, Medieval, Modern Western Europe, History of Science, Russia/Eastern Europe and United States. 

Category 2: Non-Western Orientation. Satisfied by courses in Africa, East Asia, Latin America and Native America. 

History Capstone Seminar (3 Credit Hours) 

Majors must complete a capstone research experience in which they research and write an original thesis based on primary sources. It normally is taken during the senior year. Alternatively, majors with a GPA above 3.5 may choose to write a senior honors thesis. Satisfied by one of the following: 

HIST 696: Seminar In:

Or HIST 690: Undergraduate History Honors Seminar (Previously HIST 490) Taken in Fall Semester And 

HIST 691: Honors Course in History (Previously HIST 498) Taken in the Spring Semester 

History Major Hours & Major GP 

While completing all required courses, majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade point average minimum standards: 

Major Hours Satisfied by 30 hours of major courses. No more than 2 HIST 492 Readings in History courses may be applied to the major. Only courses taken in the Department of History or cross-listed in other units are accepted for credit toward the major. 

Major Hours in Residence Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major. 

Major Junior/Senior Hours Satisfied by a minimum of 24 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. Of these 24 hours, at least 6 hours (two courses) must be taken at the 500-699 level (in addition to HIST 696). No more than 6 hours (two courses) at the 100-299 level. 

Major Junior/Senior Graduation (300+) GPA Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator. 

Graduation Plan 

With careful planning and commitment to a full-time course load, you can graduate in 4 years. Consult the department for details. 

Double Majors 

Many history majors choose to pursue a second major. Fulfilling the requirements of 2 majors in a timely fashion requires careful choice of courses. Consult a department advisor.