Course Requirements for a History Major: Overview of Core Courses

An undergraduate history program provides students with a comprehensive world-view of the recorded past and its effects on the present and future of human civilization. Read on to learn more about some typical topics of study for a history major.

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Essential Information

History majors, who usually graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in History degree, complete programs of study built around a core curriculum. These required courses may be organized by geographical region and/or by time periods, and may include such topics as:

  • U.S. and Canada (pre- and post- 1800)
  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Middle East
  • Latin America

List of Common Courses

American History since 1877 Course

This class is usually required. Students examine general American history from the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era to the present day. Topics of study include the presidents and their initiatives, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Lessons also cover landmark social, cultural and economic developments, communism and the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Liberation Movement and military conflicts.

20th Century Russian History Course

This class typically fulfills history majors' European history requirement. Lectures cover tsarist Russia, the Russian Revolution of 1917, World War I, World War II and the Cold War. Students also discuss major Russian leaders like the Romanov tsars, Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev and Gorbachev. Discussions may also include socialism, communism, economics and international relations.

History of Modern China Course

Students are introduced to the history and culture of 20th-century China. This class focuses on the decline of imperialism through the establishment of the Republic of China. Lessons explore Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution, as well as China's relationships with its neighbors and other countries.

Ancient Rome Course

Fulfilling history majors' typical ancient history requirement, this lecture-based class gives students an overview of the political, military and economic climate of ancient Rome. Students discuss Roman law and its influence throughout the ages. They also look at the roles of famous Romans like Julius Caesar, Cicero and Nero, and non-Romans who were pivotal in the history of Rome, such as Cleopatra and Hannibal.

Colonialism, Nationalism and Independence in Latin America Course

This class explores how colonialism and independence movements in Latin America shaped the course of these countries' histories. Students learn about the indigenous peoples of Latin America, post-colonial challenges, and leaders like Batista, Castro, Peron, Pinochet, and Chavez. They explore gender, social, economic, class and cultural debates, along with international diplomacy and military engagements.

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