Top Colleges for a History Major in the U.S.

Jul 29, 2018

Learn about the top colleges for history majors, which can provide students with the academic foundation they need to pursue careers in education, journalism and law, among other areas. Read summaries of four top-notch institutions, and find a useful table that profiles other schools in the U.S. that offer history majors.

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School Information

Students looking for an undergraduate history program can find programs at some of the best colleges in the country. The four school featured here include two Ivy League institutions and a research university that offer general and concentrated coursework for undergraduate history students.

History majors at top colleges are exposed to a wide field of study that can include topics in global and U.S. history, ancient civilizations, or specific regional cultures. Here we'll look at the history programs offered by Princeton University, the University of California Los Angeles, the University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University. All of these schools are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Princeton University in New Jersey

Princeton University is an Ivy League school that U.S. News & World Report ranked 1st among national universities for 2017. The university also ranked #1 in the nation for its graduate history program, according to U.S. News & World Report's latest rankings for this specialty from 2013. Princeton's history department ranks highest out of all Princeton departments in terms of faculty members who have won Princeton's President's Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Through the History Department, students can declare a major as an undergraduate. Depending on a student's interest, the undergraduate program can include specialized studies in American, European, African, or regional Asian history. According to the department, a well-regarded area of study is the Program in History of Science. Focused and multidisciplinary courses are taught by roughly dozens of faculty members. Graduate students can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

University of California - LA

The University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) is a top research school that U.S. News & World Report ranked 2nd among all public universities in the country and 24th overall for 2017; as of 2013, UCLA's graduate history program also ranked 9th in the nation.

At UCLA, history majors are exposed to a broad range of topics, including the study of ancient civilizations, the history of various cultures and eras, contemporary nations, and religions. They also examine the historical effects of significant social, scientific, and technological developments. Selected undergraduates and graduate students in the Student Research Program may participate in advanced research projects with faculty mentors. Undergraduate students at UCLA's history department can work with history Ph.D. students at the department's History Writing Center to improve their academic writing skills.

University of PA in Philadelphia

The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League research school that U.S. News & World Report ranked 8th among national universities for 2017, as well as 9th for its graduate history program as of the latest rankings from 2013.

The undergraduate history curriculum includes a regional concentration in U.S., European, or world history. Thematic concentrations allow for further studies in diplomatic, economic, or gender history, as well as intellectual or Jewish history. Undergraduates can also pursue a general course of study without a concentration. Undergraduate history majors at the school are eligible for numerous prizes recognizing excellence in research papers and projects, including the Marvin and Sybil Weiner Travel Award, granting $1,500 for travel and research. Master of Arts (M.A.) and Ph.D. in History programs are available to undergraduates upon completion of their degree.

Stanford University in Stanford, CA

U.S. News & World Report ranked Stanford University tied for 5th among national universities for 2017. Students pursuing the school's Bachelor of Arts in History can choose between six study pathways including general history, history and law, and history of science and medicine. Undergraduates can also pursue a joint major in computer science and history, which includes a unique capstone project. A co-terminal bachelor's and master's program in history is available as well. Graduate students can pursue a terminal Master of Arts in History or a Ph.D. in history.

More Top Undergraduate Programs

Other top schools that offer undergraduate history programs include:

Other top schools that offer undergraduate history programs include:

  • The University of Chicago in Chicago, IL has workshops for graduate students.
  • The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI has the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies.
  • The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC has a military history program.
  • The University of Washington in Seattle, WA has the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies.
  • The University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI offers the George L. Mosse Program in History.
  • Yale University in New Haven, CT offers combined Ph.D. in History programs in African American Studies, Renaissance Studies and the History of Science and Medicine.

When looking into available programs, undergraduate history students may want to consider a school's available concentrations, dual-degree options, and research opportunities.

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