What History Majors Learn

  Historical Knowledge Historical Analysis Treatment of Sources Writing Proficiency Discussion and Debate


Develop a body of historical knowledge
with range and depth. Read and
contextualize materials from the past
with appropriate precision and detail.

Generate a historical interpretation
that is reasoned and based on
historical evidence selected,
arranged, evaluated and analyzed.

Develop a methodological practice of
gathering, sifting, analyzing, ordering,
synthesizing, and interpreting evidence.

Communicate a historical
analysis clearly and coherently
using proper mechanics and
citation practices.

Present a historical interpretation in
spoken form, support it with evidence
and revise it in conversation with others.
Engage a diversity of viewpoints in a
civil and constructive fashion.

Lower Division

Identify key terms and events and
understand the dynamics of change
over time.

Formulate a historical interpretation
in response to a focused prompt
(often yes/no.)

Recognize primary and secondary
sources, how to use them, and proper
citation practices. Evaluate the
relevance of online sources.

Compose short papers in
response to tightly defined

Communicate historical ideas and
respond to others. Participation in class
discussion is required and/or discussion
sections are held.

Upper Division

Specialized study of a field, issue or
theme. Place specific events,
developments and sources in a broader

Formulate an original argument in
response to an open-ended prompt.

Evaluate the historiographical value of a
source (context, authorship, reception,
motives and assumptions, limitations on
source reliability) and analyze its
relationship to other sources. Identify
and evaluate relevant sources in the
library, online etc.

Compose a mid-length paper
on an open-ended prompt.

Engage other students in civil,
constructive conversation around
historical questions. Participation in
class discussion is a significant portion
of course work.


Focused study of a particular topic or
question. Engage with a complex
historical record. Evaluate the
significance of materials documenting
particular events; compare and contrast
with other sources and contexts.

Formulate an independent research
question and answer it with a
coherent and original argument and

Independently search and build a
coherent source base around a
particular topic or question; evaluate
sources’ historiographical value and
place them in relation to one another.

Compose a full research or
historiographical essay.

Offer original ideas and interpretations;
support them with evidence and revise
them in conversation with others. Give a
presentation or participate in a debate.