Bachelor of Arts in History

Prerequisites for the Major

Before declaring the History major, students must take one lecture course. 

Bachelor of Arts Requirements

Completion of the major requires planning. History majors should plan to meet with their faculty advisors twice yearly, once in the autumn and once in the winter or spring quarters. These meetings should take place within the first three weeks of the quarter, before the final study list deadline.

History majors are required to complete a minimum of 63 units (i.e. a minimum of 13 courses) to include:
  • One Sources and Methods seminar (HISTORY 1S-99S).
    • Sources and Methods seminars constitute the department's 'skills' course and are oriented around two primary objectives: first, to introduce students to a wide range of historical sources and methodologies; second, to teach students how to research and write a "history paper." This latter writing component is typically broken down into the three classic types of “history paper”:  analysis of a primary source, analysis of historians in conflict, and argument-based research paper.

    • The Sources and Methods seminar should be taken as early as possible in a student's course of study, ideally before taking a Doing History course (below) and certainly before enrolling in HISTORY209S Research Seminar for Majors (below). First-year students are welcome. If a student would like to take more than one Sources & Methods seminar, the additional seminar can count as one of the six additional courses (below)

  • One "Doing History" course. 
    • The "Doing History" series consists of rigorous undergraduate colloquia that introduce the practice of history within a particular field or thematic area.  The "Doing History" colloquium should be taken early in a student's course of study. First-year students are welcome. If a student would like to take more than one “Doing History” colloquium, the additional colloquium can count toward the 200-level undergraduate colloquium requirement.

  • Completion of the Writing in the Major requirement (HISTORY 209S).

    • In this capstone course, students write a 20-25 page research essay based on original research and revision. Students will conduct substantial original research in the libraries and submit at least two drafts (a rough draft and a final draft) of the essay, with substantial revision in response to instructor feedback.  This course may be taken in either the junior or senior year, but not before completing the Sources and Methods seminar requirement.

  • At least ten additional courses to total a minimum of 63 units, to include:

    • Two 200-level undergraduate colloquia (HISTORY 200-298).
    • Two lecture requirements (HISTORY 1-199, with the exception of Freshman (xxN) and Sophomore (xxQ) Introductory Seminars): One focused on the U.S. or Europe, and one focused on Africa, Asia, Middle East or Latin America.  One of these courses must be taken before declaring the major; the second should be taken within one year of declaring.
    • Six additional courses.
History majors are also required to choose a major track:
  • General History
  • Global Affairs and World History
  • History, Philosophy, and the Arts
  • History of Science and Medicine
  • History and Law
  • Public History / Public Service

For an overview of these major tracks, see Fields of Study

For more information on these tracks and to see lists of pre-approved courses,
see our entry in the Stanford Bulletin

Declaring a History Major

The first step in becoming a History major is finding a Faculty Advisor.  The best way to find an advisor is simply to take a variety of History courses, drop in during faculty office hours (posted in the History Department main office), and introduce yourself as a prospective History major. Faculty are happy to suggest coursework and to offer counsel. 

Next, complete the Declaration Form and have your advisor sign it.  Forms are also available in the History Office. 

Then, submit your Declaration Form to the Undergraduate Student Services Officer, in the History Office (200-113)

Finally, declare the History major on AXESS.  Only students who have submitted a signed History Major Declaration Form will be accepted by AXESS as History majors.  This restriction ensures that all History majors have advisors. 

A note on timing: Students usually declare in the freshman, sophomore, or early junior year.  History majors are required to be declared six quarters prior to graduation; students declaring later than the Fall quarter of their junior year need to submit a special petition (also available in the History Office), accompanied by a plan for completing the major.