History Major

Learning Goals and Objectives 

Goal 1: Articulate key differences in human experience across time and place.

Objective 1a: Students will be able to identify, articulate, and analyze the context, causes and consequences of historical events and epochs in different regions of the world and different time periods.

Goal 2: Assess competing assertions about the processes and dynamics of change over time.

Objective 2a: Students will be able to distinguish and evaluate the characteristics of multiple theoretical perspectives and methodological practices used to interpret the past.

Goal 3: Evaluate arguments based on empirical assertions and evidence rooted in the discipline

Objective 3a: Students will be able to recognize the characteristics of different kinds of sources (primary and secondary) and understand how they are used.

Objective 3b: Students will be able to discover different kinds of sources and evaluate their credibility and utility in specific circumstances.

Goal 4: Produce clear and persuasive analyses of relevant research questions based on the conventions of the discipline.

Objective 4a: Students will be able to practice the discipline’s professional standards, including acknowledging and building on the work of others.

Objective 4b: Students will be able to apply a variety of tools, methods, and perspectives to investigate and interpret the past in an independently developed, supervised research undertaking.

The traditional undergraduate programs include 40 courses distributed across three components: A General Education component divided into Signature Courses, Variable Courses, and an Integrative Learning requirement; a Major and Divisional component; and Free Electives. In addition to course requirements as specified in each area, students must complete one certified course in each of the following overlay areas:

  1. Diversity, Globalization or Non-western Area Studies,
  2. Ethics Intensive, and
  3. Writing Intensive. Overlay requirements are part of the forty-course requirement.

General Education Signature Courses

See this page about Signature courses. Six courses

HIS 154Forging the Modern World3

General Education Variable Courses

See this page about Variable courses. Six to Nine courses

Social/Behavioral Sciences
Select any 100 level POL

General Education Overlays

See this page about Overlays.

General Education Integrative Learning Component

See this page about Integrative Learning Component. Three courses

Integrated Learning Component (ILC) of the General Education Program (GEP) for History Majors

History majors can complete the Integrated Learning Component of the GEP by completing three courses from any one track shown below.  Courses taken as part of the History Department's ILC may count toward a minor or a second major.  They may not, however, count for credit elsewhere in the GEP.  Subject to departmental approval, and under their advisor’s guidance, students may petition to construct a different ILC.

  1. The Arts and Letters Track consists of any three courses that count toward majors in any of the following departments:
    • English
    • Art
    • Modern and Classical Languages
    • Music, Theater and Film
    • Philosophy
    • Theology and Religious Studies
  2. The Social Sciences Track consists of any three courses in any of the following majors:
    • Criminal Justice
    • Economic
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
  3. The Multi-disciplinary Track consists of three non-history courses that are all part of the same multi-disciplinary College of Arts and Sciences Program, including:
    • Africana Studies
    • American Studies
    • Ancient Studies
    • Asian Studies
    • Faith Justice Studies
    • Gender Studies
    • International Relations
    • Latin American Studies
    • Medieval/Renaissance/Reformation Studies

GEP Free Electives

Ten courses

Major Requirements

Major Concentration

HIS 201 and HIS 202, plus ten additional approved courses numbered from HIS 203 and above.

These ten additional courses must include:

  • at least one upper division course in U.S. history, one upper division course in European history, and one upper division course in history that does not focus on the United States or Europe.
  • at least two courses that focus on a time period prior to 1800 CE (an updated list of appropriate courses is available on the department web site).
  • at least two research seminars (HIS 460-HIS 479), ideally one in the junior year and one in the senior year.  A senior Honors thesis may substitute for one of the seminars.

With approval of the chair, and according to general university policies, credit in the major can be granted for courses taken in other programs at the university, Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses, or courses taken at other universities, including study abroad programs.  History majors with credit transferred from other institutions must complete at least four courses taught by the history faculty of Saint Joseph’s University. Students who undertake a double major that includes history must consult the department chair for assistance in scheduling history courses and completing requirements for the major.

Honors Requirements

To receive Honors, students enroll in the senior year in HIS 493-HIS 494, two consecutive semesters of course-based research and study to produce a senior thesis. For students in the University Honors program, these two courses may be counted toward the eight course University Honors requirement. To be eligible for College Honors, a student must have a 3.5 GPA. If you are interested in completing the College Honors project during your senior year, please contact the department chair early in the spring semester of your junior year. Specific requirements for the College Honors thesis may be found in this catalog under the Honors Program.


Qualified history majors are eligible to participate in a variety of internships for academic credit with historical, cultural, educational, governmental, and other organizations.  See the HIS 491 course description below.

Teacher Certification for Secondary Schools
Dual Major in History and Secondary Education

History majors are eligible to complete a double major in History and Secondary Education.  In addition to the subject-specific content requirements for secondary school teacher certification that are met by completing the major, dual majors become candidates for the Grades 7-12 teaching certificate in Pennsylvania by completing a prescribed sequence of coursework, which includes the specific requirements for Accommodations and Adaptations for Diverse Learners in Inclusive Settings and Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners under PA §49.13(4)(i).

Below is the recommended program for students to be eligible for a PA Level I teaching certificate in Secondary Education.

EDU 150/150FSchools in Society-Fr Seminar3
EDU 157/157FAdolescent Development3
EDU 246/246FLiteracy, Language and Culture3
EDU 247/247FLiteracy in the Content Areas3
SPE 160/160FIntro to Special Education3
SPE 203/203FTchng Adolescents Inclus Envir3
SPE 310/310FAssessment & Progress Monitor3
EDU 412/412FInstruct Techniques -Soc Stud3
EDU 491Secondary Student Teaching12

Note: Candidates for Secondary School Teacher Certification must also complete two courses in Mathematics.  One course is satisfied by the Mathematics GEP requirement. For History majors, the second Mathematics courses is taken as a free elective. It is recommended that MAT 118 be taken.

Also note that HIS/EDU double majors must take POL 111 as their POL 1** course.

Students seeking the double major are urged to declare their intentions as early as possible in their undergraduate careers and must register with the Teacher Education Department, which will guide candidates through their required Teacher Education courses and also assist students through the certification requirements of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students must have an overall Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher to be accepted into the teacher certification program and must have an overall GPA of 3.0 as one of the requirements to obtain teacher certification. See the Teacher Education Department section of the Catalog for more information.

History Course Sequences and Cycles

HIS 154 is offered every semester.  HIS 201 is generally offered in the Fall semester.  HIS 202 is generally offered in the Spring semester. Other courses will generally be offered on a two-to-three year cycle, meaning that those not taught in the current academic year will most likely be offered some time in the following two years. New or revised courses not currently listed in the catalog may be added.

Research Seminars (HIS 460 through HIS 479) will be scheduled each semester, with the topics and professors announced in advance. Each will offer the opportunity for in-depth study and completion of a major research project.

Directed Readings Courses (HIS 480-HIS 489) focus on significant themes and periods chosen by consultation between individual students and a faculty tutor. Prior approval from the Department Chair is required. Generally, these courses are restricted to students in the Honors Program.

Senior Honors Research (HIS 493-HIS 494) is a two-semester course sequence that requires independent research during the senior year under the direction of a faculty tutor, leading to the completion of a College Honors Thesis and its defense before a committee of faculty members from different disciplines.