History (BA)

Offered by the Department of History, College of Arts and Sciences.

Admission to the Program

Formal admission to the major requires departmental approval.

  • 120 credit hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or better
  • Completion of college writing requirement
  • Completion of university mathematics requirement

General Education Requirements

  • A total of ten courses, consisting of two courses from each of the five foundational areas
  • At least one course from Area Five: The Natural and Mathematical Sciences must include a laboratory science component
  • No more than two courses may be taken in the same discipline

Major Requirements

  • 39 credit hours with grades of C or better, including at least 18 credit hours at or above the 300-level
    • At least 20 of the 39 credit hours for the major must be taken in residence at American University
    • The department recommends that before enrolling in a course at or above the 300-level, students should complete a suitable introductory course or attain equivalent knowledge

Advanced Placement

Prospective history majors may qualify for a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 advanced placement (AP) credits toward the major for the following exams: American history, European history, and world history, provided the student earns a grade of 4 or 5 on the AP examination. Students cannot receive AP credit towards the major if they also take the comparable survey courses in either American history (HIST-205 and HIST-206) or European history (HIST-110). A satisfactory International Baccalaureate (IB) examination may count toward fulfilling a specific course requirement for the major. Entering students with academic credit for IB examinations in history courses should consult with the department. A total of 6 AP and IB credits can be counted toward the history major.

Course Requirements

Required (6-9 credit hours)

Ancient or Medieval History (3 credit hours)

Complete one course in ancient or medieval history (any area of the world, focusing on premodern era) from the following, or other approved courses:

Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, or African History (6 credit hours)

Complete two courses in Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, or African history from the following, or other approved courses:

Note: Faculty members frequently offer rotating courses in these areas of the world under HIST-396.

European History (6 credit hours)

Complete two courses in European history from the following, or other approved courses:

United States History (6 credit hours)

Race/Ethnicity

Complete one course focused on race and/or ethnicity from the following, or other approved courses:

Additional U.S. History

Complete one course in United States History from the following, or other approved courses:

History Electives (9-12 credit hours)

  • 9-12 credit hours in additional courses to make a total of 39 credit hours in history (which may include JWST-205 Ancient and Medieval Jewish Civilization FA2 (3)). At least 20 of the 39 credit hours must be taken at American University; at least 18 of the 39 must be at or above the 300-level

Combined (BA) and History (MA)

American University offers students the opportunity to earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees through its combined bachelor's/master's programs. See Combined Bachelor's and Master's Degrees for more information.

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for combined bachelor's/master's programs:

  • Students in this program are not required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Students will be admitted formally to MA status only if they have completed all requirements for the BA in History with at least an overall 3.20 grade point average and a 3.50 grade point average in history courses.
  • Undergraduate students pursuing the MA in History (30 credit hours) may apply up to 9 credit hours of approved graduate-level coursework in history to satisfy the requirements of both degrees. Undergraduate students pursuing the MA in History (public history concentration) (36 credit hours) may apply up to 12 credit hours of approved graduate-level coursework in history to satisfy the requirements of both degrees.

Program Overview

Historians seek to recover the past, but the pasts they uncover depend on the questions they ask, and those questions change as the world historians live in changes. Exploring civilizations across time and space, historians study all the creations of men and women-politics and governments, the arts and the sciences, economic and technological changes, public and private lives, nations and their peoples.

The history bachelor's degree program introduces students to history broadly, requiring study of ancient, medieval, and modern histories in several geographic contexts before expecting students to specialize. The BA program's diverse course formats-lectures, seminars, and discussions-facilitate student engagement. Students earning their history BA have the opportunity to work closely with faculty experts who specialize in the history of women, the Holocaust, colonial America, the immigrant experience, East Asia, and many other areas of expertise.

History faculty have close, ongoing relationships with major historical institutions in Washington, DC, such as the National Archives, Library of Congress, National Museum of American History, National Building Museum, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. These provide excellent opportunities for student internships and for their engagement with public history, which is the presentation of history outside of the classroom. During the summer, students may participate in the department's popular institutes.

The history BA degree program prepares students for careers in business, government, public interest fields, journalism, and other professions. Because training in history emphasizes research, writing, and intellectual problem-solving, graduates can pursue a wide array of careers and some go on to graduate or law school.

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