Jul 22, 2024  
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog 
2024-25 Western Washington University Catalog

History, BA

Location(s): WWU - Bellingham

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Department of History, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

65 Credits


Most students are required to study history in both elementary and secondary schools. At that level, students often are given the impression that the study of history simply requires memorization of names, dates, and other facts about events in the past. At the college level, however, the study of history facilitates the development of research, analytical, evaluative, and interpretive skills. History majors learn how to locate and access a wide range of sources, to analyze historical evidence, including textual and visual sources, to evaluate historical interpretations, and to develop and support their own interpretations. The quantity of writing and discussion required in history courses also helps students to develop effective communication skills.

Why Consider a History Major?

If you like to read, write, and learn about the experiences of people in different places and times, you should consider the history major. No other major prepares students for as many different careers. History majors’ strong communication skills are valued by all employers, including businesses and government agencies. The research, analytical, and evaluative skills that history majors develop prepare them for graduate study in many humanistic disciplines, public affairs, and library science and for careers as journalists, government officials, and attorneys. A growing number of history majors have made careers in the expanding field of public history. They work in museums, archives, and historical preservation.

 Contact Information

Major Information and History Department Chair
Bond Hall 360

Department Information
Bond Hall 364

 Sample Careers

Foreign Service Officer | Attorney | Government Official | Journalist | Business Manager | Social Studies Teacher | FBI/CIA Agent | Historical Consultant | Museum Professional | Government Historian | Librarian | Archivist | Cultural Resource Manager | Curator | Video/Media Producer | Historic Preservationist | Policy Advisor

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

There are no prerequisites for declaring a major in History. Students who have earned Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credit in history should not take the equivalent courses at Western. It is recommended that students who are considering a major in History take at least three lower-division History courses (including transfer courses) during their first year.

It is recommended that students contact a faculty advisor in the department as soon as they wish to declare a major in History. Please see the department website at chss.wwu.edu/history for further details.

Grade Requirements

A minimum GPA in history courses of 2.50 is required for graduation. No course with a grade of less than C- may be counted toward this major.


For this program History courses and select Honors courses are grouped into the following fields:

  • ❑ United States

  • ❑ Europe

  • ❑ East and South Asia

  • ❑ Africa and Middle East

  • ❑ Ancient

  • ❑ Western Hemisphere (outside U.S.)

  • ❑ Thematic (A thematic field must be approved by a department advisor and may include but is not limited to the following:)

    • Transnational/Global
    • Gender/Sexuality
    • Environmental
    • Intellectual
    • Religious
    • Military
    • Imperialism/Colonialism

    Credits to be distributed as follows:

    ❑ Three courses in one of the above fields, one of which must be an upper-division class.

    ❑ Three courses in a second field, one of which must be an upper-division class.

    ❑ Three courses in a third field, one of which must be an upper-division class.

    ❑ Electives under advisement.

    Up to 10 Honors credits under advisement may be included in these fields or as electives.

  •   Credits: 5
  •   Credits: 5
  • At least 35 of the 65 credits must be in upper division (300-400 level) courses, including HIST 301, HIST 499, and at least one additional 400-level course.

Additional Recommendations

History majors are strongly encouraged to enroll in HIST 301 - Doing History , which offers practical training in the tools of historical research, when they are beginning their upper-division coursework.

It is strongly recommended that majors who elect a concentration in a field where languages other than English predominate take enough language study to become proficient in appropriate language(s). Students planning on graduate study in history are advised that many graduate schools require foreign language proficiency for admission.

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