History is a vital part of any liberal arts education, providing students with a perspective of events that have shaped the contemporary world. The study of history also develops practical skills. At Rutgers, history students learn how to conduct research, write clearly and persuasively, think logically, and read documents critically. Students completing the history program are well prepared to apply to professional schools, tackle advanced study in areas such as law, business, or history, and work in almost any career.
The Department of History offers tremendous flexibility with an array of over 200 course offerings and many internships and other research opportunities. With the wide scope of the history program at the university, students' opportunities are excellent for acquiring the broadened sense of humanity that comes from understanding the past.
Prospective graduate students can click here for more information about our Ph.D. program.
The fields of expertise of the history faculty represent the rich variety of human experience from ancient times to the present day. Rutgers' history faculty are noted scholars and exceptional teachers. Students consistently rate many history department faculty as outstanding teachers and cite opportunities for seminar work in small group settings as a strong feature of the program.
The quality of the department faculty is nationally recognized. Members of the history department have recently been awarded the prestigious Fulbright research and teaching scholarships, as well as fellowships at leading institutes all over the world. One department member was recently awarded the Taft Book Prize and another received the Association of American Publishers book award.
Feel free to browse the faculty bios, located here.
The History Curriculum
Because of its size and diversity, the history department offers a selection of courses that is unsurpassed by other major universities and would be impossible for a small college to match.
Every major historical time period is represented by over 75 courses offered each term in European, American, African, Asian, and Latin American history. In addition, students have an opportunity to explore advanced courses in such fields as political, intellectual, military, diplomatic, social, women's and gender, scientific, and economic history.
While such classical topics as the Roman Empire and the Renaissance are mainstays in the curriculum, the large, professionally active department also develops new courses in response to changing student needs and interests. Faculty often introduce course offerings that focus in depth on specific parts of the world or events. Recent topics include film in history, oral history, introduction to public history, chinese civilization, and media and government.
The Major Program
Students majoring in history complete a total of 12 one-term 3-credit courses from the department's curriculum. The first four of these are usually, but not required to be, introductory courses that cover European, American, and global history. The other eight courses are completed at more advanced levels. Of the 12 courses required to complete the major, at least two must be taken in each of three areas: (1) European, (2) American, (3) African, Asian, Latin American, Native American. At least one course must cover some time period prior to the year 1500. The department encourages students to select a broad range of subjects.
During the sophomore year, students take a History Workshop to introduce them to historical research and writing. Then, in the junior or senior year, students take a history seminar to explore a particular historical topic. The seminars provide training in historical research methods and give students the opportunity to present original work in a professional setting. Past seminar topics have included an economic comparison of the US and Japan, modern women's history, Russian, Film, NJ and the Great Depression, and the Atlantic Slave Trade.
Advanced undergraduates may apply for graduate courses given by the Rutgers graduate program in history, with the approval of the undergraduate director.
Students also have the options of pursuing a joint major in history and political science in order to combine both fields for their major.
Several types of collegiate honors work, available to undergraduates in all class years, introduce students to interdisciplinary studies and higher level research methods.
The department urges all students who feel they would benefit from an honors experience to apply for a senior thesis project, either at the departmental or college level, at the end of their junior year. Senior honors students combine a methodology seminar with two terms of independent reading and research to create a major original research paper on a specific historical subject.
Public History Internship
History majors may take advantage of a 3-credit internship program to gain experience working with a wide variety of public agencies. Students have served as tour guides at historic sites, researchers in a legislative office, and have evaluated records for archives. See this link for more details.
The Department of History is closely associated with the Thomas A. Edison Papers, the Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II, and the Stanton and Anthony Papers. The Thomas A. Edison Papers Project is a comprehensive 20-year study of the famous inventor's personal research materials. The Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II is an alumni-funded project which records the life stories or Rutgers Alumni who lived through the WWII era or who are war veterans. The Stanton and Anthony Papers project is working to publish six volumes of writings of the two leading figures of the women's suffrage movement. All of these projects have enriched the history curriculum at Rutgers. Undergraduates can receive degree credits as interns on any of these three projects.
Phi Alpha Theta
Students who have shown excellent academic performance may be selected to be a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the national honor society of history. Students are invited to apply during their junior or senior year.
Center for Historical Analysis
The Center for Historical Analysis brings a distinguished scholars from around the world to Rutgers to serve as senior and junior fellows. In addition to the public seminars and lectures to which undergraduate are welcome, fellows enrich the curriculum by offering specialized courses and by serving as mentors for independent study.