BA in History


GW History Students in Class


The Bachelor of Arts in History immerses students in the art, literature, stories and artifacts of civilizations from all over the world. Many students round out their curricula with research seminars or integrate their passions in a related field, such as political science, art history or a foreign language. Others deepen their expertise on a particular era or region through a focused specialization

With unparalleled access to world-renowned archives and libraries, students majors have history at their fingertips.



How to Declare a Major 

  1. Download and complete the department’s Major Information Form (PDF).
  2. Bring it to the History Department undergraduate advisor, who will assign you an advisor from the department.
  3. Meet with the assigned history advisor during their office hours and bring a copy of the Declaration of Major/Minor Form for their signature.
  4. Bring a signed copy of the Declaration of Major/Minor Form to the History Department office so that we can add you to the history majors listserv.
  5. Submit the signed declaration form to the Undergraduate Advising Office.


Optional Specializations


Specializations prepare students to be competitive candidates in history-related fields. Students may choose a field, region, chronological period or a combination thereof. 

To specialize, history majors must choose the name of their specialization and pick at least six courses that apply toward it. The History Department undergraduate advisor must approve the chosen field and courses. Up to two courses may be chosen from other academic departments, with the undergraduate advisor’s approval. Up to two courses may also be supervised internships (HIST 3095). For course and specialization ideas, students should consult current class offerings and faculty areas of study.

GW History Professor Pointing at Screen


Sample Specialization Curricula 

In addition to these examples, the History Department offers a number of other classes that would suit topics like borderlands and transnational histories, Native American history, European economic history and more. 

HIST 1120: European Civilization in its World Context
HIST 2001: Empires and Imperialism: Rome to Washington
HIST 2001: Islam and Imperialism
HIST 2105W: European Decolonization
HIST 3301W: The Cold War in Asia
HIST 3137: The British Empire

HIST 2301: Colonial North America
HIST 2520: Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World
HIST 3137: The British Empire
HIST 3301: Pilgrims and Indians
HIST 3303: Revolutionary America
HIST 3701: Argentina in Global Context

HIST 2105W: European Decolonization
HIST 3035: The United States and the Wars in Indochina, 1945-1975
HIST 3301W: The Cold War in Asia
HIST 3601: World War II in Asia Pacific
HIST 3601: Vietnam: Colonialism, War, Revolution
HIST 3640: History of Southeast Asia


Special Departmental Honors

Two GW History students at Research Days



Students interested in earning special honors in history to be noted on their transcript must meet requirements and complete the Senior Honors Thesis course (HIST 4099) and accompanying paper.

  1. Meet GW’s general special honors requirements.
  2. Graduate with a GPA of 3.3 overall and 3.5 in history major classes.
  3. Find an advisor willing to work with you on a senior honors thesis as a tutorial. You should not expect faculty members to agree to serve as advisors unless you have taken at least one class with them and done very well.
  4. Sign up for HIST 4099 (Senior Honors Thesis) for either a semester or a year (at the discretion of the advisor), depending on the length or research requirements of the thesis undertaken. Complete a Registration Transaction Form through Colonial Central and notify the departmental undergraduate advisor of registration.
  5. Complete HIST 4099 with a final grade of A- or higher.
    Note: A student may receive only one semester's credit for HIST 4099, even if the honors thesis is done for two semesters. 

Martha Ball
Jordan Cassel
Keegan Claufield
Noah Duell
Lydia Francis
Veronica LaDu
Margaret McCool
Samuel Nohra
Harry O'Gorman
Samuel Pfister
Magdal Pszonak
Zachary Sanders
Francis Shin
David Skalkowski
Isaac Strauss
Amanda Urban
Di Wang
Elliot Warren


BA Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

A minimum of thirteen history (HIST) courses, including one to three introductory courses, one Majors’ Introductory Seminar, eight to ten upper-level courses, and a thesis or capstone project, as described below:

Introductory courses

At least one, but no more than three, History (HIST) courses at the 1000 level; these may include, but are not limited to, the following:
HIST 1011World History, 1500-Present
HIST 1020Approaches to Women's History
HIST 1110European Civilization in Its World Context
HIST 1121The War of Ideas in European and International History, 1750-Present
HIST 1310Introduction to American History
HIST 1311Introduction to American History
The introductory course requirement may be fulfilled by scoring 4 or 5 on Advanced Placement examinations: U.S. history AP (6 credits for HIST 1310 and HIST 1311), European history AP (3 credits for HIST 1120), and world history AP (3 credits for HIST 1011); or scoring 7 or above in an appropriate international baccalaureate program. Alternatively, requirement can be fulfilled by scoring 650 or above on the SAT II world history (HIST 1011) or U.S. history (HIST 1310 and HIST 1311).
Students should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies for more detailed information regarding this requirement.

Majors' Introductory Seminar

To complete requirements for the major, a student must take a Majors' Introductory Seminar, preferably early in their program of study.
HIST 2005Majors’ Introductory Seminar
or HIST 2005W Majors’ Introductory Seminar
HIST 2105Majors’ Introductory Seminar: Europe
or HIST 2105W Majors’ Introductory Seminar: Europe
HIST 2305WMajors’ Introductory Seminar: United States
or HIST 2305W Majors’ Introductory Seminar: United States
HIST 2505Majors’ Introductory Seminar: Africa
HIST 2605Majors' Introductory Seminar: Asia
or HIST 2605W Majors’ Introductory Seminar: Asia
HIST 2705Majors' Introductory Seminar: Latin America
or HIST 2705W Majors’ Introductory Seminar: Latin America
HIST 2805Majors' Introductory Seminar: Middle East
or HIST 2805W Majors’ Introductory Seminar: Middle East
Topics vary annually and are announced in the Schedule of Classes.
Students should consult the Director of Undergraduate for more detailed information regarding this requirement.

Upper-level courses

Eight to ten additional courses numbered from HIST 2000 to HIST 3999 (upper-level courses). The number of upper-level courses must be sufficient, when combined with the required introductory course(s), the Majors’ Introductory Seminar, and the thesis or capstone project, to produce a total of thirteen history (HIST) courses.
One or more of the upper-level courses, including for this purpose the Majors’ Introductory Seminar, must be from each of at least three of the following categories:
Europe: HIST 2100-2900 and HIST 3100-3199 groupings.
United States: HIST 2300-2399 and HIST 3300-3399 groupings.
World—the following regions combined count as one category:
Africa: HIST 2500-2599 and 3500-3599 groupings
Asia: HIST 2600-2699 and 3600-3699 groupings.
Latin America: HIST 2700-2799 and 3700-3799 groupings.
Middle East: HIST 2800-2899 and 3800-3899 groupings
At least one upper-level course must focus on the period before 1750.
Dean’s Seminars, Honors (HONR) courses taught by members of the Department of History, Majors’ Introductory Seminars, and special topics courses taught under HIST 3001 may be used to fulfill this requirement on a case-by-case basis.
Students should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies for more detailed information regarding this requirement.

Thesis or capstone project

HIST 4098Thesis Seminar
or HIST 4098W Thesis Seminar
HIST 4099Senior Honors Thesis Tutorial
or HIST 4099W Senior Honors Thesis Tutorial
Students fulfill this requirement in their junior or senior year. The requirement may be satisfied by a suitable alternative (e.g., a digital history project or a documentary film) with the permission of the thesis instructor.
Students should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies for more detailed information regarding this requirement.

Optional specialization

Students may choose to pursue an area of specialization by taking two courses beyond the thirteen required, with the expectation that a minimum of six courses will contribute to the student’s knowledge of a specific field; these may include a geographic region, chronological period, special topic (e.g., women’s history, legal history, or military history), or a combination thereof. The title of the specialization and proposed curriculum must be approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies or other departmental delegate. A maximum of two courses counting toward the specialization may be taken in other departments of the University.

Foreign language

While there is no foreign language requirement, students are strongly encouraged to take at least two semesters of a foreign language, particularly if they plan to pursue a graduate degree in history.