The Department of History encourages students to develop an understanding of change--how it happens and why it happens the way it does--that enables them to engage our dynamic world as active and informed citizens.
History is the heart of a liberal arts education. The Department of History encourages students to develop an understanding of change--how it happens and why it happens the way it does--that enables them to engage our dynamic world as active and informed citizens.
Historians are trained to ask tough questions, and to think critically about the past and present. What are the origins of the world in which we live: its social and political organization, its economy, its many diverse cultures? Where did the challenges we face today come from? What lessons can we learn from past societies' efforts to resolve their own challenges? As students work to raise and research these questions, they learn valuable skills they will carry with them for life.
Courses prepare students for the future by imparting core competencies for today's world. History majors learn to conduct research, analyze evidence, and communicate orally and in writing. Because of the geographical breadth of history courses, students develop a global consciousness that enables them to navigate the streets (and the news) from Iowa City to Berlin to Nairobi. Employers value history students' ability to analyze human and social behavior, to research pressing problems, and to express themselves clearly.
Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Internships help history students learn firsthand about career options. Internship locations have included the Iowa Women’s Archives, the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, the African American Museum of Iowa, the Library of Congress, and The Washington Center in Washington, D.C.
Students are encouraged to pursue study abroad experiences in accordance with their foreign language, historical, and cultural interests. For more information, visit the Study Abroad website.
At the History Teaching and Writing Center, undergraduate history majors can get assistance with writing assignments and learn to strengthen their writing skills.
The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college.
Course work for the BA degree in history includes:
- Introduction to the History Major
- Two American history courses
- Two European history courses
- Two history courses on other world regions
- One pre-1700 history course from an approved list of courses
- At least 12 semester hours of elective courses
- Undergraduate History Portfolio course for seniors
In addition to course work for the major, students must complete the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core.
The department emphasizes the ability to communicate orally and in writing on historical matters. The required Introduction to the History Major allows students to work closely with faculty in a small class setting and introduces the diverse sources and methods historians use.
Students examine primary sources created by the people they're studying and analyze the ways historians comb the evidence to interpret historical controversies. History majors learn how to frame their own historical questions, find and analyze relevant sources, and integrate them in support of clearly expressed arguments communicated through writing, podcasts, museum exhibitions, and many types of digital media.
See History in the UI General Catalog to learn more about course work for the major or minor and graduating with honors.
Undergraduate majors may fulfill State of Iowa requirements for licensure as teachers of history and social studies by completing the College of Education’s Teacher Education Program.