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. 

Why Iowa?

The Department of History brings together world-class faculty, an outstanding curriculum, and excellent resources to support our students' academic pursuits. Our faculty are experts renowned for their scholarship and service, who contribute to the historical profession in the classroom, on campus, and around the world. 

Iowa's undergraduate history program features a wide-ranging curriculum covering nearly all world regions from the ancient world to the present day. Many courses emphasize "hands-on" history, such as research in local archives, conducting oral histories, and developing museum or online exhibits. Our proximity to libraries, archives, and museums provides opportunities for students to engage with the past in new and exciting ways. 

One of the largest majors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, history builds on a broad liberal arts base. Faculty and students in the department participate in many of the university's interdisciplinary departments and programs, including American Studies, African American Studies, Latina/o Studies, International Studies, International Relations, Global Health Studies, Environmental Policy and Planning, Museum Studies, and Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies. 

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


  Teaching Licensure
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our  Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

Iowa’s history graduates regularly meet the admission requirements of the best graduate and professional schools in the country. History majors often pursue postgraduate education in law, public policy, information management, and the health professions, as well as the MA or PhD in history. 

Graduates of the UI history department occupy prominent positions in government, business, journalism, law, entertainment, education, the nonprofit sector, information management, and other fields.  

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500  student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100  study abroad  programs and multiple  undergraduate research opportunities

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. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


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.

Teaching Licensure

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.