What are the origins of the world in which we live: its economy, its social and political organization, its many diverse cultures? The challenges we face today--where did they come from? What lessons can we learn from past societies' efforts to resolve their own challenges?
At the University of Iowa, the Department of History helps students to develop an understanding of change, how it happens and why it happens the way it does, that enables them to engage the world they inhabit. 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 Study at Iowa
Iowa’s undergraduate history program features an outstanding, wide-ranging curriculum, with history courses focused on nearly all world regions from the ancient world to the present day. Many of our courses emphasize "hands-on" history, such as research in local archives, performing oral histories, and developing museum or digital exhibits.
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.
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
The department emphasizes the ability to communicate, both orally and in writing, on historical matters. The required Introduction to the History Major introduces students to the diverse kinds of sources historians use, such as textual, visual, oral history, digital, material culture, and more. In the intro and subsequent courses, students examine primary sources created by the people they're studying and analyze the ways historians comb the evidence to offer varying interpretations of historical controversies. History majors learn how to frame their own historical questions, find and interpret relevant sources, and integrate them in support of clearly expressed arguments.
See History in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major 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.
Minor in History
See History in the UI General Catalog to learn more.
Students interested in the history major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Admission Requirements Tabs
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 Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa, The Washington Center in Washington, D.C., and The Cloisters in New York City. Students also may combine internships with study abroad.
You are encouraged to pursue Study Abroad experiences in accord with your 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.
Faculty, Facilities, and Resources
The Department of History is located in Schaeffer Hall, one of five historic buildings on the university's Pentacrest, just two blocks from the Main Library, which houses two archives frequently tapped by history students: Special Collections and the Iowa Women's Archives.
Through its affiliations with several other university programs, the department also offers access to materials from a variety of disciplines and resources. The State Historical Society of Iowa, in Iowa City, and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in nearby West Branch, Iowa, also are popular sites for research. History students often pursue internships in museums, historical societies, government offices, law firms, and more.
Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and 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.
Application Process Tabs
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.