History (B.A.)

History is central to our understanding of the human experience. The study of the past allows us to place our world in context, whether we want to understand international crises, the significance of a national election, or social relations within our own community. The skills of the historian - the ability to do research in original sources, to think critically, and to write clearly and persuasively - are highly valued in our changing world. The Wayne State Department of History maintains an international reputation for excellence in history, most notably in labor and urban history and in the history of governance and citizenship. Our faculty has received numerous awards for cutting-edge research and excellence in teaching. We teach undergraduate students fundamental research, analytical, and writing skills and train graduate students as professional historians, equipped with the skills to produce original, publishable research in their field of specialization.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for this program are satisfied by the general requirements for undergraduate admission to the University.


Candidates must complete 120 credits in course work including satisfaction of the University General Education Requirements and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Group Requirements, as well as the departmental major  requirements cited below. All course work must be completed in accordance with the regulations of the University and the College governing undergraduate scholarship and degrees.

Major Requirements 

The B.A. with a major in History requires thirty-six credits1 as follows:

Select a survey sequence consisting of at least one course from two of the following regions:6-8
(HS) World Civilization to 1500
(HS) Europe and the World: 1500-1945
(HS) The World Since 1945
(HS) Society and the Economic Transition
(HS) History of Women, Gender and Sexuality in the Modern World
United States
(AI) American Civilization Since World War II
United States to 1877
United States Since 1877
(HS) African Civilizations to 1800
(HS) African Civilizations Since 1800
History of Pre-Modern East Asia
(HS) History of Modern East Asia
(HS) History of Colonial Latin America
(HS) Latin America from Independence to the Present
Five History courses numbered above 3000 to equal at least 15 credits 215
HIS 3000The Historian's Craft 33
HIS 5993(WI) Writing Intensive Course in History 40
HIS 5996Capstone Course for Majors 53
Additional History courses as needed to meet the 36 credit requirement

At least eighteen (18) hours must be in courses taken at Wayne State University.  A minimum GPA of 2.00 in History is required for graduation.


At least two courses must be numbered 3000-3999, at least three courses numbered 4000-5999 (excludes HIS 3000, HIS 4990, HIS 4997HIS 5993 and HIS 5996. Diversity in regional content with at least one course in each region: Europe, United States, and World. Distribution of chronological content with at least one course in the pre-1800 period and at least one course in the post-1800 period.


Should be taken in the sophomore year (or in the first semester for transfer students). This course can fulfill geographic and chronological distributions based on topic.

The Writing Intensive Course in History, which is the final English Composition requirement, should be taken together with HIS 5996. The capstone paper, which serves to complete this requirement, must earn the grade of ‘C’ or better to earn the grade of “S” for the course.

Should be taken at the end of the program

Recommended Cognate Courses: Among recommended cognates for history majors are courses in anthropology, economics, English, political science, and sociology. The history of philosophy, the history of art, and the history of music are also appropriate electives, as are foreign language and culture courses.

Business Administration Cognate Study

Many history majors pursue careers in business and industry. It is possible to arrange a coherent cognate of several courses in the Mike Ilitch School of Business that enhances the preparation of history majors for potential employment in business and industry, and also may serve as background for an M.B.A. program. Interested students should consult advisors in the Mike Ilitch School of Business for assistance in constructing the cognate.

Pre-Law Program

The pre-law program is one of a number of pre-professional programs available in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The following courses are strongly recommended for pre-law students: HIS 5160 and HIS 5170.

History Honors

The History Department offers a Bachelor of Arts degree 'With Honors in History.' Qualified students planning post-baccalaureate work in history or in a professional school are especially encouraged to obtain an honors degree. Honors majors must have a 3.5 g.p.a. in history courses and a 3.3 cumulative g.p.a. in all courses. Honors majors must complete at least fifteen credits in honors-designated coursework, including at least one 4000-level seminar offered through the Honors College; six additional credits in History honors courses, of which at least three credits must be in an upper-division (numbered 3000 or above) honors-option course; and HIS 5995 (Honors Seminar) after the completion of HIS 5996 (Capstone Course). To be admitted to the Honors Seminar, the student must have completed twenty-four credits in history, nine of which must be at or above the 3000 level. Students in the Honors Seminar will ordinarily complete a senior thesis begun in HIS 5996. This thesis will be directed by two regular faculty members; the student will also defend the thesis before them.