Academic Catalog

History (B.A.)

A bachelor’s degree in history promises not just a knowledge of the past, but also an array of versatile and valuable skills that employers in many fields are looking for. History students at Wayne State conduct exciting research in archives, in Detroit and across the world. They learn to evaluate and interpret evidence, think critically, and communicate clearly and persuasively. They have opportunities to intern at museums and archives and to showcase their research at conferences and in public exhibits. Many students pair their History education with double-majors and minors in a range of other disciplines such as anthropology, biological sciences, English, and political science. That interdisciplinary grounding combined with critical analysis, which lies at the heart of historical inquiry, prepares students for a host of different careers. Our alumni have put their talents and skills to use in a range of professions, including in business, education, museums, public policy, intelligence, the nonprofit sector, publishing, and tourism. A history degree also provides a strong foundation for graduate work in the social sciences and humanities, and for professional programs in law and medicine.

Located in the heart of Detroit's Cultural Center, Wayne State is the ideal place to study history! Detroit's rich local history and world-class archives offer an unparalleled opportunity to learn about our city's storied past and examine the complex political, social, and cultural history of the United States. Courses on Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East – as well as WSU's study abroad programs – encourage students to explore the world. Undergraduate courses are taught by world-renowned and award-winning faculty who are experts in their fields. Our program emphasizes both rigorous scholarship and public engagement. All of our students have opportunities to conduct original research, develop cutting-edge digital skills, and gain hands-on experience through internships.

Admission Requirements

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

Career Considerations

Law and the LawStart program
History is a common major for students interested in pursuing a law degree.  Students interested in Law are encouraged to consider the LawStart program, which allows students to combine work on the B.A. and J.D. in the fourth year, saving a year in earning both degrees.

Non-Profit Management of Historical Agencies
Many history majors pursue careers in public history or in business and industry.  A minor in business administration can help prepare majors for managing non-profit historical agencies as well as serve as background for an M.B.A. program.

Pre-Med Curriculum
With the current shift toward STEM disciplines, students are finding that combining a major in History may give their med school applications a second look by providing a more well-rounded undergraduate experience.  Students interested in attending medical school are encouraged to look into the MedStart Program.

Teaching History at the High School Level
Majors who are interested in teaching History to teens rather than adults often pursue a B.A. in history and an M.A.T. through the College of Education.  Students may need a provisional certificate to teach while earning their graduate education degree, depending on the setting.

Archives, Museums, and Libraries
Many of our alumni are employed as archivists, museum curators, or librarians in historical collections.  Wayne State offers a nationally-recognized graduate certificate in Archival Administration, which can be undertaken on its own or in conjunction with a master's in History or a master's in Library and Information Science.

Continuing on in History
Undergraduate majors in History are often looking forward to graduate studies and becoming a professional historian, doing research and teaching in a university setting.  Student pursuing this option should be aware that and overall GPA of at least a 3.00 and a major GPA of at least 3.25 is required to be competitive for admission to graduate school. Students who intend to complete an M.A. at Wayne State before moving to another institution for the Ph.D. are encouraged to undertake the AGRADE program, which allows majors to double-count up to 16 hours of undergraduate coursework for their graduate degree.

Program Requirements

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 

Students must complete thirty-six credits in History (which may include a maximum of 18 transfer credits).  Specific requirements are as follows:

Survey Courses (select one from each of two different geographic regions)6-8
World Civilization to 1500
Europe and the World: 1500-1945
The World Since 1945
Nature and Societal Transitions
History of Women, Gender and Sexuality in the Modern World
United States
History of the Headlines: United States Since World War II
American Foundations to 1877
Modern America: Since 1877
African Civilizations to 1800
African Civilizations Since 1800
East Asia to the 1700s
History of Modern East Asia
History of Colonial Latin America
Latin America from Independence to the Present
HIS 3000The Historian's Craft3
Advanced Courses18
Select five History courses numbered 3001 or above, with at least 3 courses numbered above 5000. Special courses do not count for this requirement (excludes HIS 4990, HIS 4997, and HIS 5996).Of these 5 courses, students must include diversity in geographic content by including one course in each geographic region (Europe, United States, World).
Chronological Distribution
Within the work done to fulfill the survey sequence and the advanced coursework, two courses must be in the pre-1800 time period and two courses must be in the post-1800 time period so that every major has research experience with pre- and post-industrial history.
HIS 5996Junior or Senior Research Seminar3
Additional History courses as needed to reach 36 total hours in the major.

History Honors (B.A. Program)

Students contemplating advanced degrees in History are encouraged to obtain the B.A. with Honors in History.  Honors majors must complete the following in addition to the normal major requirements, above:

Cumulative GPA of a 3.30, and a major GPA of 3.50
15 credits in honors-designated coursework, including:
Seminar: Global Perspectives on Historical Studies
6 credits in honors-option courses in History which are numbered above 3000
One additional honor course in any discipline
HIS 5995, the History Honors Seminar, which is taken after the completion of HIS 5996. Typically, students will begin their senior thesis in HIS 5996 and complete it in HIS 5995. This thesis will be directed by two regular faculty members; the student will also defend the thesis before them.

History AGRADE Requirements

The History department’s M.A. and M.A.P.H. degrees both offer the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Accelerated Graduate Enrollment (AGRADE) program to qualified undergraduates. AGRADE provides the opportunity for top students to enroll simultaneously in an undergraduate and graduate degree program, and to apply a maximum of 16 credits toward both their undergraduate and master’s degrees in the student's major or closely aligned field.

Students electing AGRADE programs may expect to complete both their bachelor's and master's degrees in only five years of full-time study. This allows students to save both time and money as they pursue their undergraduate and graduate degrees simultaneously, making the most of their experiences at Wayne State. Students must apply for the AGRADE program during the semester that they earn 90 credits toward an undergraduate degree (typically during junior year). Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 and final approval from their major department. In addition, the Department of History requires the following materials for application to AGRADE:

  • completion of the WSU History AGRADE application; a copy of the student's unofficial transcript(s);
  • a copy of the student's HIS 3000 paper or another paper based on primary source research;
  • a one-page single-spaced letter of interest that conveys clearly and concisely the student's proposed area(s) of study, including period, region, topic, and/or approach, tentative career goals, and the faculty member(s) with whom the student would like to work and why;
  • a letter of recommendation from a faculty member (the faculty member should email their recommendation directly to the Director of Graduate Studies).

More information about AGRADE is available through CLAS.

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