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Why History?
Kristen Campbell is a Stewardship Officer

Kristen Campbell is a Stewardship Officer

I am a Stewardship Officer in Penn State’s Office of Donor Relations and Special Events. As a Stewardship Officer, I focus on promoting donor stewardship by designing and developing learning materials for an innovative home-grown web program that supports Penn State’s development professionals.

Emma Diehl is a Senior Architectural Historian

Emma Diehl is a Senior Architectural Historian

“Do you want to teach or become a lawyer?” That was usually the question that followed my answer of “history” when asked what my major was when I started at Penn State in the fall of 1999. After being exposed to the diversity of history course offerings at Penn State, my immediate reply soon became “No.”

Daniel Flook is a Historian

Daniel Flook is a Historian

As a historian for the National Register Initiative in the Alaska Regional Office, I am responsible for completing nominations to the National Register of Historical Places for various historic sites on NPS property in the state of Alaska.

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History Major & Minor

Welcome to the Department of History! Currently, hundreds of PSU students are benefiting from our diverse and rigorous majors and minors. This undergraduate website mainly distills information for students who are enrolled in our majors or minors. It contains basic degree and major requirements, appropriate forms, and contact information for faculty and staff who can help you plan your undergraduate career.

If you are visiting these pages because you are thinking about a History major, here are some things to consider as you ponder your choice.

Why Major in History at Penn State?

Chances are you've been asked this question more than once, or maybe even asked it yourself. In today's job-conscious environment, technical or vocational majors hold understandable attractions. The History major's immediate career payoff is not as pronounced as, say, an accounting major's. But there are many compelling reasons to choose the History major as a wonderful investment for the long haul, not just in career terms, but in terms of personal intellectual development and enrichment.

History majors acquire skills critical in today's workplace. History majors learn how to learn. Increasingly, the work world places a premium on this kind of flexibility; most people change jobs frequently, and jobs themselves are transformed rapidly, so that workers need to learn new skills all the time. History majors can have a long-term edge in this type of environment, because they are taught how to conceptualize an issue; how to research it; how to weigh evidence; how to make conclusions; and how to present their work in a compelling and coherent fashion.

Penn State History majors have enjoyed a success in a wide variety of fields. They are found in many fields that do relate to the major, such as historic preservation, museum work, and education. A healthy representation of our majors go on to law school and graduate school. However, it is not at all unusual to find former history majors in areas that might not immediately come to mind. PSU history majors can be found in architecture; software development; Web development; banking; federal government work; and the Peace Corps, to name just a few. They tend to do well because their basic skills are sound.

History majors benefit from close involvement with humanistic learning. History is one of the oldest disciplines. Good history writing is an aesthetic triumph in its own right. At its best, history offers a compelling vision of human activity and capability- from the heights of human creativity and compassion, to the depths of cruelty. It offers a unique analytical perspective on the world, too, because it brings to bear a comprehensive view that social-science disciplines seldom match. To understand history, we need to know about culture, religion, art, as well as politics and war. The study of history permits a breadth of knowledge, an understanding of trends, and many other intellectual perspectives that allow an individual to better comprehend today's complex world.

History majors at PSU benefit from an excellent faculty, sound curriculum and small class sizes. PSU History faculty consistently receive good student ratings; over the years they have been well represented among winners of teaching and advising awards. Eighty percent of our classes are taught by professors. The History curriculum offers rigor and balance. Almost all of our 400-level classes are capped at 35 students; this means that History students enjoy close contact with faculty to a degree that is unusual at Penn State.

History Major Requirements (PDF)
History Minor Requirements (PDF)
Non-Western History Requirements (PDF)
History 302W Course Descriptions (PDF)
University Bulletin History Course List
Schedule of Courses

News and Events
Bill Cossen has been awarded the Bernard Bellush Prize
Rob Shafer has been awarded a fellowship opportunity
David G. Smith's book has been published
Rachel Moran was featured on BackStory with the American History Guys
Bill Cossen has been awarded a research travel grant
John Hoenig's article will be published in the Winter of 2013
Sean Trainor will be presenting his paper in Washington, DC
Jan Logemann's book has been published
Evan Rothera won the Outstanding Graduate Paper Award
Alfred Wallace was awarded the Rear Admiral Ernest M. Eller Graduate Research Grant
Hongyan Xiang was granted a research travel award by the Asian Institute
Bill Cossen has been awarded the Dorothy Mohler Research Grant
Courtney Rong Fu's chapter has been published
Sean Trainor has been awarded a short-term fellowship
Deirdre Fulton has accepted a new position
Bill Cossen has won the 2012 George P. Hammond prize
History Majors win three thesis awards
Will Bryan has won an award
Katie Falvo has been granted a fellowship award
Andrea Gatzke has been appointed Assistant Professor
Kenneth Ristau has accepted a position at MacEwan University
Courtney Rong Fu recently presented a paper at West Chester University
Michael Tuttle recently presented a paper at the R.S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology
Michael Gabriel has won an award
Jennifer J. Davis's book has been published
Christine Reese has accepted a tenure-track position with Louisiana College
Andrea Gatzke wins 2012 IAH Summer Residency
Evan Rothera receives Thomas Critchlow Award and Sigmund Strochlitz Travel Grant
John Hoenig studies quest for the 12-month tomato
Bill Cossen recently presented a paper
Hongyan Xiang's article has been published
Rachel Moran received a Postdoctoral Fellowship
Sean Trainor's articles have recently been featured
Sean Trainor was recently interviewed
Bill Cossen's article will be published
David Hensley's article will appear in the Journal of Belgian History
Bill Cossen has been awarded the Presidential Graduate Scholarship
Bill Cossen's article has been accepted for an upcoming issue
Evan Rothera received a Filson Fellowship
Utsa Ray, a 2009 PhD graduate, has been appointed
Bill Cossen's article has appeared in American Catholic Studies
Lauren Kaplow has accepted a visiting Assistant Professorship
Jeffrey Rop has accepted a tenure-track Assistant Professorship
Tim Wesley has accepted a tenure-track position
Courtney Rong Fu has been named a 2014 Career Development Awardee
Antwain Hunter has accepted a tenure-track position
Sean Trainor's article has appeared in The Appendix
Eric Welch has been offered a Hill Dissertation Fellowship
Hsin-fang Wu has been named a 2014 Career Development Awardee
Sean Trainor was recently interviewed
William Cossen elected as GSA Representative
Sean Trainor awarded two fellowships
Hongyan Xiang receives USF Ricci Doctoral Research Fellowship
Three students awarded IAH Graduate Student Summer Residencies
Three students place in the Graduate School's Graduate Exhibition
Bill Cossen's paper has been accepted
Jason Strandquist has been selected as a participant
Sean Trainor was recently awarded
Mark Christensen's first book has been published
Michael Tuttle wins Clark G. Reynold Student Paper Award for his paper entitled "Women in Western Waters: Myth and Reality"
Evan Rothera presents paper entitled “Beyond Comparative Emancipation: Comparative Reconstructions as a Category of Analysis" at an international conference in Germany
Evan Rothera presents paper at interdisciplinary conference at Chestnut Hill College
Rachel Moran presents paper, awarded NSF travel grant
Chris Hayashida-Knight has received a research grant
Sean Trainor has been awarded a fellowship
The Richards Center and our graduate students were featured in an article
Hongyan Xiang recently gave a talk at the University of Toronto
Karen Younger (PhD, 2006) has accepted a position
Will Bryan has been selected as a nominee
Bill Cossen was recently interviewed
Will Bryan received a Post-Doctoral Fellowship
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