Feb 06, 2023  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

History, Public History Concentration, B.A.

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Dr. Gabrielle M. Lanier, Interim Department Head
Phone: (540) 568-6132
Email: laniergm@jmu.edu
Location: Jackson Hall, Room 201
Website: http://jmu.edu/history

J. Arndt, K. Borg, J. Butt, P. Dillard, M. Galgano, M. Gubser, S. Guerrier, S. M. Hanifi, K. Hardwick, R. Hyser, G. Lanier, M. Mulrooney, D. Owusu-Ansah, S. Reich, M. Seth

Associate Professors
R. Brannon, S. Chappell, J. Davidson, C. Davis, T. Fitzgerald, M. Gayne, H. Gelfand, Y. Hu, L. King, K. McCleary, R. Meixsel, A. Sandman, W. Van Norman, E. Westkaemper, A. Witmer

Assistant Professors
E. Friss, M. Galmarini-Kabala, P. Herrington


The Department of History supports the academic mission of James Madison University by providing the highest quality educational experiences within the liberal arts tradition that meet students’ needs and prepare students for meaningful careers and active citizenship. The department focuses on the student as individual learner and global citizen. Our dedicated faculty members are classroom innovators and scholars who work responsibly and supportively with students to expand their knowledge and skills, and to create a foundation for their lifelong learning.

Inside the Classroom 

Students of history will become well-rounded and engaged citizens by:

  • Acquiring knowledge of the human condition through the study of political, cultural, and social experiences of people around the world 
  • Learning the historical contexts of major political, intellectual, social, economic, religious and environmental events and transformations 
  • Understanding the major cultural developments in fine and popular arts in societies around the world in their historical contexts 
  • Discerning how people from a variety of societies hold differing values, ethics, and legal concepts and comprehending how these ideas relate to each other and to Western ideas and values

Students of history will gain the following skills:

  • Reading, writing, and speaking effectively and critically 
  • Making informed judgments based on existing evidence 
  • Locating printed and online information to research a topic exhaustively 
  • Critically evaluating textual evidence by identifying its thesis, sources, conclusions, perspective, bias, and reliability

Beyond the Classroom 

While at JMU, students of history will bring the insights and skills they learn in the classroom to their relationship and experiences with their broader communities.

Possibilities for such interactions include: 

  • Leading efforts to promote open dialogue, civic engagement, and public service. 
  • Fostering interdisciplinary relationships by engaging with the larger scholarly community at the university. 
  • Participating in partnerships and events that expand and challenge their own worldview. 
  • Studying abroad to deepen their understanding of cultural differences and non-US historical perspectives and experiences. 
  • Becoming involved in professional work through internships.

Career Opportunities

Students graduating with a major or minor in history leave JMU with skills that are sought after by a wide range of employers. History graduates are adaptive learners and able project managers. As a result, they are particularly marketable in a world where professions change rapidly. Some of the career paths that history majors follow include:

  • Advertising 
  • Archives and Libraries 
  • Business 
  • Communication 
  • Digital humanities 
  • Education 
  • Government 
  • Information Management 
  • Journalism 
  • Law 
  • Non-Profit and Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Project Management 
  • Public History and Museums 
  • Public Policy 
  • Research 
  • Teaching 
  • Writing and Editing

Undergraduate work in history is also a successful foundation for advanced degrees in the humanities, law, the social sciences, medicine, and other disciplines

Co-curricular Activities and Organizations

Degree and Major Requirements

The requirements for a major in history consist of introductory, mid- and upper-level courses. All courses introduce students to the nature of history and survey the globe in a historical context. In addition to involving reading, writing and critical thinking, these courses develop students’ elementary computer skills in identifying and interpreting research sources and presenting research results. The 100- and 200-level courses are world or regional surveys, covering extensive periods of time, while the 300- and 400-level courses focus on specific nations, time periods or themes. The upper-level courses also require more extensive analysis of sources, texts and interpretations. Courses at the 400 level are capstones where students are expected to show an advanced ability to meet all department objectives. Majors in history are strongly encouraged to continue study in foreign languages beyond the minimum university requirement and, when appropriate, to integrate their foreign language studies into their history classes.

This major requires three core courses. Two of these courses are introductory: HIST 101. World History to 1500  and HIST 102. World History Since 1500 . The third required course is HIST 395. History Seminar . This seminar on research methods teaches students the most sophisticated computer applications for research and writing.

In addition to the core requirements, majors must take eight elective courses: two on the 200 level and six on the 300 and 400 levels. At least three of the six upper division courses must be taken at the 400 level. For students writing a senior honors thesis, only three hours of HIST 499. Honors , may be counted among the three 400-level courses required for the major.

Majors must also complete one course at the upper division level in each of the following fields: U.S. history, European history and World history.

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

  • General Education  41 Credit Hours 1
  • Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required) 0-14 Credit Hours 2
  • Philosophy course (in addition to General Education  courses) 3 Credit Hours
  • University electives 29-43 Credit Hours
  • Major requirements (listed below) 33 Credit Hours
Total: 120 Credit Hours


1 The General Education  program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
2 The foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student’s chosen language (typically 232) or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures’ placement test.

Major Requirements

Core Requirements

Total: 33 Credit Hours


1 HUM 252  may be able to fill this requirement. Check with the history adviser.
2 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.

Recommended Schedule for Majors

First Year

Total: 30 Credit Hours

Second Year

Total: 31 Credit Hours

Third Year

Total: 30 Credit Hours

Fourth Year

  • History electives (mix 300 and 400 levels) 9 Credit Hours
  • Electives 18 Credit Hours
  • General Education  courses (Cluster Four ) 3 Credit Hours
Total: 30 Credit Hours

Public History Concentration Requirements

Historians today practice their discipline in a variety of careers as well as in more traditional academic settings. Those historians who work in museums, archives, government agencies, libraries, historic preservation organizations, businesses, contract history firms, cultural resource management firms and historic sites are known as public historians because they use their skills as historians to serve a public audience. The concentration in Public History trains students in the broad range of skills and issues associated with public history while providing them with a solid general background in history.

Students pursuing the public history concentration augment their foundation of traditional history courses by taking introductory and specialized public history courses and completing a semester-long internship. History majors opting to pursue the public history concentration will complete seven elective courses, six of which must be 300/400 level history courses. The public history concentration consists of five courses (15 credit hours).

Students are required to complete two public history core courses and three elective courses. Two of the three elective courses should be chosen from the list of primary electives; the remaining elective course may be chosen from either the primary or secondary list of elective courses.

Core Requirements

Total: 36 Credit Hours


1 This course fulfills the College of Arts and Letters writing-intensive requirement for the major.
2 Six (18 credit hours) of the seven electives must be 300/400-level history courses. At least three courses (9 credit hours) must be 400-level history courses. For honors majors, only three hours of HIST 499. Honors , may be counted among the three 400-level courses required for the major.

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