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Majoring and Minoring in History

Professor Shokr advises a student during office hours.


Admission to the department as a major or minor normally requires a B average in at least two history courses taken at Swarthmore and a satisfactory standard of work in all courses. In addition, admission to double credit seminars and the Honors Program as either a major or minor requires a B+ average in at least two Swarthmore history courses, a record of active and informed participation in class discussions, and recommendations from History Department faculty members. Courses in Ancient History offered by the Classics Department count toward this prerequisite. The department reserves the right to withhold evaluation of applications submitted after the deadline. If after applying a student is deferred, the department will review their application at the end of each semester until the student is either accepted into the major or withdraws their application. Students who intend to continue the study of history after graduation should bear in mind that a reading knowledge of one or two foreign languages is generally assumed for admission to graduate school.

All majors in history must take at least nine credits in history that fulfill the following requirements:

  • They complete at least six of their nine credits at Swarthmore. Only one credit from AP/IB will count toward the nine credits required for the major.
  • They take at least one course or seminar at Swarthmore from each of the following categories:
    1. before 1800 (including Ancient History courses)
    2. outside Europe and the United States, specifically Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Near East. This distribution requirement (see courses or visit the department office) encourages students to explore various fields of history and engage in comparative historical analysis. Students must use different courses or seminars to fulfill this requirement. 
  • They successfully complete the Senior Research Seminar (HIST 091) in which students write a research paper based on primary sources. This course (which counts as one of the required nine credits) satisfies the College's requirement that all majors have a culminating exercise and is only offered during the fall semester. The department encourages students to consult faculty members about their topics by the end of their junior year and select their topic prior to taking the Senior Research Seminar. Juniors are also strongly encouraged to apply for summer research fellowships through the Division of Social Sciences.

Course Minor

To graduate with a minor in history, a student must complete five history credits at Swarthmore College (AP, transfer credit, and foreign study courses do not count). Two of the five credits must be from courses above the introductory level (course numbers 011 and higher; honors minors will meet this requirement with their honors seminar), and one credit may be in an Ancient History course offered by the Classics Department. Honors minors will complete one double-credit seminar as part of their academic program.