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Majoring and Minoring in History

Professor Shokr advises a student during office hours.

Admission to the Department as a course 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. Courses in Ancient History (ANCH) offered by the Classics Department count toward the two-history-courses 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.

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.

Course Majors

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

Class of 2024 and Previous Classes

  • 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. (Read more about our External Credit Policies.)
  • They take at least one course or seminar at Swarthmore from each of the following categories:
    1. before 1800 (including Ancient History courses) and
    2. outside Europe and the United States, specifically Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Near East. This distribution requirement 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. (Find what courses meet our Distribution Requirement.)
  • They complete the culminating project, HIST 091 Senior Research Seminar. 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.

Class of 2025 and Following Classes

All majors must take at least nine credits—six of which must be taken at Swarthmore—in History that fulfill the following requirements.  No more than two Ancient History courses can count toward the major. AP/IB credit does not satisfy any department major or minor requirements

  • One introductory course (001-010; first-year seminar, survey)
  • One course in historical methodology and theory preferably taken before the senior year
  • Four courses in one Concentration that cannot focus exclusively on only one geographical area or time period. Please note that not all concentrations may be met over a two- or three-year cycle. It is crucial that majors consult closely with the chair of the department to identify courses that satisfy a concentration. None of the four courses can be done outside the Department of History (this includes AP/IB, Ancient History courses, Tri-Co courses, and study abroad courses).
    • Concentrations: Capitalism; Culture and Identity; Domination and Resistance; Empire and Nations; Gender and Sexuality; Migration, Diaspora and Space; and Science, Medicine, and Environment 
  • Three other credits in History
  • HIST 091 Senior Research Seminar must be taken in the Fall semester of the senior year. Students cannot take this course CR/NC.

Course Minors

Class of 2024 and Previous Classes

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.

Class of 2025 and Following Classes

All minors must take at least five credits at Swarthmore (AP, IB, transfer credits, and foreign study courses do not count). At least two credits must be taken as upper-division courses or double-credit seminars. Only one can be an Ancient History course.