Students wishing to major in history typically declare their intention sometime in the fourth semester of College. The requirements for a major in history emphasize both a broad exposure to different time periods and regions of the world, as well as a rigorous engagement with the practice of history as a discipline grounded in the use of primary sources.  All courses are designed to contribute in various ways to the College’s Learning Goals.

Though not required for the history major or minor, an independent study course is often one of the most rewarding experiences in the history curriculum. Whereas 100-300-level survey and seminar courses introduce students to periods and themes designed by members of the faculty, an independent study course allows a student to chart her own intellectual path. 

The History Department contributes to a number of the College's pre-professional nexus programs, and the history department encourages students to consider pairing a major in history with a NEXUS. Students often use history courses to complete these NEXUS programs:

The study of history is much bigger than one department, and students are strongly encouraged to complement their major program with related programs and offerings from across the campus, the Five Colleges and beyond.

The History Major


  1. A minimum of 36 credits (9 courses) in history, no more than half of which may be at the 100 level. Of these 36 credits, students must also meet the following requirements:
    • One course each from three different regions, chosen from the following: Africa, Asia (including the Middle East), Europe, Latin America, North America.
    • A minimum of three 300-level courses, to include: (1) one research seminar, taken in the department (any course numbered between 302-394); and (2) two additional 300-level courses, of which only one may be History 395.
    • One course with substantial content in a period prior to 1750
  2. A statement of topical, chronological, or geographical concentration based on four courses, at least three of which must be history courses (history courses may be counted from the 36 credit requirement). The major advisor must approve a statement of this concentration during the second semester of the student’s junior year. 

The department encourages students to pursue independent work at the 300 level during the senior year. Students who intend to pursue independent work in the senior year should plan to complete their research seminar during the junior year. Students interested in senior independent work, who also plan junior years at institutions other than Mount Holyoke College, will need to take special care to meet this requirement. For more information on independent work leading to a Senior Thesis, see the information located in the side menu. 

To see if you have satisfied the requirements for the major in history, please consult the department’s online Checklist of Graduation Requirements.

The History Minor


A minimum of 20 credits (5 courses) in history. Of these 20 credits, students must also meet the following requirements:

  • One 300-level research seminar
  • Four courses above the 100-level

Teacher Licensure in History

Students interested in pursuing licensure in the field of history can combine their coursework in history with a minor in education. In some instances coursework in the major coincides with coursework required for licensure; in other cases, it does not. For specific course requirements for licensure within the major of history, please consult your advisor or the chair of the history department. See the Department of Psychology and Education's Teacher Licensure Program for more information.

Development Studies Nexus

The Development Studies Nexus track gives students the analytical skills to understand the complexities of global poverty, inequality, and injustice and strategies that state and non-state actors have used to improve the well-being of the people.

Through an interdisciplinary set of courses, devised in consultation with the Nexus track chair, students can explore the relationships among history, politics, economics and power that shape the conditions and choices that developing countries and marginalized people around the globe face. Ultimately, the track enables students to engage thoughtfully with the development endeavor, and to imagine ways to promote social, economic, and environmental justice from the personal to the global scale.

Educational Policy and Practice NEXUS

The Nexus in Educational Policy and Practice is intended to provide students with an opportunity to conduct a cross-disciplinary exploration of an education-related topic. The multidisciplinary nature of the Nexus offers varied perspectives on contemporary contexts and historical moments that shape and define knowledge, behavior, structures, organizations, and policies both in and out of educational settings. Examples of these varied perspectives include Education: Policy and Politics; Philosophy and the Child; International Education; Women and Leadership; Education and the Arts; Environmental Education.

Journalism, Media, and Public Discourse NEXUS

Many departments, including English, history, sociology, and politics, offer hands-on and theory-based courses in journalism and public media. Students learn to examine the world with an educated, critical eye; to collect material from a wide range of sources; and to analyze and communicate information clearly and concisely. MHC’s approach reflects the reality of the job market: employers in journalism and media want students who are knowledgeable and articulate across a wide array of subjects in the liberal arts, who are creative, flexible thinkers with superior writing and analytical capabilities. The Nexus in Journalism, Media, and Public Discourse encourages students to explore journalism and media through many venues. In the classroom, students can master the nuts and bolts of reporting and fact-checking a news story, examine the history of the New York Times, or analyze the role of media in contemporary society.

Law, Public Policy and Human Rights NEXUS

The goal of the Nexus in Law, Public Policy and Human Rights is to provide students with the tools necessary to form a deep understanding of how complex relationships between local and national political processes both create public policies and shape legislation and its interpretation. This Nexus provides students with both an academic and experiential lens. Students will choose courses from several departments including politics, economics, history, and sociology in order to examine how both law and public policies are imbedded in much larger social, historical, and economic realities.

Public History, Archives, and Museums NEXUS

The Nexus in Public History, Museums, Archives and Digital Humanities allows students to explore careers which draw specifically on capacities developed in the study of the humanities. These fields require multiple literacies: professionals must be fluent in understanding, analyzing, and communicating about visual artifacts, material culture/objects, historical landscapes, and digital sources.