Learning Abroad for History Majors

"The History major is designed to make students more aware of the broader contexts — chronological, geographical, and political — within which they lead their lives. Study abroad can contribute enormously to that goal." —Jeremy King

History is and has long been a discipline structured around the study of particular places and their pasts.  Study abroad offers an opportunity to bring historical understanding into sharper focus, through direct experience and engagement with one another culture and language. History courses taken abroad can count towards the history major requirements with the approval of the chair.

Students will find it useful to consult with members of the department as they make plans for study abroad, not only to clear the classes they wish to take for history credit in advance, but also to take advantage of insights faculty may have regarding the proposed study location. History majors conduct summer research leading to senior independent study projects all over the world. 

The Department of History strongly encourages students majoring in history to study abroad. Living and studying abroad awakens in all of us fresh perspectives on the broad experience of being human and on the discipline of critical inquiry – understanding the present in light of the past, contextualizing historical events, measuring change over time, grasping relationships between cause and effect, sifting for historical knowledge amid myths and misinformation.

Experience abroad opens our minds to other peoples’ pasts and allows us to understand others in terms of their own histories. Abroad, we confront different landscapes and spaces, foreign languages, local customs and rituals, and unfamiliar monuments and artifacts. We come up against ideas and conventions that challenge our own unexamined ways of acting in the world and prompt us to deconstruct our own cherished historical interpretations, to construct new historical questions, and to explore and exploit sources of relevance for greater understanding.

Students learning abroad acquire empathy for the rhythms, values, and narratives of their host societies, as well as gain critical ways of thinking about their own traditions, customs, and conventions. They come to appreciate better both the past and the present in their manifold complexities.

Study Abroad

Where to Study
Students are especially encouraged to study in a country or academic institution where they find a particular connection with their major or minor. Majors in history have studied in many cities of the world: Beijing, Berlin, Madrid, Prague, Dakar, Montpellier, Edinburgh, New Delhi, Tokyo, Cairo, Santiago, Canberra. They have often furthered their expertise in a foreign language and carried out independent research. Advisors in the History Department regularly go over the array of options open to history majors and discuss strategies for combining the experience abroad with the major, with possible research projects, and with internships.

For a list of where past and present History majors have studied and a summary of the courses that they took abroad, check this searchable database. Note that this is not a definitive list of what is possible and should serve only as a useful guide and planning resource. 

The McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives Study Abroad website is also an excellent resource for programs, application procedures, deadlines, financial aid, and more.

  • Laurel Fellowships (need-based financial aid) are readily available to qualified students.

When to Study
Most history majors study abroad in their junior year, whether for a single semester or for the whole year. Some students study abroad in the second semester of their sophomore year, and others in the first semester of their senior year. Students interested in studying abroad are encouraged to speak with the staff in the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and to discuss their proposed academic program with their major advisor or with the chair of the Department. Students going abroad are also encouraged to consider using their experience abroad for independent research projects and internships.

Credit Transfer
Courses taken abroad in the field of history at an approved university or program will transfer readily to a student’s program in history at Mount Holyoke. Students should consult in advance with their major advisor about their plan of study abroad. Upon their return, they may petition the chair of the Department to have their courses considered as fulfilling the Department’s requirements for coursework with substantial content before 1750, in three world regions, and at particular levels (200, 300). For that purpose, they should keep a copy of course syllabuses, as well as of their own written work. Note that students must fulfill the requirement of a 300-level research seminar at Mount Holyoke.

Summer Internships and Research Abroad

Students in the History department are encouraged to do an internship or research project abroad in areas related to their interests in history. Stints in research institutes, libraries, archives, museums, archaeological digs, and additional settings often provide history majors with inspiration and sources for independent study projects, including senior research projects leading to a thesis.

  • The Department invites students to apply for funding from its Almara and Pugh Grants, which support independent research by majors. Students interested in applying for an Almara and/or Pugh Grant should contact the History Department.
  • Funding is available through the Lynk Universal Application Form (UAF). For more details about internship opportunities and funding, please contact Kirk Lange, Director of International Experiential learning at the McCulloch Center.  

Two application rounds are held each year, usually in October and in March. Students interested in projects in history that cannot be funded by Pugh or Almara Grants are also eligible to receive funding from various 

The McCulloch Center curates a number of MHConnect internships which have relevance for History majors through the MHC International Internship Program (MHC-IIP).  Students also have the option of developing their own summer internship or research project. 

Next Steps

Students interested in exploring possibilities for learning abroad are encouraged to contact the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. April Stroud is the primary advisor for study abroad, and Kirk Lange can offer guidance on internships or research abroad. Students should also consult with their advisor about how they can best connect and integrate learning abroad with their work in the major.