Learning Abroad for History Majors

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.

"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

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.

When to Study

There is no prescribed time for study abroad. 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 summer internships 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. 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 College sources through the Universal Application Form. Students interested in applying for an Almara and/or Pugh Grant should contact the History Department.

Students also have the option of developing their own summer internship or research project. Support for unpaid opportunities is available through the Universal Application Funding (UAF), which offers students access to funding from a variety of College fellowship sources to cover travel and living expenses for the duration of the project. Students with a family contribution of less than $5000 may also receive a $500 grant to apply towards their summer earnings contribution. Both the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives and the Career Development Center have student evaluations of past international internships on file.