Undergraduate Major

History (BA)

History matters. It tells us who we are and informs our decisions. History majors gain in-depth understanding of societies, economies, political systems, conflicts, and the skills to research, analyze, write, and persuade.

History PMC Museum

Program Overview

Engage with the past through the experiences of those who shaped it and were shaped by it – people like Napoleon, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Kim Jong-il, as well as lesser-known figures including samurai in Japan, enslaved people in the Caribbean, and soldiers in World War I.

You'll learn in small, discussion-based classes, receiving encouragement from professors who care about your personal and professional goals. Take advantage of immersive resources like our on-campus museums and local archives, as well as nearby Philadelphia, to bring the past to life.

Through opportunities such as internships and international travel, you'll deepen your focus while gaining marketable skills that develop your critical and creative thinking. Complete with senior research and perhaps a conference presentation, you'll graduate with a distinguished resume ready for a career in education, business, government, and beyond. 

Program Options

View Loading... requirements for the history major.

Widener's pre-professional pathways give you the flexibility to follow your interests while preparing for a professional career.

History majors can participate in the following pathways:

History is the best preparation for students interested in pursuing a law degree and our acceptance rates at regional law schools are high. By special arrangement with Widener’s law schools, history majors may choose a “3+3” option whereby they use their first year at the law school to complete the last year of their Widener undergraduate degree in history. History majors may also pursue a Loading... offered by the College of Arts and Sciences.

History majors who wish to teach social studies can seek certification. This comprehensive certificate permits graduates to teach secondary social studies courses, including history, political science, economics, geography, and world cultures in secondary schools. History majors gain the competency and knowledge base required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education from their coursework in history, economics, political science, comparative political systems, geography, non-Western cultures, and historical and social science research methods; from their professional education courses; and from multiple field experiences and placements in high school classrooms.

View Loading... requirements for the history secondary education certification.

Students may minor in history by taking a total of 21 semester hours in history (7 courses). Two of these courses may be at the introductory level.

View Loading... requirements for the history minor.

History majors can seek the Digital Humanities Concentration. Digital humanities is a rapidly growing, interdisciplinary field that incorporates new tools and methodologies for pursuing modes of inquiry and producing forms of scholarship and engagement in the humanities. It seeks to apply humanistic reasoning and research to important questions related to technology, such as social sustainability, big data, and privacy. Work in digital humanities includes public humanities, data mining/visualization, web design, textual analysis, educational technology, and ethics and technology.

View Loading... requirements for the digital humanities concentration.

Program Highlights

The history department hosts a wide variety of events per year, including urban excursions to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., historic site visits, symposia, Meet-the-Historian, and special guest lectures. You'll always be engaging with new people and ideas.

Flexible Curriculum

You’ll choose courses in American, European, and Global history and have the flexibility to double-major or minor. Plan a career by combining history with pre-PT or Digital Humanities. Studying history is the best preparation for law school and teaching, and the analysis skills you’ll gain are critically important for work in business and government.

Undergraduate Research & Civic Engagement

You'll study history and also “do history.” Answering your own historical questions with archival research are hallmarks of our program. You'll also bring history to life for the Widener community and beyond through hands-on projects. Recent activities include a Humanities Summer Camp for middle school students and an archival “treasure hunt” for community members.

History Networking

Internship & Networking Opportunities

You'll gain insider access to a broad network of professionals in your field such as at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies or at the Pennsylvania Historical Association’s annual meeting. History majors present their research at conferences regionally and internationally, and students earn course credit for internships at archives, historic sites, and advocacy organizations.

English Philadelphia

Philadelphia & Beyond

Our region is rich with historic sites and you’ll join us on many excursions to see the past in the present. We’ll investigate local architecture and urban design, a Japanese garden, immigrant neighborhoods, and the decorative arts as historical sources. If your passion is world history, study abroad anywhere from Germany to China.

Faculty

Our learning community is diverse, strong, and supportive. Our professors invest in your success through close mentoring and continual feedback. Get to know our History faculty.

Yufeng Mao
Associate Professor

“My research and teaching focus on East Asian and world history. I'm interested in how China, Japan, and Korea have historically interacted with each other, with the West, and with the rest of the world. My classes aim to help students critically assess original documents and form coherent arguments supported by historical evidence."

Jordan B. Smith
Assistant Professor of History

“I help students recognize that history surrounds us. We visit museums and reflect on the human relationships that created a painting, a chair, or a teacup. And we connect classroom lessons on slavery, the constitution, or the Civil War to ongoing public discussions. Students leave my classes asking new questions about the past and present.”

Richard Hopkins
Associate Professor

"Students become historians by "doing history" – they learn to think critically about the past, to develop research questions and conduct research, . . . and to have fun! History is an endlessly fascinating inquiry into the human past that can yield essential insights into the human present."

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

History students often find internships—and gain course credit—at historic sites, museums, and archives like Philadelphia's Independence Hall or the National Museum of American Jewish History. These engaged experiences will set you on the inside track for a diverse array of careers.

Recent Employers & Industry Connections

  • Kennedys CMK
  • Cozen O’Connor
  • TD Bank
  • Chester County School District
  • EF Education First
  • National Park Service
  • The Library Company of Philadelphia
  • Skinner Auctioneers & Appraisers
  • Oracle Corporation

Outlook & Outcomes

Potential Careers

  • Law
  • Education
  • Government
  • Public history
  • Public relations

Industry Growth

Job outlook for archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations at 13% from 2016 to 2026.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Exceptional Law & Graduate School Placements

Recent Widener history graduates have attended distinguished law schools and received advanced degrees at universities nationwide.

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