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History | WSU Department of History

Why Major in History?

Take a look at this new video from the WSU Global campus that talks about how awesome it is to be a history major!

Read this year’s annual newsletter to catch up with the Department of History!

Letter from the Chair

No football games, no crammed lecture halls, and no discussion groups over coffee on campus. This has been a year unlike any other for the Department of History. Yet despite the many challenges we are all facing, faculty and students have much to celebrate.…. [Continue reading]



History has long been at the center of a liberal arts education and it remains so today.  As both a humanities discipline and a social science, History possesses elements of literary studies, anthropology, economics, and sociology and teaches a variety of skills that are relevant across the entire range of majors offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. At WSU, the Department of History’s Roots of Contemporary Issues Program is at the heart of the university’s general education requirements.

Learn about our distinctive programs

Alongside the History major, the MA, and the PhD, the Department collaborates with a range of graduate and undergraduate programs, including teacher education, pre-law, and interdisciplinary majors in Asian Studies, Women’s History, Political Science, and Cultural Studies. We also offer a of number graduate and undergraduate scholarships and opportunity for students to conduct faculty-mentored research.

“History is about challenge.  At WSU, professors and peers challenged me to think outside the box, and create original thoughts and theories often times going against perceived norms.  History at WSU challenges students to go beyond, be diligent, and persevere academically.  Writing, reading, and thinking skills are developed and molded to form an ever changing and perfecting student experience.  I credit my study of history with all my success at WSU and with all the success I hope to have in the future.”

Kevin Schilling
B.A. History  (2017) and Top Ten Senior Awardee


“As the ASWSU student body president, I regularly rely on the skills and competencies I gained in history courses at Washington State University.  Critical thinking is consistently reinforced in the WSU Department of History, and that helps me solve complex problems involving student fee increases, curriculum changes, and student safety needs.  Additionally, the Department of History places an emphasis on crafting original arguments, and backing them up with credible, solid sources.  My position as the top advocate for students requires me to engage in discussions on a daily basis with university staff, faculty, and administrators, as we try to come up with ways to make the WSU student experience the best it can be.  With a historical mindset, I am confident in my ability to lead the students of Washington State University into the future.”

Jordan Frost
Associated Students of Washington State University 2017-2018

Featured Undergraduate Courses

Introduction to Latin American History (History 230)

This course is an introductory survey of over five hundred years of Latin American history.  We will engage in the History of Latin America through three main temporal avenues: First, the melding of Indigenous, European, and African cultures from the dawn of the 16th century until the early 19th Century through processes of European conquest and colonization. Second, we will conduct an in-depth analysis of Latin America through the 19th Century, a period which greatly defined the region to this day. Third, we will analyze the integration of Latin America into processes of globalization in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Students will gain both the knowledge and analytical skills to understand the causes and consequences of central problems in Latin American history, with a particular focus on changing social, political, and cultural relations. Emphasis will be placed on the diversity of lived experiences as well as how these experiences have been shaped by broader forces that cut across the region and link Latin America to global changes. Emphasis will also be given to the ways Indigenous peoples and African descendants shaped, and continue to shape, the culture, societies, and politics of the region and beyond. Major themes include conquest and colonization, colonial society (including race, gender, and religious life), independence movements, postcolonial nation-building, struggles for equality and economic independence, and Cold War revolutions.


Civil War & Reconstruction (History 416)

This course explores the causes of the Civil War, the military & political course of the war, and its social consequences in the nation’s Reconstruction. Using Abraham Lincoln as our touchstone, the course will cover topics such as the abolition of slavery, constitutional questions, the limits of military power, and America’s unfinished work. From tried-and-true works by military historians to pop culture, we will examine every angle possible to thoroughly understand this engrossing and potent struggle.





Distinctive Programs and Projects

Fallen Cougars

The Fallen Cougars WSU-WSC WWII Commemoration Project purpose is to recover the lives and restore the humanity of WSC’s war dead, honoring them in a way that will be accessible to all. Dr. Raymond Sun is overseeing the project and working with a team of student researchers. The project is a collaborative effort supported by the WSU Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation (CDSC), the WSU Center for Arts and Humanities, the WSU Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC), and the WSU Department of History.

A story about the Fallen Cougars Project was published in the December 2021 issue of the Center for Arts and Humanities Newsletter.

Learn more about the Fallen Cougars project by clicking here! 

Image of Bryan Hall Clock Tower, 1922, courtesy of WSU Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections
Painting Bryan Hall clock tower, 1922. Courtesy of WSU Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections.

Past as Prologue

Past as Prologue’s bi-weekly radio segments bring engaging stories of Northwest regional history to public audiences. Aiming always to connect past to present, the program shows how both regional and global history can inform our understanding of the world today and features the work and expertise of Washington State University faculty, alumni, graduate students, and affiliates.

Learn more about the Past as Prologue show by clicking here.

Roots of Contemporary IssuesA photo of protesters at WSU.

Roots of Contemporary Issues provides students with the tools to assess and address contemporary issues in a mature, reasoned way, using evidence, critical thinking, and clear written and oral communication skills.

Learn more about RCI by clicking here!

The Hanford History Project

Through the Hanford History Project, WSU leads a coalition of community partners in preserving—and enabling research on—the history of the community near the Hanford nuclear site in south-central Washington state.

Learn more about The Hanford History Project by clicking here!

American West & Pacific Northwest

Washington State University’s Department of History has long been recognized for its premiere graduate program in the American West—a region rich in cultural, social, and environmental diversity.

Learn more about the American West & Pacific Northwest program by clicking here!

Global Leadership Certificate

The Global Leadership Certificate can be integrated with any major and allows students to gain leaderships skills, cross-cultural understanding, and global knowledge. Currently, there are 12 HISTORY courses included on the “coursework” list that count towards the completion of a GLC!

Learn more about getting a Global Leadership Certificate by clicking here!