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American West, Pacific Northwest History & Borderlands


American West

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.

The number, quality, and range of our faculty who teach courses and who research and publish on the region are unparalleled in the Northern West. Over the years they have trained and mentored students who have gone on to earn faculty positions at institutions across the country and others who work as public historians at places ranging from the National Park Service to local historical societies and agencies.

The vitality of our program is further supported by faculty in allied departments and centers across our campuses, including in American studies, English, Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, and the Plateau Center for American Indian Studies.

Departmentally-sponsored seminars, field courses, and annual programs on the West, as well as our students’ participation in regional history conferences, not only enhance our students’ intellectual experiences, but further prepare them for a challenging and rapidly changing employment market.

Pacific Northwest

WSU’s Department of History is also home to the country’s most vital graduate program in Pacific Northwest history.

Several of our faculty focus their work specifically on this significant sub-region of the United States and Canada. Any number of our graduate students past and present have written dissertations on the region, dissertations that they have subsequently transformed into prize-winning articles and books.

The rich archival resources of WSU and the location of its several campuses, each with access to a multiplicity of federal, state, and local archives and historical societies, sustain the research of our faculty and students. Our programming, our students’ scholarly interests, and WSU’s library resources all serve to support the study of the Pacific Northwest in our department.

Borderlands

WSU’s Department of History also boasts a robust number of scholars working in Southwestern borderlands history and studies. Necessarily interdisciplinary in nature, borderlands studies has roots in various fields of scholarship. One of the earliest, the Bolton school, mapped conflict in the borderlands of the U.S. and Mexico from a Euro-centric perspective. Chicanx Studies, a field with ties to the liberation movements of the mid-twentieth century, provides other roots, for example in the work of Gloria Anzaldúa that emphasized borders as places of conflict and alienation, but also of survival and knowledge production. In the 21st century, borderlands studies has expanded to embrace multiple spaces as borderlands, where people, ideologies, and nations come into conflict and cooperation with each other, producing violence as well as unique and thriving cultures and histories.

 

 

 

 

Admissions


Please note that M.A. and Ph.D. applicants wishing to be considered for a teaching assistantship must submit applications prior to January 10. The application file must be complete by that time. Those simply wishing admission into our graduate program must submit their materials by March 1.

The department admits students separately to the M.A. and Ph.D. programs. It is understood that some students may choose not to continue beyond the M.A., and that others may not be permitted to do so. M.A. candidates who do not intend to continue on to the doctoral program may want to consider the department’s non-thesis option at the M.A. level. The aim of the thesis option at the M.A. level is to provide students with research training leading to degree candidacy in the doctoral program.

Applicants to the graduate program in history are expected to show high potential for engaging in advanced historical research and analysis. Applicants must meet general university requirements for admission to graduate standing and are advised to have completed an undergraduate major in history. The department strongly recommends that applicants to the M.A. program have a minimum of 12 upper-division credits of undergraduate history. Applicants to the Ph.D. program must have at least 15 graduate credits in history. Both M.A. and Ph.D. applicants are strongly urged to have at least 2 years of foreign language study or equivalent competence.

As of Fall 2020 the department of history has decided that GRE scores are no longer required for consideration of admission into the program. Students may submit scores if they have scores to submit. Applications with and without scores will be reviewed equally.

Applicants must submit the following to the Graduate School:

    • A copy of the Graduate School Application form.
    • Official transcripts from all universities attended.
    • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores, if applicable.
    • Three (3) letters of recommendation addressing the applicant’s academic qualifications for graduate work in history.
    • A statement of purpose (see Writing Your Statement of Purpose).
    • A writing sample, preferably in the field of history.

To ensure prompt processing of your admissions application, please send an email to Claudia Mickas, Graduate Program Coordinator, at Claudia.Mickas@wsu.edu to tell her that you have submitted your application.

(Field of Study and Language Background forms can be submitted directly to the Department of History at Claudia.Mickas@wsu.edu)

Forms

Please see Guide to Fields of Study and Major Professors and fill out the following forms when applying to the graduate program in history. These must be included in your application packet.

Admission Requirements: Master of Arts in History

Applicants admitted to the Graduate School as either regular or provisional students may be admitted to the program for the master of arts in history if they meet the following qualifications:

  1. Application materials must be received by January 10 for those seeking eligibility for financial assistance. Materials must be received by March 1 for admission to commence the following academic year.
  2. A baccalaureate degree.
  3. A minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.3 in the applicant’s undergraduate major.
  4. A complete application file (see above).

Applicants to the MA program must be accepted by a major professor with whom they wish to work in their primary field of study. Please contact the appropriate faculty member before the application deadline (see Guide to Fields of Study and Major Professors).

Admission Requirements: Doctor of Philosophy in History

Applicants admitted to the Graduate School as regular students may be admitted to the Ph.D. program in history if they meet the following requirements:

  1. Application materials must be received by January 10 for those seeking eligibility for financial assistance. Materials must be received by March 1 for admission to commence the following academic year.
  2. Admission is contingent upon the completion of a master of arts degree by the beginning of the semester in which graduate studies begin. A master of arts degree in history is preferred. Applicants who hold a master’s degree in fields other than history and who have been admitted to the Graduate School as regular students must have completed at least 15 graduate credits in history.
  3. A minimum graduate GPA of 3.5.
  4. Evidence of competence in at least one (1) foreign language demonstrated either through the completion of at least 2 years of university course work, appropriate non-academic experience, or passage of a 2-hour examination in which the applicant will translate into smooth idiomatic English approximately 600 words (or the lexical equivalent) from a foreign language.
  5. A complete application file (see above).

Applicants to the Ph.D. program must be accepted by a major professor with whom they wish to work in their primary field of study. Please contact the appropriate faculty member before the application deadline (see Guide to Fields of Study and Major Professors).

Ph.D. Admission Requirements for WSU Master’s Students

Students completing a master’s degree in history at WSU and requesting admission to the Ph.D. program must meet the admission requirements for all applicants to the Ph.D. program and must submit the following:

Students seeking eligibility for financial support must submit all materials by the January 10 deadline. Financial support as a teaching or research assistant will be determined on a competitive basis in conjunction with all students entering the graduate program.

It should be stressed that admission to the M.A. and Ph.D. programs is competitive. Satisfying these minimum requirements does not, by itself, guarantee admission. At the same time, the decision to admit is based on consideration of the entire file, and promising applicants in unusual circumstances whose records fall below the minimum requirements should not be discouraged from applying.

Careers


What to expect from a history degree AFTER graduation

Click here to see “Careers For History Majors,” presented by the American Historical Association.

Click here to visit Candid Career’s Major Explorer to watch interviews from specialists offering insight on 17 different career opportunities for History Majors

To find out more about the attributes employers are seeking among recent college graduates, visit Job Outlook 2016: Attributes Employers Want to See on New College Graduates’ Resumes.

In addition to being a core major for a liberal arts degree, an undergraduate degree in history can lead to work as a teacher, historian, archivist, librarian, information specialist, writer, researcher, or work in government service.

With further study, you can go into college teaching, business, medicine, law, politics, or ministry. Double majors—combining history with one or more such fields—are easily accommodated.

The study of history is an excellent way to develop skills in critical reading and the ability to come to draw conclusions by analyzing and interpreting materials. These skills can serve as a foundation for success in a variety of disciplines.

For example, you can combine your program in history with selected classes in political science, English, speech, and business to prepare for law school. Students have also combined a pre-med program with a history major; in fact, the percentage of those with history majors admitted to medical schools has sometimes been higher than applicants with biology majors.

Because history is one of the best fields in which to receive a broad and liberal education, job opportunities for historians are not limited to teaching and writing history. Training in historical methodology fits persons for many types of historical and non-historical careers outside of teaching. Governmental service offers careers as historians, archivists, information specialists, immigration officers, and social security officials. The Interior and State Departments, Smithsonian Institution, Agriculture Department, Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency also fill positions with persons with historical training. Our students usually do well in the competitive examinations given by the United States Civil Service Commission and by the State Department.

WSU History Alumni Testimonials

See what WSU History alumni are doing with their degrees.

Mr. Bradley Richardson is the Executive Director of the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver, WA

Resources & Guidance

The American Historical Association wants you know that “History is Not a Useless Major.” Read about what your opportunities after college look like if you choose to graduate with a degree in HISTORY.

USA Today encourages liberal arts majors to pair their history degree with specific skills in fields such as “marketing, sales, business, social media, graphic design, data analysis and management, and information technology or support.” See what you can do with a combined skill set HERE!

See what the New York Times refers to as the “6 Myths About Choosing a College Major.” Review pay out statistics for STEM majors, see what areas of the workforce women choose to go in to more frequently than others, and whether or not it might help to double major! Read Jeffrey J. Selingo’s article in the NYT HERE.

WSU’s own CougLink offers students and alumni access to job and internship listings nationwide. The site also provides up to date information on career fairs, workshops and other events taking place on campus.

 

Career opportunities in HISTORY

 

Account representativeHuman resources professional
Administrative assistantInstitutional researcher
Admissions officerIntelligence specialist
ArchaeologistInterpretive guide
ArchivistJournalist
Art conservatorLabor organizer
Artifacts conservatorLawyer
BibliographerLegislative research assistant
BiographerLibrarian
Career counselorLoan officer
CaseworkerManagement consultant
Claims adjudicatorManufacturer’s representative
Collections managerMarket analyst/researcher
Communications assistantMedia specialist
Conference coordinatorMuseum technician
ConsultantNature education interpreter
Corporate historianNetwork coordinator
CounselorOutdoor education instructor
CuratorParalegal
Database/records managerPark ranger
DetectivePersonnel officer
Development associate for researchPharmaceutical representative
Director of visitor servicesProject archivist
EditorProject planner/coordinator
Education programs coordinatorPublic relations
Educational equipment and supplies salespersonRadio/TV announcer
EducatorReference librarian
Executive directorRegistrar
Financial aid counselorResearcher (national TV news)
Golf CoachSecurities information researcher
Government relationsSite manager/administrator
HistorianSoftware specialist
Historic preservation plannerTour director
Travel agent

History Honor Society


International History Honor Society – Gamma Psi Chapter

phi-alpha-thetaIntroduction

Phi Alpha Theta is composed of chapters in properly accredited colleges and universities. All students in these institutions who have completed the required number of history courses while maintaining high standards in their college or university studies are eligible for membership (see below).

Phi Alpha Theta is a professional society whose purpose is to promote the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians. It seeks to bring students, teachers, and writers of history together both intellectually and socially, and it encourages and assists historical research and publication by its members in a variety of ways.

Membership

The Gamma Psi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta at Washington State University, established December 7, 1950, is open to undergraduate and graduate students on the Pullman campus who meet the following criteria.

The requirements for undergraduates include:

  • Completion of at least two semesters at WSU.
  • Completion of 12 semester credits of history (6 of which must be from WSU).
  • WSU overall grade point average of at least 3.0.
  • History grade point average of at least 3.1.
  • Payment of a lifetime membership fee (currently $50).

The requirements for graduate students include:

  • Completion of 12 semester hours towards a graduate degree in history.
  • GPA of 3.5 or higher.
  • Completion of approximately 30% of the residence requirements for their degree.
  • Payment of a lifetime membership fee (currently $50).

Membership entitles you to:

  • Wear Phi Alpha Theta honor cords at commencement (purchased separately)
  • Participate in chapter activities
  • Apply to participate in Phi Alpha Theta regional and national conferences

Based on the eligibility requirements of the national organization, those students enrolled on campuses other than Pullman or in the online degree program are not eligible for membership in the Gamma Psi (Pullman) chapter. Membership is not limited to history majors.

Those who are already members of Phi Alpha Theta are warmly welcomed to participate in Gamma Psi chapter activities. Membership in Phi Alpha Theta is for life, so you need not join (or pay) a second time.

Applications for membership are solicited near the beginning of fall and spring semesters, and announcements will be made in various history classes by instructors.

More Information

If you want to know more about Phi Alpha Theta, contact faculty advisor Nikolaus Overtoom at nikolaus.overtoom@wsu.edu

 

 

 

Phi Alpha Theta Initiates for 2020-2021:

  • Mark Calentino
  • Natalie Guinasso
  • Kathrynn Hosking
  • Timothy Treffery

Phi Alpha Theta Initiates for 2019-2020:

  • Shannon Hanson
  • Hunter Orcutt
  • Allyson Butzke

Phi Alpha Theta Initiates for 2018-2019:

  • Laurie Kay Heustis
  • Peter D. North
  • Gavin R. Pielow
  • Eleanor S. Albrecht
  • Lucy L. Wavra
  • Madison Marie Levesque
  • Olivia Simone Daiss-Scheibe
  • Henry J. Miller

Faculty Mentors


Mentors are an additional source of perspective and advice concerning important academic, career, and personal issues. Develop a relationship with your mentor by meeting with them regularly during the year.

Each history student is assigned a mentor based on their last name. Students are also encouraged to contact other faculty mentors whose area of specialty matches their interests. It is possible to have more than one mentor!

Faculty MemberStudent's
Last Name
Interest
BoagA - BPacific Northwest, modern America, environmental, sexuality
KaleC-D19th-century and postwar Europe, modern France
KawamuraE - FU.S. foreign relations, U.S.–East Asian relations
McCoyGPublic history and historic preservation
SandersI - KEnvironmental, Pacific Northwest, U.S. West
SpohnholzL-MEarly modern European social, cultural, and religious
SunN - PReligion, German, Holocaust, genocide studies, military
SuttonQ - R20th-century U.S., cultural, religion
SvingenS - SkPublic, United States, American Indian history
ThigpenSm - Z19th-century U.S., women and gender, colonialism, U.S. West

What can you do with your history degree—besides teach?

Career Advising for History Majors (pdf)

Advising Assignments


History and Social Studies Advising

Lauri Sue Torkelson (Wilson 204) and Frank Hill (Wilson 301B) conduct all advising for the Department of History. They are normally available 8:00–11:30 a.m. and 1:00–4:00 p.m. Monday–Friday to assist with educational concerns and gladly accept walk-in students during those times. No appointment is necessary, except during pre-registration, which starts about the 8th week of each semester. If pre-registration advising is in session, students will need to sign up for an appointment time in Wilson-Short 301. Lauri Sue Torkelson can be reached at torkelson@wsu.edu or 509-335-4475 and Frank Hill can be reached at fhill002@wsu.edu or 509-335-5670 for assistance.

Academic Advising

Each semester students are required to meet with their advisor to plan for the next semester. Typically, advising is done in October for the following spring and in March for the following fall and summer.

Be sure to sign up for an appointment prior to your registration date and come to your advising appointment with a tentative schedule.

 

Senior Exit Survey

WSU’s History Department is collecting feedback from graduating seniors who majored in history about your experience in the program. Please take a few minutes to complete the History Department’s Senior Exit Survey using the link below.

You should complete the survey if you are one semester away from graduating (i.e., scheduling your last advising appointment with your academic advisor). The survey is expected to take only 10-15 minutes to complete.

Your thoughtful and honest answers will be considered carefully to help improve the undergraduate program and services offered by the History Department at WSU. Please note that your responses will not be associated with your personal identity. Rather, the data collected will be used to assess how well the History Department is achieving its program learning goals and outcomes.

Thank you for supporting the department’s goals and responsibilities.

Go to the Surveyhttps://wsu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0vMipuYT7UvqUOV

 

Course Distributions 2021

Distribution of Courses

Various University Services

Academic Success and Career Center
Lighty 160
509-335-6000

Access Center
217 Washington Building
509-335-3417

Center for Community Standards
French Administration, Room 130
509-335-4532

Counseling Services
Cougar Health Services, Washington Building
509-335-4511
after hours 509-335-2159

Education, College of
316 Education Addition

Financial Aid
380 Lighty
509-335-9711

Junior Writing Portfolio
Smith CUE 305
509-335-7959

Multicultural Student Services
CUB 409
509-335-7852

Student Affairs
Lighty 360
509-335-4531

Student Health and Wellness Services
1125 NE Washington Street
509-335-3575

 

Minor Options


An undergraduate minor is a supplemental academic award that is awarded at the same time that a student’s primary major is completed and the undergraduate degree is conferred.  Once requirements for the minor are met and the student’s undergraduate degree has been conferred and posted to the transcript, the transcript will be updated to show these additional academic awards.

An undergraduate student who has completed 60 semester hours and is certified in a primary major may certify in a minor with the approval of the offering department.

A minor in history requires 18 hours, 9 of which must be in 300-400-level courses taken in residence at WSU or through WSU-approved education abroad or educational exchange courses.  A grade of C or better is required in all course work for the minor.

 

Students certified in ANY MAJOR, EXCEPT HISTORY, may certify a GENERAL HISTORY MINOR.

Students certified in ANY MAJOR, INCLUDING HISTORY, may certify a WAR AND SOCIETY MINOR.

Students certified in ANY MAJOR, INCLUDING HISTORY, may certify a MODERN ASIA MINOR.

Social Studies


Teaching history and social studies in today’s secondary education classrooms requires a broad basis of historical knowledge as well as a flexible and adaptive approach regarding teaching, given the changing nature of our world.

Graduates from our program develop content knowledge by taking classes in World, United States, European and Asian history and begin their development as professional teachers by taking our Social Studies Methods course which is required for entry into the Teacher Education program. Our graduates are well-prepared to teach in today’s ever-changing classrooms.

Certifying into Social Studies

Students who indicate an interest in History and have a 2.0 GPA or above may be admitted to the major. Those interested in a teaching option should consult with the College of Education concerning certification requirements for teaching. Students majoring in social studies should have a strong and broad high school background in humanities, social science, and languages, and are encouraged to get a second endorsement.

Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies (66 hours)

Required History Courses
Hist 101: Classical and Christian Europe
Hist 102: Modern Europe
Hist 110: American History to 1877
Hist 111: American History since 1877
Hist 120: World History I
Hist 121: World History II
Hist 300: Writing about History
Hist 308: North American Indian History
Hist 380: Introduction to Social Studies Methods
Hist 422: History of the Pacific Northwest
One (1) from Hist 230, 231; 270, 271; 272, 273; 274; 275
Four (4) upper-division history courses, including one (1) Global/non-Western, one (1) European course, one (1) U.S., and one (1) Elective
Hist 480: Methods of Teaching Social Studies
Pol S 101: American National Government
Soc 102: Social Problems
EconS 102: Fundamentals of Macroeconomics
Anth 101 or 203
One (1) from Hist 319; Hist 495; Anth 309
One (1) from Anth 307, 316, 320, 330, 331, 350; Pol S 300, 316, 427, 450, 455; Psych 310, 324, 361, 470; Soc 320, 351, 384, 430

Courses used to complete the social studies degree and the College of Education requirements must be passed with a grade of C or better.

NOTE: Additional courses are necessary to complete the education requirements for the social studies education option. For a complete listing of requirements, see the College of Education’s Web site. The College of Education requires applicants for admission to the Teacher Education Preparation program to apply on-line.

Pre-Law


Certifying into History Pre-Law

A history pre-law option emphasizes the historical evolution of the law and the role of legal change in the formation of the social, political, and economic structure of the modern world. The student enrolled in this program will gain knowledge of legal institutions as they currently exist and of the ways in which they developed.

Students who indicate an interest in History and have a 2.0 GPA or above may be admitted to the major. Students majoring in history with an option in pre-law should have a strong and broad high school background in humanities, social science, and languages.

Bachelor of Arts in History with Option in Pre-Law (66 hours)

Required History Courses
Hist 300: Writing about History
Hist 469: Seminar in History
6 hours of U.S. history
6 hours of European history
9 hours of Global/non-Western history

At least 21 of the 36 hours in history courses must be at the 300 and 400 level.

Pre-Law Option: 30 credits – may double as UCORE

  1. Political Science – 3 courses (must include Pol S 300), Pol S 101, 102, or 206
  2. Business/Accounting – 2 courses, EconS 101, 102, 198, Acctg 230, or B Law 210
  3. Social Sciences/Humanities – 3 courses, Psych 105, Soc 101, and Anth 101
  4. Philosophy – 1 course, Phil 201, 360, 370 or 470
  5. English – 1 course, Engl 201, 301, 402

History courses used to complete the degree must be passed with a grade of C or better.

History Education


Teaching history and social studies in today’s secondary education classrooms requires a broad basis of historical knowledge as well as a flexible and adaptive approach regarding teaching, given the changing nature of our world.

Graduates from our program develop content knowledge by taking classes in World, United States, European and Asian history and begin their development as professional teachers by taking our Social Studies Methods course which is required for entry into the Teacher Education program. Our graduates are well-prepared to teach in today’s ever-changing classrooms.

Certifying into History Education

Students who indicate an interest in History and have a 2.0 GPA or above may be admitted to the major. Those interested in a teaching option should consult with the College of Education concerning certification requirements for teaching. Students majoring in history should have a strong and broad high school background in humanities, social science, and languages, and are encouraged to get a second endorsement.

Bachelor of Arts in History with a Major in History Education (57 hours)

Required History Courses
Hist 101: Classical and Christian Europe
Hist 102: Modern Europe
Hist 110: American History to 1877
Hist 111: American History since 1877
Hist 120: World History I
Hist 121: World History II
Hist 300: Writing about History
Hist 308: North American Indian History
Hist 380: Introduction to Social Studies Methods
Hist 422: History of the Pacific Northwest
Hist 469: Seminar in History
Hist 480: Methods of Teaching Social Studies
One (1) from Hist 230, 231, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275
U.S. Early: one (1) from Hist 411, 413, 414, 415, 416
U.S. Modern: one (1) from Hist 412, 417, 418, 419
Global/non-Western upper-division: one (1) course
European upper-division: one (1) course
Pol S 101: American National Government
EconS 102: Fundamentals of Macroeconomics

Courses used to complete the history degree and the College of Education requirements must be passed with a grade of C or better.

NOTE: Additional courses are necessary to complete the education requirements for the history education option. For a complete listing of requirements, see the College of Education’s Web site. The College of Education requires applicants for admission to the Teacher Education Preparation program to apply on-line.