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Washington State University
History | Undergraduate Studies

Studying History at WSU

Who are we? Where did we come from? How did we get here? How does history inform the present, and how can it illuminate our contemporary concerns? These are fundamental questions that humans have pondered for centuries. By exploring these questions we can gain a better understanding of ourselves, our world, and our place in it. High school graduates or transfer students looking for a congenial atmosphere to learn about the history that shapes our world can find no better place than the WSU Department of History.

History majors and minors at WSU benefit from the close relationships they can develop with their professors. Faculty members are not only experts in their field, but are also mentors and advisors who can help students succeed in their studies and prepare for their careers. Our faculty’s specialties span nearly every part of the globe from ancient times to the present, offering a range of course offerings that allow history majors to tailor their education to their own interests and goals. These include:

  • Foundational surveys that provide a broad overview of different historical periods and regions
  • Varied upper-level electives in specialist areas, such as environmental history, gender history, and the history of popular culture
  • Intensive seminars that allow students to focus on a specific topic in depth
  • Independent studies that give students the opportunity to pursue their own research interests
  • Courses in historical methods that teach students how to conduct research and write historical papers

In addition to taking courses with our experienced faculty, history majors also have the opportunity to participate in research projects, study abroad, and internships. This hands-on experience helps students develop research skills, build experience, and prepare for a career in history, teaching, or a related field.

Courses leading to the degrees in History (General), History Education, Pre-Law, and Social Studies are offered at our Pullman, Vancouver, Tri-Cities, and Global (online) campuses.

Why Study History?

History students develop a wide range of skills and competencies that are essential for success in their future careers and as engaged citizens. These include research skills, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, writing skills, interpersonal skills, and cultural understanding.

History students also gain a deep understanding of human experiences and cultures, both past and present. This understanding is essential in today’s increasingly complex, interconnected world. History students learn to appreciate cultural diversity and to understand how different cultures influence people’s perceptions and actions.

These skills and knowledge are highly valued by employers in a variety of fields, including law, government, business, and education. History majors are also well prepared for careers in history-specific fields, such as archive management, historic preservation, and museum work.

Here are some specific examples of how the skills and knowledge developed in a history degree can be applied in different careers:

  • Research skills: A history student with strong research skills might work as a research analyst in a government agency, a market researcher in a private company, or a research librarian in a university library.
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking skills: A history student with strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills might work as a lawyer, a consultant, or a policy analyst.
  • Writing skills: A history student with strong writing skills might work as a technical writer, an editor or copywriter, or a journalist.
  • Interpersonal skills: A history student with strong interpersonal skills might work as a teacher, a social worker, or a human resources manager.
  • Cultural understanding: A history student with a deep understanding of human experiences and cultures might work as a diplomat, a foreign aid worker, or a cultural anthropologist.

In short, a history degree from WSU can prepare you for a wide range of careers. The skills and knowledge you develop in a history program are in high demand by employers in all sectors of the economy.

Undergraduate Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Develop Historical Knowledge with Breadth of Time and Space
  • Interpret the human past with recognition of how different temporal, spatial, and human diversity contexts shape society.
  • Interpret the human past by analyzing change, continuity, and causality.
  1. Conduct and Articulate Research
  • Identify, locate, and critically evaluate appropriate sources for the task at hand.
  • Critically examine evidence, discerning fact from opinion, and recognize bias in evidence.
  • Organize, synthesize, and effectively use primary and secondary sources to support an argument through a variety of mediums.
  • Ethically and responsibly identify and cite all source information.
  1. Communicate Effectively
  • Communicate fluently to diverse audiences through written, oral, visual and other formats, using the latest available technology.
  • Explain the significance of a project and its conclusions.
  • Demonstrate the contested nature of history and the historical record through the contextualization of sources.