Mission Statement

The History Department’s programs include general education courses for students in both Georgetown College and the School of Foreign Service; undergraduate majors in both schools (HIST and IHIS); minors in the College, the MSB, and the NHS; a Masters' programs; and a Ph.D. program.

At all levels of our undergraduate programs, the Department’s mission is twofold: to introduce students to the breadth and depth of the human experience by a comparative study of past and contemporary societies and cultures, and to develop their ability to conduct research, analyze and assess evidence, and articulate sound conclusions both orally and in writing. All our students thus acquire knowledge and skills that help them develop as informed, engaged, and thoughtful citizens. The study of history plays therefore a distinctive and central role in any strong liberal arts curriculum. History majors in particular will be prepared to pursue successful careers as teachers, academics, lawyers, civil servants, journalists, and of course historians in private or public agencies, as well as in any field that values thoughtful analysis of evidence, effective communication skills, and a broad and empathetic approach to knowledge.

In order to fulfill this mission, at all levels of our curriculum we emphasize discussion and engagement with both primary sources and the interpretations of varied scholars. From our general education courses through advanced seminars, regular opportunities for small-group discussion are a prominent feature of almost all our courses.
Students who engage with history during their undergraduate years are equipped to become more involved with the complex world they live in, and to maintain throughout their lives a spirit of inquiry and curiosity that can not only make them more active in their communities, but also provide them with personal enrichment and enjoyment.

The mission of all our graduate programs is to prepare students to engage in the most rigorous historical inquiry and debate. All our students learn how to design and conduct archival research and hone their skills in responding to historiographical debate in both academic and public contexts.

The specific overarching goal of the Masters in Global, International and Comparative History is to provide an educational foundation for professional participation in the world of global affairs. Students who complete the program will be equipped to analyze and integrate historical evidence relating to politics and states, production and work, environment and society, culture and religion, gender and family. Through the program’s training in global and comparative historical methods, students will acquire a strong foundation in historical knowledge and an ability to balance global and local perspectives. They will also emerge with foreign language, writing and communication skills enabling them to participate productively in fields such as government service, journalism, international agencies, and global business. The MAGIC course of study will also prepare students for doctoral study in History and related fields such as Government, International Relations and Sociology.

The overarching goal of the doctoral program in History is to train a new generation of historians to the highest professional standards in the field. A Georgetown Ph.D. in History certifies mastery of research skills, including the ability to contextualize and interpret source material, knowledge of the languages relevant to one’s research, familiarity with the relevant archives, and ability to develop an original historical argument that makes a significant contribution to the historiography of one’s field. It certifies mastery of the skills needed to communicate complex historical arguments both in writing and orally. It also certifies readiness to teach history at the level of the university classroom, including the ability to teach survey courses that reach chronologically and geographically far beyond the topic of one’s dissertation, to teach and advice undergraduates.