Frequently Asked Questions

KEY CONTACTS

Where can I find information about becoming a History major or minor?

Start here!

What are the goals of the history major?

  1. Students will develop their ability to assemble and use evidence, not only to gain information about the past, but also to formulate analytical questions, to construct and support original arguments, and to sustain oral arguments.
  2. Students will gain an introduction to global experiences, moral awareness of global themes and issues, and the ability to encounter the unfamiliar with empathy and analytical understanding.
  3. Students will be able to identify, evaluate, and compare historians’ different interpretations of the past, thus understanding the discipline of history as an ongoing conversation between sources, scholars, and students.
  4. Students will be able to identify and trace major themes, issues, and developments in the history of different world regions, and gain the ability to formulate comparative questions and arguments about different societies and cultures.
  5. Students will be prepared for a wide range of postgraduate opportunities, especially those that value the ability to process complex information, to take multiple perspectives into account, and to communicate effectively and concisely.

How can I find out if History is right for me?

The best way is to take History classes! College-level History can be quite different from what you might have had in high school. Georgetown’s History professors teach History, and they also research and write it: the courses we teach are not just about memorizing facts or storylines - they are about understanding (and reflecting on) how we know what we know about the past (and the present), how different peoples and cultures faced the challenges of different eras, and how we can use a great variety of evidence to reconstruct past times and cultures.  The History Department has more award-winning teachers than any other College department at Georgetown, and our courses will help you develop your reading and writing skills, and expand your awareness of the world, even if you do not eventually become a history major. 

What if I also have other interests?

History is an omnivorous discipline: when studying history, it is easy, and indeed almost inevitable, to study something else as well. In the course of their work, historians may also study politics, diplomacy, economics, religion, philosophy, art, literature, etc., always with an eye to the complex interrelations between different factors both in past societies and in our own. History will thus in many ways help you better understand any other interests you may have.

What do people do with a history degree?

History majors have excelled in all sorts of different ways.  Our own majors have pursued successfully a wide variety of career paths. While many go on to professional schools (law, medicine, engineering, etc.), many others have gone into finance, education at all levels, the performing arts, the military, the media, public policy and government or international organizations, and so on.  The widely believed cliché that a history major (or all humanities majors) limits one to teaching or teaching-related work could not be more wrong!

Is there an Honors program?

Yes. Our strongest seniors may take a two-semester research seminar, the History Honors Seminar, in which they research and write a substantial thesis on a topic of their choice. Applications are due in Spring of junior year.  

Do AP exams count for History credit?

Top scores in the European or World history AP tests (or on corresponding IB tests) will give students credit for one of the required History courses, and place them at the upper level for their other History requirements.  No credit is granted for the AP test in U.S. history.  For details on these policies, please consult the Georgetown Undergraduate Bulletin.

Is there a set of guidelines regarding grading?

Yes.  The History Department guidelines on grading can be found here.

Whom can I contact for more information about the history major?

All faculty members in the Department will be happy to talk with you about the major. The Director of Undergraduate Studies, currently Professor Tommaso Astarita, is the person coordinating the major program as a whole: he can be reached at 7-5860 or at astaritt@georgetown.edu. His office is ICC 621 and he welcomes all visitors.

You may also contact current History majors.