THE MAJOR AND MINOR IN HISTORY
Contrary to popular belief, history is a practical field of study. In recent years, history majors in the United States have outperformed
many pre-professional majors on the job market. Research data shows that history majors leave college with very adaptable and highly employable skills
in research, critical thinking, writing, storytelling, and public speaking. For these
reasons, history complements as a minor or double major for competitive students pursuing technical careers.
But don't just take our word for it! Read this blog essay by recent SBU graduate Jonathan
Lewis (Class of '11) subtitled "How My Degree in History Helps My STEM Career."
Jonathan's personal experience speaks to a broader trend. Consider that in 2014–2015 Forbes published the following articles:
• "That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket"
• "STEM Study Starts with Liberal Arts"
• "Why Getting a Liberal Arts Education Is Not a Mistake"
• "Surprise: Humanities Degrees Provide Great Return on Investment"
• "Majoring in the Humanities Does Pay Off, Just Later"
More recently, the Washington Post published a thoughtful essay for parents who are hesitant to encourage their children to pursue a liberal arts degree.
If you're wondering if anyone famous ever started their career with a B.A. in history,
the answer is "yes"! Consider the following short list: Facebook co-founder Chris
Hughes; Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust; best-selling non-fiction writer
Malcolm Gladwell; basketball legends (and political figures) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and
Bill Bradley; comedians Steve Carell, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Conan O'Brien; former
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; U.S. Vice President Joe Biden; and Supreme Court
justices Elena Kagen, Anthony Kennedy, and Antonin Scalia.
Here's the most important thing: Studying history instills habits for a lifetime of
personal growth. It provides wisdom in addition to expertise. It prepares people to
be thoughtful citizens as well as skilled professionals.
At Stony Brook, students can enjoy working closely with history professors who care
about the craft of teaching. As a whole, the department has won an Undergraduate Teaching
Award from the College of Arts & Sciences, and individual faculty have received numerous
university-level teaching awards and one SUNY-level distinguished teaching professorship.
In the History Department, majors and minors are welcome to cultivate one-on-one relationships
from faculty, and seek individual mentoring.
Feel free to contact our friendly staff and faculty by email, phone, or an office visit. Find out what
we can do for you and how you can best profit from our undergraduate offerings. Enterprising
students can take advantage of various prizes, scholarships, and awards offered by the department. These opportunities can help pay your way through college.
Also consider joining Phi Alpha Theta, the international history honor society. It
offers friendships and professional connections.
For a complete description of the Major and Minor in History, see the Undergraduate Bulletin.
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History Major Requirements
The Major in history leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Completion of the Major
entails 39 approved credits (33 credits in history, 6 credits in a related discipline).
History Coursework (33 credits)
A. Two courses at the 100 level (6 credits).
B. Five courses in a primary field: United States, Europe, Latin America, Asian, Ancient
and Medieval, or Global. (Note: Other primary fields based on topical or thematic
lines may be selected with the approval of the department's Undergraduate Director.
The five primary-field courses must be distributed as follows: two at the 200 level;
two at the 300 level; and one at the 400 level (excluding HIS 447, 487, 488, 495,
C. HIS 301 (must be completed prior to the 400-level seminar in primary field).
D. Three courses outside primary field. All three must be above the 100 level, and
at least one must be at the 300 or 400 level.
Courses in a Related Discipline (6 credits)
E. Two upper-division courses in one related discipline. Examples include Political
Science (POL), Sociology (SOC), Anthropology, Economics (ECO), Philosophy (PHI), Art
History (ARH), Religious Studies (RLS), Africana Studies (AFS), International Studies
(INT), Women's Studies (WST), and English Literature (EGL).
Upper-division Writing Requirement
F. As noted above, students are required to complete an upper-division course in their
primary field. They will inform the instructor of the course in advance of their plan
to use the term paper (or papers) in fulfillment of the writing requirement for the
major. In addition to the grade for the course, the instructor will make a second
evaluation of writing competency in the field of history. If the second evaluation
is favorable, the paper will be submitted to the Undergraduate Director for final
approval. For a PDF copy of the major requirement form, click here.
• All courses taken to meet Major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.
• No grade lower than C may be applied toward Major requirements.
• No transferred course with a grade lower than C may be applied toward Major requirements.
• At least 12 credits must be taken within the Department of History at Stony Brook,
including the 300-level writing seminar and the 400-level seminar.
History Minor Requirements
The minor, which requires 21 credits, is organized around the student’s interest in
a particular area of history. It is defined either by geography (e.g., United States,
Latin America) or by topic (e.g., imperialism, social change). Courses must be taken
for a letter grade. No grade lower than "C" may be applied to the history minor. At
least twelve of the 21 credits must be taken at Stony Brook. The specific distribution
of the credits should be determined in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate
Here's an example of an acceptable distribution of the 21 credits:
• One two-semester survey course in the period of the student’s interest at the 100
or 200 level (6 credits)
• Two other courses at the 200 level (6 credits)
• Three courses at the 300 or 400 level (9 credits)
(Note: HIS 447, 487, or 495–496 may not be applied to the minor.)