- Making History
- Teacher Education
Undergraduate Frequently asked questions
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. This blog essay by SBU graduate Jonathan Lewis (Class of '11), " How My Degree in History Helps My STEM Career ," speaks to a broader trend . The Washington Post also published a thoughtful essay for parents who are hesitant to encourage their children to pursue a liberal arts degree. A recent article, "Why a History Degree is More Important Now than Ever" further highlights the benefits of a majoring in History. Finally, consider the following short list of famous people who majored in History as undergraduates: U.S. President Joe Biden; 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; 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. The department has won an Undergraduate Teaching Award from the College of Arts & Sciences, and individual faculty have received numerous university-level teaching and leadership awards, and a SUNY-level distinguished teaching professorship. In the History Department, majors and minors are welcome to cultivate one-on-one relationships from faculty, and to seek individual mentoring. Our department is committed to the highest standard of ethics in teaching and mentoring, as codified in this policy statement .
Enterprising students can take advantage of various prizes, scholarships, and awards offered by the department. These opportunities can help pay one’s way through college and reflect positively on individual achievements. Departmental majors with a 3.5 GPA in history courses and related disciplines are eligible to enroll in the history honors program (HIS 495/496) at the beginning of their senior year, and to carry out a year-long independent research project under faculty supervision. The senior thesis resulting from the student’s research is read by two faculty members and a member of another department; if the thesis meets their approval, the student will graduate with an Honors Diploma from the History Department. Any student working on independent research project—in a Seminar, Independent Study, or Honors—have the opportunity to present their findings at the annual History Department Undergraduate Conference, part of the university-wide URECA Celebration.
The department sponsors a chapter of Phi Alpha Theta , the international history honors society, which offers friendships, professional connections. A bi-annual book sale run by the society helps to generate revenues for various club activities, including field trips and an annual end-of-the-year dinner. Separately, a student-run History Club organizes films, public lectures, outings to area museums, and other social events. They also edit their own digital history journal which publishes original work by students and professors. Finally, our lounge area and separate “Maker’s Space” offer ample opportunities for students to socialize, create study groups, and pursue independent activities.
Students can declare a Major/Minor in History directly through their SOLAR account. In SOLAR go to: Student Records & Registration>Enrollment>Major/Minor Declaration Form. This will bring you to a Google form to complete. After submitting the form, the Registrar's Office will automatically add your new declaration to your transcript record. See this link for a step-by-step illustration of the process.
Generally speaking, lower-division courses in History taken at another institution will count toward the major. Certain upper-division courses may also count toward fulfilling of major requirements, though we will generally request that you provide syllabus from the original course for evaluation equivalence purposes. SBU has its own distribution requirements and transfer classes may not automatically match the university's "SBC" schema. To find out if your courses will count toward graduation requirements, you can search directly in the university's Transfer Equivalency Database. An invaluable source for transfer students is Academic and Transfer Advising Services, which contains important information for transfer students.
Diane DeSimone ( firstname.lastname@example.org), History liaison in Academic and Transfer Advising Services, can directly assist transfer students with respect to university requirements (SBCs) and related questions.
There are three levels of advising within the major.
Susan Grumet , Undergraduate Program Advisor, handles paperwork and questions regarding transfer credits and course enrollment. Eric Zolov , Director of Undergraduate Studies, is responsible for general questions or concerns about the major. Upon entering the major, students are assigned to a faculty mentor from an “Advisory Hub” based on the area of concentration selected by the student. (Students may of course switch to a different advisor based upon their preference or interests.) This faculty member is available to offer individualized guidance regarding classes, specialized study, and career trajectories.
Diane DeSimone ( email@example.com), History liaison in Academic and Transfer Advising Services, assists transfer students and majors (sophomore and above) with fulfilling university-wide requirements (SBCs) and related questions.