History Major


So you've decided to become a history major? Great! We're happy to welcome you to our program. Studying the past in our department will open up a world of possibilities. You will gain new knowledge and new perspectives on life, and you will develop the critical reading, analytical, writing, speaking, and skills that will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. Our major will deepen your understanding of the human experience across a wide sweep of times and places.

In the NIU history major, you will find a straightforward path to completing your NIU degree. To get started, you will need to consult with the advising staff in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to make sure you have completed requirements for general education and for the Bachelors of Arts or Bachelors of Science options. Your work in our department will be divided into three areas:

  • Lower-division courses: You will complete two courses at the 100 level and two courses at the 200 level.
  • Upper-division courses: You will complete seven courses at the 300 and 400 levels. Three of them will be in required areas, and four will be electives. The three required areas involve one course each in pre-modern history; modern history outside the U.S. and Europe; modern U.S. and European history
  • Methods courses: You will complete two required courses that train you in the ways historian work. The first must be completed before taking the second. These courses are:
    • HIST 395 Historical Methods - This course introduces you to discipline of history. You will learn how to read historical sources, how to do research in libraries, archives, and digital sources, and how to write in the ways historians write. 
    • HIST 495 Senior Thesis - In this course, you will pursue your own research project together with about ten to fifteen other students. You will meet regularly with your instructor and with other faculty in your chosen field. Your final paper will be your own original and significant contribution to knowledge. How cool is that?

These are the basic requirements for the major. For more information, visit the undergraduate catalog, read our advising checklist,* review our student learning outcomes and consult our frequently asked questions. Be sure to see a history advisor and consult your faculty mentor on regular basis.

*Previous major checklist for students before the 2018-19 academic year.

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Department of History
Zulauf 715

Our office is open Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., except for a daily lunch break from noon-1 p.m.

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