While studying the past, history students gain an awareness of the variety of past human achievement as well as a perspective on how the world operates. With this knowledge, students have a better understanding of the present. While learning about the intellectual, political, economic, cultural and social forces that have influenced today’s world, the study of history also develops students’ ability to read critically, to ask intelligent questions and to express ideas orally and in writing. In its broadest sense, the study of history provides graduates with an intellectual framework and practical skills that will serve a wide range of future pursuits.
Graduates of history offer prospective employers a background that is advantageous in many ways. Versatility, good analytical skills and the ability to view contemporary society with perspective are among the qualities that CU Boulder history graduates bring to careers in public relations, banking, consulting, journalism, marketing, the government and other public service and elementary or secondary school teaching. Also, libraries, museums, historical societies and national parks may offer attractive historyrelated career options. History graduates often go on to study in professional schools which leads to careers in law, business and medicine, and a select few decide to pursue graduate work leading to historical scholarship and teaching at the university level.
The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in History is structured so students have the freedom to design a program particularly suited to their own interests while also being exposed to a broad education in various fields of historical inquiry. At the lowerdivision level, students are required to take one introductory course on the history of the United States, the history of Europe, the history of another area of the world outside of the U.S. or Europe and on global history.
Students are required to acquire both geographical and chronological breadth within the major, though the requirements are flexible enough so that students can concentrate their studies in a specific geographic area (for example Britain, China, Latin America or the U.S.), a historical period (for example the Ancient world, the medieval period or the twentieth century) or on a single theme (for example intellectual history, the history of revolution, the history of women, imperialism and colonialism, the history of Islam or Jewish history). Within these areas, students are free to plan their program around a diverse set of rotating course offerings.
All majors are required to take a specific historical thinking and writing course, but in all course work, special attention is paid to skills in critical reading and writing. Students work with source materials, acquire methodical research techniques and submit clearly written papers and essays.
The history graduate program has developed quite a bit since the department granted its first PhD degree to Erwin Meyer for his dissertation on English craft guilds in the 1920s. Today graduate students are trained in the central principles and research methods that characterize the discipline of history through classroom instruction, professional development training and individualized advising. They also gain a thorough grounding in their particular area of study as well as an ability to situate that area of study in a larger transnational and global context.
MA candidates may undertake fields of study in: medieval Europe, early modern Europe, modern Europe, United States to 1877 and United States since 1865. Master of Arts candidates can choose from two courses of study: a thesis or nonthesis option, and there are also many opportunities for students to participate in dual MA programs with the Departments of Asian Languages and Civilizations, French and Religious Studies.
Graduate students focus their studies in two equallyweighted fields: 1) a regional/national field, including either the U.S. (all of U.S. history), Europe (medieval, early modern or modern, with a regional/national emphasis) or Asia (emphasis on country/region and/or period); and 2) a global/thematic field. Courses in this field might include, but are not limited to: imperialism and colonialism, decolonization in transnational perspective, environmental history in transnational perspective, diplomacy and international relations, visual culture in the modern world, trade and diaspora in the early modern world, World War I in global perspective, history and memory in transnational perspective and the Atlantic world.
The Department of History sponsors a graduatestudent run history conference. The Rocky Mountain Interdisciplinary History Conference (RMIHC) is in its thirteenth year, and draws graduate student presenters from top research universities throughout the country. RMIHC provides graduate students the opportunity to present their original research in a highly professional yet collegial atmosphere. Students also have the opportunity to serve on the conference’s executive committee for a two year term. RMIHC is not only an excellent way to become involved with the Department of History’s faculty and students and to develop one’s own research, but also to gain important professional development and organizational experience.
PhD graduate students have the opportunity to participate in the Graduate Teaching Program, which is a centralized program that works with disciplinary departments to provide training in college teaching and professional development for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are pursuing both academic and nonacademic positions. The Department of History also runs its own teaching and professional development workshops on a regular basis throughout the year.