Major Requirements

The History major consists of a minimum of forty units, or ten four-unit courses.


HIST 300History Colloquium

4 units

HIST 490Senior Seminar

4 units

Survey courses

Choose three courses from different geographic areas (Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East & Africa, and United States).

Survey courses (the 100 series and some of the 200 series) cover a broad chronological time frame.

Students with AP scores of 4 or 5 receive academic credit, but still need to take the requisite 10 courses for the History major. They may, however, be excused from one survey requirement, taking 2 rather than 3 area surveys, although we discourage this, believing as we do that our department courses are far more challenging and sophisticated than even the best high school AP class.

Additional Electives

Students must complete five additional electives. Three of the remaining five classes should be additional upper division courses (in the 300 and 400 series). At least one course must deal with the premodern period. Courses satisfying the premodern requirement are listed below:


HIST 101United States Culture and Society I

4 units

HIST 121Antiquity to 1700: Europe and the Middle East

4 units

HIST 141East Asian Survey Since 1600

4 units

HIST 150/LLAS 150Colonial Latin America

4 units

HIST 223Rise of French Culture

4 units

HIST 242Imperial China

4 units

HIST 247Pre-Modern Japan

4 units

HIST 355/LLAS 355Indians of Mexico

4 units

*If premodern course is also being used to satisfy a historical survey requirement, you must take an additional elective.

Of the ten required courses, at least eight must be taken in the History department, and no more than two will be accepted from other departments or institutions (see discussion of acceptable courses from other departments below).


The department occasionally accepts for history credit courses from such other departments as American Studies, Art and Art History, Critical Theory and Social Justice, Diplomacy and World Affairs, English, Philosophy, and Politics. These decisions are made on an individual basis in discussion with the student's advisor and/or the department chair.

Courses that may be counted toward the major without petition are:

AMST 272/EASN 272Asian Immigrants in American Society

4 units

AMST 280/DWA 246The United States and East Asia

4 units

AMST 290American Studies Theory and Methodology

4 units

AMST 295Topics in American Studies

4 units

AMST 390Junior Seminar

4 units

ENGL 341Race, Law, and Literature

4 units

* No more than two courses from other departments or transfer courses from other institutions (including study abroad courses) will be counted towards the History major.


Students majoring in History satisfy the final component of Occidental's college-wide writing requirement by successfully completing HIST 300. Students must have a grade of B- or better on the 15-page paper in HIST 300. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the Writing Program and consult the department chair for additional information.


Students meet their comprehensive requirement by taking HIST 490 in the fall semester of their senior year and writing for that course a 25-page paper that involves research and analysis of primary and secondary sources. They are required to turn in a 5-page prospectus of their project and attend several meetings in the spring of their junior year to prepare for HIST 490. Papers may concentrate on a geographical area or take a topical approach, such as History of Science and Medicine; Women's History; or Revolutions.


Students with sufficiently high GPA (3.25) overall can write an honors thesis. Senior history majors pursuing honors will take the Senior Seminar in the fall and, if invited by the Senior Seminar instructors in consultation with thesis advisors, will extend their thesis work in the spring Honors Seminar. The honors thesis is a 40-page paper, which demonstrates excellence in historical research, writing, and analysis, written under the supervision of the Honors Seminar instructor, the thesis advisor, and a third faculty reader. Students planning to try for honors must make known their intentions in a written proposal early spring semester of their junior year. See the Honors Program for additional information.


Students are eligible for distinction if they receive an A or A- on their paper for HIST 490HIST 490 instructors, in consultation with thesis advisors, make the final determination on awarding marks of distinction.


The Hardy Prize is awarded annually to a senior for the most outstanding senior thesis.