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Degree: BA

Campus: Columbus, Lima, Marion, Mansfield, Newark

College: Arts and Sciences

Why do human beings do what they do? Historians answer this basic question by looking at human behavior in widely divergent places and times. By leaving our own time and place behind, historians encounter beliefs, behaviors and practices that are strikingly different from our own. 

Studying history creates comprehension of complexity and diversity. This is an essential skill for negotiating today’s multicultural, globalized world. A history major provides students with other skills too: the ability to write clearly and persuasively, and to understand complicated events in a nuanced, sophisticated way. History majors learn to read newspapers, political speeches and documents in a critical fashion, a particularly vital skill in today’s information-rich world. 

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in history within the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Students contemplating a history major should try to take History 2800, Introduction to the Discipline of History, early in their career. 

A major program in history consists of a minimum of 33 semester hours of course work at the 2000-level and above. After consultation with and approval by the student’s advisor, a student may apply up to six hours of course work from outside the Department of History to the major. All students must complete History 2800, Introduction to the Discipline of History, and two 4000-level seminars. These courses fulfill nine of the 33 hours of the major. Honors sections of these seminars are often available for students in the Honors program.

Students majoring in history will acquire historical knowledge of at least two cultures as well as knowledge spanning chronological periods before and after 1750. Students select at least 12 credit hours in one of six geographic areas and/or eight thematic areas to provide depth. 

Although a grade of C- will be permitted in courses comprising the major program (except in the case of History 2800 in which at least a C is required), the minimum overall cumulative point-hour ratio of the major must be a 2.0.

Geographical concentrations

Possible areas of geographic concentration include North America; Latin America; Europe (including Russia); Near East, Middle East, Central Asia, and/or South Asia; East Asia; and Africa.

Thematic concentrations

  • history of environment, science and technology 
  • women’s history
  • military history
  • international (diplomatic) history
  • history of colonialism and comparative empires 
  • religious history 
  • history of race, ethnicity and nation
  • history of the state (power, culture, society) 
  • global early modern history

Students may also arrange their own thematic concentrations with permission of an advisor.

Students also take at least 12 credit hours in other areas for breadth. At least six hours of the major need to be from courses covering historical periods before 1750 and at least six hours from courses in periods after 1750. 

History students are encouraged to study abroad, and the department offers trips focused on World War II, Shanghai and the historical development of Buenos Aires.

History 3191, History Internship, allows students to work directly with professionals using the skills of the historian. 

History students can take upper-level courses devoted to research, complete research assignments in many courses and earn research distinction by completing a thesis.

Learn more about history research at

Phi Alpha Theta, the history honorary, provides leadership for the History Club, an active student organization on campus.

The skills you learn in history—critical thinking, careful reading, well-crafted writing—are essential tools for a wide range of careers: law, teaching, social work, economics, advertising, banking, and government work. History trains you broadly. It opens up possibilities rather than narrowing your focus to a single career. 

Reports from the job placement office at Ohio State indicate that former history majors are working in business, banking, teaching, government work, social work, library and archival work, publishing, and law. History has always been recognized as one of the best undergraduate programs for those planning to go into law, but professional and business schools also value a well-rounded liberal education as a basis upon which to build their programs. Of course, many students go into graduate work in history, and the Undergraduate History Office maintains information on graduate programs at other universities.
To assist students with career planning, every spring the Undergraduate History Office offers a Career Night for all history majors. This event features a panel of history faculty and successful alumni who speak on various topics such as “Graduate Studies in History” and “History and Careers in Law.” 

Students can explore career options by utilizing Career Connection as well as the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office. Providing complimentary services, Career Connection focuses on helping students establish a career direction, while the Arts and Sciences Career Services Office assists students with finding internships—experiences that are essential to testing out the suitability of career fields they are considering.

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The Department of History at Ohio State contains some of the university’s finest teachers: nearly half the department’s faculty have won prizes for their teaching.