Undergraduate Studies

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You can explore a wide range of subjects in small classes featuring close interaction with outstanding scholars and teachers.

History at MIT does not look like a high school survey; instead of memorizing names and dates, you learn to think critically about important issues and to develop a rich, empathetic understanding of our ancestors. Texts, visuals and aural media, lectures and discussions work together to make vivid the experience of men and women who have lived here before us.

The study of History teaches different ways to think critically about the past, present and future of the world.  When paired with an MIT background in science and engineering, a major or minor in history can lead to a variety of employment and graduate school opportunities. Some of our graduates have gone on to do advanced work in History at the nation’s top programs, but others have undertaken graduate work in other academic fields in the Humanities and elsewhere, or gone on to graduate work and careers in fields such as law or business. A Los Angeles Times op-ed piece in May 2016 notes that “the study of History opens a variety of career paths, and teaches the nuanced analytical skills that will be in demand throughout careers undertaken in the first half of the twenty-first century.” Those interested in post-undergraduate opportunities for History students should consult Careers for History Majors, a web site compiled by the American Historical Association.

Students may pursue a History major in three ways:

  1. Full Major – A major in History leads to a Bachelor of Science in History.  This program encourages students to discover and reconstruct the past, to confront and understand the complexity of past human behavior for itself, and to inform their sense of the historical present.
  2. Double Major – Students may earn a bachelor’s degree with two majors by successfully completing the requirements for the full major in History, and the full major requirements of another field of study.
  3. Joint Major – These options allow you to pursue detailed study in History and a field in Engineering or the Sciences. The degree requires 60% of the work in a humanities field and 40% of the work in an engineering or science field, and will lead to Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Science.

Students may share up to six subjects in a History major, double major, or joint major with the HASS GIR Requirement.

Full Major Requirements

Complete at least 180 units beyond the GIR, and 11 History subjects to include:

  • One 21H Seminar (300-level) Subject
  • 21H.390 Seminar in Historical Methods (Junior Year)
  • 21H.ThT Thesis Tutorial
  • 21H. ThU Thesis
  • Seven additional 21H subjects chosen in consultation with a major advisor.  Subjects must include subjects drawn from two geographical areas, as well as one pre-modern (before 1700) and one modern subject.

Double Major Requirements

Complete the same requirements for the full History major, and the full major requirements of another field of study.

Joint Major Requirements

(21E/21S)

Complete at least 180 units beyond the GIR, and 9 History subjects to include:

  • One 21H Seminar (300-level) Subject
  • 21H.390 Seminar in Historical Methods (Junior Year)
  • 21H.ThT Thesis Tutorial
  • 21H. ThU Thesis
  • Five additional 21H subjects chosen in consultation with a major advisor.  Subjects must include subjects drawn from two geographical areas, as well as one pre-modern (before 1700) and one modern subject.

For the engineering or science component, select six elective subjects restricted to one of the engineering or science curricula.  These subjects must be approved by a faculty member in the field.

Students interested in a History major, double major, or joint major must meet with History’s Undergraduate Office, Prof. Malick Ghachem and History’s Undergraduate Administrator, Meghan Pepin,

A minor in History will lead from introductory courses into more focused studies of individual countries or periods of time, while encouraging students to think about broader analytical and comparative issues in historical study.

Students may share up to five subjects in a History minor with the HASS GIR Requirement.  Therefore, it may only be necessary to take one extra subject HASS subject to complete a History minor.  A History minor is very accessible!

The History minor consists of six subjects, which must include:

  • 21H.390 Seminar in Historical Methods
  • At least one 21H seminar in addition to 21H.390
  • Four additional subjects from the History curriculum
  • At least two temporal periods – one pre-modern (before 1700) and one modern – to be covered by the five subjects other than 21H.390

Students interested in a History minor must meet with History’s minor advisor, Prof. Malick Ghachem to plan their course or study and fill out a HASS Minor Proposal Form. The proposal from must be submitted to Meghan Pepin, History Undergraduate Administrator, and Andrea Wirth, SHASS Academic Administrator.

 

A concentration in History provides an opportunity to take advantage History’s diverse course offerings.  There are no distribution requirements, so students may craft their concentration to meet their specific goals.  Some students choose to focus on a specific geographic location, time period, or theme.  Other choose to explore across History’s disciplines.

Students may apply their History concentration subjects to a History minor.  Additionally, students may share up to five subjects in a History minor with the HASS GIR Requirement.  Therefore, it may only be necessary to take one extra subject HASS subject to complete a History concentration and a History minor.

A History concentration consists of three subjects:

  • At most two may be an introductory level course
  • There are no geographical distribution requirements
  • At least two of these subjects must be taken at MIT.

Students interested in a History concentration must meet with History’s concentration advisor, Prof. Tanalis Padilla.