History Major Requirements

(Also see Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree.)

The Krieger School classifies history as both a social scientific and humanistic discipline. This dual classification accords well with the wide range of explanatory and interpretive approaches to the past now prevailing in the discipline of history. One of the history program’s goals is to introduce students to these varied approaches. Although the department offers strong preparation for students who seek to specialize in a particular cultural or geographic region, history at Johns Hopkins is primarily issue and topic oriented. It also puts a premium on developing the capacity to reason comparatively and on deepening the student’s understanding of global connections among cultures in the past and in contemporary life.

The department offers undergraduate courses ranging from large introductory classes to small, focused seminars that encourage intensive interaction with individual professors and with other students. Beyond the introductory level, many of our courses are writing intensive and promote in all students critical reading skills and the ability to formulate effective written arguments. Through its core curriculum, the major also cultivates skills specific to the historian, especially research and writing based upon the systematic analysis of primary documents.

The program’s overall aim is to deepen the critical habits of mind that arise from the study of time and change. These capacities are the hallmarks of liberal learning, but they are also the foundation for success in post-graduate studies and careers of many kinds, including business, law, and public affairs.

Major in History

  • Students must normally earn a "C-" or higher grade in all courses used to satisfy major requirements and may not generally count courses that are graded as satisfactory/unsatisfactory. If a student opts to take First-Year Seminar (AS.001.xxx) cross-listed with the History and earns an S grade, this course may apply towards major requirements even though it is graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory.
  • For students who choose to focus on one geographical area, two courses must be taken outside the student's area of focus. The defined areas of focus are: Europe (HIST-EUROPE), United States (HIST-US), Latin America/Caribbean (HIST-LATAM), Africa (HIST-AFRICA), Asia (HIST-ASIA), North Africa/Middle East (HIST-AFRICA). 
  • At least 4 of the 8 history electives/upper-level courses must normally be completed with courses taken directly from the JHU History department (AS.100.xxx). Four courses may be chosen from among the following two kinds: (1) courses cross-listed in History offered by other JHU departments, and/or (2) courses taken at another institution that are either directly equivalent to JHU history courses or approved by the Director of Undergraduate Studies

Major Requirements

Introductory Courses
Select one of the following options:6
A) Two 100- or 200-level introductory courses offered by the History Department (AS.100.1xx or AS.100.2xx)
B) One (1) 100- or 200-level introductory course offered by the History Department (AS.100.1xx or AS.100.2xx) plus one (1) First Year Seminar cross-listed with the History Department (AS.001.1xx)
Method Requirement
AS.100.293 Historical Methods, Archives and Interpretations (year 2 fall)3
AS.100.388 Practicing Historical Research (year 2 spring or year 3 fall)3
Elective Courses
Two history courses at any level6
Four 300-level or higher history courses12
Additional Upper-Level Courses
Select one of the following options:6
A) Two 300-level or higher history courses
B) AS.100.507 & AS.100.508 Senior Thesis 1
Second Language Requirement
Language proficiency in a second language is required through the completion of the intermediate level. 20-18
Total Credits36-54

Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a cumulative GPA in history of 3.5 or higher by December of their junior year to be eligible for the senior thesis option to graduate with honors in history.


Second language proficiency may be demonstrated by coursework or by special permission of the History Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). Languages taught at JHU that will automatically apply towards this requirement currently include: American Sign Language, Ancient Greek, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Yiddish.

Cognate Courses The History Department encourages interdisciplinary work in cognate fields of learning. History minors are therefore strongly advised to take additional courses in any department, including the History Department, that relate to the student’s major discipline in a historical way.

Sample Program

A sample path toward degree completion might include the following sequence of courses. Many alternative paths will also work. Please consult with your department advisor regarding alternative paths.

First Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
(A) AS.100.1xx or AS.100.2xx Introductory Course, or (B) AS.001.1xx First Year Seminar cross-listed with History13(A) AS.100.1xx or AS.100.2xx Introductory Course, or (B) AS.001.1xx First Year Seminar cross-listed with History13
Introductory Language Course3Introductory Language Course3
 6 6
Second Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
AS.100.293 Historical Methods, Archives and Interpretations3AS.100.388 Practicing Historical Methods3
AS.100.xxx History Elective3AS.100.xxx History Elective3
Intermediate Language Course3Intermediate Language Course3
 9 9
Third Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
AS.100.3xx - AS.100.4xx History Elective3AS.100.3xx - AS.100.4xx History Elective (perhaps, study abroad)3
AS.100.3xx - AS.100.4xx History Elective3 
 6 3
Fourth Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
AS.100.3xx - AS.100.4xx History Elective3AS.100.3xx - AS.100.4xx History Elective3
AS.100.3xx - AS.100.4xx History Elective3 
 6 3
Total Credits 48

Students can progress through the major easily even if they take only one history course during their freshman year. There are two paths for the Introductory Course requirement: (A) two (2) introductory courses at the 100- or 200-level offered by the History Department, or (B) one (1) introductory course at the 100- or 200-level offered by the History Department plus one (1) First Year Seminar (AS.001.1xx) that is cross-listed with the History Department.

Senior Honors Option

Fourth Year
First SemesterCreditsSecond SemesterCredits
AS.100.3xx - AS.100.4xx: History Elective3 
 6 3
Total Credits 9

Honors Program in History (BA)

The history department strongly encourages all eligible history majors to pursue the honors track in history. The track culminates in the senior thesis, a yearlong, “capstone” research project completed under the direct supervision of an individual faculty advisor. Like all capstone projects, the senior thesis is intellectually challenging and its completion almost always brings with it a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It also hones the talented young historian’s capacity to sustain a cogent argument based on primary evidence in the long form essay. These skills and the completion of a sustained independent project are also important practical assets when seeking a job or a post-graduate education.

A general cumulative GPA of 3.25 and a cumulative GPA in history of 3.5 are normally prerequisites for undertaking the senior thesis, and to obtain honors students will normally be expected to complete the thesis with a grade of A- or better. All thesis writers must also enroll in both the AS.100.507 Senior Honors Thesis (fall, 3 credits) and AS.100.508 Senior Honors Thesis (spring, 3 credits) - enrollment is by instructor’s permission and will be granted only to students who have obtained a commitment from a faculty thesis advisor. This commitment should normally be obtained no later than April 30th of the junior year.

For questions about the honors track in history or finding a thesis advisor, consult your departmental advisor or the current Director of Undergraduate Studies.