History offers courses in the following fields of study: Africa, East Asia, Europe, Latin America, South Asia, the United States, Atlantic Worlds, and Colonial Worlds. Multi-field courses fall into more than one of these fields of study.
Before electing to major in history, a student should have completed or have in progress at least two college-level courses in history. In consultation with a faculty advisor in the department, a student should plan a program that begins at either the introductory or the intermediate level and progresses to the advanced level.
The major consists of ten courses, with the following stipulations and required courses:
- no more than two courses below the intermediate level (numbered below 2000) may count toward the major, and these must be taken prior to the junior year;
- no more than six courses in a single field of study may count toward the major;
- a multi-field course may count toward any one of its designated fields;
- three non-Euro/US courses;
- one pre-modern course;
- three courses numbered 2500 or higher (must be taken at Bowdoin).
- Intermediate seminars (2500-2969), intermediate independent and collaborative studies (2970-2999), advanced research seminars (3000s), and advanced independent and collaborative studies or honors projects (4000s) are included.
- One of the three upper-level seminars must be a 3000-level capstone seminar. In consultation with a faculty advisor, a major may fulfill this requirement with an honors project.
The minor consists of five courses, with the following stipulations and required courses:
- a maximum of one course below the intermediate level (numbered below 2000), which must be taken prior to the junior year;
- one course at the level of intermediate seminar or above (numbered 2500 or higher) taken at Bowdoin;
- one course must be non-Euro/US.
Additional Information and Department Policies
- Grades: Students must obtain a minimum course grade of C- to receive credit toward the major or minor. Courses that count toward the major or minor must be taken for regular letter grades (not Credit/D/Fail).
- Study Away: In their sophomore year, students anticipating study away from Bowdoin should discuss with the departmental advisor a plan for the history major that includes work at Bowdoin and elsewhere. Students participating in approved off-campus study may count one history course per semester toward the history major or minor. In exceptional cases, students may petition to receive credit for more than one course per semester toward the history major. In all cases, a maximum of three history courses taken away from Bowdoin may count toward the history major, pending review. And a maximum of one course taken at another institution may count toward the history minor.
- Honors: To be eligible to register for honors, a student must have the equivalent of a B+ average in courses taken in the department and the approval of a thesis advisor. All history majors seeking departmental honors must research and write an honors thesis.
- Languages: History majors are encouraged to develop competence in one or more foreign languages and to use this competence in their historical reading and research. Knowledge of a foreign language is particularly important for students planning graduate work.
- Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB): Students who received a four or higher on the World History AP exam, US History AP exam, or European History AP exam—or a five or higher on the History IB exam—must complete a history course at the 2000 level or above with a minimum grade of B in order to receive a college credit for the exam. AP/IB credits do not count toward the history major or any college requirements; credits from AP/IB exams only count toward total credits needed for graduation. If a student has scores for more than one AP/IB History exam, only one total credit is awarded. In order to receive credit for advanced placement work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin.
- Majors may double-count an unlimited number of courses cross-listed with history to another department or program.
- Minors may double-count an unlimited number of courses cross-listed with history to another department or program.
- First-year writing seminars (1000–1049) introduce students to college-level writing through the study of history as a discipline. Registration is limited to sixteen students in each seminar. First-year writing seminars numbered 1028–1049 fulfill the non-Euro/US requirement for history majors.
- Introductory courses (1100–1999) introduce students to the methods and skills of history as a humanities and social science discipline. Introductory 1000–level courses numbered 1370–1999 fulfill the non-Euro/US requirement for history majors.
- Core courses (2000–2499) survey historical themes and problems and offer opportunities to deepen skills in historical thinking and writing. (Open to all students, including first-year students.) Core courses numbered 2270–2499 fulfill the non-Euro/US requirement for history majors.
- Intermediate seminars (2500–2999) offer the opportunity for more intensive work in critical reading and discussion, analytical writing, library or archival research, and methodology. (Not open to first-year students without instructor’s permission; some background in the discipline assumed.) Seminars numbered 2740–2899 fulfill the non-Euro/US requirement for history majors.
- Advanced seminars (3000–3999) expect students to build on prior coursework by developing a substantial piece of historical research. (Not open to first-year students without instructor’s permission.) Seminars numbered 3270–3999 fulfill the non-Euro/US requirements for history majors.
Information for Incoming Students
First-year students can begin their study of history at Bowdoin at a variety of levels. This includes:
- First-year writing seminars (1000-1049) that focus on college-level writing through the study of history as a discipline;
- Introductory courses (1100-1999) that introduce students to the methods and skills of history as a humanities and social science discipline;
- Core courses (2000-2499) that survey historical themes and problems and offer opportunities to deepen skills in historical thinking and writing.
Please contact any member of the History Department if you have questions about appropriate course level or the best entry point for you. Because the History Department is committed to providing students with a variety of historical perspectives, we encourage students to explore offerings in non-western history (Africa, Middle East, East Asia, Latin America, and South Asia) early on.
This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue