History Major

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 (These courses are designated by professors and noted in the course descriptions.); and
  • three courses numbered 2500 or higher. (This includes intermediate seminars (2500–2969), intermediate independent studies (2970–2999), advanced research seminars (3000s), and advanced independent studies, or honors (4000s).)
    • 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.

History Minor

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;
  • a maximum of one course may be taken at another institution (may not count as an intermediate seminar or higher);
  • one course must be taken at the level of intermediate seminar or above (course must be taken at Bowdoin); and
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • First-year 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 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. (Generally closed to seniors.) 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.

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue