MAJOR: The History major consists of a minimum of forty units, or ten four-unit courses. This includes two required courses (300 History Colloquium and 490 Senior Seminar) and three surveys from different geographical areas (United States, Latin America, Asia, Europe, Africa/Middle East). Survey courses (the 100 series and some of the 200 series) cover a broad chronological time frame. Three of the remaining five classes should be additional upper division courses (in the 300 and 400 series). At least one course must deal with the pre-modern period. Students thus have the opportunity to sample a breadth of fields and periods. Of the ten required courses, at least seven must be taken in the History department, and no more than three will be accepted from other departments or institutions (see discussion of acceptable courses from other departments below).
Students with AP scores of 4 or 5 receive academic credit, but still need to take the requisite 10 courses for the History major. They may, however, be excused from one survey requirement, taking 2 rather than 3 area surveys, although we discourage this, believing as we do that our department courses are far more challenging and sophisticated than even the best high school AP class.
Students must have a grade of B- or better on the 15-page paper in History 300.
ACCEPTABLE COURSES FROM OTHER DEPARTMENTS: The department occasionally accepts for history credit courses from such other departments as American Studies, Art History and the Visual Arts, Critical Theory - Social Justice, Diplomacy and World Affairs, English and Comparative Literary Studies, Philosophy, and Politics. These decisions are made on an individual basis in discussion with the student's advisor and/or the department chair. Courses that may be counted toward the major without petition are: American Studies 272, 280, 290, 295, and 390; ECLS 341. No more than three courses from other departments or transfer courses from other institutions (including study abroad courses) will be counted towards the History major.
MINOR: Five courses (20 units) in History from at least two areas, including History 300.
WRITING REQUIREMENT: Students majoring in History satisfy the final component of Occidental's college-wide writing requirement by successfully completing History 300. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the Writing Program and consult the department chair for additional information.
COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT: Students meet their comprehensive requirement by taking History 490 in the fall semester of their senior year and writing for that course a 25-page paper that involves research and analysis of primary and secondary sources. They are required to turn in a 5-page prospectus of their project and attend several meetings in the spring of their junior year to prepare for History 490. Papers may concentrate on a geographical area or take a topical approach, such as History of Science and Medicine; Women's History; or Revolutions.
HONORS: Students with sufficiently high GPA (3.25) overall can write an honors thesis. Senior history majors pursuing honors will take the Senior Seminar in the fall and, if invited by the Senior Seminar instructors in consultation with thesis advisors, will extend their thesis work in the spring Honors Seminar. The honors thesis is a 40-page paper, which demonstrates excellence in historical research, writing, and analysis, written under the supervision of the Honors Seminar instructor, the thesis advisor, and a third faculty reader. Students planning to try for honors must make known their intentions in a written proposal early spring semester of their junior year. See the Honors Program for additional information.
DISTINCTION: Students are eligible for distinction if they receive an A or A- on their paper for History 490.
AWARDS: The R. Lee Culp Prize is awarded annually to a senior for the most outstanding senior thesis. The Edith Culp Prize is awarded annually for the best term paper or junior seminar paper. The Diana Culp Bork Prize is awarded annually for outstanding service to the department.