The requirements below apply to those students with a 2023-2024 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.



The History Department seeks to cultivate in its students a critical understanding of the past in order to prepare them to participate as thoughtful and engaged citizens of the contemporary world. The program promotes historical understanding that enables the assessment of social and cultural continuity and change in a variety of temporal, geographic and thematic contexts. Through its broad curriculum in the pre-modern, national, world, and comparative histories of Europe, the Americas and the Atlantic World, the Pacific Rim, the Middle East and North Africa region, and the Islamic World, as well as program strengths in the subjects of colonialism and postcolonialism, environmental history, food studies, immigration history, race and ethnic studies, political cultures, the history of religion, revolutions and social movements, the history of science and medicine, war and genocide, and women’s history, students develop interpretive skills, research competence, and writing fluency to engage in academic debates and produce historical knowledge. The department supports student research with both funding and awards, encourages study abroad, and offers distinctive internship opportunities. Our academic program plays an integrative role in the quest for liberal learning and contributes to interdisciplinary and area studies programs as well as the mission of the College grounded in excellence and equity, community and service. Our majors are well prepared for a broad range of graduate programs and careers including business, education, archival and museum work, historic preservation, entertainment and media, journalism, law, and public service.



The History major consists of a minimum of forty units, or ten four-unit courses. Of the ten required courses, at least eight must be taken in the History department, and no more than two will be accepted from other departments or institutions.

Required Courses

HIST 300History Colloquium

4 units

HIST 490Senior Seminar

4 units

Survey Courses

Choose three courses from different geographic areas (Asia, Europe, Latin America, Middle East & Africa, and United States) or two from geographic areas and one from the 190 global themes series. Survey courses (the 100 series and some of the 200 series) cover a broad chronological time frame. Courses satisfying a survey requirement are labeled in the course description.

Additional Electives

Students must complete five additional electives. Three of the remaining five electives must be upper division seminars (in the 300 series excluding HIST 300). By the end of junior year students should have taken at least one 300-level elective and the HIST 300 colloquium.

Pre-modern Requirement

At least course for the major must deal with the premodern period. Courses satisfying the premodern requirement are listed below:


HIST 101United States Culture and Society I

4 units

HIST 121Antiquity to 1700: Europe and the Middle East

4 units

HIST 141East Asian Survey

4 units

HIST 150/LLAS 150Colonial Latin America

4 units

HIST 212Diversity Before Multiculturalism: The Ottoman World, 1300-1699

4 units

HIST 220Ancient Athens and Renaissance Florence

4 units

HIST 226Renaissance to Revolution!

4 units

HIST 242Imperial China

4 units

HIST 245/DWA 245China and the World

4 units

HIST 251/CSLC 251Nahuatl Language, Writing, and Culture

4 units

HIST 252/LLAS 252Religion in Mexico, Pre-Columbian Times to Present

4 units

HIST 274Medicine and Disease in Western Society

4 units

HIST 355/LLAS 355Indians of Mexico

4 units

HIST 311American Frontiers: From Contact to Empire

4 units

HIST 312/BLST 312Race, Rights, and Revolution in the Atlantic World

4 units

Acceptable Courses from Other Departments

Courses that may be counted toward the major without petition are:

AMST 202/LLAS 202Latina/o Cultural and Intellectual History

4 units

AMST 272/ASN 272Asian Immigrants in American Society

4 units

AMST 280/DWA 246The United States and East Asia

4 units

AMST 376/BLST 376Slavery, Freedom, and American Memory

4 units

ENGL 341Race, Law, and Literature

4 units

No more than two courses from other departments or transfer courses from other institutions (including study abroad courses) will be counted towards the History major.

Honors in the Major

Students who meet all three of the following requirements may be invited to expand their senior comprehensive requirement project for College Honors:

1. Earn an A or A- on their fall semester thesis.

2. Have demonstrated excellence in their departmental courses.

3. Meet the GPA requirements of at least 3.25 overall and at least 3.65 in the major.

Students working towards College Honors will continue in spring semester to work independently with their Comps advisor, enrolling in a required 2-unit Independent Study, to complete their Honors thesis in advance of the Registrar’s spring deadline for the submission of senior comps marks. The Honors Thesis will be evaluated by the  advisor and a second History faculty reader. For further information, contact the department chair.


Five courses (20 units) in History from at least two geographic areas, including HIST 300.

Second-Stage Writing

Students majoring in History satisfy the final component of Occidental's college-wide writing requirement by successfully completing HIST 300. Students must have a grade of B- or better on the 15-page paper in HIST 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 HIST 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 HIST 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.

Students are eligible for distinction if they receive an A or A- on their paper for HIST 490HIST 490 instructors, in consultation with thesis advisers, make the final determination on awarding marks of distinction.

Contact History
Swan Hall 112