Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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For Current Students

The Goals of the History Department

Through its course offerings, individual interactions with students, and advising, the History Department aims to foster an understanding of history and historical processes.  It seeks to instill in students an ability to undertake independent research, write analytical papers, read historical works critically, and engage their peers in discussions of historical events and theories.  Students are encouraged to develop these skills within a curricular framework that requires them to encounter peoples, cultures, and political systems from across time and the globe.

Description of the Major

A major in history consists of ten courses. These courses must include History 360 (History Workshop: Methods and Practice), which should be taken no earlier than spring of the sophomore year and no later than fall of the senior year; two seminars or one seminar and one Independent Study Course (HIS 490); and three additional courses at the 300-level, only one of which may be a Directed Readings Course (HIS 390).  A student may count one course taken outside of the department towards the major with prior approval by his/her adviser.  This course must be at the 300- or 400-level and complement the student’s course of study; it cannot substitute for a seminar.  History majors must fulfill a distributional requirement by taking two courses in each of the following areas – United States, European, and World (Latin American, African, and Asian) history ¬– two of which must be designated Pre-modern. In most cases, majors must take at least 5 history courses at Franklin & Marshall.

Description of the Minor

A minor in history consists of at least 6 courses. These courses must include HIS 360 (History Workshop: Methods and Practice), which should be taken no earlier than spring of the sophomore year and no later than fall of the senior year; one seminar; and two additional courses at the 300-level.  History minors must fulfill a distributional requirement by taking one course in two of the following areas – United States, European, and World (Latin American, African, and Asian) – one of which must be designated Pre-modern. In most cases, minors must take at least 4 history courses at Franklin & Marshall.

Planning Worksheets for Majors & Minors

Worksheets for Majors & Minors (PDF)

History Workshop: Methods and Practice (HIS 360)

HIS 360 is designed to train students in the methodology and practice of history in preparation for seminar research and reading and the scholarly practice of history.  The two principal objectives of the History Workshop are “historiographical literacy” (a reasonably comprehensive grasp of historical approaches, methodologies, and schools of analysis) and learning the “mechanics of doing history” (how to research and write history, including the ethical and practical issues of archival work, library, and web use; the mechanics of citation; and more).  Classes center on critical analysis of readings, textual interpretation of primary documents, and library activities.


Students should take HIS 360 before enrolling in seminars.  Seminars are 400-level courses designed to foster sophisticated engagement with a historical topic.  Each faculty member offers a seminar approximately every third semester.

Independent Studies

Independent studies are 400-level courses supervised by a faculty member with expertise in the student’s chosen field.  Students and faculty meet weekly for either one or two semesters.  Two-semester independent studies may result in Departmental Honors.  Please see the History Department Guidelines for Independent Studies.

Directed Readings

Directed readings are 300-level courses intended for a student wishing to investigate the historiography of a specific topic or to pursue in-depth reading of primary sources.  They are directed by faculty members with expertise in the chosen field; faculty and students meet weekly for one semester.  Please see the History Department Guidelines for Directed Readings.

Joint Major

You may arrange a joint major between History and any other minor program (such as Women and Gender Studies or Judaic Studies) or major.  Please see the History Department Chair.  The History portion of a Joint Major generally consists of 8 courses.

Choosing an Adviser

Students will be offered one of two cohort advisers responsible for advising their class year.  In an effort to maintain equity between the two cohort advisers, students may in some cases be assigned an adviser.

International Studies Concentration

Students may want to enhance their History Major with an International Studies concentration.  To receive an International Studies designation on your transcript with your History Major, students need to complete:

  • The History Major
  • Introduction to International Studies (IST 200)
  • At least one semester of study abroad in a non-English-speaking environment
  • Two courses (either inside or outside the major that pertain to the region or culture where the study abroad experience will take place)
  • Proficiency in a foreign language as determined by the Director of International Studies and the Chair of the appropriate language department
  • Capstone Seminar in International Studies (IST 489)


Internships in History are available at any number of museum and archives, including the Lancaster Historical Society, the History News Network, the Smithsonian Museums, and the Pennsylvania State Archives. Students may also volunteer and intern in local schools to gain teaching experience.  Many private schools offer paid internships for non-certified teachers.  Please see the National Association for Independent Schools (  Please see a History Department faculty member or someone in the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development for more information about internship opportunities.

What Can You Do With a History Major?

History majors can do anything with a History degree.  History majors have enjoyed success in medical school, business school, and law school and are employed in a tremendous variety of professions, including teaching, marketing, military intelligence, law enforcement, public history, journalism, and government.  Franklin & Marshall History graduates are now also pursuing or have completed graduate study in history at institutions including Temple University, Rutgers University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Georgetown University, University of Arizona, University of Virginia, Ohio State University, New York University, Notre Dame University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and University of Cincinnati.  Please see the History Department’s Careers Database packet.

Teaching History

We very much encourage our students to consider teaching history once they graduate. You may pursue PA state certification while completing your F&M degree by taking courses at Millersville University.  Please see Guidelines for Students Interested in Teaching Certification Program at Millersville University.  You may also pursue teaching in a private school once you graduate.  Please see, among others, the National Association for Independent Schools ( and Carney Sandoe (  One excellent off-campus teaching program is Bank Street Urban Education.

Graduate School Fellowship Opportunities

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers James Madison Fellowships to a select group of individuals desiring to become teachers of the American Constitution.  Please contact Professor Stevenson if you are interested (  Bill Cosby endowed a scholarship for F&M students attending Columbia Teachers College.  Please contact Chris Fisher for information.

  • Study Abroad
  • Learn how history students can benefit from spending a semester off-campus.

  • Library Resources
  • Here you will find suggested print and online resources for listed courses.