Course Requirements

Majors are required to complete 12 approved history courses with grades of C- or better. Those who select the thesis option must complete 10 approved history courses and a 2-credit thesis with grades of C- or better. At least eight of these courses, including the senior thesis, HIST 299, and HIST 300, must be completed at Trinity or in academic programs taught or sponsored by Trinity faculty. In the interest of shaping a trajectory from lower-division to higher-division courses, students may apply a maximum of two courses at the 100- and 200-levels taken during their senior year toward the major. The award of departmental honors will be based on superior performance in history courses and in a senior thesis.


(1) Distribution Courses (5 credits):

Students must complete five distribution courses at any level (100, 200, or 300) in order to acquire thematic, geographical, and chronological breadth in the discipline. Each requirement must be fulfilled with a distinct course:

  • One course in European history
  • One course in US history
  • One course covering a time period before 1700
  • Two courses in areas other than Europe and the US

(2) Common Courses on Historiography and Methods:

The following courses constitute the common experience of all history majors. They develop methodological sophistication and research skills.

  • HIST 299: Historiography: This course introduces students to debate among historians and historical methods. It is expected that students will complete this course in the spring semester of their sophomore year.
  • HIST 300: History Workshop: This course guides students in writing a major research paper using primary sources. It is expected that students will complete this course by the end of their junior year. History Workshop fulfills the Writing Intensive Part II requirement.

(3) 300-level Seminars (4 credits):

Students are also required to take a minimum of four 300-level seminars. All 300-level courses approved for the major are designated seminars and consist of intensive reading, discussion, and writing, either in the scholarly literature or the primary sources of a certain field, or in some combination of both. All 300-level courses fulfill the Writing Part II requirement.

(4) Elective (1 credit) or Thesis Option (2 credits):

Students may apply to pursue a two-semester two-credit thesis during their senior year. They must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and submit a proposal and bibliography following departmental guidelines in the spring of their junior year. Students not pursuing the thesis option must take one additional elective course at any level.


History majors are strongly encouraged to study abroad, during the academic year, summer, or both. Over 60 percent of Trinity College students take part in foreign study and the College sponsors its own Global Learning Sites or Summer Institutes abroad in many parts of the world. The Office of International Programs and its staff offer detailed information about such programs. History faculty members participate in guiding students to appropriate programs and lead such study efforts, which bear history credit, in many parts of the world.Please visit the “Special Opportunities” section of this website for more details.