Table of Contents:
Program Overview »
Distribution Requirements »
Rules of 8 and 12 »
History of Science, Technology, and Medicine »
Cognate Approval »
Study Abroad »
Senior Departmental Examination »
Graduation Requirements and Honors »
Grading Practices »
Academic Integrity »
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The undergraduate history program is designed to encourage students to immerse themselves in a particular time or place (depth) as well as to gain a broad sense of history (breadth). This is accomplished through both the independent research conducted by juniors and seniors and the distribution requirements that students must take. In their junior year, concentrators write two junior papers, one in each semester. In their senior year, students complete year-long independent research that culminates in the senior thesis.
Concentrators are encouraged to acquire a broad body of knowledge. All students must take four courses that satisfy the department’s Distribution Requirements. In addition, students are encouraged to participate in study abroad programs and to master at least one language in addition to English. Knowledge of a foreign language is virtually essential for senior thesis research on many topics.
History concentrators must take 10 courses in the Department: two prerequisites and eight other departmental courses. The Junior Seminar counts as a departmental. Students should speak with the Departmental Representative if they have questions about satisfying prerequisites or designating cognate courses as departmentals.
Students are required to take and pass at least two departmental courses before they enter the department. At least one of these two courses must come from the list of courses designated as prerequisites. Students who have not fulfilled the 200-level prerequisite must take one of the appropriate courses in the fall of their junior year. Humanities 216-217 or 218-219 may be used as a 200-level prerequisite but cannot be counted as one of the ten departmental requirements. CLA 216, CLA 217, CLA 218, and CLA 219 do not satisfy the 200-level prerequisite but will count as departmental courses.
Students who wish to enter the department but who have not taken two departmental courses before their junior year should consult with the Departmental Representative.
To satisfy the department’s Distribution Requirements, students must take at least one course in each of the following four areas:
- European history (including Russia)
- United States history (including Afro-American history)
- Non-western history (including Asian, Near Eastern, Latin American, or African history).
- Pre-modern history.
See the Distribution Requirements for a list of courses satisfying each of these areas. (No single course may satisfy more than one of the distribution requirements.)
Rules of 8 and 12
University regulations stipulate that undergraduates must take at least eight, but not more than twelve, departmental courses. Departmental regulations stipulate that undergraduates must pass at least ten departmental courses in order to receive the A.B. degree. History courses taken in the freshman and sophomore years are numbered among the ten to twelve required for graduation. Students may not designate any departmental courses "Pass-Fail" even if the minimum ten courses have been completed. (Readmitted students of the class of 1990 and before must pass at least eight departmental courses.)
Special Track for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine
Students should have an understanding of the history of science, technology, and medicine at various times and in various places and be able to address questions concerning the conceptual and institutional development of these activities in relation to the societies that pursue them.
History majors wishing to concentrate in the history of science need not meet the departmental prerequisites or distribution requirements. But they must take ten to twelve courses that satisfy the following requirements:
- Two courses in science, engineering, or mathematics in addition to those used to fill the University's science distribution requirement.
- Four of the following courses:
- EGR 277 / HIS 277, Technology and Society
- HIS 290, The Scientific World View of Antiquity and the Middle Ages
- HIS 291, The Scientific Revolution and European Order, 1500-1750
- HIS 292, Science in the Modern World
- HIS 293, Science in a Global Context: 15th to 20th Century
- HIS 294, What is the Scientific Revolution?
- HIS 295, Making America: A Technological History of the United States
- HIS 297 / STC 297, Transformative Questions in Biology
- HIS 391, History of Contemporary Science
- HIS 392, History of Evolution
- HIS 393, Race, Drugs, and Drug Policy in America
- HIS 394, History of Ecology and Environment (formerly HIS 491)
- HIS 395, History of Medicine and the Body
- HIS 396, History of Biology
- HIS 397, Translation in the History of Science
- HIS 398, Technologies and Their Societies: Historical Perspective
- AMS 399 / HIS 399, In the Groove: Technology and Music in American History, from Edison to the iPod
- HIS 452, Magic, Matter, Medicine: Science in the Medieval World
- HIS 472, Medicine and Society in China: Past and Present
- HIS 489, The Scientific Self
- HIS 493, Science and Religion: Historical Approaches
- HIS 494, Broken Brains, Shattered Minds
- HIS 496, History of Neuroscience
- HIS 498, History of Pseudoscience
- HIS 499, Things
Note: With the permission of Professor Creager, one of these courses may be replaced by a cognate course from another department.
- Four other history courses.
The independent work and senior departmental examination requirements are the same as for all other departmental majors.
The Department encourages students to take courses in other departments that will add depth and variety to their study of history. When taken during the junior and senior year, up to two such courses may be counted as departmental courses i.e., cognates, provided they contribute significantly to the student's field of concentration and/or independent work.
Note that cross-listed courses, e.g., CLA 217 and NES 201, are not cognates; they are automatically considered departmental courses.
The designation of a course as a cognate must be approved by the Departmental Representative who will make an appropriate notation on the student's departmental track-sheet. The designation of a cognate course as a departmental should take place during the enrollment/advising period but no later than the University's "Deadline for 'Free' Course Change" (approximately two weeks after the beginning of the semester). Courses cannot be declared cognates retroactively nor can they be changed later to non-departmentals. Cognate courses do not satisfy distribution requirements; however, they count in the determination of departmental standing and honors.
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Students in the Department are encouraged to participate in those programs for foreign study recognized by the University (For further information, consult the Office of International Programs, 36 University Place, Suite 350.) The Department has the following policies and resources for students:
Sophomores intending to major in History may count one history course taken abroad toward the requirement to enter the Department. The course cannot be used as a substitute for the 200-level prerequisite (see section on Prerequisites). A HIS 400 Junior Seminar is offered each spring for sophomores intending to concentrate in History but who will study abroad in the fall of their junior year.
Juniors majoring in the Department may receive credit for up to four courses in history taken while abroad for either a full year or semester. These courses will require the prior approval of the Departmental Representative, and to secure that approval students will be expected to produce some evidence of the work load and of the materials covered by the courses.
Recognizing the difficulties of doing research without Princeton's many resources, the Department will be flexible regarding deadlines of submission of independent work conducted abroad. (Students must make arrangements for extension of deadlines with the Departmental Representative.)
Junior seminars offered during the spring term will be open to sophomores intending to go abroad in their junior year, thus enabling them to write their first junior paper in the spring of their sophomore year and thereby preparing them to write the second while abroad or in the resident semester of their junior year (if they elect to spend only one semester abroad). Students who meet the requirements of junior independent work while at Princeton will still be expected to undertake a full course load while abroad. Moreover, study abroad should include some research work. In particular, the Department encourages students to take seminars that include a research component.
Senior Departmental Examination
The senior comprehensive exam takes the form of a discussion of the student’s thesis and the student’s experience in the Department. Three people will be present at the exam: the student, the adviser, and the thesis’s second reader. The exam will last approximately 30 minutes and count for 5% of the student’s Departmental GPA.
Students will receive the thesis comments no later than 10 days before the comprehensive exam. One week prior to the scheduled exam, the student will submit electronically to Judie Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org) a comprehensive statement in a PDF format. Using the template provided by the Department, the first page of the statement should list all the student’s departmental courses, independent work, and other history-relevant courses and experiences, such as study abroad or internships. On the succeeding pages, the student should write an essay of no more than 1,000 words that summarizes her/his academic background before entering the Department, intellectual development while studying history at Princeton, and career goals. The Department will offer a workshop on how to write such a statement during the Spring semester and will make sample statements available at the History office.
The writing of the comprehensive statement and the senior comprehensive exam are intended to be a moment of intellectual reflection. During the exam, students should be prepared to respond carefully to the written comments on their thesis by their adviser and second reader as well as discuss their comprehensive statement.
Graduation Requirements and Honors
In order to qualify for a bachelor's degree a student must (a) fulfill the History Department's course distribution requirements, (b) receive a passing grade on the senior thesis and (c) achieve C or better in a departmental average calculated by the departmental honors formula. Departmental honors are calculated according to the following formula:
- Departmental course grades equal 45%. (All History department courses taken in the sophomore through senior years and all approved cognate courses taken in the junior and senior years count automatically. Courses taken freshman year will also be counted if they raise the overall average or if they are necessary to meet any of the requirements.)
- Junior independent work equals 15%.
- The senior thesis equals 35%.
- The senior departmental examination equals 5%. Note that this component counts at least as much as one course and often means the difference for graduation with honors.
The Department has no hard and fast statistical averages (or cut-offs) for determining the ranks of honors. These judgments are made at a faculty meeting when the quality of work that has been accomplished by students is reviewed.
The Department offers the following guidelines on graded work. Students are encouraged to fully engage with course material, both in their papers and their precept discussions.