History students on field trip

Historians study the past in its variety and complexity. With such an analysis, students of history gain multiple perspectives on the present and an aptitude to plan intelligently for the future. Although the lessons to be learned from the past are rarely simple, solutions to present-day problems rest on comprehension of historical forces and events. History deepens our understanding of other peoples and cultures. All courses offered in the History Department seek to examine the issues of race, gender, class, and cultural diversity.

The study of history and its methods prepares students for a wide range of careers while also sensitizing them to the complexity and diversity of the past and present. History is an excellent foundation for a broadly based education in the liberal arts.

History (B.A.)

A history major is excellent preparation for students interested in a teaching career, the legal profession, or advanced work in the discipline. Students wishing to become business executives, administrators, and public servants profit immensely by gaining the methodological skills of the historian.

Historians learn to gather, synthesize, analyze and interpret evidence; they become skilled in presenting their conclusions to a general audience in a lucid and logical manner.


History (M.A.)

The M.A. program in history emphasizes concentrated study in area specialties, with students gaining a thorough grounding in the latest historiography. In addition, the program maintains that historical study must be predicated upon sustained research, engagement with historical problems, and written communication.

How to Apply

Please visit the Cal Poly Admissions website for more information on how to apply to Cal Poly.

Admitted Students & Parents

The History department will be holding additional Admissions office hours, co-hosted by a student and a rotating group of faculty.

Please use this link for our additional Admissions office hours:

Times/days for our additional office hours:


Day of the Week




3 PM-4PM






















Internal Transfer Student

The History Department admits undergraduate transfers according to the following procedure, as per the 2009-2011 Cal Poly Catalog, pp. 49-50 (updated 19 July 2010):

  • The student must be able to finish the requirements for the history major without exceeding 204 total units or a length of time enrolled at Cal Poly of four years plus one academic quarter.
  • The student must meet with the department chair in order to discuss a change of major and to set up an Individualized Change of Major Agreement (ICMA). This ICMA will serve as a contract, and will be valid over the following two academic quarters. Students must meet the following requirements by the end of this period in order to be accepted into the History major:
    • Completing at least three History courses (12 units) at Cal Poly, with a History GPA of 3.2 or higher.  (For junior or senior transfers, at least one History course must be upper-division.)
    • Achieve a Cal Poly GPA of 2.8 or higher for the two-quarter duration of the ICMA (enrolled full-time), or have a Cal Poly GE GPA of 2.8 or higher.
    • Meet personally with the department chair to discuss completion of the ICMA.
  • The above policy also applies to students wishing to add the History major as a second major.

Students who enter into an Individualized Change of Major Agreement (ICMA) with the department and are not accepted into the History major within two quarters will not be eligible to reapply to the major. In this event, students are advised to consider pursuing a History minor.

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