History Major

Alcazar Castle, Segovia, Spain

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. A degree in history 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.

The study of history and its method 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 Curriculum and Degree Requirements (Cal Poly Catalog)

Program Learning Objectives

  1. Demonstrate a breadth and depth of historical knowledge of diverse regions of the world, and apply that knowledge toward a more critical and contextual understanding of the world today.
  2. Recognize and understand the historical experiences and contributions of members of diverse groups of people throughout history, including those who have been historically marginalized and/or underrepresented in historical sources and historiography.
  3. Identify and evaluate multiple perspectives and interpretations of the past, and grasp different approaches (e.g. political, social, cultural, intellectual, legal, economic) to historical research, both qualitative and quantitative.
  4. Engage in and make constructive use of relevant theoretical concepts and historiographic debates.
  5. Locate, critically analyze, and interpret diverse types of primary sources used by historians, and synthesize information in primary and secondary sources in historical analysis.
  6. Effectively communicate historical knowledge and formulate convincing arguments, verbally and in analytical writing.
  7. Design, research, and produce original and sustained projects.
  8. Achieve Cal Poly’s Diversity Learning Objectives.
  9. Pursue diverse careers that require advanced skills in critical thinking, oral and written communication, synthesis-based research, intellectual innovation, and information literacy.

These learning objectives are inspired by  "Liberal Learning and the History Major."

Progress to Degree

Cal Poly's and the History Department's goal is to offer you as smooth a course to your degree as possible. History Department Curriculum Flowchart is designed to help you choose your History courses over the four years of the program.

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Faculty advisors are available to assist you with any history curriculum questions you may have. To inquire as to who your faculty advisor is, visit the History Department office in Building 47, room 27 or call 756-2543. The College of Liberal Arts Advising Center also offers assistance to history majors with department, college, and university requirements and policies. 

Who should you call?

The CLA Advising Center may help you with:

  • Course selections
  • a plan for a balanced and realistic schedule
  • understanding graduation requirements, including major and GE
  • understanding your student record
  • answering transfer and evaluation questions
  • confidential situations
  • plans to improve your academic performance

Your Faculty Advisor may help you with:

  • academic and course-related questions
  • senior projects
  • internship opportunities
  • grad program information
  • teaching credential information

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To Change into the History Major

Changing your major isn't as hard as you've probably heard!

For more on the change of major process, including the requirements to change into the History major, see the College of Liberal Art's guide to changing majors or contact the History Department chair


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The History Department Internship Program (HIST 467) offers students the opportunity to “learn by doing” and explore the many ways that graduates can put their degree to work.

Career Options

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

International Education

The History Department is a strong supporter of international education and study abroad programs. Our majors frequently find they can count classes taken abroad towards their History major or their General Education requirements. Please visit the Cal Poly International Center website for information regarding studying abroad.

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