Students in a history classroom at Belmont University
Undergraduate | In-Person

History, BA/BS

The History Department fosters students' abilities to read critically, communicate ideas effectively and examine human problems in light of political, cultural and religious traditions.

Why Major in History? 

Curiosity is a connection.

History is the study of human change over time, but it’s so much more than that. History encourages a way of thinking totally unique among the traditional liberal arts disciplines and encompasses every form of human activity imaginable. History matters because its study is essential for learning how to live well.

History is relevant. Studying past experiences through observation, awareness and communication allows us to learn from the past. Recognizing that human experience is continuous, historians seek to understand how people lived in the past and how their actions, institutions and leadership shaped their world and how they continue to influence our own.

At Belmont, History students enjoy small classes and dedicated faculty who will challenge you to think critically and creatively, always engaging both your intellect and imagination to explore the past. You will learn to embrace the complex and subjective, to empathize with others’ experiences and to find joy in curiosity, all while preparing you for a dynamic future.

What You'll Learn 

  • Conduct historical research and evaluate a variety of materials
  • Examine human problems in light of ethical values, political, cultural, intellectual and religious traditions
  • Effective communication and writing
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Translate historical information into engaging and persuasive stories

Career Possibilities

  • K-12 Educator
  • Lawyer
  • Public Historian
  • Museum Administrator/Curator
  • Librarian/Archivist
  • College/University Educator
  • Research Analyst
  • Journalist
  • Writer/Editor
  • Civil Service Administrator

Program Details


The history major leads to either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. It requires 128 hours of coursework:

  • BELL core requirements: 53 hours
  • Major requirements (including 24 hours of electives from American, European and World History catalogue options): 33 hours
  • Minor requirements: 18 hours
  • General electives: 24 hours

See All Program Requirements

Courses You'll Take

  • HIS 2050 The Craft of History
  • An introductory course for history majors and minors which focuses on the nature of the discipline, historiography and problems and controversies in history.

    • HIS 3050 Writing History

    This intermediate course requirement for history majors emphasizes research, writing and historical methodology, and culminates in a major research project.

    • HIS 2010 The American Experience to Reconstruction

    This course is a survey of the political, social, economic and gender history of the North American region that became the United States from pre-European contact through the era of Reconstruction. Themes include Native American cultures and societies, European settlement, colonial British North America, the War for American Independence, nation-building, industrialization, slavery, western expansion and the broader Civil War and Reconstruction.

    • HIS 2020 The American Experience Since Reconstruction

    This course is a survey of the political, social and economic history of the United States since the Reconstruction Era. Themes include industrialization and its impacts, the changing role of the federal government, the rise of the United States as a world power, the complexities of American nationalism amidst persistent regional identities, the applications and implications of American’s racial and ethnic attitudes, and diverse cultural responses to the changes of the modern era.

    • HIS 3110 Civil War and Reconstruction

    An examination of the American Civil War as a problem in historical causation and the social, political and economic impacts of the war during the period of Reconstruction.

    • HIS 3200 Women in American Society

    An examination of the roles and accomplishments of American women from colonization to the present. Themes might include family and gender issues, suffrage, education and labor reform, sexual attitudes by and toward American women, and economic, social and political advances.

    • HIS 3250 Kings and Philosophers: Europe, 1648-1789

    This course covers Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, an era of royal absolutism, the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. It explores European society and Europe’s place in world affairs, concentrating on France and Spain in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, as well as the development of Prussia and Austria in the eighteenth century. The course will also analyze the influence of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment on European society, politics and culture.

    • HIS 3300 Writers, Gangsters, and Flappers: 1920s America

    This course studies the cultural, intellectual, social and political life of Americans from the end of the First World War to the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Major subjects include: issues of race and gender, particularly the feminine image in the 1920s (“flapper”); criminals, criminality and images of criminality (“gangsters”); art and the politics of artistic representation, specifically in literature (“writers”); and cultural clashes, especially those between “fundamentalism” and “science,” and progress and reaction.

    • HIS 3340 American in Depression and War

    This course is a cultural and intellectual history of the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. Americans’ ideas about success and failure, the proper role of government in a market economy, the relationship between politics and art, the place of morality in war, and the role of American democracy in the world during these years figure centrally. Major events and themes include, among others, the worldwide Depression, New Deal politics, the Popular Front and popular culture, the war from the home-front, and the campaigns, strategies and tactics employed in the European and Pacific theaters.

    • HIS 3350 American Baseball History

    This course traces the evolution of baseball from marginal urban sport in the 19th century to the Progressive era, when the game emerged as the “national pastime” and examines the origins of baseball’s current distempers and disabilities.

    • HIS 3500 History of the Russian Empire

    A history of the Russian Empire from the era of Peter the Great (1682-1715) to the early twentieth century. After a brief survey of medieval and early modern Russian history, the course will focus on the impact of Peter’s reforms, the social history of Russia in this period, Russian imperial expansion, efforts to reform and modernize the country, the rise of civil society and the decline of the Romanov dynasty in the face of revolutionary movements and social crisis.

    • HIS 3510 Russia and the Soviet Union Since 1900

    A history of Russia and the Soviet Union from the early twentieth century to the present. Important topics include the rise of revolutionary movements in the Russian Empire, the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the evolution of Soviet communism, Stalinist repression and terror, Gorbachev’s reforms, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of new post-Soviet states.

    • HIS 3540 Modern China

    A history of Russia and the Soviet Union from the early twentieth century to the present. Important topics include the rise of revolutionary movements in the Russian Empire, the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the evolution of Soviet communism, Stalinist repression and terror, Gorbachev’s reforms, the breakup of the Soviet Union and the emergence of new post-Soviet states.

    • HIS 3550 Europe in the Age of the French Revolution

    A study of the politics, society, and culture of the French Revolution and Nepoleonic Eras in order to assess the impact on the people and institutions of France and Europe.

    • HIS 3560 France Since 1870

    This course is a survey of the development of France between 1870 and 1991 including its three republics, World Wars I and II, decolonization and its role during the Cold War. It will also cover social and cultural changes, such as the emancipation of women and the effects of the modernization of agriculture and industry on the French people.

    • HIS 3600 International Vistas: The U.S. Viewed from Abroad

    This course is a study of various texts written by foreign observers and analysts of the United States from the 19th and 20th centuries. In most cases, these figures will have based their views on extended visits to, or even residence in, the United States. In some cases, they will be naturalized or ambiguous American citizens; in other cases, foreigners with an intellectual “tourist visa.” In a few instances, their work will have exerted considerable influence on American thinking about itself and thus can be seen as part of American and/or Transatlantic intellectual and cultural studies.

    • HIS 3650 The Making Of England, 400-1500

    This course is designed to help students explore and understand the shaping of the English national character by examining the historical events and literacy / artistic achievements that led to the founding of the nation called England and the establishment of English as its language. In the thousand-year time period the course surveys the contributions of the Anglo-Saxons and Normans, as well as the tangential but important influences of the British, the Romans and the Vikings. Students are expected to engage with a variety of literary and historical texts and critical works, as well as conduct and present research on an assigned report topic and a paper topic on a subject of their choice.

    • HIS 3690 Ireland Since 1798: From Colony to National State

    This class examines the course of Irish history from the 1798 rebellion to the present. Particular attention is paid to the varieties of Irish political experience, the torturous development of nationalism and Unionism, the role of the Church, the consequences of the Famine, the Irish Diaspora, the struggle for independence and demographic and economic change. The impact of the Partition and the continuing problem of Northern Ireland will also be considered.

    • HIS 3700 History of Central Asia

    A survey of central Asian history from antiquity to the present, focusing on patterns of sedentary-nomadic relations and the rise and fall of the great nomadic steppe empires, including the Scythians, Huns and Mongols. Other topics include Tibetan history and the impact of Russian and Chinese partition of the region in recent centuries.

    • HIS 3720 Islamic Social and Religious Thought

    This course serves as a basic introduction to Islamic intellectual life and thought. It begins with an introduction to the Qur’an, the Hadith and traditional forms of Islamic jurisprudence. Most of the course will focus on political, social and religious thought during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as Muslim thinkers in the Middle East confronted the challenges of modernization, secularization and rapid social, political and social change. Topics include views of Western imperialism and cultural influence, the development of modern nationalism, Islamic reform and revival movements, Islamic perspectives on democracy, and the problem of terrorism.

    • HIS 3850 Africa Since 1890

    This course surveys the history of sub-Saharan Africa from the beginning of the colonial era to the present day. The course will offer historical background to the period to indicate the cultural, economic, social and political impacts of colonization, emergence of nationalism, the move towards independence in the 20th century, and recent political, economic and cultural developments.

    • HIS 4015 History Capstone

    This course revisits and expands upon both historical thinking and writing for research and teaching purposes. As such, the course includes conceptual and practical elements with an emphasis on career preparation. Students will also reflect on their college experience more broadly.

    • HIS 4120 Revolution, Nation Making and the “Age of Jackson”

    An examination of the constitutional conflict in the British Empire, independence and war, growth of political parties and the emergence of republican systems of government and society. The course will follow these developments through the “Age of Jackson” in the 1840s, and via themes that might include economic development, expansion of slavery, interaction of slavery, interactions with Native Americans, religion and reform, and the changing roles of women, all framed by the ongoing struggle between nationalism and sectionalism.

    • HIS 4320 Seminar in The American West

    A multicultural exploration of the frontier experience, and the trans-Mississippi American West, from exploration and settlement to the present. Gender, class and race, economic and industrial development, and the environment are emphasized. Themes might include exploration and conquest, westward migration and settlement, Manifest Destiny, wars with Mexico and Native Americans, the “Wild West,” transportation and technology, suffrage and reform, extractive industries and the environment, and the interpretations of “the West” as a cultural icon.

    • HIS 4330 American Thought and Culture Since 1865

    This course examines American intellectuals from the Civil War to the present–their lives, ideas and respective cultural milieus. Major historical themes include the impact of Darwin’s Origin of the Species and the Civil War on American thought; the responses of artists and intellectuals to mass market capitalism, large scale industrialization and various mechanisms of modernity; the influence of European thinkers and emigres on American thought; and the decline of the public intellectual as a factor in American cultural life. In addition, the course explores the differences and complementarities in American intellectuals’ approaches to these themes and problems from various standpoints, among them, “technical” philosophy, social criticism, political thought, literary criticism, aesthetics and philosophies of science.

    • HIS 4500 Europe in the Age of the World Wars

    Although Europe dominated global affairs at the beginning of the 20th century, the pace of change within European societies generated economic rivalries and social and political tensions which erupted into world-wide war in 1914. This course, through an examination of these tensions - World War I, its aftermath and World War II and its aftermath - will explore the factors, especially the consequences of the world wars, which moved Europe from the center to the periphery of international affairs.

    • HIS 4650 The Russian Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1922

    This course explores the causes and consequences of the Russian Revolution of 1917, which toppled Tsar Nicholas II, brought the Bolshevik party to power, and established the foundations for the communist control of the Soviet Union that lasted until 1991. A significant part of the course is dedicated to the Russian Civil War the followed the revolution, a massive and destructive civil conflict during which the Bolsheviks successfully defeated all opponents and established a police state. Students will work extensively with primary sources and write an original research paper relating to the topic.

    • HIS 4670 The Tudor Monarchy, 1485-1603

    This class will examine the birth of Renaissance monarch in England, the personalities and politics of the Tudor age, and the government of the realm. Special attention will be paid to the origins of the empire, the question of the “Tudor frontier,” the impact of the Reformation and the emergence of the market society.

    • HIS 4820 History of Modern Japan

    An examination of the history of Japan as it undergoes social, cultural, economic and political change from the end of its relative isolation to becoming a world power. The course covers the impact of modernization and westernization on Japanese society and culture, the quest for an East Asian empire that led to a devastating war in the Pacific, and national regeneration into an international economic power.

    • HIS 4850 Cuba and the Caribbean

    An examination of the historical development of the greater Caribbean from Spanish arrival in 1492 to the present. Specific themes might include exploration and conquest, colonialism and mercantilism, development of plantation agriculture, wars for independence, ethnicity and cultural tradition, revolutionary movements, women’s movements and twentieth-century relationships / involvement with the United States.

Belmont History Society: This organization is open to all Belmont students and plans engaging activities and opportunities for members to highlight historical topics together.

Ali Graham

Alumni Testimonial

"The Belmont History department has truly changed my college experience for the better. The professors and my peers have opened me up to diverse perspectives and allowed me to engage with new ways of thinking that I might never have seen otherwise. Class discussions emphasize a more full and nuanced understanding of historical events and figures. I feel ready to use the skills I've developed in a fulfilling career after graduation."

Ali Graham, Class of 2023

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