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Undergraduate Studies

The study of history offers a critical understanding of the past that helps illuminate the present and inform the future.  Historians also seek to understand the dynamics of change over time and the complexity of the human experience across time and space.  These ambitious goals are reflected in the scholarly and teaching interests of history department faculty which span all areas of the globe and all historical periods from the ancient to the modern.  Our approach to history is equally varied:  politics, society, culture, gender, race, war, diplomacy, science, technology, and medicine are all part of every semester’s course offerings.  Whether they take courses to complete a major or a minor in history or to meet general education requirements or to satisfy their own curiosity—or some combination of these three—students engage the rich content and high quality of our courses and our award-winning teaching.  

In our courses students acquire skills—how to research, read critically, write effectively, communicate verbally—and a sense of judgment that serve them well at Purdue University and prepare them for careers in a wide range of fields and occupations. 

As they engage in historical inquiry, research, and analysis, history majors learn to:

  • Understand the complex and contested character not only of history but of the historical record.  Students learn to identify, to locate, and to distinguish between primary and secondary sources.  They recognize the value of conflicting narratives and evidence. 

  • Craft historical narrative and argument.  Students learn how to develop an argument based on evidence and to present it in writing, in verbal communication, or by other media.

  • Practice historical thinking as central to engaged citizenship.  Students examine multiple viewpoints and develop positions that reflect deliberation and different perspectives.  They apply historical knowledge and analysis to contribute to contemporary discussions about the present and the future.

The history major is a ticket to success in all kinds of fields.  Some history majors elect to go on to graduate school in history, law, public policy, public history, museum studies, and library and information science.  Others go on to a variety of occupations in the public and private sector including education, government, business, publishing, journalism, mass communications, and health professions.  Follow the links on the left to learn what you can do with a history major.

A History Honors Program is available. The department has also expanded its Study Abroad Programs for undergraduate students and faculty. History majors may apply for a large and growing number of Scholarships.  We encourage students to pursue Internships.

We would be happy to discuss with you the challenges and many opportunities of a history major. William Gray is the Director of Undergraduate Studies for history.  Nina Haberer is the Academic Advisor for history majors.  Please feel free to contact us or the department at (765) 494-4132 if we can provide you with any further information.