Our program cultivates engaged and civically minded professionals who are deeply aware of the roots of today’s national and global issues. Our courses challenge students to recognize change or continuity over time, to consider multiple perspectives, to develop their own interpretations of the past, and to express their arguments effectively across multiple mediums.
The analytical and communication skills that set a Nichols’ education apart will develop students’ professional readiness and prepare them for careers in fields such as business, law, education, government, journalism, public relations, non-profit, and public history.
History majors and minors will have the opportunity to study with professors whose experience covers a wide variety of coursework in political, economic, social, cultural, and military history. Our offerings are always evolving to reflect student interest and the latest academic thought. Check out our Twitter feed to learn more about our courses, events, speakers, writing, and research.
Courses & Requirements
History Major Requirements:
1 U.S. History Survey Course
- HIST 110: United States from Colony to Republic
- HIST 111: The Making of Modern America
- HIST 112: The American Century
1 World History Survey Course
- HIST 113: Ancient Societies
- HIST 114: The Medieval World
- HIST 115: The Modern Age
2 Gateway Courses
- HIST 210: War on Terror
- HIST 211: From Leeches to Listerine
- HIST 213: Civil Rights in America
- HIST 214: Sport in American History
- HIST 215: World War II
- HIST 270: Special Topics in History
2 Global Studies Courses
- HIST 339: Modern Europe since 1815
- HIST 369: The World since 1945
- HIST 370: Special Topics in History (with a Global Focus)
2 Upper-Level U.S. History Courses
- HIST 315: The Age of the American Revolution
- HIST 322: Women in American Society
- HIST 340: Political and Historical Leaders
- HIST 352: American Economic History
- HIST 355: U.S. Civil War
- HIST 370: Special Topics in History (with a U.S. focus)
- HIST 480: Seminar in History
1 Experiential Learning Course
- HIST 490: Internship in History
- HIST 491: Research Associate
- HIST 492: Teaching Associate
- HIST 493: Advanced Project
- HIST 494: Faculty-led Travel
History Minor Requirements:
- 1 100-LEVEL HISTORY COURSE
- 3 HISTORY COURSES AT THE 200-LEVEL OR ABOVE (BUT NO MORE THAN 2 AT THE 200-LEVEL)
HIST-110 United States From Colony to Republic
Designed to introduce students to the practice of historical study, this course is a survey of the origins of the United States – from Europeans’ arrival in North America to the founding of the republic. It is designed to offer students a broader understanding about how and why the United States developed into a nation-state, including the political, economic, social, and cultural factors that led to U.S. independence. The course is organized chronologically and will emphasize the theme of identity. Much as it is today, what became the United States of America was a tremendously diverse place in terms of race, class, gender, religion, and place of origin. These differences bred both conflict and accommodation among peoples who became “Americans,” the results of which greatly shaped the early republic.
HIST-111 The Making of Modern America
This survey course primarily focuses on the United States in the nineteenth century, an era in which the country emerged into the modern state that we recognize today. The course is organized chronologically and emphasizes the theme of expansion. During the nineteenth century, the United States grew territorially at an astounding rate, reaching the shores of the Pacific Ocean and beyond. Meanwhile, the country enjoyed rapid growth in its economy as it transitioned from an agriculturally based system (highly dependent on slavery) to an industrially centered one. This period also marked broadening popular participation in the body politic, albeit with significant limitations based on race and gender. This expansion in its various forms was marked by both conflict and accommodation among the nation’s diverse population. We will examine the effects of expansion on these various peoples.
HIST-112 The American Century
For the better part of the 20th century, the United States was widely recognized as the most powerful country on earth. Borrowing from famed publisher Henry Luce, this era has been called the “American Century.” This course will survey the political, economic, social, and cultural factors that contributed to this development, assess how such influence was sustained, and consider the extent to which the term still applies in the present. Through close readings of primary and secondary sources, we will examine how domestic affairs – including race relations, income inequality, and national security – affected foreign policy and vice versa.
HIST-113 Ancient Societies
This survey course will examine the emergence of the earliest human civilizations, from pre-historic beginnings through the 6th century. We will explore how these societies began and developed over time; examine their political institutions, religious beliefs, and social structures; and investigate how economic and technological development, as well as evolving religious and intellectual ideas, helped promote new commercial and cultural ties among these civilizations. This course will focus on the earliest societies in the ancient Near East and the Nile Valley, India, East Asia, the Mediterranean world, and early Europe.
HIST-114 The Medieval World
This survey course will examine the evolution of civilizations from 600 until 1600. We will explore the development of the Islamic world, the African kingdoms, and the Americas in the age of the Incas, the Maya, and the Aztecs. We will examine the impact that trade, religious and intellectual ideas, war, and disease played in promoting remarkable changes in Indian, East Asian, and European societies during this time period. The worldwide impact, both positive and negative, made by the European Renaissance and Age of Discovery will be analyzed.
HIST-115 The Modern Age
This survey course will examine the evolution of civilizations from 1600 until the present, when the world becomes increasing integrated because of advances in technology and increasing trade and cultural exchange among societies. We will explore the political, religious, intellectual, and economic developments that lay behind the expansion of Western influence into other parts of the world. We will assess the political revolutions that occurred in the Atlantic world in the 18th and 19th centuries and the ideological and social movements that brought reforms to Europe but European imperialism to Africa and Asia. We will examine the causes and effects of the Industrial Revolution as well as the impact of the world wars, which led to the decline of Western imperialism and the resurgence of civilizations in India, China, and Africa.
HIST-210 War on Terror
HIST-211 From Leeches to Listerine: Medicine and Disease in 19th Century America
HIST-213 Civil Rights in America
This course will examine the history of the Civil Rights Movement in America, from its origins in the years after the Civil War to the current Black Lives Matter movement. Students will learn how the development of the NAACP, the Great Migration and World War II helped ignite the protests of the 1950s and 1960s. Students will study numerous events related to the struggle for civil rights, including the murder of Emmett Till, school integration, student sit-ins, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Students will complete a research project on a person or event related to the Civil Rights Movement.
HIST-214 Sport in American History
Sport can be the window, mirror, or magnifying glass we need to see a clearer picture of the past. In this course, students will dive into primary and secondary sources about sports in the United States from its Colonial Era to the 21st century and discover how sports can alter our view of American History.
HIST-215 World War II
This course will focus on the American experience at home and abroad during World War II. It will cover military, political, economic, social, cultural, and diplomatic aspects of the war. Discussions of the methods of historical inquiry – particularly through primary and secondary sources – will be used to illustrate interpretations of the major events of World War II. Controversial aspects of the war and its conduct will be examined, especially pertaining to the role of the United States. Among the topics to be examined include the attack at Pearl Harbor, the issue of the timing of the second front in Europe, whether the Holocaust could have been prevented, the role of women on the homefront, the brutality of the Pacific war, and whether it was necessary to drop the atomic bomb.
HIST-315 Age of the American Revolution
This course will examine selected topics in American constitutional history from the founding period to the early 21st century. A significant component of this course is a detailed examination of the United States Constitution and the Massachusetts State Constitution, including their origins, interpretation, and evolution.
HIST-322 Women in American Society
HIST-339 History of Modern Europe
HIST-340 Political & Historical Leaders
HIST-352 American Economic History
HIST-355 Civil War
HIST-369 World History Since 1945
HIST-370 Special Topics in History
This course is designed to present certain topics not covered in the usual program yet considered of value to the student of history.
HIST-470 Special Topics in History
HIST-480 Seminar in History
HIST-490 Internship in History
Qualified students who have departmental approval may apply for internships to gain experience in the field of public history at area museums, historic sites, archives, and libraries. Students will work to develop skills relevant to history-related careers outside the classroom. They will demonstrate their progress in weekly writing assignments and regular meetings with the supervising professor, along with a final project and presentation.
HIST-491 Research Associate
The RAI offers selected students a chance to work closely with faculty on scholarly research projects and introduces them to the excitement and possible opportunities in a research-based career option. This course is designed to help such students become critically engaged in a culture of independent learning and participate in the creation of new knowledge, in this case in support of the instructor’s work on a peer-reviewed journal article and book project. The experience is designed for students to develop their skills in both finding and interpreting primary and secondary sources. Students will improve their critical thinking, writing, and communication skills, and will get the chance to present their work. Moreover, the experience will enhance students’ graduate school and employment qualifications.
HIST-492 Teaching Associate
A Teaching Associate Intern works with students in a specific course to provide support for the faculty member in charge. His/her duties may include teaching, preparing instructional materials, grading examinations, critiquing student papers, tutoring students, aiding in online or classroom discussions, sample assignment preparation, and performing other duties as assigned. Major responsibilities for a class shall not be given to a Teaching Associate Intern. The associate works under the supervision of an experienced faculty member. In consultation with the supervisor, the teaching associate works to gain instructional skills and to enhance his/her grasp of the essentials of the academic discipline and the role and responsibilities of a faculty member.
HIST-493 Advanced Project
The Advanced Project Internship is an Experiential Learning Opportunity, fulfilling a 3-credt, 120 hour requirement. It is an opportunity for students to work with a group under the close supervision of a faculty member, developing professional skills and personal knowledge through an outside-the-classroom advanced project. Students develop new communication and critical thinking skills, as well as practice leadership and teamwork. They are introduced to new hands-on opportunities related to the field of History and possible career opportunities. The experience will enhance students’ graduate and employment qualifications.
HIST-494 Faculty-Led Travel
A faculty-led trip is a 3-credit academic course involving traditional classroom learning and experiential learning in an international or domestic setting. These courses provide students and faculty first-hand opportunities to investigate other cultures, enhancing academic development. Students benefit from personal interactions with companies and organizations they would not encounter as a tourist. Travel is approximately 10-15 days in length during Winter Intersession, Spring Break (as part of a Spring semester course), or in May after exams.