Degrees and Programs

Historical Studies Guidelines for Students Matriculating After March 17, 2008

Students interested in historical studies may choose from a wide range of possibilities. Concentrations may be organized by:

  • types of history (e.g., social, race/ethnicity/class/gender, political, religious, environmental, economic, diplomatic, quantitative)
  • national experience or geographical areas (e.g., American history, Western civilization, East Asian history, studies of regional history)
  • time periods (e.g., ancient history, medieval civilization, modern history, colonial/post-colonial)
  • themes (ethnic studies, labor history)
  • in other ways.

Students designing concentrations in historical studies should investigate graduate school opportunities and requirements and visit the historical studies website.

Building on the studies used to meet the SUNY general education requirement, students may design a concentration in historical studies using any of the college’s five organizing frameworks:

  • Disciplinary concentrations include work in Western civilization, national, regional or ethnic histories, African-American experience, historical methods and historiography, and appropriate supporting studies, such as economics, statistics, literature and/or science.
  • Interdisciplinary concentrations in historical studies represent a conscious attempt to explore linkages among allied disciplines from a historical perspective (e.g., anthropology, economics, literature, and languages). Study in comparative history is frequently interdisciplinary in approach.
  • Thematic frameworks allow a student to trace and explore one or more themes in historical studies.
  • Problem-oriented frameworks emphasize consideration of possible resolutions or continuing significance of the chosen problem.
  • Professional programs include studies vital for developing career-related skills in areas such as archival or museum employment, historical preservation and restoration, scholarly editing and the research and writing of official histories. Students with a professional emphasis frequently include internship experiences in their degree program plans.

The faculty of the college expects that students who design degree programs in historical studies will acquire the following enabling skills and understandings:

  • an understanding of historical processes and events that have shaped social change and contemporary human problems
  • knowledge of the breadth of historical writing and interpretation (the conversation within the discipline) that pertains to the topics of study included in the degree program
  • an understanding of the linkage between historical studies and other disciplines
  • an understanding of human experiences that go beyond a single time period and national or cultural experience
  • an understanding of the diversity of sources that record and interpret the past, including written texts, and original documents, photographs, visual materials, oral histories, historical objects and media, and of how to identify and evaluate primary and secondary sources
  • research skills, including a basic understanding of how to use libraries and virtual libraries, archives, databases and other internet resources
  • knowledge of the forms of citation shared by professional historians, especially the conventions known as the Chicago/Turabian style (see Writing History Papers)
  • the ability to analyze and interpret historical resources and perspectives and to make judgments; to explore causal relationships, to seek order and patterns; to ask why and how -- not simply report
  • the ability to think critically and communicate effectively
  • an understanding of history as a creative art, a subjective discipline and an imaginative interpretation of the past.

Finally, students designing concentrations in historical studies are encouraged to include a capstone study or a final integrating independent study.