Undergraduate Studies


The History Major at Mississippi State University exposes undergraduate students to a wide range of human perspectives and experience.  Our professors and our curriculum facilitate a valuable understanding of the historical past and the present, as well as cultural differences amongst peoples of the world.  MSU history majors learn valuable skills including how to research, collect and make sense of large amounts of information, how to think analytically, and write clearly.


MSU history undergraduates enjoy a broad range of career opportunities.  A number of our majors pursue careers in teaching, public history, or historic preservation.  These students go on History or Education graduate programs, or pursue degrees in Library Science or Public History.

MANY of our students, however, choose to apply the critical thinking and writing skills they learn as History majors to an unrelated field.  Many of our students have gone on to law school, public policy graduate programs, and seminary.  Other recent graduates have entered the U.S. Marshal Service, managed small businesses, and have even gone on to medical school.  With a little planning, a history major can be wonderful preparation for nearly any career.

Course Requirements

  • Total Course Requirements for B.A. in History: 124 Semester Hours (31 hours must be at MSU)
  • Major Field:(History 27 hours-at least 15 must be taken at MSU)
    • Upper level (3000 or 4000) Category I History...6 hours
    • Upper level (3000 or 4000) Category II History...6 hours
    • Upper level (3000 or 4000) Category III History... 6 hours
    • Upper level (3000 or 4000) Category I, II, or III History...6 hours

[Please reference Course Category Link to see which courses constitute Categories I, II, and III]


  • Historiography (HI 3903) (fulfills requirements for Junior/Senior Level Writing Course), 3 hours
  • Electives (12-26 hours)
  • Majors must have a 2.0 average in all their course work and a 2.5 average in their history courses - 39 hours.
  • Total upper level Arts and Sciences requirement - 31 hours which must be taken at MSU.
  • Last 31 hours of the degree must be taken in residence at MSU.
  • Core Curricula:
    • Basic Skills (16-23 hours)
    • English Composition ...6 hours
    • Public Speaking (CO 1003)...3 hours
    • Foreign Language...3-9 hours [Students must pass the third semester of a language i.e. Spanish III, Japanese III, or Latin III]
    • College Mathematics and Statistics (6 hours)
    • Natural Sciences (9-12 hours)
    • Physical Science with Lab (CH, GG. PH)...3-4 hours
    • Biological Science with Lab (BIO)...3-4 hours
    • Physical or Biological Science elective...3-4 hours
    • Humanities (21 hours)
    • Literature (English Department)...3 hours
    • History... 12 hours - two sequences from the following list: 
HI 1063/1073 Early and Modern US History
HI 1163/1173 World History Before 1500 and Since 1500
HI 1213/1223 Early and Modern Western World
HI 1313/1323 Early and Modern East Asian Civilizations
    • Philosophy Elective...3 hours
    • Literature, Philosophy, Religion elective...3 hours
    • Social Sciences (18 hours)
    • Every student is required to take six courses from four of the following departments: Anthropology, Communication (CO 1223 or 1403 only), Economics (econ 1003 or 2113 or 2123), Geography, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology. No more than two courses from any one department will apply with the exceptions of economics and communications, in which only one course will apply in each.
    • Fine Arts (3 hours)
    • Fine Arts Elective...3 hours
    • Computer Literacy (3 hours)


Minors in History

Students interested in receiving a minor in history must take a minimum of eighteen semester hours of history including at least one of the following sequences:

  • HI 1063/1073
  • HI 1163/1173
  • HI 1213/1223
  • HI 1313/1323
  • Plus twelve credit hours in history classes numbered 3000 and above including at least one at the 4000 level.

Phi Alpha Theta

Phi Alpha Theta

Mississippi State is the home to the Gamma Nu Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. Phi Alpha Theta was established at the University of Arkansas in 1921 by Nels Andrew N. Cleven, a professor in the Department of History and Political Science. Phi Alpha Theta is a professional society organized "to promote the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians." The organization acts to "bring students, teachers, and writers of history together for intellectual and social exchanges which promote and assist historical research and publication." Today the organization has more than 839 chapters in fifty states. Since its inception Phi Alpha Theta has initiated more than 281,000 members. Phi Alpha Theta promotes research, teaching, and publication in a variety of ways. The organization publishes a scholarly journal, The Historian. The society also provides scholarships and grants for Graduate and Faculty research, and awards prizes for outstanding books and articles. For further information about Phi Alpha Theta, go to http://www.phialphatheta.org .

Membership & Awards

The Gamma Nu Chapter was organized in 1950. It initiates new members in the spring. Undergraduate and Graduate students are invited to join based on their GPA in history and overall GPA. Undergraduates must have at least 12 hours of history, but are not required to be history majors. Graduate students must have completed at least 30 percent of their requirements for a master's degree. The Gamma Nu Chapter encourages teaching and scholarship with several annual awards. The William E. Parrish award honors outstanding teaching at both the faculty and graduate teaching assistantship levels. The Martha Swain award is presented to the graduating senior whose grades and activities exemplify the mission of Phi Alpha Theta. An unnamed best undergraduate paper award is also presented annually.

Professor Matthew Lavine, Faculty Advisor

Values are important, but I still need to make a living?

Increase your marketability with a double major or major/minor option. Beyond preparing students for these careers, a history major or minor is eminently practical, because it offers a competitive advantage in the market place. As a history major or minor, you will do a lot of reading and writing. Therefore courses in history will help you learn how to sift through information, analyze it, organize it, develop themes, and communicate the results of your research effectively. These skills are often lacking among students who focus solely on narrower, more technical disciplines.

If you want to pursue a professional career, let me suggest a few options, among many, in which a history major or minor can fit into your curriculum. If you are considering a career in law, a double major or major/minor combining History and Political Science will make you an attractive candidate for law school. A double major or major/minor combination with Communications provides excellent preparation for a career in journalism. If you want to pursue a career in business, you have several options, including a double major in history and business, or a business major/history minor combination. If you were considering a Masters in business, you could major in history and minor in business, thus fulfilling most of the requisite business courses for entering a Masters program.

The key point to keep in mind is this: don't squander your elective hours!!! They make the university curriculum sufficiently flexible to develop an effective strategy for turning your undergraduate education into a significant competitive advantage in the market. By concentrating your electives in a single field, you can earn a minor in most fields without adding any hours to the required 124 hours to graduate. You can earn a double major with only a few extra classes beyond the required 124 hours. A resume with a double major or a major/minor combination tells your prospective employer that you are a well-rounded person who was thoughtful and motivated enough to maximize their educational experience.