Undergraduate Studies

Students (or their parents) often ask: what good is a history major? There are great practical reasons to make history the centerpiece of your Mississippi State University education. Our history majors learn skills that are valuable in almost any career: to study history means learning how to conduct research, how to collect and make sense of large amounts of information, how to think analytically and form persuasive arguments, and how to write clearly.
Even more importantly, history is the language in which you must be literate in order to understand any human culture, including your own. The past is the laboratory in which we analyze the human condition, the only “experiment” we have to refer to. We live in a world constructed out of the decisions of previous generations; recognizing how those choices were made in the past is an essential first step to making informed choices in the present.
Last—but not least—you should study history because you want to. If you value the stories that make up the human experience, and if you want to learn how to take part in telling those stories, then the history major is the right one for you.

History majors at Mississippi State enjoy a broad range of career opportunities. Many of our majors pursue careers in teaching, public history, or historic preservation. These students go on to history or education graduate programs, or pursue degrees in library science and archival studies, anthropology, or related fields.
But these are just a fraction of the ways that our majors might choose to apply the critical thinking and writing skills they learn in history courses at Mississippi State. Our majors also attend law school, pursue careers in public policy, and work in the public health field. Other recent graduates have entered the U.S. Marshal Service, managed small businesses, entered the ministry, or attended medical school. A history major doesn’t limit the paths that you can follow after you graduate; it adds to your chosen career the wealth of human perspective, research and analytical skills, and writing craft that the study of history imparts.

As with all degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences, history majors must complete 124 semester hours, at least the last 31 of which must be taken at Mississippi State University. Students must also pass 31 hours of upper-level Mississippi State University courses taken from departments in the College of Arts and Sciences (including History). All history majors must have a 2.0 overall GPA and a 2.5 GPA in history courses in order to graduate.
History majors must also fulfill all of the following requirements in order to graduate.
• Both halves of two of the following core sequences (for a total of 12 hours)
o United States History (HI 1063 and HI 1073)
o Western History (HI 1213 and HI 1223)
o World History (HI 1163 and HI 1173)
o East Asian History (HI 1313 and HI 1323)
o History of Science and Technology (HI 1003 and HI 1013)

• 24 hours in upper-level (3000- or 4000-level) History courses. This includes 6 hours in each of three categories of classes, and an additional 6 hours beyond those. (See below for a description of the categories and the courses listed for each.

• HI 3903, Historiography and Historical Methods, which fulfills the Junior/Senior Writing requirement

• 6 hours in English Composition (or equivalent credit)

• 3 hours of Public Speaking

• A third-semester foreign language class, or the equivalent by examination. (Most students will take 9 hours of coursework for this requirement.)

• 6 hours of mathematics, generally MA 1313 (College Algebra) and either MA 1323 (Trigonometry) or MA 2113 (Statistics)

• 9-11 hours of Natural Science, including
o 3-4 hours of a physical science with lab
o 3-4 hours of a biological science with lab
o 3 hours of elective science

• 3 hours of literature from the English Department

• 3 hours of an introductory Philosophy course

• 3 hours of additional study in humanities departments outside of History

• 18 hours of social science credits, comprising six courses from at least four different departments, and counting no more than 6 hours from any one department.

• 3 hours of qualifying Fine Arts courses

• 2-3 hours of qualifying Computer Literacy courses.

Please contact Dr. Matthew Lavine, the Undergraduate Coordinator for the History Department, for more information about these requirements, or to declare a history major.

Students who wish to earn a minor in history must take a minimum of 18 hours of history, including both halves of a core sequence (HI 1063/1073, HI 1163/1173, HI 1213/1223, HI 1313/1323, or HI 1003/1013) and at least 12 hours in courses numbered 3000 or higher, at least 3 hours of which must be in courses numbered 4000 or higher.


The History Department offers several undergraduate scholarships, including the Bettersworth-Moore Award available to rising juniors or seniors, and the Whittaker-DeSantis Award for African-American students. There is also an annual prize for best undergraduate paper, and a prize in support of majors who intend to pursue graduate study in history.

All Mississippi State University students who have taken at least 12 hours in history and maintained a 3.1 GPA in those classes, as well as a 3.0 GPA overall, are eligible to be inducted into our chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honors society. Please contact Dr. Courtney Thompson for more information.


The undergraduate history major is designed to encourage students to take a wide variety of courses. As noted above, majors must take at least two courses (6 hours) in each of the following categories:

CATEGORY I – thematic courses and world history
HI 3013 – African-American History to 1865

HI 3183 – World Environmental History

HI 3363 – American History of Transportation

HI 3613 – History of the Life Sciences

HI 3813 – History of Modern Latin America

HI 3853 – The United States and Latin America

HI 3893 – Twentieth Century World History

HI 4000 – Directed Individual Study (category depends on topic)

HI 4193 – United States Environmental History

HI 4273 – Women in American History

HI 4283 – History of Southern Women

HI 4293 – History of Gender and Science

HI 4333 – Native American History to 1830

HI 4363 – Afro-American History and Culture

HI 4373 – History of the Modern Civil Rights Movement

HI 4383 – Native American History since 1830

HI 4303 – Ancient Near East

HI 4553 – History of Science and Technology to the Scientific Revolution

HI 4563 – Vietnam Revolution and War

HI 4583 – China since 1800

HI 4783 – African Civilization

HI 4793 – Modern Africa

HI 4833 – Colonial Latin America

HI 4843 – Latin American Republics

HI 4853 – Modern Mexico

HI 4903 – History of the Far East

HI 4983 – African-Americans and the Law

HI 4990 – Special Topic in History (category depends on topic)


CATEGORY II – European history

HI 3703 – Western Church to 1600

HI 3743 – History Of England

HI 3763 – Hitler And Nazi Germany

HI 3773 – The Holocaust

HI 3783 – Modern European Imperialism

HI 4000 – Directed Indivual Study (category depends on topic)

HI 4213 – Grand Strategy and International Security

HI 4223 – Twentieth Century Intelligence Gathering

HI 4413 – Ancient Greece and Rome

HI 4603 – Medieval Civil History

HI 4613 – History of the Soviet Union

HI 4643 – Renaissance and Reformation

HI 4673 – Europe 1789-1914

HI 4683 – Europe WWI to Hitler

HI 4693 – Europe WWII to the Common Market

HI 4703 – England to 1485

HI 4713 – Tudor and Stuart England

HI 4723 – Britain Since 1688

HI 4743 – Evolution of International Politics

HI 4753 – History of Russia

HI 4763 – History of Modern Germany

HI 4773 – History of Modern France

HI 4990 – Special Topic in History (category depends on topic)


CATEGORY III – American history
HI 3133 – History of US Popular Culture

HI 3333 – Mississippi History

HI 3363 – American History of Transportation

HI 4000 – Directed Individual Study (category depends on topic)

HI 4103 – Colonial America

HI 4113 – US History, 1783-1825

HI 4123 – Jacksonian America, 1825-1850

HI 4133 – Civil War, 1850-1877

HI 4143 – Revolutionary America

HI 4153 – US History, 1877-1917

HI 4163 – US History, 1917-1945

HI 4173 – US History since 1945

HI 4183 – US Economic History

HI 4203 – Diplomatic History of the US

HI 4233 – American Military History

HI 4243 – American Life & Thought

HI 4253 – Religion In America

HI 4263 – America's Vietnam War

HI 4303 – The Old South

HI 4313 – The New South

HI 4323 – History of the American West

HI 4393 – Rural History

HI 4493 – Greek Comedy and Tragedy

HI 4883 – US History of Medicine

HI 4990 – Special Topic in History (category depends on topic)