Why Study History?
In today’s fragmented, fast-paced society, a true and rich understanding of political, cultural, and religious environments will prove an asset as you pursue professional goals. History majors sharpen a host of intellectual skills, including the ability to read analytically, reason carefully, argue logically, and communicate persuasively. Studying history at Wheaton provides students with a diverse selection of course offerings by outstanding faculty members who integrate faith into the curriculum and foster an environment of community through small class sizes. You’ll be introduced to the joys and challenges of studying the past in such a way that you’ll better understand yourself, your own culture, and the broader world. And you’ll be equipped for a variety of vocational paths, including business, politics, law, journalism, teaching, the ministry, and further graduate work in history.
Why Study History at Wheaton?
Classes are small — generally ranging from 8-15 students — and afford intimate interaction with faculty and extensive collaboration with peers. Your introductory general education course has a maximum class size of 35, meaning there’s plenty of opportunity for personal contact with faculty both in and out of the classroom.
You’ll critically evaluate historical evidence, build logical arguments, and persuasively communicate those arguments. You will learn to write as never before. Our classes place great emphasis on the ability to transform evidence into persuasive argument, skills that are broadly transferable to any number of vocations.
We bring scriptural principles and theological reflection to everything that happens inside the classroom. You will engage in theological reflection about the past with an eye to the present and future and will learn how to think Christianly while thinking historically.
The seven full-time and two part-time faculty members include both veteran teachers and early-career faculty. All are engaged in research related to their areas of specialty and they bring the fruit of that research to the classroom experience. They are published authors, with books published through Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford university presses, among others.
Phi Alpha Theta: Wheaton College hosts a chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, an international history honor society. The chapter sponsors a variety of history-related outings and social activities, including movie nights, trivia contests, panel discussions, and field trips.
Assistantships: Approximately a half-dozen students annually serve as Teaching or Research Assistants to department faculty.
Study Abroad: History majors participate in a variety of study abroad programs that enrich and complement their historical studies. In recent years, History majors have studied in Jerusalem, Oxford, Prague, Seville, Shanghai, and Tokyo, among other places.
Internships: History-related internships are recommended for students contemplating careers in Public History. In recent years, the Department has helped to place students at museums or historical societies in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
Humans Need, Global Resources (HNGR) Internships: History majors also can build on their historical coursework by serving internships with Wheaton's Human Needs and Global Resources program. Most recently, two of our majors have each spent semesters working in Thailand.
What Will I Learn?
- The traditional History major focuses on the transmission of historical knowledge and development of historical thinking skills that are directly transferable to a broad range of vocations.
- The History/Social Science major is a teacher education concentration designed for students seeking licensure to teach history and social studies in the secondary grades. It combines a streamlined program of historical study with coursework in political science, geography, pedagogy, and other social sciences.
Requirements for a History minor include courses in World History, Historical Inquiry and one upper-division course in two of the following areas: world, U.S., or European history.
The History Major with Honors is granted upon the successful completion of a senior thesis through enrollment in HIST 498 and 499.
Students will be able to
- understand and critically evaluate primary and secondary historical sources
- interpret the past using sound historical reasoning
- use evidence to construct well-reasoned and persuasive historical arguments and to evaluate the strengths and limitations of other scholars' assessments of the past
- evaluate the implications of Christian thinking for understanding and interpreting the past.
Consult the course catalog for full listing of current courses available in this field.
At a Time Like This, There Has to Be a Hymn in Here Somewhere!
Vice President for Advancement, Vocation, and Alumni Engagement and Assistant Professor of History Dr. Kirk Farney explores the life and work of Charles Wesley, an English leader of the Methodist movement, who spent his life tirelessly writing hymns for every situation and circumstance.