Major Requirements (History)

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Resources for History Majors

The History Program

The Department revised its curriculum in 2013 to strengthen the connection between the kinds of intellectual achievement we expect to see in our graduates, as demonstrated by their performance in the capstone project, and the curriculum they follow from the freshman year onward. The new curriculum is designed to assure that important skills and habits of mind are introduced and reinforced in a structured way. Students become more proficient by following this program. 

Foundation Courses

The Seminar in History (HIS-160) introduces History and Education/History majors to college-level study of history and the historical method. Only freshmen who declare History as a major before entering Rider University are required to take the Seminar in History. Students who declare History as a major after matriculation or transfer to Rider from another institution are not required to take HIS-160, but may choose to do so in consultation with their advisor.  

The required surveys in U.S. and European History provide students with broad subject overviews and the basic tools for studying history. These courses are recommended for second semester freshmen and sophomores. History majors must take one of the U.S. History surveys (HIS-180 or HIS-181) and one of the European surveys (HIS-190 or HIS-191). Education students are required to take both halves of the U.S. History survey as well as one of the European surveys in order to support their mastery of content knowledge.  To complete the major, students who choose to take two rather than three survey courses must select an additional course at the 200-400 level.  (See Distribution requirements below.) HIS-180 and HIS-181 are offered every semester. HIS-190 and HIS-191 are offered during the fall and spring semesters respectively. 

Intermediate and Advanced Courses

The Craft of History (HIS-260) is the intermediate seminar experience exploring how historians approach, interpret, and write about a particular topic. Topics vary by instructor providing students with a range of choices. Students will apply the greater sophistication gained in the seminar to their upper-level course work and capstone. The Craft of History is recommended for sophomores and juniors. Transfer students are encouraged to take HIS-260 during their first or second semester at Rider. Students may repeat the course once on a different topic for credit as a 200-level elective (see Distribution requirement below). The Craft of History requires permission of instructor to register. The Department recommends that students contact the instructor as soon as possible during the course selection period to reserve a seat. 

Students select seven or eight History electives at the 200-400 level, depending on whether they take three or two surveys. Students are given the opportunity to explore their individual interests but must satisfy the distribution and diversity requirements explained below.

In order to foster expertise and intellectual development as a historian through the curriculum, students are required to take at least two classes at the 200-level and two at the 300-level.  The additional courses to complete the elective requirements can be at any level. Students are encouraged to take at least one 200-level course before taking a 300-level course since more advanced courses will build upon earlier exposure.

Students must take at least two courses in historical diversity in order to advance understanding of how different civilizations, cultures, events, and people have shaped today's world. The Department has created a list of approved courses that fulfill the Diversity requirement. Topics include geographic areas such as Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia, as well as racial, ethnic, and gender groups including African Americans, Native Americans, and women. Students should select at least two courses of their choice from those listed on the History Major Checksheet. A selection of Diversity courses are offered every semester. 

Though not required to complete the major, students are encouraged to take Internship in History (HIS-491). Students may take one internship for History credit (up to 4 credits). Those who wish to take a second can do so for Liberal Arts elective credit. Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher to be eligible for an internship. 


The capstone of the History major is an original research project. Students can fulfill this requirement through the Research Seminar (HIS-460) or Independent Study (HIS-490). HIS-260 is a prerequisite for capstone research undertaken either in HIS-460 or HIS-490. Every Fall and Spring the Department offers an award for the Best Research Paper written during the current or previous semester. 

The Research Seminar (HIS-460) is a topical course designed to take advantage of faculty research interests and current trends in the field. Topics will vary by instructor to provide students with a range of choices. The topical focus and enrollment cap of 16 creates a community of scholars where students will be able to share references and offer helpful comments based on their own research on related topic. Meanwhile, the common theme will make research updates and oral presentations interesting and relevant to the rest of the class. The Research Seminar requires permission of instructor to register. The Department recommends that students contact the instructor as soon as possible during the course selection period to reserve a seat.

Independent Study
Students may substitute an Independent Study (HIS-490) for the Research Seminar. The paper requirements for HIS-490 are the same as HIS-460. This option allows students to pursue their own research agenda under the supervision of a member of the History Department faculty. Students are encouraged to select a capstone research project that builds on a topic studied in HIS-260 or another History course to ensure a suitable historical and historiographical foundation. Students interested in substituting the Research Seminar with an Independent Study should consult with their academic advisor and potential faculty supervisor. The planning process should begin the semester before the course is taken. To register for HIS-490 requires a written proposal and a form signed by the supervisor, department chair, and dean. Students need to plan ahead because this is not an instant process. Students are responsible for submitting the final paperwork to the Registrar. It is possible to undertake an Independent Study project as an advanced elective for the major rather than a substitute for the capstone.  Such a project does not require HIS-260 as a prerequisite, but the proposal and approval processes are the same.

Declaring a Minor

History majors are urged to declare minors pertinent to their career aspirations as well as to their interests. Law and Justice and Criminal Justice are suitable for students considering careers in those fields. Students interested in careers in public history should consider the minors offered by Communication & Journalism, especially Multimedia Communication & Web Design and Public Relations. Students planning a future in international relations, politics and public service should think about a minor in Global Studies, Political Science or Multicultural Studies. A minor in a Foreign Language would be an asset for a variety of career paths as well as an advantage for students applying to graduate programs in History, International Relations and Law. Minors in Philosophy, American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies are also good preparation for graduate work in History. Do not forget that the College of Business offers several minors for non-majors. If you have a passion for film, then a minor in Film & Media Studies might be right for you. The strong historical focus of the Fine Arts minor makes it a perfect complement to the History major.

Honors in History

Students with a 3.25 cumulative grade point average and 3.5 grade point average in history can qualify for honors by completing an honors thesis in HIS-460 or HIS-490. Students present a written proposal of their project no later than the beginning of the semester in which they take these courses. The finished thesis must be defended in an oral presentation to the history faculty and must meet departmental standards of excellence in research, writing and analysis. Successful students wear an honors cord at graduation and receive recognition of honors in history on their diplomas.