About the Department

History of the Department

The History Department has been a vital part of Carnegie Mellon’s rise to national and international prominence as a research university. In 1967, Carnegie Institute of Technology merged with Mellon Institute of Science and formed Carnegie Mellon University. The History Department became part of the new Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS), representing a merger of the earlier Margaret Morrison Carnegie College for women and the Division of General Studies of the Carnegie Institute of Technology. Dietrich College conferred its first bachelor degrees in history in 1973. Beginning with only four departments (modern languages, psychology, English, and history), Dietrich College now houses eight departments, including philosophy, statistics, economics, and social and decision sciences.

Like Carnegie Mellon itself, from its beginnings the History Department developed a strong interdisciplinary identity. It not only provided an initial home to philosophy and modern languages, (and now anthropology), but also offered a highly successful Doctor of Arts program, which prepared students for teaching careers in the nation’s colleges and universities. During the mid-1970s, the department complemented the Doctor of Arts with a new Ph.D. program in Applied History. Designed to train students for jobs in a variety of public and private educational institutions, Applied History became History and Policy during the late 1980s and remains a vital component of graduate education in our department.

In 1985, the department discontinued the D.A. degree and launched a new Ph.D. program in Social History. Recognizing the growing impact of cultural anthropology on the craft of social history during the late 1980s and 1990s, the department recruited a small coterie of anthropologists and historical anthropologists and transformed its Ph.D. in Social History to Ph.D. in Social and Cultural History. Social and Cultural History, History and Policy, and Anthropology and History, defined the department’s intellectual, research, and teaching agenda until recently. Over the past few years, we have gradually developed a new identity——one that builds upon our policy, social, and cultural history past while charting fresh new directions around a broader set of topics and themes with much greater transnational and global reach. These changes are transforming both graduate and undergraduate education in history at Carnegie Mellon.