DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY > Undergraduate Studies > Social & Political History
The Major in Social & Political History
About the Major
Social & Political History (SPH) is a research- and writing-intensive major that emphasizes analysis of change over time and in-depth understanding of the societies, cultures, economies, political systems and conflicts that have shaped our world.
All majors take Introduction to Historical Research & Writing and the capstone Historical Research Seminar, where they conduct original, highly individualized historical projects using archival and other primary sources. Outstanding research papers are regularly presented at the Phi AlphaTheta regional and national history conferences, and at CMU’s year-end symposium, Meeting of the Minds. Several students have published the results of their research, and we are exploring new ways to facilitate future publication of students’ research in both undergraduate and professional history journals.
The History Department offers a wide array of survey courses covering seven major regions of the world: Asia, Europe, United States, African Diaspora, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Russia and the Former Soviet States. In addition, the Department offers numerous electives that focus on topics of specialized faculty expertise, such as environment, technology, gender, culture, labor, race, science, criminal justice, education, war, public health, politics, and diplomacy. Many of these topical courses closely link analysis of past and present, with a special interest in applying historical insight to the formulation of public policy (examples: “History of American Public Policy”; “American Environmental History”; “American Foreign Policy and the Middle East Since 1945”; Delinquency, Crime, and Juvenile Justice”).
The broad analytic, research, and writing skills cultivated by the SPH major prepare students for success in a wide variety of graduate and professional schools, and for exercising leadership in careers in business, law, government, education, journalism, public policy, social work, the armed services, Foreign Service, media, museums and libraries. (For students interested in pursuing a professional career in History, options today include not only research and teaching -- our graduates have earned Ph.D. degrees at Harvard, Northwestern, and other major universities -- but also expert positions as historians in museums, archives, historic sites, the armed services, media outlets, and other public history venues.) Often, history graduates pursue post-undergraduate professional school, such as law, business administration, education, public policy, urban planning, librarianship, journalism, the ministry, or social work.
Students graduating with a primary major in Social ∓ Political History may pursue a B.A. or B.S. degree. SPH may also be taken as an additional (i.e., second) major.
Requirements for both primary and additional SPH majors are Global Histories (79-104), which all Dietrich College and Tepper College students must take, plus an additional 93 units, for a total of 102 units.
All students in the Social & Political History major are required to complete two research-training courses: Introduction to Historical Research (79-200), a 9-unit course, and the Historical Research Seminar (79-420), a 12-unit course that is regularly offered in the Fall semester of the senior year. Students must earn a final grade of “C” or better in these two courses in order to fulfill the requirements for the SPH major.
In addition, students must take two historical survey courses from a wide arragy of attractive options that include most major regions of the world. Otherwise, students enjoy great flexibility: they are free to take additional survey courses or to specialize in thematic topics or regions of the world that are of special interest to them.If you are interested in pursuing a minor in Social & Political History, please view the view the Minor in Social and Political History.
To view the complete requirements for the Social & Politicial History major, please visit the Undergraduate Course Catalog.