Caltech's historians aim not only to teach Caltech's undergraduates about the past, but also to show them how to do history, i.e., how to read evidence closely, how to think critically about it and about the conclusions drawn from it by others, and how to express their own arguments about it in writing.
Freshman history courses survey the histories of the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia from the dawn of human civilization to the present. Advanced history classes comprise more specific historical surveys (such as the History of Ancient China) and advanced seminars on subjects close to the research interests of the faculty (such as the History of Los Angeles, The World of Charlemagne, or History on Film). Many advanced courses reflect the faculty's interest in studying the past with the tools of the social sciences (for example, Population and Family History). Others highlight Caltech's strong engagement with the history of science.
Caltech's size and the quality of its faculty offer students an unparalleled opportunity to work in small groups with high-profile research historians. History classes generally contain less than twenty students and often less than ten. As a result, students and professors together can study the problems involved in writing history in an environment very much like a graduate research seminar. Caltech's history curriculum also benefits from the interdisciplinary nature of its humanities faculty as a whole. Professors from different humanities disciplines frequently team-teach unusual courses in areas where their research interests overlap (such as The Irish Voice in History and Literature).
Undergraduates with a strong interest in history may take history as an option. History majors take a large number of history courses and carry out researchprojects with individual faculty members that lead to senior theses.
History majors must take at least 99 units of history courses (including Freshman Humanities) during their four years as undergraduates. Of these, 27 must be in the senior tutorial (H 99 abc).
Each history major will choose an area of concentration in consultation with his or her advisor and the history option representative. These areas might include, but are not restricted to, fields such as ancient history, medieval Europe, early-modern Europe, modern Europe, Russian history, American history pre-1865, American history post-1865, early-modern history of science, modern history of science, or economic history. He or she must take 63 units of courses in this area; 27 of these units must be in the senior tutorial H 99abc. The senior tutorial will culminate in a research paper. Each student must take the remaining 36 units of history required by the option in areas other than the area of concentration, again defined in consultation with his or her advisor and the history option representative. These areas may include not only fields within the discipline of history proper, but also useful cognate fields such as economics, political science, anthropology, law, English, or a foreign language. A student considering the history option when he or she comes to Caltech will be well advised to take one course from Hum/H 1, 2, 3, or 4. In the sophomore year, the student should take upper-level history courses, but this is also a good time to pursue the study of English or philosophy, to begin or continue a foreign language, and to do introductory work in the social sciences. A student will normally make a commitment to an area of concentration early in the junior year. At the beginning of the senior year, a history major will enroll in H 99 abc with a faculty member in his or her area of concentration. The first term of this course will be devoted to preparation, the second to research, and the third to the writing of a substantial research paper.
The history minor is designed for students who want to pursue concentrated study in History without the extensive course work and the senior thesis required by the History option.
History minors must take 72 units of history courses. These units may include one freshman humanities course; they may also include one directed reading course (H 98). Students wishing to do a minor in history must declare a minor with the history option representative. Students completing the history minor requirements will have the phrase ï¿½minor in historyï¿½ added to their transcripts. Minor requirements