History, B.A. (Abington)

Program Code: HSTAB_BA

Program Description

This major provides a broad introduction to the history of the great civilizations of the world and specific areas of historical inquiry. Centered in one of the basic, traditional disciplines, the History major offers invaluable preparation for students interested in a career in government, international relations, law, or librarianship, as well as essential training for those interested in a professional career as an academic or public historian, archivist, or secondary school teacher. Along with the perspective on the present that a study of the past engenders, the program develops skills in research, analysis, and synthesis that have proved useful in commerce and industry. The History major permits easy combination with minors, area studies, or even a concurrent major, providing flexibility in one's career choice.

What is History?

History is an interdisciplinary field that offers a unique analytical perspective on the world. To understand history, we not only need to understand politics and war, but also the significance of cultural, religious, social, and intellectual developments. The study of history provides a breadth of knowledge and an understanding of diverse perspectives. This diversity includes the opportunity to incorporate anthropology, the scientific study of humanity, into their coursework. A history major will not only enable a student to have a better comprehension of the development of today's complex world, but will also help a student develop a range of skills that are applicable in a wide variety of careers, including education, law, museum studies, and business.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You want to learn to assess the credibility of sources; in today's media-rich environment, you will put this skill to work every day.
  • You want to gain a deeper understanding of complex causalities; as a history student you will practice thinking about the significance of multiple, often interlinking factors and the way they contribute to complex events.
  • You're interested in pursuing a career in law, business, or education.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have at least third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in History, a minimum of 123 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 18
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 36

3 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in the Requirements for the Major, General Education, or Electives and 0-12 credits are included in Electives if world language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.

Per Senate Policy 83-80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of coursework in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
HIST 302WUndergraduate Seminar3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select one sequence of the following:6
Western Civilization I Keystone/General Education Course
and Western Civilization II Keystone/General Education Course
World History to 1500 Keystone/General Education Course
and World History since 1500 Keystone/General Education Course
American Civilization to 1877 Keystone/General Education Course
and American Civilization Since 1877 Keystone/General Education Course
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select 12 credits, in consultation with an adviser, at the 100-200-level, one course from each of the following field categories: Europe, United States, Global, Pre-Modern 112
Select 3 credits at the 100-400-level3
Select 12 credits at the 400-level, at least one course which must be in Global History12

Courses that appear in two History categories (such as HIST 174) cannot be double-counted to be applied to two field categories. However, the student may choose to which category to apply the course.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

World Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one world language in addition to English. This proficiency must be demonstrated by either examination or course work. See the Placement Policy for Penn State World Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, World Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; world language credits in this category must be in a second world language in addition to English or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language). Credits must be selected from the list of approved courses.

World Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the University Cultural Diversity (US/IL) requirement.​

Program Learning Objectives

  • Developing Skills in Analysis, Research, and Communication:
    • Learn to engage critically with complex arguments, identifying underlying theories, assumptions, and approaches.
    • Generate substantive, open-ended questions about human experiences and develop research strategies to answer them.
    • Demonstrate historical research skills built upon the analysis of primary and secondary sources.
    • Craft well-supported written and oral communication in a variety of media for a variety of audiences.
  • Sharpening Perspectives on the Present:
    • Develop an appreciation for the perspectives of people whose experiences and values differ dramatically from one's own.
    • Develop an awareness of how understanding the past can help us meet contemporary challenges and opportunities.
  • Understanding Societies and Cultures:
    • Recognize history as an interpretive account of the human past—one that historians create from surviving evidence.
    • Demonstrate an understanding that historical and geographic contexts influence people's lived experiences and how they make sense of their lives.
    • Develop a body of historical knowledge with breadth of time and place—as well as depth of detail.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.



David Ruth
Program Chair, History
1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001

University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Meet the Academic Advisers web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program

World Campus

Undergraduate Academic Advising
301 Outreach Building
University Park, PA 16802

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2024-25 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition.

History, B.A. at Abington Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
ENGL 15 or 30H3HIST survey course 2* 13
HIST survey course 1* 13General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
World Language Level 14World Language Level 24
 16 16
Second Year
CAS 100A or 100B3100/200 Level HIST Course* 23
100/200 Level HIST Course* 23100/200 Level HIST Course* 23
General Education Course3ENGL 202B3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
World Language Level 34General Education Course3
 16 15
Third Year
400 Level HIST Course* 33400 Level HIST Course* 33
100/200 Level HIST Course* 23100-400 Level HIST Course* 23
General Education Course3General Education Course3
Bachelor of Arts Requirement3Bachelor of Arts Requirement3
 General Education Course (GHW)1.5
 15 16.5
Fourth Year
400 Level HIST Course* 33HIST 302W (or 400 Level HIST Course)*3
HIST 302W (or 400 Level HIST Course)*3Elective3
World Cultures, Elective3Elective3
Bachelor of Arts Requirement3Elective3
General Education Course (GHW)1.5 
 16.5 12
Total Credits 123

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education


Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy Cultural Diversity Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ), Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS) and Integrative Studies (Inter-domain) requirements. N or Q (Honors) is the suffix at the end of a course number used to help identify an Inter-domain course, but the inter-domain attribute is used to fill audit requirements. Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of 'C' or better.

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in World Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as World Cultures courses.


 All students are required to complete one of three survey sequences: HIST 020 and 021 or HIST 001 and 002 or HIST 010 and 011.


 All students must complete one course at the 100/200 level in each of the topic areas: European, United States, Global, and PreModern. See adviser for approved list. 


 All students must complete one 400 level HIST course in Global topics. See adviser for approved list. 

Additional Notes

Course selections towards the HIST major must include at least 6 credits of Global History courses. Consult department list or adviser. 

All students must complete at least one 3 credit Writing Intensive course. HIST 302W required of all History majors satisfied this requirement.

All students must take a United States Cultures (US) and an International Cultures (IL) course. Some of the prescribed courses for History majors may satisfy these requirements (HIST 20 or 21 for US, HIST 1 or 2 or 10 or 11 for IL).

Students who begin the world language sequence at a level higher than 001 need to replace the skipped credits with additional elective credits. 

Career Paths

Penn State History majors have enjoyed success in a wide variety of fields. They are found in careers that relate to the major, such as historic preservation, museum work, and education; a healthy representation of our majors go on to law school and graduate school. However, it is not unusual to find former history majors in areas that might not immediately come to mind. Penn State history majors can be found in architecture, software development, web development, banking, federal government work, and the Peace Corps, to name just a few. They tend to do well because their basic skills are sound.


  • Law
  • Secondary Teaching
  • Historic Preservation
  • Governmental Organizations
  • United Nations Organizations
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Industry Leaders



Professional Resources



1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001


University Park

108 Weaver Building
University Park, PA 16802


World Campus

108 Weaver Building
University Park, PA 16802