Undergraduate Programs

Study History at UC

Three people laughing while seated in a room with books with more people in the background

Undergraduate students at Pizza & Profs event

History is a dynamic curriculum of study that helps students cultivate coveted skills for life after college. History students become inventive and capable thinkers, researchers, writers, and communicators. Our major and minor encourages teamwork and trains students to approach issues from diverse viewpoints to make informed decisions. In addition, historical research requires analysis of primary sources, secondary sources, and an array of technology and web-based resources to make clear and compelling arguments, observations, and informed recommendations. Few other disciplines hone such a wide variety of skills, making history students uniquely suited to excel in multiple professions. 

As a history major or minor, you will learn to:   

  • Organize and manage diverse and complex information   
  • Express strong and persuasive evidence-based arguments in writing and speech   
  • Build unparalleled research skills through deep and broad inquiry   
  • Explore the complexity of the human experience across time and space   
  • Use the lessons of the past to understand the present   

Developing these skills is vital for success in the major and minor and in college more generally. More importantly, these skills enable individuals to achieve success beyond their formal education: they engender self-confidence, they enhance the ability to solve problems creatively and fairly, and they encourage individuals to recognize their capacity to become influential leaders at home, in the workplace, and within their communities. In other words, emphasizing these skills ensures that our history majors and minors are highly adaptable in a rapidly changing global economy. Moreover, acquiring and refining these skills also helps history students realize that while not all problems are easily solved, they are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to meet present challenges carefully and thoughtfully. They can do so because they can draw on their understanding of the extraordinary complexity of the past to understand the present and help usher in a better future. 

Your History Advisor at UC

One of the great benefits of a history major at UC is that while we are a large department with many faculty and majors, we provide a personal experience of faculty advising. Students are encouraged to get mentoring from all of their professors, especially about research topics and your overall plans for the degree.  We strive to make our faculty accessible and supportive to all history students.  Students interested in the major or minor should make sure to see the Director of Undergraduate Advising, Dr. Robert Haug (haugrt@ucmail.uc.edu), about advising, course selection, and schedules. For broader questions about the program and History, students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Susan Longfield Karr (karrsn@ucmail.uc.edu). 

The major in History provides students with a broad range of choices. Students may concentrate their studies in any part of the world or era in history. The major also provides a carefully designed sequence of courses that teach students how to practice history as a discipline, from the critical examination of existing knowledge, to the techniques of original historical research. These techniques can be applied using an almost limitless variety of sources, including diaries, journals, film, literature, visual images, and government documents. Students may also minor in History or pursue, in addition to a BA, other interdisciplinary certificates such as historic preservation, public history, etc.

Major Requirements
A History major consists of 36 credits and is structured to reflect the department’s philosophy and pedagogical goals. Students begin with two survey courses chosen from among European, U.S., Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, African, and world history. Building on this broad overview, students take a gateway course, “Introduction to Historical Thought and Methods” (HIST 3000), where they are introduced to historiography, critical thinking and intensive writing and rewriting. Five upper-division elective courses give students the freedom to develop their own field of special interest, while one course (at any level) in any area other than American or European history and one course (at any level) from pre-1800 history ensures a breadth of knowledge. The capstone “History Research Seminars” (HIST 5000) offer History majors experiential learning, allowing the students to integrate their training in critical thinking, research skills and writing to produce an original piece of scholarship. All History majors should consult with the department’s Director of Undergraduate Advising when they declare their major.

Minor Requirements
A History minor consists of 18 credit hours and allows students to experience some of the philosophy and pedagogical goals of the department. Students are required to enroll in 6 credit hours of 1000-2000 level history elective courses. Moving from this broad perspective, students next take “Introduction to Historical Thought and Methods” (HIST 3000). They then will need to enroll in two 3001-6000 level History elective courses. Finally, a student will need to take an additional 3 credit hours of History electives, at any level. All History minors should consult with the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies when they declare their minor. All History minors should consult with the department’s Director of Undergraduate Advising when they declare their minor.

Students have the option of double-majoring in History and other disciplines. It’s frequently the case that students interested in other areas, including teaching, law, area studies, and medicine, need complete only a handful of additional course in order to satisfy the History major. The UC College of Arts and Sciences offers flexible degree requirements that encourage multiple areas of study. Some of the most common pairings are Anthropology, Archaeology, Economics, Geography, International Affairs, Journalism, Languages, Law and Society, Political Science, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Students who want to show future employers the full breadth and depth of their preparation in their subject areas may choose to become dual majors. This is common within the College of Arts & Sciences but students with majors in other colleges can also become dual majors, which means they will have completed both the general education requirements and major requirements in both colleges. Others with more restrictive schedules may choose to pursue a Cross-College major, which means that they will have completed all general education and major requirements in their home college, but only the major requirements for History.

One common example of the Cross-College major involves students in CECH pursuing a BS Ed. As you can see in the chart below, those who choose this path will only need to complete five additional upper-division classes in History to receive the Cross-College major. Students in CECH preparing to teach secondary Social Studies will already have earned the History minor through their coursework, and simply have to declare it for it to show on their transcripts. 

Table comparing the number of required credit hours for History Majors and Cross-College Education Majors (History; Social Studies)
Requirement Category History Major Education Major (History; Social Studies)
Lower Level Courses 9 HRS 15 HRS
Methods 3 HRS 3 HRS
NonUS/Non-Euro Courses  3 HRS 3 HRS
Pre-1800 Courses 3 HRS 3 HRS
Upper-Level Electives 12 HRS 3 HRS
History 4000 3 HRS 3 HRS
Capstone 3 HRS 0 HRS
Total 36 HRS 30 HRS

We offer an accelerated combined track for students who wish to earn both a BA and MA in history. To apply to this program, students must be declared History majors. They must have at least a 3.5 GPA in history courses and a 3.3 GPA overall at the end of their junior year, when they must declare their interest in entering the 5-year BA + MA Program in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies. In addition to fulfilling all of the requirements of the undergraduate major, interested students must take two 6000-level History seminars in their junior or senior year.

Applicants will follow the usual application procedures in the fall of their senior year. The Graduate Admissions Committee will consider 5-year BA + MA Program applications along with all other applicants for admission and Graduate Assistantships. Those who receive and accept GAship offers cannot complete the MA in one year. Those who do not receive or accept a GA offer can complete the MA degree taking an accelerated approach. Following is a sample 1-year MA Program:


  • HIST 7060 Historical Methodology Seminar
  • HIST 9040 Graduate Research Seminar I
  • Graduate Seminar in Major Field


  • HIST 7080 Comparative History Seminar
  • HIST 9041 Graduate Research Seminar II
  • Graduate Seminar in Major Field

The University of Cincinnati and surrounding area are rich in materials for historical research.  Not only will students have access to the large university library collection, but also can gain access to several local archive collections.   

outside the front entrance of langsam library building

Langsam Library

The University of Cincinnati Libraries currently hold about 4.4 million volumes, making it the thirty-sixth largest academic library in the United States, and it subscribes to about 50,000 scholarly journals.  Langsam Library the main research library on campus, is especially strong in European history for which there is a special endowment, in twentieth century American history, urban history and in women’s studies.  Finally, Langsam Library’s collection of online databases of both secondary and primary materials is one of the largest in the country and is expanding rapidly.

Ink print on older paper of people standing around an athletic event

A Cincinnati Turner athletic festival held on the banks of the Ohio River, 1889. German American Collection, ARB UC Libraries

UC’s Archives and Rare Books (ARB) Department, located in Blegan Library, contains several distinct and valuable collections.  Rare books focus especially on North American Indians, travel and exploration, and 18th century British literature.  The urban collection documents the growth and development of Cincinnati (it is the depository for all official city records) in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. And, finally, the German Americana Collection, one of the largest in the nation, includes books, pamphlets, journals, newspapers and manuscripts pertaining to German immigrants in America, particularly in the Ohio Valley. 

Two open books

Facsimiles of medieval manuscripts in Burnam Classics Library

For scholars interested in medieval history, the Burnam Classics Library (the world’s largest with about 300,000 volumes and located in Blegan Library) collects anything printed in Latin which includes virtually all medieval texts published, edited or reprinted from the 17th century to the present. 

Anatomical drawing of human figure from back

Page from Paolo Mascagni’s Anatomiae Universai Icones (1823-1832) in the Winkler Center Collections

Finally, the collections of the Henry R. Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions (located in the Harrison Health Sciences Library) will prove especially useful to scholars of the history of health and medicine.  Included are 35,000 volumes on the history of medicine dating from 1500 to the present; a large manuscript collection; oral histories; 5,000 photographs; and 2,000 historic medical artifacts and instruments.  

In addition, UC is a member of the OhioLink system of research libraries that allows faculty and students to search a central computer catalog of 46 million books, 24 million electronic journal articles, and 100 electronic journal databases--and to order from your computer screen any item for delivery within two working days to the Langsam Library front desk. 

Old newspaper print

Newspaper, from CRL collections

UC is also a founding member of the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, which has a collection of 5 million volumes (many now digital) not available at any library in the United States except the CRL, plus tens of thousands of newspaper titles.  Although it has substantial collections of North American and European materials, in recent years it has focused mainly on collecting rare materials from South America, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. 

Outside the front entrance of klau library

Klau Library

The Klau Library at Hebrew Union College, two blocks from the UC campus, has a vast collection on Jewish history and culture which includes: 530,000 books, 1,200 current periodical subscriptions, 2,500 manuscript codices and many thousands of manuscript pages, 19,000 microfiche & 19,000 reels of microfilm, 100,000 digital images from manuscripts and early printed books, 3,300 sound recordings.  In addition, the Klau Library’s Rare Book Room has 14,000 volumes plus posters, maps and manuscripts.  

Next door, the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives preserves about 15 million documents recording Jewish history in the Western Hemisphere, including the archives of the Jewish Reform Movement in America.  

For scholars interested in pursuing the history of Catholicism, extensive research resources are available at The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary on the east side of Cincinnati.   Collecting since 1833, the Eugene H. Maly Library contains about 120,000 volumes devoted to every aspect of the Catholic faith, culture and history.  In addition to the reference and circulation collections, Maly Library includes a Special Collection of over 11,000 books that concentrates on church history and liturgical books. This collection includes 35 manuscripts and 22 incunabula, dating to as early as the 12th century.  

Old books on a shelf

“Sancti Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia” from the mid-1800s

Students interested in the history of Catholicism may also want to drive to Columbus, two hours north of Cincinnati, to use the collections at the Pontifical College Josephinum.  The 120,000 volume library holds many unique and rare resources, including Catholic newspapers, manuscripts dating from the 1800s, a well-preserved Complete Works of Martin Luther from 1555, highly detailed and colorful Medieval illuminated manuscripts, and Vatican ephemera.

view looking down from third floor in library

Cincinnati Public Library

Other libraries in the local area will prove equally useful to scholars doing historical research.  Collecting since 1853, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, located downtown about two miles from UC’s Clifton campus, is the second largest public library in the United States.  It holds 11.7 million volumes, 4 million microfiche, and 150,000 reels of microfilm. The library’s collections are especially rich in nineteenth-century books and periodicals from both America and Europe, and also has extensive manuscript holdings pertaining to Cincinnati and the Old Northwest. 

Frescoes and ceiling in the Cincinnati Museum Center

Cincinnati Museum Center

Also downtown, the Cincinnati History Library and Archives at the Cincinnati Museum Center, collecting since 1831, has accumulated 90,000 books and 20,000 linear feet of manuscripts covering the history of the entire Ohio Valley. 

Print of alligator fighting a snake

Print by Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) in the Lloyd Library Collection

The Lloyd Library and Museum, also located downtown, is a private collection open to the public that has about 60,000 books and 4,000 serial titles, mainly on the history of science, medicine, and pharmacy.  Its collection includes thousands of rare books and prints from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. 

Other Archive Collections Near Cincinnati

Black and white photo of performers with fiddles

Virgil Anderson String Band, photograph. Southern Appalachian Archives, Berea College

In addition, there are dozens of other specialized research libraries and archives within a two-hour drive of Cincinnati.

For example, scholars interested in the Appalachia will want to take a day trip to Berea College’s Archives, Manuscripts and Artifacts Collections (located in Hutchins Library on the Berea College campus in the town of Berea, Kentucky, south of Cincinnati).  The Weatherford-Hammond Mountain Collection, started in 1914, includes over 21,000 volumes of published material on all aspects of the region’s history and culture.  And the Southern Appalachian Archives includes organizational records, personal papers, oral histories, photographs, and non-commercial audio and video recordings that document regional history and culture especially in the areas of activism, education, folklore, traditional music, and religious expression in more than one hundred sixty separate collections.

Print of people gathered outside of building

Quaker Meeting in Richmond, Indiana, 1844

Historians interested in the history of Quakers will want to visit Earlham College about an hour drive north of Cincinnati.  There the Arthur and Kathleen Postle Archives and Friends Collection has one of the four or five largest Quaker Collections in the world, with more than 13,000 books and nearly as many pamphlets, some going back to the 17th Century when the Society of Friends was founded. These works are supplemented with an extensive collection of Quaker genealogical materials. Personal diaries, letters, and detailed records of monthly and yearly meetings reveal the lives of thousands of Quaker men and women.

Black and white drawing of man without shirt

Russian Erotic Art, Art and Artifacts Collection, Kinsey Institute Library

Also within a two hour drive from the UC campus, the Kinsey Institute Library in Bloomington, Indiana, specializes in sex, sexuality and gender.  It houses over 30,000 books, 80,000 photographs, 8,000 film titles, and 4,000 video titles.  In addition, it has a large manuscript collection, plus an art and artifact collection of 7,000 items.  
Other special collections close to Cincinnati and useful to historians include the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, the Indiana Historical Society in Bloomington, and the Filson Historical Society in Louisville.

The History Department offers a number of prizes and scholarships every year to accomplished undergraduates. For more information on the any of the awards below, contact the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies.

  • The George B. Engberg Prize is awarded each year for the best undergraduate papers in the senior research seminars on any topic, Non-U.S. history. The award honors Professor George B. Engberg, who taught at the University of Cincinnati for more than 30 years until he retired in 1983.
  • The Lenore F. McGrane Prize honors the wife of long-time professor and history department head, Reginald McGrane. In his will, Reginald McGrane established a scholarship fund whose income would be given each year to the most promising student of American history. This award is both a mark of distinction for its winner, and a sign of the affection and commitment of Lenore and Reginald McGrane to this department, a relationship which began with Reginald McGrane's enrollment as an undergraduate at UC in 1904.
  • The Emma Louise Parry prize is the most venerable prize awarded by the history department. It was established by alumnae of the former Mount Auburn Institute and the H. Thane Miller School to honor the memory of an outstanding teacher of history. It is given to the student who has shown outstanding ability in his or her field of specialization in history.
  • The George Newberger prize is awarded each academic year to the best papers produced in HIST 5000 seminars that deal with U.S. history.
  • The Hilda L. Smith Prize is awarded to the best undergraduate paper in any field or period related to questions of women's history. Hilda Smith retired from the History Department in 2012 after a long and accomplished career of research and teaching.
  • Qualified undergraduates in history may also apply for the Taft Undergraduate Enrichment Award as well as other forms of assistance through the Taft Research Center. History students have also received funding from sources such as UC International (study-abroad grants) and women's studies. For more information on funding opportunities in history at UC, visit the University Research Council and College of Arts and Sciences Financial Aid and Scholarships web page.

The History Club is a student-run organization that brings together a diverse group of students at the University of Cincinnati interested in all areas of History. We are a vibrant learning community that actively connects undergraduate and graduate students within the department and creates links with people and institutions around campus and throughout the region. We seek to expand and enhance the classroom learning experience as well as to create year-round opportunities for social and cultural interaction.

Contact information: haugrt@ucmail.uc.edu    

Group of people standing and eating pizza in a room filled with neon signs

The History Club visits the American Sign Museum