Published Date

January 1, 2014

Resource Type

For Departments, Program of Study

AHA Topics

Academic Departmental Affairs, Teaching & Learning, The History Major, Undergraduate Education

This resource was developed as part of the AHA’s Tuning project.

By David Trowbridge

Institution: Marshall University
Degree Name: Bachelor of Arts in History
Location: Huntington, WV
Year: 2014


Purpose of the Degree

Historians learn how to understand the past through the collection and analysis of primary and secondary sources. History allows one to comprehend and explain change over time as well as individual events, theories, and competing interpretations from a multiplicity of perspectives. Students of history learn how to formulate, modify, and communicate a thesis supported by evidence and develop the capacity to modify that thesis as they discover new evidence.

Characteristics of the Program

Distinctive features of Marshall University’s History Program:

  • nearly every course is taught by a tenured or tenure track faculty member with a PhD
  • over half of the faculty have been recognized with one or more university-wide teaching awards
  • the History Department is the institutional home of the majority of interdisciplinary minors across the University
  • faculty specializations include US, European, Latin American, and Asian history
  • a dozen undergraduate and graduate scholarships and awards and fellowships awarded each year
  • opportunities for internships and fellowships at area archives, including the Rosanna Blake Library of Confederate History, Marshall University Special Collections, and the West Virginia Division of Culture and History
  • an award winning chapter of Phi Alpha Theta honorary society

Career Pathways for the Graduate

The field of history prepares students to work in a wide variety of fields. Graduates possess a unique ability to contextualize complex questions, identify reliable sources, conduct detailed research, analyze and prioritize information from a variety of sources, and communicate their findings in a clear and thoughtful manner.

As demonstrated by employer surveys and a unique collaborative venture between the Department of History and Marshall University Career Services, these are the skills that are most valued by area employers. Graduates of the Marshall Department of History are analysts and managers at numerous leading companies, operate charitable organizations, teach at the collegiate and secondary level, manage archives and historic sites, serve as public officials and officers in the armed services, and work as attorneys and judges among many other professional fields.

Educational Style

History students begin with introductory surveys of US and World History that provides them with a solid foundation of content and context. As a sophomore or junior, students complete HST 200 which introduces them to research methods and historiography while also completing advanced and specialized courses that require them to utilize the methods and skills of historical research and analysis. In their senior year, students complete an capstone project that requires extensive research in primary and secondary sources to develop an original piece of scholarship.

Program Competencies and Outcomes

Students at Marshall are required to demonstrate mastery of historical content and research and analytical skills.


  • identify and explain historical periodization in a major fields and a research specialty
  • use specific examples to demonstrate an understanding of continuity and change
  • describe the historic significance of political ideologies, economic structures, social and cultural perceptions, within multiple regions and time periods
  • discuss the ways in which factors such as race, gender, social class, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, and religion influence historical narratives
  • using specific examples, demonstrate the ways that historic events and ways of thinking have influenced other time periods
  • cultivate multicultural and international perspectives on the past; explain the agency and interdependence of historical figures, nations, cultures, and regions
  • demonstrate an understanding of historiography and explain why and how historical interpretations change over time


  • demonstrate a capacity to understand and communicate the complex nature of the historical record using specific examples
  • demonstrate the ability to view past events and interpretations from a multiplicity of viewpoints
  • demonstrate the ability to analyze and evaluate conflicting historical narratives
  • demonstrate the capacity for critical reading and analysis and historiographical thinking
  • demonstrate the ability to ask meaningful questions, develop working a thesis, identify and analyze primary and secondary sources, use evidence to test and revise a thesis, and communicate one’s findings through written and oral presentation