FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If I want to declare a History major, do I have to know my advisor?
No, although it's a good idea to pick an advisor from the professors with whom you have already taken classes.
Are the course numbers in History linked to degree of difficulty?
Not at all! All courses in the department, up to the 400-level reading seminars, are designed for students who have no previous knowledge of the area. We have no prerequisites and our lecture courses are open to every student. The 100-level courses are very broad in chronology or in geographical area; the 200 and 300-level courses concentrate on a single country or on a shorter period of time. Many first-year students take our 200 and 300-level courses. Reading seminars in History are not recommended for first-year students, but they are open to majors in all departments and they do not require a previous background in the specific area that they cover. So don't be timid: sample whatever courses interest you.
Do my APs count towards the major?
This one is a little tricky... An AP score of 4 or 5 in a history subject (U.S., European or World) counts for one course towards the 11 that you need to be a History major. If you count an AP in European history, however, you are not allowed to count HIST 0103 or 0104 towards the major, and if you count an AP in U.S. history, you are not allowed to count HIST 0203 or 0204 towards the major. This does not mean that the major requirements met by those courses have been fulfilled if you count an AP. It just means that we will not recognize those courses as major courses if you also wish to have us recognize the appropriate AP tests. As a result, majors are still required to take a 100-level course, even if they are able to count an AP in European history. They are still required to take a U.S. history course, even if they count an AP in U.S. history. If you find that confusing, see the department chair, who may leave your head spinning!
Do I have to take HIST 0600 in the fall of my junior year? What happens if I go abroad in that semester?
The department strongly recommends that students take HIST 0600 in the fall of their junior year. It is not offered in the spring, because it requires 3 faculty members to staff it and frankly, we don't have enough of them to be able to run it twice every year. If you are planning to go abroad for a semester, we would advise you to go in the spring. If this is impossible, or if you wish to be abroad for the whole year, then you should plan on taking HIST 0600 in the fall semester of your senior year. You would then write a senior thesis in the winter and spring semesters. This has been done successfully by many students in the past. Be sure to consult with your advisor or with the department chair about your plans to study abroad.
Can I claim credit for History courses taken abroad?
You can normally count up to two History courses taken abroad towards the History major. In judging whether or not a particular course might be counted, use common sense. Is the course taught within a History department or faculty? Does it deal with a topic that might be taught in the Middlebury History department? These are good signs. Is History just an element in the title (eg. in a course like "History of Philosophy"), or do historical issues and methods have a role in the course itself? Have you already taken a course at Middlebury that is virtually the same as this one (in which case, don't even think of taking it, because we won't count it)?
As a double major, can I write a single senior thesis for both my departments?
In many cases, yes, but there are exceptions. In general, the History department will accept a single senior thesis written to fulfill requirements in two departments, so long as it is written in English, is a two-semester project advised by a member of the History department (who should make sure that it deals with a topic in history, uses primary sources etc.), meets or exceeds the History department length criteria, and is submitted at or before the History department due date. Other departments, of course, may not agree to this, and in some departments, senior work does not consist of a single, two-semester written project. So is it possible? Yes! Can it always be done? No!
What can I do with a History major?
The simple answer is, "Whatever you like," but that may not placate your anxious parents. One or two of our majors each year go on to graduate work in some area of History; many others study law, politics, journalism or medicine, at some of the best universities in the United States. Students who plan to become primary and secondary school teachers have often chosen History as their major. A substantial number of our graduates move directly into careers in business or finance, receiving whatever specialized training they need from their future employers. Middlebury History majors are very well-suited to all of these paths of study and career opportunities, because they should know how to carry out research, how to analyze material and how to write.
Why is the universe expanding?
That's enough questions, kid.