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 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 my APs count towards my major requirements?
Up to two AP history courses, with a grade of 4 or 5, can count toward the major requirement of 11 history courses, but cannot be used to fulfill any specific requirements listed above. Students counting AP European History may not count HIST 103 or 104 toward the major, and those counting AP U.S. History may not count HIST 203 or 204 toward the major.
Can my first year seminar count toward my major requirements?
Do Winter Term HIST courses count toward my major requirements?
One Winter Term class, in addition to HIST 700 in Winter Term, may count toward the major requirements.
Can I claim credit for History courses taken abroad or off-campus?
If studying abroad for one semester, normally up to two history courses taken abroad or off-campus may count toward the requirements of the history major. If studying abroad for two semesters, normally up to three history courses may count.
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 (e.g. 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? If so, don't even think of taking it, because we won't count it.
In order to have courses officially approved for the major, a student must meet with or send the department chair relevant information about the course, such as the course description and syllabus. The chair will then determine if the course counts towards the major and if it fulfills any regional or pre-1800 requirements.
How does the department calculate my major GPA for determining honors in the major?
The chair of the history department calculates a major’s GPA by averaging grades according to the following priority: 1) All Middlebury College HIST courses; 2) Only those Middlebury College cross-listed courses needed to meet major requirements as stated in the catalog; 3) Only off-campus or study-abroad courses needed to meet major requirements as stated in the catalog.
Will the department, in calculating my major GPA, round the number up, i.e. from 3.667 to 3.7 or 3.448 to 3.5?
No. The history department policy is not to mathematically round the number up to meet the major GPA levels required for honors: 3.4 (honors), 3.5 (high honors), or 3.67 (highest honors).
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.