The American History and Institutions requirement is based on the principle that American students enrolled at an American university should have some knowledge of the history and government of their country. Students may meet this requirement in any one of the following ways:

  1. by previously achieving a score of 3 or higher on the College Board Advanced Placement Examination in American History or American Government and Politics; or
  2. by passing a non-credit examination in American history or American institutions, offered in the Department of History during the first week of each quarter. Consult the department for further information; or
  3. by achieving a score of 650 or higher on the SAT: Subject Test in American History; or
  4. by completing one four-unit course from the approved list (see below).

This exam is used to fulfill the UCSB American History & Institutions General Education requirement. Please contact the History Undergraduate Advisor for specific questions and to register for the exam. Students must earn at least 70% in order to pass and are not permitted to take the exam more than once. 

The current reading list to prepare for the examination can be found below. You must read and review all of the listed readings, and no sample exams are provided for reference.

1. The American Promise: A History of the United States
by James L. Roark, Michael P. Johnson, and Patricia Cline Cohen
(Bedford Books, 1999) ISBN: 0312191995.
2. The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It
by Richard Hofstader (Vintage Books, 1989) ISBN: 0679723153.
3. Give Me Liberty! An American History 4th Edition (volumes 1&2)
by Eric Foner (Norton & Company, Inc. 2014) ISBN: 0393920338

Courses applicable to the American History and Institutions requirement are listed here:

Courses used to fulfill the American History and Institutions requirement may also be applied to General Education or major requirements, or both where appropriate. Equivalent courses taken at other accredited colleges or universities, in UC Extension, or in summer session may be acceptable. Students who transfer to UCSB from another campus of the University of California where the American History and Institutions Requirement has been considered satisfied will automatically fulfill the requirement at UCSB.

International students on a nonimmigrant visa may petition for a waiver of this requirement through the college of Letters and Science.


Page last modified: February 8, 2021