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History, B.A.

Major in History

The Major

Without knowledge of the past, individuals and societies become prisoners of the present—unable to understand the causes of present circumstances and present problems. As a liberal discipline, history aims to permit students to transcend their own cultural limits and, by the study of other societies in other ages, to open their eyes to the diversity of the human environment. It has often been noted that history is the first truly “interdisciplinary” discipline. This is true because everything, no matter how specialized, has a history, and therefore everything is a proper subject of study for the historian. In this department, for instance, the course offerings range not only from the ancient world to modern times, but also strive to give students a truly global perspective through the study of a diverse array of peoples and places.

Studying history at UCSB will give you the tools to:

  • make sense of historical change
  • analyze the world around you
  • evaluate evidence
  • identify historical patterns
  • recognize significant events
  • formulate powerful arguments


Click to view the requirements for the Major in History:

  • History, B.A. (General Catalog off-site link)
  • Want to declare a major in history? Click HERE. 

Graduate with Distinction

Interested in graduating with Distinction in the Major?

Consider enrolling in the Senior Honors Seminar (History 194AH/194BH).

Major Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with a B.A. in History should be able to:

Critical Thinking

  1. Analyze primary sources:
    1. Explain their historical significance and the historical context in which they were produced.
    2. Explain how a primary source reflects the point of view of its creator(s).
    3. Explain how diverse groups understood and reacted to such documents, artifacts, oral testimonies, or artistic works.
    4. Formulate an argument that assesses contradictions within and among different primary sources.
  2. Assess the relationship between historical contexts and events, ideas and processes.
  3. Identify and summarize an author’s argument.
  4. Identify points of agreement and disagreement among conflicting interpretations of the past.
  5. Construct a well-developed thesis and a persuasive argument.


  1. Organize an analytical essay that sustains an argument over the entire length of the paper.
  2. Present information in lucid, grammatically correct prose.
  3. Construct paragraphs with effective topic sentences.

Research Skills

  1. Use the library, relevant databases and indexes, and the Internet to identify and locate sources.
  2. Develop bibliographies of primary and secondary sources.
  3. Master conventions for citations and bibliographies.
  4. Produce an original research paper that analyzes primary and secondary sources.

Historical Knowledge

  1. Compare and contrast how broadly similar historical changes (i.e., urbanization, state formation, social and cultural revolutions, nationalisms, industrialization) have been experienced in varied times and places.
  2. Describe historical change over broad sweep of time (ancient to present).
  3. Explain how various forms of identity (political, religious, cultural, racial/ethnic, class, gender, sexual, etc.) have shaped how people have experienced the past.
  4. Recognize the varied ways in which power is exercised, contested, and legitimized.
  5. Understand how events of the past have influenced the present