The History Department is pleased to be able to offer a robust secondary field in History.The secondary field in History encourages students in other concentrations to learn about the practice of history and engage in it themselves through tutorials and other departmental courses. Students will undertake an individualized plan of study to develop a base of historical knowledge and the essential skills of the field.The historical perspective and tools acquired through the secondary field will give students a richer appreciation for everything they experience in the College and beyond. History informs our understanding of literature, art, politics, and the world around us. While exposing us to the variety of human behavior and achievement of the past, the study of history also provides insights for the analysis of current issues, including questions of what may be fleeting and what may be enduring.

Requirements: 6 half-courses

  1. History 97

  2. Like concentrators in History, students pursuing the secondary field will take History 97, the department's foundational tutorial, which exposes students to various genres of history. While students considering a secondary field are encouraged to take History 97 as early as the sophomore year, they may wait until the spring of their junior year.

  3. Four additional half-courses in history (reading seminar recommended)

  4. Students will be free to take any four courses in history, whether lecture or reading seminar, to fulfill the bulk of the secondary field's course requirements.

  5. One research seminar

  6. Ordinarily taken in the senior year, the research seminar will serve as a capstone to the secondary field by providing faculty-led instruction in a small group and requiring students to follow the stages of a research project that reflect the principles of the department's tutorial program.

Other Information

The secondary field offers an opportunity to study a particular historical interest or to explore a range of eras, regions, and themes. The following samples represent just a couple of the myriad ways in which students can design a plan of study. A secondary field organized around a well-defined area of inquiry, such as the expansion of the United States, might include History 97; The Expanding United States, 1803-1917; History of the U.S. West; The American Civil War: Waging a War in History and Memory; History of American Capitalism; and The United States and Imperialism (Research Seminar). Alternatively, a student could examine a theme, such as religion, in different historical contexts by taking History 97; The Historiography of Reformation Europe, 1450-1650; The Jews in Muslim and Christian Spain; Christianity and Chinese Society; The Catholic Sixties; and Religion and Popular Culture in 19th-Century Europe (Research Seminar).

All courses for the secondary field in History must be taken for a letter grade, except for Freshman Seminars graded SAT/UNS taken with history department faculty. A minimum letter grade of D- is required in all courses for the secondary field.

Because students may double-count one course between their primary concentration or Core/Gen Ed requirements and their secondary field in History, students ordinarily may not petition to count any other non-history course toward their secondary field requirements. There may, however, be circumstances in which it would be appropriate to petition for a non-history course to count (known in History concentration parlance as a "related field"); students must consult the undergraduate tutorial office about this possibility.

Students pursuing a secondary field in History may petition to receive credit for courses that have significant historical content taught by faculty outside of the history department, including many taught by faculty listed in the Courses of Instruction as "Other Faculty Offering Instruction in the Department of History." Secondary field students may not count courses in "related fields," as defined in the Handbook for Concentrators. Please consult the undergraduate tutorial office for more information.

No coursework from Harvard Summer School or study out of residence will be counted toward the secondary field.

Advising Resources and Expectations

The undergraduate tutorial office, House advisers, and faculty look forward to advising students on course selection to maximize the rewards of their experience in the department.

For more information, contact Caron Yee, coordinator of undergraduate studies (cyee@fas.harvard.edu, 617-496-1626) or visit the undergraduate tutorial office (Robinson Hall 101).