Information for History Majors
In addition to the information below, the College of Humanities and Sciences Current Student page offers information about how to withdraw from a class, appeal a grade, see graduation requirements, etc.
Resources for Undergrads
Visit the VCU Student Affairs page for the information you need to navigate the personal and professional challenges of a university education, and also to get support as you bring that education into the job market or go on to graduate-level education. For history academic specific support, be sure to read the history advising guidebook in Canvas.
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HIST 493 places students in a field internship, and students receive credit for work on historical projects with approved agencies. Students may receive two, three or four credit hours for work per semester, for a maximum total of six internship credits. The work of the internship varies according to the placement, and we take care to place students in internships which match their interests and career goals.
Visit our Internship Guidelines page for all the details you need to get started.
Declare a History Major
To declare a major in history, visit Records & Registration and fill out the "Change of Major/Concentration Form" online. Then contact Maggie Hasselbach and schedule an appointment to assess your plan for completing the major.
Declare a History Minor
To declare a minor in history, visit Records & Registration and fill out the "Change of Minor Form" online. Then contact Maggie Hasselbach and schedule an appointment to assess your plan for completing the minor. At the time of submission of your graduation application to your major department, you will also need to complete the "Graduation With Minor Application."
The history major comprises some 36 credits, and leaves plenty of room for students to complete another course of study. Creative and thoughtful combinations of coursework in history with other areas of study can be an excellent boost to a student’s skill set and career options.
Visit the Complementary Majors and Minors page for suggestions.
The College of Humanities and Sciences offers more than 100 scholarship opportunities to currently enrolled students annually. The system features a searchable database of opportunities and details the requirements for each. The application process opens early January and closes late February.
Visit the Scholarships and Awards page for more details.
Undergraduate students may, with the support of a faculty member, take an independent study in history, HIST 492, for upper-division credit toward the major or minor.
Independent study courses are usually developed when a student has already taken at least one course with a faculty member, and has an interest in further pursuing a topic related to that initial course work. If the faculty member has an interest in the topic as well, they may be willing to take on the responsibility of overseeing HIST 492 for such a student. As HIST 492 is taken on as an addition to a faculty member’s normal teaching responsibilities, not all faculty are able to consider offering HIST 492 at all times; therefore, students should not plan on HIST 492 as a fixed part of their path to graduation.
VCU History supports two undergraduate history clubs, each with a distinct focus and goals. We warmly encourage all of our majors and minors to consider joining one or both of them. We also encourage non-members to take advantage of the many activities the clubs sponsor, which are open to all students. Our long-standing student clubs offer opportunities to develop leadership, professional and academic skills, to build relationships with your fellow students and faculty from across the United States and beyond, and to explore historical topics in ways that are student-directed. They're also a lot of fun!
History adviser Maggie Hasselbach has the most accurate information to share with students in order to design a program of study that meets graduation requirements and suits individual interests and career objectives.
It is recommended that all history majors meet with Maggie Hasselbach at least two times per semester. Medical humanities minors may also contact her for advising.
811 S. Cathedral Place, room 202
History majors, minors and those who are interested in learning history are invited to visit the Virtual Course Fair page. Each of the course categories has links to a slideshow with course descriptions and all the information you need prior to registration.
Study abroad is an experience which can deepen your historical understanding and perspective. It can also be a transformative, enriching experience which contributes greatly to personal growth.
There are many exciting study abroad opportunities offered through VCU's Global Education Office.
History majors who are interested in study abroad are encouraged to visit history’s adviser, Maggie Hasselbach, to discuss how program credits would apply to their particular goals and needs.
Letters of recommendation from instructors, employers, or others who can evaluate a student's work are important for jobs, graduate school applications, and even scholarship or study abroad applications. A good letter of recommendation is an expression of a student’s achievements, professionalism, and relationship with mentors. Unfortunately, on the surface, the process looks like a series of meaningless bureaucratic forms. If students treat recommendations in this way, they harm their chances to make the most out of their past efforts. What follows here is a series of tips intended to help students approach the professors or other mentors from whom they intend to seek recommendations as professionally and productively as possible.
Prepare yourself to ask for a recommendation.
The professors you intend to ask for recommendations may or may not remember you, depending on how long it has been since you took their classes and how large those classes were. They may also know nothing at all about the program for which you are applying. Before you seek out recommenders, prepare a current resume, gather up any papers and tests from the class you took with that professor, and prepare copies of or links to descriptions of the program you’re applying for. Be ready to give all of these things to the potential recommender. That way, he or she gets a chance to refresh his or her memory about your work, catch up on what you’re doing now, and gear a letter towards the program you’re applying for.
Ask, but do not assume that you will automatically get a recommendation.
Recommenders stake their professional reputations on the students the recommend and the truth of what they say about those students. Since the process affects the careers of recommenders, no professor or mentor is ever under an obligation to recommend any particular student. The appropriate way to seek a recommendation, then, is to ask whether or not a professor or mentor is willing to offer a recommendation. It is rude not to leave a potential recommender the opportunity to decline your request, if they feel ethically unable to fulfill it. It is not appropriate to simply send someone a set of forms, or leave them in a work mailbox or email in-box, assuming that he or she will recommend you just because you handed over the forms. Please note that this holds true even if that professor or mentor has recommended you at some time in the past.
Communicate professionally about the recommendation.
The best way to ask for a recommendation is in person, bringing with you all of the materials you’ve gathered. Your recommender may want to ask you some questions about the program, your educational or professional progress, and so on, and a face-to-face meeting is the best venue for such a discussion. If you cannot ask in person because of time conflicts or distance, an email is acceptable. This email should be written like any other business letter, in clear and formal prose, addressing the professor with his or her preferred name and title, and signed with your full name and address.
Make the job easy for your recommender.
Provide plenty of information, but also leave as much time as possible between your request and the application deadline. Provide your recommender with all the relevant forms/online links, and a clear understanding of where the letter should be routed and how (digitally, in hard copy, etc.) If the deadline date or the destination of the letter is not clear on the forms, be sure to include that information in a cover letter/email which also thanks the recommender. Furthermore, where possible, you should investigate the content and functionality of any digital forms before you send them along to a recommender. Is the .pdf writable, or will your recommender need to print it off and fill it out in hard copy? Does the recommendation form, though digitized, contain a section that you, the applicant, must fill out before the recommender begins his or her work, and how must you fill it out (i.e., digitally or in hard copy)? All of these things will affect the flow of work in getting the recommendation completed.
Contact your recommenders about outcomes.
It’s polite to let your recommender know afterwards if you were given the job, scholarship, internship, etc, and to thank him or her for supporting you.