Capstones in History

Capstone courses are intended to draw together and strengthen all the skills which have been developed by a given major.  All VCU students are required to take a capstone in their major, and to pass that course with a grade of ā€œCā€ or better, in order to graduate. In the case of History, they also serve as opportunities for career development.  History majors must take at least one of the two following capstone courses:

HIST 490:  Research Seminar

HIST490 undertakes intensive study in seminar format, and is intended for students in their final two or three semesters in the program. Students in History 490 typically write an independent research paper of substantial length.  Enrollment in HIST 490 is limited to no more than fifteen students per section.

The topic of HIST 490 varies according to the instructor, and do not necessarily repeat on a yearly or biennial basis.  As such, Students who plan to take HIST 490 as their capstone should watch the offerings carefully, and if they find a topic or instructor they feel particularly excited about, they should opt to take it that semester rather than waiting.  Recent sections of HIST 490 have covered the following topics:  The American Revolution, The US in the 1960s, The Age of Piracy, Latin American Indigenes, Sexuality in America, The Soviet City, and The Medieval Cult of the Saints.

The research- and writing-intensive nature of HIST 490 is of particular value for students who wish to go into careers where writing skills are central.  Papers produced in these seminars have the potential to serve as writing samples for applications to graduate programs in many fields, including the humanities, education, law, library science, museum studies, and so on.

HIST 493:  Internship

HIST 493 places students in a field internship for one semester.  Student interns will register for Hist 493, and internships are generally for students of senior standing, though exceptions are made regularly. Students may receive 2, 3, or 4 credit hours for work on historical projects with approved agencies. The work of the internship varies according to the placement, and our Director of Internships takes particular care to place students in internships which match their interests and career goals.  Interns have written research papers and mini-histories, developed interpretive programs, participated in archaeological projects, conducted oral history interviews, prepared exhibitions, catalogued manuscript collections, and discharged a variety of administrative duties.  Placements to date include Agecroft Hall, the Baptist Foreign Mission Board, the Black History Museum and Archives, Congregation Beth Ahabah Museum and Archives, the Library of Virginia, Maggie Walker House, Magnolia Grange, Maymont Foundation, Meadow Farm Museum, Museum of the Confederacy, Petersburg National Battlefield Park, Richmond National Battlefield Park, and Colonial National Historic Park (all three under the National Park Service), Valentine Museum, VCU Libraries, Virginia Department of Historic Resources: Division of Archaeology and Division of Preservation Services, Virginia Historical Society, and Wilton House Museum.

VCU was one of the first schools in the nation to offer formal internships in history. Since the program started in 1977, more than three hundred sixty students have received academic credit and job experience by working on projects of an historical nature with approved museums and agencies.

Internships help students to develop a wide variety of professional skills, and serve as professional experience that can become a significant step in building a career in areas as diverse as public history, communications, education, and business and entrepreneurship.

HIST 493 Guidelines and Procedure

Interested students should start by considering the area of history they are most interested in and potential places to intern. They should also contact the VCU history internship program director, Prof. John Kneebone, for help in setting up the internship.

To be accepted into the program, a student must:

  •        Be in good academic standing and generally of senior status
  •        Have the ability to work with others and to work under supervision
  •        Complete application form
  •        Generally have had academic training or prior work experience appropriate to the prospective internship
  •        Be interview by the director of interns and have explicit approval to enroll in Hist 493

Click the following link for a downloadable version of the application: Internship Application PDF