The Undergraduate Program in History

History is the study of how societies and cultures across the world change over time. History concentrators learn to write and think critically, and to understand issues from a variety of perspectives. The department offers a wide variety of courses concerned with changes in human experience through time, ranging from classical Greek and Roman civilizations to the histories of Africa, Middle East, the Americas, and Asia. While some courses explore special topics, others concentrate on the history of a particular country (e.g. China or Brazil) or period of time (e.g. Antiquity or the 20th century). By taking advantage of our diverse course offerings, students can engage in and develop broad perspectives on the past and the present.

Student Goals

Students in the History Concentration will:

  • Approach the study of the past from a multicultural perspective
  • Understand the nature of evidence and its relation to different historical methodologies
  • Develop expertise in at least one chronological and geographical field of study
  • Hone their writing abilities
  • Produce a body of original, historical research

**Prospective concentrators should visit the office hours of their prospective concentrator advisor (assigned according to student surname). Please meet with a concentration advisor before filling out the ASK concentration form.**


Basic requirement: A minimum of 10 courses, at least 8 of which must be courses taught by a Brown University History Department faculty member (including their cross-listed courses) and/or courses offered by the Brown History Department (such as those taught by Visiting or Adjunct Professors). Transfer students or study-abroad students who have spent a year or more at another institution must have at least 7 of 10 history courses taught by Brown History faculty or otherwise offered through the Brown History Department.


Courses in the "Premodern" era (P) 2
4 Courses in 4 different geographic regions (see below for details) 4
Field of focus  4
Capstone Seminar (see "Overview of Courses" for current capstone listings) 1
Any combination of courses that fulfill the four requirements above for a total number of 10 courses*   
Honors (optional)
3 additional courses related to writing a thesis (one of which, HIST 1992, can count towards your 10 concentration requirements)

*Any HIST course can fulfill two or more of the above requirements. For instance, Professor Mumford's HIST 0233 Colonial Latin America, can count towards fulfilling a Latin America geographic distribution as well as a premodern (P) requirement. Depending on the student, it could also count towards a field of focus and as a capstone seminar.

Cross-listed courses count as "internal" HIST courses

Cross-listed courses have a HIST number and a number from another department and counts towards the required 8 HIST courses. With very few exceptions, cross-listed courses are taught by faculty with an appointment in the History Department. Please see this page for a list of faculty with cross-listed courses.

Two possible "external" courses

Subject to the approval of the concentration advisor, 2 of the 10 required courses may be courses highly relevant to a concentrator's coursework that do no have a HIST number. Always consult your concentration advisor about a non-HIST course you think could count towards concentration requirements.

  • Up to 2 classes without a HIST number can count towards the concentration if:
    • the course is taught by a historian in another department. For example, Professor Robert Lee is a historian, and his course, ETHN 1650B, Asian Americans and the Racial State: Exclusion and Internment, could count as one of the 2 "external" courses; and/or
    • the course is not taught by a faculty member whose PhD work was primarily in the discipline of history, but takes a historical approach and enhances a student's field of focus or coursework in a significant way. 
  • Courses from other Brown departments may not be applied toward the "P" chronological requirement.
  • EXCEPTION: up to 3 "external" classes can count if student spent a year or more away from Brown. 

This partial image from the editable History concentration form shows where the two "external" courses can be accommodated into coursework for a History concentration.

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For a list of the Geographical and Chronological designation of our courses, please see this Google Sheet.

As of July 1, 2022, these are the geographic distribution requirements for the concentration. All concentrators who declare history before July 1, 2022 will have a choice of using the old or the new requirements. All concentrators declaring on or after July 1, 2022 must meet the new requirements. The new requirements only require 4 courses determined by geography (as opposed to 6), but they’re more broadly distributed around the globe. They are as follows:

1 course in AF or MESA (Africa / Middle East–South Asia)
1 course in EA or LA (East Asia / Latin America)

1 course in EU or NA (Europe / North America)
1 course in GLO (Global)
Max. 5 courses in any single geography

The geographical pairings of the new requirement are not meant to suggest historically interrelated regions, but are rather pairings based on the relative size of various subfields in terms of the courses offered so that no subfield within a pairing would have significantly more or fewer offerings at a given time and thus “overwhelm” the other.

In 2015-16, we inaugurated a new numbering system.  You can find the new number of an old course, and see what a newly numbered course used to be called.