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History at Alma combines practical experience with global understanding, producing graduates with a unique understanding of the complexity of factors that affect human behavior in historical context.

The study of history provides a historical perspective, which contributes uniquely to an understanding of the complexity of factors—economic (E), social (S), political (P), intellectual (I) and technological (T) - that affect human behavior as well as the historical interpretation (H), which explains that behavior. Course offerings in history vary in emphasis. Students may identify central course themes by noting the explanatory caption (e.g., ESPI). All courses that satisfy the general education requirement focus on the principal economic, social, technological, political and intellectual problems in particular historical eras.

Practical Experience

All courses require students to analyze historical factors and to communicate the results of such analysis in oral and written forms. History is appropriate for careers in law, journalism, industrial management, banking, civil service, library and museum management, ministry, politics and teaching.

Many history students take advantage of the exceptional off-campus opportunities. Each year several participate in the Posey Global Fellows Program for support of international internships. We also offer a variety of specially funded summer internships, such as the Kinney Scholarship to support study of a Bill of Rights-related issue.

Legal History

Since we historically have been a department that trains many future attorneys, we offer courses in both U.S. and continental legal traditions. To assure the quality of these offerings, our U.S. legal history courses are taught by a professor with both a Ph.D. and J.D. from one the nation’s best law programs. 

Classes Abroad

History Spring Term classes are exceptional, taking full advantage of Alma’s one-month semester when students take only one course. Professor Liping Bu has offered Spring Term class trips to China to study Chinese history, culture and society. Professor Furlong has taken classes to London for research in the British archives on World War II. Professor Lorenz has taken Comparative Public Policy classes to Mexico. Students also have the option of spending an entire semester abroad at a partnering university across the globe.

Global Perspective

Virtually all history courses at Alma emphasize a multinational or global perspective—noted by the caption (GP). The commitment to a global perspective is a special feature of the study of history at Alma and has influenced our decision to staff our program with faculty trained in some of the best institutions in the world. While all our faculty hold one or more degrees from premier U.S. institutions, two of five full-time faculty also have a degree from a university outside the U.S. (Beijing University and University of Cape Town).

Phi Alpha Theta

Phi Alpha Theta (ΦΑΘ) is an American honor society for undergraduate and graduate students and professors of history. The society has over 400,000 members, with some 9,000 new members joining each year through 970 chapters nationwide.

Phi Alpha Theta was established on March 17, 1921 at the University of Arkansas by Professor Nels Cleven. Cleven had become convinced in his time at the university that a fraternity of scholars (which would accept men or women) was important for the study of history. He invited students to a meeting to form the society (then called the “University Historical Society”) on March 14, and the society was officially recognized on the 17th. In April, the decision was made for the society to be known by the Greek letters Phi Alpha Theta.

Undergraduate students must complete a minimum of 4 courses in History, achieve a minimum GPA of 3.1 in History and a GPA of 3.0 or better overall. A maximum of 3 credit hours of online, transfer, or AP credits may be applied to the membership eligibility requirement.  Membership is not limited to History majors.

Phi Alpha Theta members are eligible to apply for the honor society’s awards and scholarships offered each year. Phi Alpha Theta awards scholarships and other prizes on the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level. All student members are eligible to present a paper at our Biennial Convention and at the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Meeting in their area. For a detailed listing of our extensive awards program, visit the Prizes/Awards section of the Phi Alpha Theta website.