Bachelor of Arts
The history curriculum is designed to produce men and women educated in the responsibilities of citizenship. It prepares cadets for graduate schools of history or government, and for occupations in which the ability to understand backgrounds, grasp issues, and manage affairs is essential, e.g., law, business, politics, government service, and the armed forces.
The curriculum, with proper electives, fully meets the requirements for admission to outstanding schools of law and graduate programs in business administration and management, as well as history. By concentrating electives in a specific subject area, cadets can acquire both the broad outlook offered by history and the specific outlook of other disciplines.
The cadet majoring in history receives, first of all, training in the natural sciences, mathematics, and the English language as an instrument of written and oral communication. Additionally the cadet learns a foreign language. History courses cover the principal fields of modern European, Middle Eastern and East Asian, Latin American, African, and American history. Rather than merely cataloguing events of the past, these courses emphasize an understanding of developments and problems, and they give attention to social, economic, and cultural phenomena, as well as political and constitutional problems.
As history majors advance through the curriculum, they apply the lessons of previous courses to challenging new subjects. Students in 100-level World History comprehend fundamental themes, issues, and trends in global history. Students in 200-level United States history explore and analyze increasingly complex themes, issues, and trends in U.S. history. Students in 300-level courses develop a detailed knowledge of a specific field's major historical events and themes, and where appropriate acquire a functional understanding of relevant historical geography. Each level of the history curriculum is associated with a set of essential skills. Students in 100-level World History sharpen essential college-level skills such as note-taking, critical reading, and studying for both objective and analytical exams. Students in 200-level United States history interpret primary sources and base an argument on them, evaluate secondary sources, and cite sources. Students in 300-level courses evaluate the thesis and evidence in essential historical essays or books, and identify significant historiographical trends. In those 300-level courses designated as methodologically intensive, students employ common library and electronic research tools, and use book reviews or review essays to assess a field's major literature. In 400-level courses, students frame a research topic, locate and evaluate relevant primary and secondary evidence, and discuss relevant historiography.
The capstone course requirement ensures that all majors gain experience in historical methodology and writing. An Honors Program, open to majors who have demonstrated excellence in the study of history, and a Directed Study course offer opportunities to engage in more extensive research and write a paper under the close supervision of a faculty sponsor.
HISTORY CURRICULUM REQUIREMENTS
Institute Core Curriculum: Note that EN 101 and 102 must be passed with a grade of C or better.The required core curriculum mathematics sequence may be filled with one of the following course sequences: MA 105/106, MA 123/124 or MA 125/126. All VMI students are required to take two writing-intensive courses, at least one of which must be within their major department. Listings of courses to be offered in each coming semester indicate writing-intensive courses with the suffix W following the course number.
Department of History Core Curriculum: History majors and minors must earn a grade of C or better in the following courses: HI 103, 104, 205 or 205W, 206. History majors must take at least thirty-three hours of history, including the twelve required hours of HI 103, 104, 205 or 205W, and 206, 460W. Please note that the Department of History will not accept Western Civilization courses as a substitute for World History. They can be transferred in only as a history elective. Nor does the History Department allow transfer credit for internet-based or distance-learning courses.
Regional Distribution: History majors must take at least one course from each of three regional categories (Europe, United States, and Africa/Asia/Latin America). These categories are designated in the history course listings. Courses may be counted only for one regional category. The Capstone course (460W) cannot be used to satisfy a regional distribution requirement.
Introduction to Methodology: History majors must take at least one course designated as methodologically intensive. This course must be completed prior to enrollment in HI 460W. Cadets completing this requirement must demonstrate ability to construct an annotated bibliography and to cite sources in accordance with departmental standards. Any methodological course may also fulfill a regional requirement.
Capstone Course: History majors must take HI 460W, during their first class year. The history department may direct individuals to enroll in HI 460W in either fall or spring semester, however. The course requires a major research paper. Topics for the course will vary. The course has a prerequisite of at least one completed methodologically-intensive course. (Note: individual sections of HI 460W may have additional prerequisites.) Substitutions for HI 460W are rare but with prior approval by the department head, may be allowed for comparable work while in residence at VMI, e.g., an orally defended thesis for Institute Honors or the three-semester departmental honors sequence of HI 372, HI 491W, and HI 492W.
The third class English electives may be filled with any literature course offered by the Department of English and Fine Arts.
The third class science elective may be filled with any courses offered in Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geology, or Physics. CE 208 may also be applied.
The minimum foreign language requirement for history majors is one foreign language through the third-year level, or two foreign languages, each through the second-year level.
The second and first class restricted elective requirements may be filled by: a) courses required for a double-major or minor in another curriculum; b) elective courses offered by the Department of Economics and Business or the Department of English and Fine Arts; c) courses in the International Studies Department.