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History Honors Program

Welcome to Purdue’s History Honors Program!   

History Honors is an opportunity for first-rate history majors to research and write an original work of historical scholarship in close consultation with a faculty member.  Started in 2008, it is now an esteemed program in the College of Liberal Arts, and has contributed to launching successful careers for its graduates.

The program is a total of 6 credit hours.  In the fall semester, students enroll in HIST 421: Honors Historical Research.  This course introduces students to the tools of the historian’s craft and to specific examples of history's relevance to contemporary issues.  Students investigate different approaches to history and discuss the work of several leading historians, examining how they build their arguments, the sources they use, and their contributions to our knowledge of the past. During this semester that students choose their thesis topic, their faculty mentor and begin their research.

In the spring, students register for HIST 422: Honors Thesis Research which offers them 3 credit hours but is not actually a class.  Rather, students work closely with their faculty mentor and write a 45-to-50 page historical essay based on their research.  At the end of the spring semester, students provide an oral defense of their thesis before their mentor and a second reader (another Department of History faculty member), and then present their work publicly to families, friends, and the Department of History faculty at the annual History Honors Forum. 

The History Honors Program has much to offer talented history majors:

  • Fellowship with other like-minded students
  • The opportunity to work one-on-one with a faculty member
  • Opportunities to participate in conferences, seminars, and faculty receptions
  • Road trips to conduct research at major libraries and archives
  • Assistance with applications to graduate school, law school, and internships
  • Letters of recommendation documenting students' initiative, capability, and achievement

History honors students have earned prestigious fellowships and admittance to first-rate graduate programs across the US and abroad. Some have earned degrees in law, public history, and international relations. Currently, former history honors students work as teachers, military officers, in non-governmental organizations, in the offices of elected representatives, and in business.

Learn more about this unique and sucessful program.

Professor David Atkinson,
Director of History Honors