History Major and Minor

History professor at St. Mary's University

The sacred and the secular, the public and the private, all draw on historical understanding. Religion is history; every presidential address refers to history; policy decisions and court cases are shaped by history; military commitments are evaluated in terms of history; family reunions celebrate shared history. History is a disciplined form of memory that we depend upon to make sense of human experience.

About the History Major

In the Department of History at St. Mary’s, students hone critical thinking, reading, writing and analytical skills that prepare them for success in many fields. Equipped with a broad perspective of the human experience, History majors go on to pursue careers in law, medicine, military, politics, education, journalism, international relations and business.

History Professor Theresa Van Hoy teaches a class at St. Mary's University

Option 1: History Thesis Program. Students selecting this option are required to complete a History thesis for which a tripartite series of courses has been designed to teach and hone the skills necessary for excellence in undergraduate research in history. The History thesis constitutes the heart of this undergraduate program, as it requires students to apply the knowledge and skills acquired at St. Mary’s. The History thesis permits students to demonstrate proficiency in the fundamental skills of the historian: research, writing, interpretation and critical thinking.

Students enroll in the History thesis course in the final semester of their senior year to revise their manuscripts extensively and professionalize their candidacies for employment and graduate programs.

Option 2: History (Public History). Students selecting this option take an introductory course in Public History and a practicum/internship in a Public History setting. Public history refers to how history is presented and interpreted in non-academic environments. It involves not only the historical content but also the approaches, tools and strategies for presentation that enhance the general public awareness of the past and its connection to the present. The contributions of public history may be seen at the national, state, county and local level through historical associations, heritage tourism, museums, public access archives, and online digitized historical information, historic preservation, commissioned histories for historic sites, foundations, corporations, and public agencies of many kinds. Public historians develop collaborative relationships among historians, community leaders, activists, and those interested in preservation of heritage for practical or commercial purposes. Through making explicit links between the past and the present, applied history activities enhance tourism, economic development, and a general sense of community, which is inspired by knowledge of a shared past.

Option 3: Teacher Certification Program. Students in this program are not required to take the  final courses devoted to the senior thesis. History students should speak with the chair of the History Department or the chair of the Teacher Education Department about the general requirements for a major in History with Teacher Certification. Specific questions and concerns about the Teacher Education program should be directed to the Teacher Education Department.


The department also offers a minor, which requires a minimum of 18 course hours within the field of study.

Course Areas

Course areas within the History Department include:

European history
Historiography, method and research
Historical writing
Immigration and ethnic history
Latin American history
Manuscript preparation
U.S. history
World civilization
World history

For degree requirements and detailed course descriptions, see the Undergraduate Catalog.

Career Options

History is also a field of inquiry necessary for the rewarding professions and careers that St. Mary’s students seek. History majors go on to pursue careers in many professions including law, medicine, military, politics, education, journalism, international relations and business. Historical study hones skills of critical thinking, reading, writing and analysis that give our students advantages in any field.

Advertising executive
Congressional aide
Writer or editor
Public relations specialist
Researcher in a variety of industries
Foreign Service officer
Museum administrator
Documentary editor
Records manager

Student Engagement

Undergraduate Research

An image of History seniors enjoying a light moment during a research conference trip to Denver

A group of senior History majors enjoy a light moment while in Denver for a research conference.

All history classes have a component of research, composition, synthesis and presentation to develop critical, creative and writing skills. Each year the Department of History sends senior students to present their theses at national scholarly research conferences. Students also have the opportunity to share their research with the St. Mary’s and the San Antonio community at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium and Creative Activities Exhibition, held on the St. Mary’s campus.

Phi Alpha Theta

Phi Alpha Theta is a national history honor society for undergraduate and graduate students and professors of history. The organization promotes the study of history through engagement of research, good teaching, publication and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians. Students and teachers come together for intellectual and social exchanges, promoting and assisting historical research and publication by members in a variety of ways.

Next Steps

Want to learn more about the St. Mary’s University History Program or are you ready to apply?

Bradley Root, Ph.D., Interim Chair
Chaminade Tower 502

Rose Mary Gallegos, Administrative Assistant
Chaminade Tower 507

Read more in the Undergraduate Catalog

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