Skip to main content

2016-2017 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

Search Help

History - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences section in this catalog.


The study of the past has captivated generations of people around the globe. As historical beings, we wonder about the ways our ancestors lived, the origins of our cultural and political practices, the causes of important events (both local and world), and the reasons for technological and economic disparities between peoples in our modern world. History explores the past in order to seek answers to such questions and to better understand our world.

As one of the liberal arts, history provides the opportunity to explore the past through a careful consideration of the evidence our forebears have left behind. Historians make critical contributions to society in diverse areas, such as teaching, the law, business, foreign and civil service, archival work, museum studies, professional writing and editing, and library science, just to name a few. In sum, an historian possesses the primary training for any job that requires analytical writing and reading skills and an ability to communicate ideas knowledgeably and clearly.

Degrees offered: Master of Education, advanced content specialization with a concentration in history; Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in history, major and minor for secondary teaching certification, minor in history, minor in history of science.

Mission Statement

The Department of History advances public knowledge and understanding of the past as it informs the present and future. We offer a multidisciplinary approach that combines our global cultural heritage with long-neglected voices, uses a range of tools and perspectives, and provides the knowledge and skills necessary for informed decision making.


We provide a student-centered program that is committed to excellent teaching, scholarship, and service. Through our commitment to the liberal arts tradition, we help students develop skills of inquiry, reflection, critical analysis, dialogue, and expression. We are dedicated to inspiring all our students - be they our history and group social studies majors or students we encounter in our general education courses - to pursue excellence in their chosen professions and serve the broader local, regional, national, and international communities in which they live.

As a community of scholars, we help to enlarge the state of knowledge in our field through our active engagement in intellectual and creative pursuits. We recognize that active scholarship enriches our teaching and enables us to serve students, the university and the broader community. We bring the historian's perspective to courses in the University Honors College and other interdisciplinary programs; we participate actively in preparing teachers of history and social studies as well as preparing our majors for further study and careers in a variety of fields. We promote faculty and student participation in national and international inquiry and discourse. We are dedicated to serving the broader West Michigan community through our engagement in local and regional history forums.

Participating Programs

The history department participates in the following programs:

  • African/African American Studies
  • Archaeology
  • Art History
  • Classics
  • College of Education
  • East Asian Studies
  • Group Social Studies
  • Honors College
  • International Relations
  • Latin American Studies
  • Liberal Studies
  • Middle East Studies
  • Russian Studies
  • Women Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Honors Organization

Phi Alpha Theta
The local chapter of this international history honor society promotes the study of history by honoring students who have maintained high academic standards throughout their college careers. Members participate in a variety of intellectual and social activities throughout the academic year. Students who have completed at least four history classes at Grand Valley State University with a minimum GPA of 3.25 in those history classes, and an overall GPA of at least 3.25 are encouraged to apply. Contact Professor Alice Chapman, chapter advisor, for more information.

The following programs are available:

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in History

History Minor

Certificate in Medical Humanities

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.