The History Department is pleased to offer a robust secondary field in History. The secondary field in History encourages students in other concentrations to learn about the practice of history and engage in it themselves through tutorials and other departmental courses. Students will undertake an individualized plan of study to develop a base of historical knowledge and the essential skills of the field. The historical perspective and tools acquired through the secondary field will give students a richer appreciation for everything they experience in the College and beyond. History informs our understanding of literature, art, politics, and the world around us. While exposing us to the variety of human behavior and achievements of the past, the study of history also provides insights for the analysis of current issues, including questions of what may be fleeting and what may be enduring.

Coursework (5 courses)

  1. One seminar-format course: can be undergraduate seminars (i.e., a History 10-80 level course) or conference courses (1900-level courses) or graduate seminars (2000-level courses).
    Seminars serve as a capstone to the secondary field by providing faculty-led instruction in a small group. 

  2. Four additional courses in history
    Students will be free to take any four courses in history, including lectures, freshman seminars, or cross-listed courses.  One of these may be taken in a related field or abroad or over the summer, by petition.

Other Information

All courses for the secondary field in History must be taken for a letter grade, except for Freshman Seminars graded SAT/UNS taken with history department faculty. A minimum letter grade of D- is required in all courses for the secondary field.

Two types of courses count automatically toward History Secondary Field requirements:               

  1. all courses listed under “History” in the course catalog (including cross-listed courses); and
  2. all courses taught by full members of the History Department Faculty through the General Education, and/or Freshman Seminar programs or through other departments.

The secondary field offers an opportunity to study a particular historical interest or to explore a range of eras, regions, and themes. There may be circumstances in which it would be appropriate to petition for a non-Departmental course to count (known in History concentration parlance as a "related field"); students must consult the Undergraduate Office about this possibility.    

Students may also apply to do an independent study, or History 91r, with a member of the Department; the History 91r can be used to fulfill one of the three elective course requirements.

No coursework from Harvard Summer School or study out of residence will be counted toward the secondary field.


To discuss whether a secondary field in History is right for you, or for specific program-policy questions, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Assistant DUS. For general inquiries, please contact Staff Assistant Laura Johnson or visit the Undergraduate Office in Robinson 101.