Carolyn Vacca, Chair

History is the chronicle of people, their failures and accomplishments, from the beginning of written times to the present. The study of history introduces students to those larger forces of change that have given form and substance to the modern world and attempts to help the student develop perspectives on the present by imposing some order on the chaos of the past. Each history student will recognize the provisional nature of knowledge, the disciplinary preference for complexity, and the comfort and ambiguity that history requires.

To this end, the department of history offers a curriculum that explores the issues, events, and ideas that gave rise to the world’s major civilizations. The aim is to encourage clarity in expression, precision in writing, and a critical, thoughtful analysis of ideas.

History students can explore a wide range of experiential opportunities. Internships (see below) and research projects in the Monroe County Archives, located on campus, and in the Rochester Historical Society, among other sites, can provide the foundation for future work or the catalyst for engaged humanities work. The NYS Certificate in Museum Studies also offers the basis of future study and work.

The study of history is an excellent foundation for a life of intellectual growth and professional development as well as a sound basis for advanced work in teaching, law school, government service, graduate studies, the military, and other career goals. Students seeking certification in either inclusive childhood education or inclusive adolescence education in the field of social studies often major in history. Students are strongly encouraged to work closely with their advisors in planning a program of study that will lead to completion of certification requirements. All students who wish to discuss a major or minor in history are encouraged to consult with the department chair or appropriate departmental advisor.


The history department encourages students to pursue internships related to the field of history. In addition to the University-wide guidelines, the history department has established the following requirements:

  • The student must be a junior or senior history major or minor.
  • The student must be in good standing.
  • The student’s written application to the internship director should be three to five pages in length.

The Honors Major

History majors who maintain a grade point average over 3.50 may apply to become honors majors. The honors major must complete the requirements for the major plus an additional course, HIST 498 - Honors in History. This independent study research project results in an essay that must be presented to the department and defended successfully. The prerequisite for HIST 498 is one 300- or 400-level history class from a concentration area pertinent to the research project. Hence, the honors major requires a minimum of 36 hours in history.