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History Overview & Goals

The History program at Bethany College trains students to think critically about the past and to analyze the ways in which historical events have shaped the world we live in today. Through classes in European, United States and World history, Bethany History majors study the world-changing military, political and diplomatic events of the past, the great economic and cultural developments that transformed human existence, and the art and ideas that fundamentally altered how humans see and think about the world around them.

Students develop critical thinking skills in analyzing historical arguments and conducting independent research and hone their writing skills through preparing term papers and a senior project.

Graduates of the history program have used the skills and knowledge gained from their Bethany degree to pursue careers in a wide range of professions, including education, law, business and the public sector. Many have gone on to obtain advanced degrees from prestigious institutions.

students talking while other students are talking

Areas Of Study

History (Major, Minor)
International Studies (Major)


“As a History major, Bethany College was an ideal setting in which to study, from the iconic Old Main and the grand old buildings on campus to the beautiful downtown historic district. At Phillips Library the college archivist encouraged me to work hands-on with the rare books and artifacts and I was immediately hooked. I graduated from Bethany and landed a job at the Library of Congress before pursuing a Master’s degree and eventually finding my way back to West Virginia as an archivist and records manager. While I learned theory and critical thinking in the classroom, it was the visceral connection to the past that working in an archives provides that truly set the course of my career. A degree from Bethany could have landed me any number of jobs, but I probably wouldn’t be where I am were it not for that chance visit to the college archives.”

Jon-Erik Gilot

History, 2006, Director of Archives & Records, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston


With your degree in history, you can be an educator, researcher, communicator or editor, information manager, advocate, or even a businessperson.

Here is a brief list of the career opportunities available to the undergraduate history major. This list is based on a very useful pamphlet, Careers for Students of History, written by Barbara J. Howe and jointly published by the American Historical Association and the National Council on Public History in 1989. While this online miniguide is based on this pamphlet (now out of print), with appropriate paraphrases from its text, it discusses also some of the new opportunities that became available to the history major in the recent past.

History BAs intending to pursue an advanced degree in history should read the excellent guide, Careers for Students of History, by Constance Schulz, Page Putnam Miller, Aaron Marrs, and Kevin Allen (2002).

  • Historians as Researchers
  • Museums and Historical Organizations
  • Cultural Resources Management and Historic Preservation
  • Think Tanks
Meet The Faculty

Kayce Mobley

Assistant Professor; Chair

Morlan Hall
Harwood McClerking

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science

Morlan Hall, 205
Autumn Mayle

Assistant Professor of History

Morlan Hall
Amanda Leifson

Adjunct Professor

Morlan Hall


Twelve credits in European history, including HIST 101, 102; twelve credits in American history, including HIST 201, 202; six credits in African, Asian, or Latin American history; HIST 376, 377, 495; a Senior Project. Also required are either POLS 225 or 243, and INTD 251, 252, or 253, the others being strongly recommended. Students planning to attend graduate or professional schools should anticipate possible requirements in the areas of world languages, statistics, accounting, and computer technology.


HIST 101, 102, 201, 202; and nine credits from 300 or 400-level offerings.


6 credits from introductory international social science courses (chosen from POLS 111, POLS 112, and ECON 113);

6 credits from introductory international humanities courses (chosen from HIST 101, HIST 102, and RELS 220);

12 credits in world languages completed after matriculation (even if student tests into an upper-level language) and spread across 1 or 2 languages;*

15 credits in either
Track 1: Social Sciences (12 credits chosen from POLS 211, POLS 253, POLS 325, POLS 341, POLS 342, ECON 201, ECON 202, ECON 260, ECON 360, BUSI 308, BUSI 328, BUSI 345, BUSI 371, BUSI 403, PSCH 250, SOCO 210, GENS 202, COMM 345, and COMM 403; 3 credits chosen from either POLS 370 or ECON 222); OR

Track 2: Humanities (12 credits chosen from HIST 230, HIST 328, HIST 329, HIST 330, HIST 331, HIST 332, RELS 210, RELS 239, RELS 244, RELS 305, RELS 352, ENGL 200, ENGL 267, ENGL 268, ARBC 320, CHIN 320, FREN 320, FREN 321, FREN 410, GRMN 320, GRMN 321, GRMN 410, JAPN 321, SPAN 320, SPAN 321, and SPAN 410; 3 credits from HIST 377);

6 additional credits from Track 1, Track 2, INTD 202, INTD 203, INTD 204, INTD 210, INTD 211, INTD 253, INTD 306, INTD 487, INTD 488, OR any additional world language courses;

INTD 490;

INTD 495.

*International students whose native language is not English OR students who are fluent in a language other than English may substitute for 6 credits of this world language requirement with one course to enhance English language proficiency (chosen from COMM 206, ENGL 212, 220, 230, 240, THEA 120, 221, or 226) and one course to promote understanding of contemporary American culture (chosen from ENGL 250, 383, 385, HIST 202, 355, POLS 225, PSYC 250, or THEA 335). The other 6 credits of the world languages requirement cannot be substituted.


HIST 101-102 World Civilizations I & II 3 credits each
These courses are a survey of world civilizations and the interactions between the different centers of civilization from the ancient world to the present. Particular emphasis is given to non-Western cultures in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. First semester covers the period from the ancient world to about AD 1400. Second semester carries through to the present.

HIST 201-202 U.S. History I & II 3 credits each
These courses survey the political, economic, and social growth of America. The first semester covers the period of exploration to 1865, and the second semester from 1865 to the present.

HIST 225 West Virginia History, Government, Geography 2 credits
This course is a history of the western section of Virginia to the Civil War and the history and government of West Virginia to the present. The physical, political, and social geography of the state is included.

HIST 297 Special Studies in History 2 or 3 credits
These courses are designed to permit students to study with various faculty members in the department or with visiting instructors or foreign visitors.

HIST 309 The World of Late Antiquity 3 credits
The World of Late Antiquity surveys the many different and competing elements of religious views found in ancient Greco-Roman culture through the first five centuries of the common era. Particular attention is given to the philosophical, sociological, theological, and political environment of ancient Mediterranean culture in an effort to understand the influence these views had on the Western tradition. (This course may be taken for credit as RELS 326.)

HIST 311 The Age of Transition: 1300-1600 3 credits
This course is an examination of the transitional period from the Middle Ages to the Modern World. Particular emphasis is on the political and economic development of the Italian city states, the rise of national monarchies in Northern Europe, and the collapse of the unity of western Christendom.

HIST 312 The Age of Absolutism: 1600-1789 3 credits
This course examines the emergence of the modern state system and the rise of Absolutism. Topics include the Thirty Years War, the Age of Louis XIV, the English revolutions, and the Enlightenment.

HIST 313 The Age of Revolution and Nationalism: 1789-1914 3 credits
This course is an examination of the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the rise of the modern nation-state. Particular emphasis is placed on the political, economic, and social upheaval resulting from the impact of liberalism and nationalism.

HIST 314 The Age of Uncertainty: 1914-Present 3 credits
This course examines the collapse of European global domination in the wake of two world wars and the division of Europe during the Cold War. Topics include the disaster of the First World War, the rise of Communism and Fascism, the Second World War, the recovery of Europe, the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and the rise of the European Union.

HIST 324 Russia Under the Tsars: 1500-1918 3 credits
This course surveys the history of Russia from the late Middle Ages to the Russian Revolution. Specific topics include the growth of Russian power, the emergence of Russia as a major player in the European state system, and the collapse of Tsarist autocracy.

HIST 325 Post Tsarist Russia: From Lenin to Putin 3 credits
This course is an examination of the rise of Soviet totalitarianism, the Great Patriotic War, the impact of the Soviet Union’s role as superpower, both internal and external, the collapse of Soviet society, the first halting attempts to rebuild Russia, and the re-emergence of Russia on the international stage as a regional power and an economic force.

HIST 327 British History 3 credits
This course provides a brief survey of British society to the Elizabethan period, followed by a more detailed study of the Elizabethan period through World War II. Topics such as the nature of the 18th century politics, the Industrial Revolution, liberal and Victorian England, the impact of the World Wars on British society, and the “Irish Question” are examined.

HIST 328 History of Mexico 3 credits
This course is a survey of Mexican history that emphasizes the variety of forces that shaped the formation of modern Mexico. Beginning with the settlement of Mesoamerica, the first half of the course examines the classical, pre-Columbian civilizations, the Spanish conquest, and the development of a diverse, multi-racial society from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The second half of the course discusses the causes and consequences of Mexican independence, the roots of the Mexican Revolution, its social, cultural and political consequences, and the breakdown of the PRI system in the late twentieth century.

HIST 329 Islamic Civilization 3 credits
This course is a survey of the emergence of Islam during late Roman antiquity and the middle ages, highlighting the life of the prophet Mohammed and the development of Islamic religion, philosophy, and literature in the early Islamic empires. Also considered is the development of Islamic fundamentalism in the modern world and institutional, operational, and environmental factors which demonstrate differences between the Islamic and Western worlds. (This course may be taken for credit as RELS 352.)

HIST 330 Modern China 3 credits
This course is a basic survey of modern China. Following an introduction to the geography and history of the country, the course focuses on the art, modern literature, cinema, culture, sociology, politics, foreign relations, economy, and current conditions in the People’s Republic of China.

HIST 331 Modern Japan 3 credits
This course is a basic survey of modern Japan. Following an introduction to geography and history, the course focuses on art, modern literature, cinema, culture, sociology, politics, economy, and current conditions in Japan. (This course may be taken for credit as JAPN 321.)

HIST 332 Japanese History and Culture in Film 3 credits
This class explores the historical development of Japanese culture through the viewing of a series of 16 to 18 Japanese movies which portray, in one way or another, key concepts that are central to understanding Japanese society. Combines with readings and lectures which place the films in their historical context, students should gain an understanding of the wrenching social changes that buffeted Japan over the course of the twentieth and into the twenty-first century.

HIST 351 The Early Republic, 1789-1848 3 credits
This course explores the development of the United States from the birth of the Republic through the Mexican-American War, examining, among other topics, the implementation of the government under the Constitution, the democratization of the political process, the early foreign relations of the United States, the growth of sectionalism, the commercial and market “revolutions,” and territorial expansion.

HIST 352 The Crisis of the Republic, 1848-1877 3 credits
This course examines the social, political, economic, and ideological forces that led to the American Civil War, traces the main phases of the military campaigns, and explores the far-reaching consequences of the war in American history. Topics include slavery and sectional conflict before the war, the abolitionist movement, Union and Confederate strategies, the wartime experiences in the North and South, African-Americans and emancipation, and the Reconstruction period following the war.

HIST 354 America in the Era of the World Wars, 1914-1945 3 credits
This class explores American society, politics, and international relations in the era of the world wars of the twentieth century, a period during which American attitudes concerning international relations, domestic politics, and social policies underwent profound changes. Topics include American participation in the First World War, the isolationist impulse of the 1920s and 1930s, the culture and politics of the 1920s, the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War.

HIST 355 Contemporary U.S. History, 1945-present 3 credits
This course examines the history of the United States since 1945. Emphasis is placed on the evolution of the postwar world, the Cold War, the rise of the consumer society, the changes in society and social values, the urban and suburban revolution, the sixties, and the Civil Rights Movement.

HIST 376 Methods of Historical Research and Writing 3 credits
This course is a study of the techniques of historical writing and research that that are expected in the History program and more generally in the academy. It introduces students to the major types of historical paper-writing, including book reviews, various analyses, and research papers. It also discusses suggestions for improving writing quality and provides an introductory tutorial to the Chicago Manual of Style.

HIST 377 Theory and Practice of History 3 credits
This course is a study of the major works of the ancient, medieval, and modern European and American historians with emphasis on the various schools and methods of interpretation. The student also receives an introduction to the nature and methods of history as an intellectual discipline. Emphasis is on the techniques of historical research in preparation for the Senior Project.

HIST 400-409 Seminar in American History 2-4 credits
These seminars provide the opportunity for advanced study of a topic, period, or issue in American History. (Topics change regularly.) Prerequisite: Previous study of the topic in a survey course or permission of the instructor.

HIST 401 Constitutional Law 3 credits
Case studies and moot cases examine the historical development of important constitutional issues before the United Stated Supreme Court. Students become familiar with the basic structure and functions of the federal court system. (This course may be taken for credit as POLS 401.)

HIST 410-419 Seminar in European History 2-4 credits
These seminars provide an opportunity for advanced study of a topic, period, or issue in European History. (Topics change regularly.) Prerequisite: Previous study of the topic in a survey course or permission of the instructor.

HIST 410 Weapons and Warfare 4 credits
This course is an examination of the science and art of warfare throughout the history of civilization. Particular emphasis is on the technology of war and the methods developed to employ that technology against opponents on the battlefield or against an opponent’s entire society.

HIST 420-429 Seminar in Non-Western History 2-4 credits
These seminars provide the opportunity for advanced study of a topic, period, or issue in non-Western History. (Topics change regularly.) Prerequisite: Previous study of the topic in a survey course or permission of the instructor.

HIST 487-488 Independent Study 2-4 credits

HIST 490 Senior Project 2-4 credits
The student plans and pursues an independent research project in History.

HIST 495 Comprehensive Exams
This course is an administrative placeholder used to record a student’s score on Comprehensive Exams (CR/NCR).

Interested in learning more about studying History at Bethany?

We’d love to tell you more about it and answer any questions you may have.