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History Department

Academic Advising Notes

The History Major:

Ten courses comprise the major, three of which are seminars (HH200, HH300, and HH400X).

There are currently five distribution areas: American, European, Regional, Military and Thematic; students must take ONE course in FOUR of the areas in order to graduate.

The developmental spine of the History Major is the three-year, three-course seminar sequence. Majors take HH200 (The Historian’s Craft) during youngster year, HH300 (Research in History) in their 2/C year, and, as 1/C midshipmen, one of two capstone options:  HH400B (Research Essay) or HH400A (Historiography). 

These seminars are hands-on workshops led by a practicing historian-instructor. The first seminar, taken during 3/C year, introduces majors to the key concepts, terminology, and skills required to produce history.  It prepares students for the subsequent seminars as well as their upper-level History elective courses. During 2/C year, majors are asked to complete a 15-page research project prospectus designed to answer a research question of their own choice. Those students who elect to do the 1/C Research Essay option then do the research, analysis, and writing to satisfactorily answer their historical question in a 25-page paper. Those who choose the 1/C Historiography option demonstrate their mastery of the historian’s skills in an expert-led seminar focused on a single important historical topic or event that has been explored by multiple historians (e.g., the U.S. Civil War). Both 1/C options require an equivalent amount of writing. 

Majors who take HH300 in the fall semester 2/C year may submit their completed Research Project Prospectus as their application to the History Honors Program with the support of a faculty member who has agreed to serve as the student’s honors thesis advisor for the next year. Honors Majors research and write a 35-page thesis over spring, summer, and fall from 2/C to 1/C year, submitting it to the department’s Honors Committee for consideration. The Honors Major discusses and defends their thesis before the department’s Honors Committee in January, and the committee decides whether to grant Honors designation for the thesis.

Foreign Language:

History majors must take FOUR semesters of a foreign language. 

Any 200-level language course may count for the HUM/SS elective on the matrix, provided that it is not counted twice. For instance, if a student has validated four semesters of French and then takes another language—such as Russian—at the 200-level, that 200-level course will count for one of the student’s HUM/SS electives.

Minors are available in all seven languages and are noted on the transcripts of those who complete the requirements. No other minors exist. Minors in all languages can be completed within a three-year period, starting at the 100 level, by all midshipmen with adequate space in their matrix who place at that level. ACDEANINST 1531.9 describes the Language Minor Policy.

The following minor requirements are in place:

  1. The minor will require a minimum of six courses (18 credits). A midshipman must have an average grade of 3.0 in the 18 credit hours of target language classes designated to earn the minor.
  2. Through language placement any midshipman can alleviate a maximum of two courses (six credits) toward the minor. For example, a student who places at or above the 200 level of Spanish will be able to use six credits toward the minor. That student shall take an additional 12 credits (four courses) during the course of a career at USNA with a minimum 3.0 average to complete the minor.
  3. Students pursuing the minor will be placed at the appropriate initial level of study according to assessments upon arrival at USNA. Candidates for the minor will be required to begin the minor at the level in which they are placed.
  4. It is possible that language immersion programs, such as SSA (Semester Study Abroad), LSAP (Language Study Abroad) or language-intensive summer programs for STEM majors, all vetted by professors in the Languages and Cultures Department, or the Critical Language Scholarship program (CLS) may alleviate one but no more than two additional courses, or six credits. For example, a student who participates in Semester Study Abroad to Morocco and validates three Arabic courses upon his or her return, may only apply two of these courses towards a minor.
  5. In all cases, a minimum of two language courses (six credits) must be taken in residence at USNA, with a 3.0 QPR, in order to complete a language minor.


History majors in their second semester of 3/C year usually take SM208 to fulfill the fourth mathematics course requirement.

Instead of SM208 (Data Science), midshipmen can also take SM230 (Probability with Naval Applications) or SM 212 (Differential Equations). SM212 is usually reserved only for those students who want to go to Nuclear Power School.

HUM/SS electives:

Students have two HUM/SS electives; one may be a course at the 200 level in Political Science, English, Economics, Philosophy (LEL) or Psychology (LEL). The second elective must be at the 300 level and can also include foreign languages. There are currently a number of foreign language courses at the 400-level that are taught in English (e.g. FA486E, Gender in Arabic Literature or FJ486E, Japanese Culture through Film).

Accounting (FE 220) in the Economics Dept. DOES NOT count as a HUM/SS elective, although students may take it as a free elective.

Free elective:

Students sometimes are mistaken about the Free Elective. It DOES NOT have to be a technical course. The Free Elective is any course at the 200 level or above, including the student's major. Sometimes students will take entry level Math (SM 005) or English (HE 101) and the MIDS system will place this course in the free elective slot.

DO NOT rely on the list of technical courses in the HHS matrix for the Free Elective as an accurate list of the possible courses.

EA/N4XY: Ship Performance

In 1/C year, students will take some variation of Ship Performance known as EN400 (4 credit class). Students take a course that dovetails with their service selection. If they go Navy Air, that course will be EA400 (Introduction to Aeronautics); EN400 is for Naval Surface; EN401 (known as Engineering in the Littoral Zone) is for Marines or SEALS.

NS42X: The Junior Officer Practicum

The Junior Officer Practicum which students take in the spring semester of their 1/C year has different sections depending on their service selection: NS421 (Surface/Restricted Line), NS422 (Submarines), NS423 (Naval Aviation), NS424 (Marine Corps), NS425 (Special Warfare), NS426 (EOD), and NS427 (Restricted Line and Staff Corps). Sometimes at registration students will have conflicts with a particular section of the NS42X. The only course that takes precedence over a section of NS42X is the HH400X seminar, which students need for graduation. Otherwise, other history electives are subordinate to NS42X. Students must take the section of NS42X that reflects their service selection.

Student Exchanges with other Academies and Foreign Exchanges:

Students are more actively pursuing the possibility of exchanges with other service academies or even studying abroad for a semester. A student who attempts an exchange should have a little extra space in his/her matrix because it is unlikely he or she will be able to take all the required courses while on exchange.

Points of Contact:

1. Senior Academic Adviser, Dr. Wayne Hsieh, at or x6292

2. Dr. Chris Davis, Registrar, at, or x6381

3. Dr. Brad Bishop, Interim Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, or x1589

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