Department of History


History is the study of how societies and cultures across the world change over time. History concentrators learn to write and think critically, and to understand issues from a variety of perspectives.

The department offers a wide variety of courses concerned with changes in human experience through time, ranging from classical Greek and Roman civilizations to the histories of Africa, Middle East, the Americas, and Asia. While some courses explore special topics, others concentrate on the history of a particular country (e.g. China or Brazil) or period of time (e.g. Antiquity or the 20th century). By taking advantage of our diverse course offerings, students can engage in and develop broad perspectives on the past and the present.

Student Goals

Students in the History Concentration will:

  • Approach the study of the past from a multicultural perspective
  • Understand the nature of evidence and its relation to different historical methodologies
  • Develop expertise in at least one chronological and geographical field of study
  • Hone their writing abilities
  • Produce a body of original, historical research

Prospective Concentrators

Visit the office hours of their prospective concentrator advisor (assigned according to student surname). Please meet with a concentration advisor before filling out the ASK concentration form.


A minimum of 10 courses, at least 8 of which must be courses taught by a Brown University History Department faculty member (including their cross-listed courses) and/or courses offered by the Brown History Department (such as those taught by Visiting or Adjunct Professors). Transfer students or study-abroad students who have spent a year or more at another institution must have at least 7 of 10 history courses taught by Brown History faculty or otherwise offered through the Brown History Department.


Requirement Number of Courses
Premodern era (P) 2
Courses in 4 different geographic regions (see below)  4
Field of focus 4
Capstone Seminar 1

Any combination of courses that fulfill the four requirements above for a total number of 10 courses. Any HIST course can fulfill two or more of the above requirements. For instance, Professor Mumford's HIST 0233 Colonial Latin America, can count towards fulfilling a Latin America geographic distribution as well as a premodern (P) requirement. Depending on the student, it could also count towards a field of focus and as a capstone seminar.

Honors (optional)

3 additional courses related to writing a thesis (one of which, HIST 1992, can count towards your 10 concentration requirements)

Learn About Honors

Possible Non-Hist Courses

Subject to the approval of the concentration advisor, 2 of the 10 required courses may be courses highly relevant to a concentrator's coursework that do not have a HIST number. Always consult your concentration advisor about a non-HIST course you think could count towards concentration requirements.

  • Up to 2 classes without a HIST number can count towards the concentration if they enhance a student's field of focus or coursework in a significant way. 
  • EXCEPTION: up to 3 "external" classes can count if a student has spent a year or more at another institution in the US or on a study abroad program. 
  • Courses from history departments at other institutions in the US or abroad may fulfil the "P" chronological requirement or the geographical distribution requirement, with the approval of the concentration advisor.
  • Courses from other Brown departments may be counted toward the student's field of focus, but may not be applied toward the "P" chronological requirement or the geographical distribution requirement. 

Geographic Distribution Requirements

As of July 1, 2022, there are new geographic distribution requirements for the concentration. All concentrators who declared history before July 1, 2022 will have a choice of using the old requirements or the new requirements. All concentrators declaring on or after July 1, 2022 must meet the new requirements. The new requirements only require 4 courses determined by geography (as opposed to 6), but they’re more broadly distributed around the globe. They are as follows:

  • 1 course in AF or MESA (Africa / Middle East–South Asia)
  • 1 course in EA or LA (East Asia / Latin America)
  • 1 course in EU or NA (Europe / North America)
  • 1 course in GLO (Global)
  • Max. 5 courses in any single geography

The geographical pairings of the new requirement are not meant to suggest historically interrelated regions, but are rather pairings based on the relative size of various subfields in terms of the courses offered so that no subfield within a pairing would have significantly more or fewer offerings at a given time and thus “overwhelm” the other.

View a List of Geographical and Chronological designations of our Courses

Additional Concentration Information

If you’re a concentrator or interested in concentrating, there’s an advisor standing by to help you.
The field of focus may be geographical (such as Latin America) or geographical and chronological (such as Modern North America) or transnational (such as ancient world) or thematic (such as urban history).