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Academic Majors


Public History

Do you like to study history but wonder what you can do with a history degree? If so, the public history program, designed by the Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at North Dakota State University, may be for you. This innovative program is the first of its kind in the Upper Midwest. It provides students with the opportunity to explore a variety of nonteaching careers in history and prepares them for employment in the expanding field of public history. New opportunities for history majors in recent years include historical societies, museums, corporations, municipalities, labor and farm organizations, and state and federal government agencies.

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The Program

The department developed this program after careful examination of successful public history programs at such institutions as the University of Connecticut, the University of Delaware, Arizona State University and the University of California Santa Barbara. In addition, local and regional historical agencies, including the State Historical Society of North Dakota, were consulted on the development of the program. The core is the professional major of 69 to 81 credits, which consists of a well-integrated combination of courses designed to provide students with training in the general field of history as well as the specific field of public history. The intent of the program is to provide a structured framework of courses and allowance for some flexibility to reflect personal interests.

Internship Program

The public history major provides students with a solid background in history and introduces them to such fields as archival and museum work, historical editing, historic preservation, costume conservation and design and archaeology. A crucial part of the program is an approved internship of nine credits at a historical agency, often the State Historical Society of North Dakota in Bismarck. In recent years, students have interned at the Colorado and Minnesota Historical Societies and at various historic sites from South Pass, Wyo., to Yorktown, Va. This internship is designed to provide students with practical on-the-job experience in public history.

Career Opportunities

Recent graduates in public history are employed at the State Historical Society of North Dakota, the National Park Service and several county museums and historic sites. Currently, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that openings for archivists and curators will “increase about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2024.” Further information on career opportunities can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Curriculum

Students begin with nine to 15 credits at the 100-200 level to provide a foundation for their later work. Public history courses at the 200 level may be used to meet this requirement. Year-long survey courses in U.S. history and western civilization are provided to give students a basic knowledge of the history of our own country and of the wider cultural heritage of the western world. After completing their 100-200 level courses, students complete a course on historical research and writing. At the junior or senior level, students take a sequence course in modern American history. These courses are important in providing students with a more in-depth historical background that they will need in their careers. Courses in archival theory and practice and archival photography are required to give students necessary experience in the processing of archival material. Archival photography deals with the restoration and preservation of photographs, a major source for our understanding of America's social past. The resources of the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies are employed in these classes.

Credits in European history and in the Widening Horizons category at the junior or senior level are required to provide greater depth of historical knowledge in areas of the world outside the United States. This is necessary for a historian's overall perspective, although he or she may later concentrate on the history of our own country and, specifically, a region of the country. Three to nine more credits of history at the junior or senior level are required to gain further historical knowledge; these courses are chosen after consultation with an advisor. A three-credit senior seminar is required of all history majors as a capstone experience.

Courses in introduction to public history, museum studies and the history of architecture provide knowledge of related areas within the broader field of public history. The museum studies course is intended to familiarize students with the theory and practice of museum work. The history of architecture is important in the area of historic preservation. It also provides knowledge of architectural styles and the changes that take place in styles over time. Such changes reflect cultural, political, social and economic changes within our civilization as a whole.

Finally, a nine credit internship provides practical experience in the field of public history. The State Historical Society of North Dakota (and other local and regional historical agencies) provide opportunities in such areas as archival work, historical editing, historical preservation and interpretation of historic sites.

In addition to the professional major, students complete 18 credits of courses in museums, archives, historic preservation or an approved minor.

Sample Curriculum

General Education Requirements
    First Year Experience
1     UNIV 189 - Skills for Academic Success
3     COMM 110 - Fundamentals of Public Speaking
3, 3     ENGL 110, 120 - College Composition I, II
3   HIST 390 - Historical Research and Writing
3     English Upper Division Writing
3   Quantitative Reasoning
10   Science & Technology
6   Humanities & Fine Arts
6   Social & Behavioral Sciences
2   Wellness
-   Cultural Diversity
-   Global Perspective
40   Total
Credits   College/Department Requirements
3   Humanities Elective
3   Social Science Elective(s)
3   Fine Arts Elective(s)
9   Total
Credits   Major Requirements
3   ARCH 322 - History of Architecture II
3   HIST 100 or 200 elective
3   HIST 251 - Introduction to Public History
3   HIST 252 - Introduction to Museum Work
3   HIST 390 - Historical Research and Writing
3   HIST 401 - Archival Theory and Practice
3   HIST 403 - Archival Preservation
3   HIST 489 - Senior Seminar (Capstone)
9   HIST 496 - Field Experience (Approved Internship)    
18   History Distribution Electives
18   Supplemental Vocational Option Electives
4   Electives
73   Total

This sample curriculum is not intended to serve as a curriculum guide for current students, but rather an example of course offerings for prospective students. For the curriculum requirements in effect at the time of entrance into a program, consult with an academic advisor or with the Office of Registration and Records.

Minard Hall
Room 422

Minard Hall is located on the south end of campus on Albrecht Boulevard (Campus Map)

Contact Information

Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies
North Dakota State University

Minard Hall 422
Dept #2340, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-8654 / Fax: (701) 231-7605

Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Ceres 114
Dept #5230, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802



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Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802
Campus address: Ceres Hall 114
Physical/delivery address: 1301 Administration Ave., Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 5230 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Page manager: NDSU Webmaster

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 06, 2017 2:13:25 PM
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