Broad Field Social Studies Major

Broad Field Social Studies (BFSS) combines the depth of the history major with the breadth of insights gleaned from the social sciences. In this way, students will not only study history, but will also examine aspects of anthropology, sociology, psychology, and geography.

The resulting integration ensures a broad knowledge base and strong research skills. Graduates will be well prepared for graduate school and work in research, government, politics, and education. Most importantly, our professors are committed to mentoring their students in college academics and the Christian faith.

Alumni Profiles

Read about these Bethany alumni who majored in Broad Field Social Studies during their time at BLC.

Careers in BFSS

The Broad Field Social Studies major allows students to gain a broad perspective on the human condition as taught through the various social sciences and history. This prepares students for a variety of careers by providing them with transferable skills in critical thinking, scholarly research, and effective communication, while also fostering a well-rounded perspective in which to understand past events in relation to present lives. BFSS Majors frequently pursue the following careers:
  • Education Teacher/professor, program administrator, admissions counselor, museum education coordinator
  • GovernmentLegislative aide, foreign service officer, lobbyist, policy advisor
  • Museum Archivist, museum guide, historic preservationist, living history interpreter
  • ResearchGrant writer, information specialist, library specialist
  • Pre-lawAttorney, paralegal, legal researcher
  • Media Communications director, public relations officer, journalist

Internships in BFSS

Students majoring in broad field social studies or history (related major) have the option of completing an internship during the course of their study. The faculty work closely with students to determine the best internship arrangement for their academic and career goals.

In recent years, student interns have conducted research and assisted in the development of museum displays at the Blue Earth County Historical Society.

Other students participated in research, writing, and editing for the Evangelical Lutheran Synod Historical Society, culminating in the publication of a 450-page anthology: Telling the Next Generation: The Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s Vision for Christian Education, 1918-2011 and Beyond (ELS Historical Society, 2011).

Contact for more information

Broad Field Social Studies Faculty

Additional information is available on the BFSS Department page.

Mission Statement

The BFSS major allows students to systematically study not only history but also a variety of disciplines in the social sciences that complement history. History, by its very nature, is interdisciplinary and this is most clearly expressed in this broad field major.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • To identify the values and goals of important people of the past as they sought to influence their world.
  • To identify chief characteristics of past world civilizations.
  • To explain the roles of people, ideas, institutions, and actions in shaping historical developments.
  • To apply critical thinking skills to the analysis of primary and secondary sources, including both written and visual media.
  • To summarize the human and physical geography of major world civilizations, from ancient times to the present.
  • To formulate a broad, historical perspective on world history, in order to become an historically informed participant in present-day American and global civic life.
  • To polish with professional competence a work of formal academic writing, including documentation in the accepted style of the discipline, and to present a summary of one’s research orally.
  • To demonstrate an ability to integrate multiple social studies disciplines (e.g., economics, political science, sociology, psychology) into the study of history.

Major Requirements

Entry into the Major

Students should declare BFSS as their intended major as early in their college career as possible by filing a Declaration of Major/Change of Advisor form with the registrar. The student should simultaneously switch to an advisor in the History Department. The advisor will provide the student with an application for formal acceptance into the major, which generally occurs at the end of the sophomore year.

Students must complete at least two history and two social science courses from the required lower division courses with no less than a “C+” in each course. Students must also have a GPA of 2.0 or above. Students will be notified of formal acceptance into the major by the chair of the History Department, who will also notify the registrar.

Students who seek state licensure for secondary level (grades 5–12) teaching of social studies must first meet all requirements for “Entry into the Education Major” (see education majors) as well as all requirements for the BFSS major. Then students are required to take the courses listed below with an asterisk (*) and the courses listed under “State of Minnesota Teaching Licensure in Social Studies.”

Core Requirements

Please see the Program Requirements Disclaimer when planning your coursework.

Required lower division courses: The broad field social studies major consists of 57 credits so it does not require a minor. Twelve of the required 57 credits also fulfill general education requirements. Courses with * are required for Minnesota teaching licensure.

One of:

Required upper division course (select one of the following):

Major Electives

Social Science upper division electives (6 credits required):

Fifteen additional credits in upper division history courses with at least three credits from American history, three credits from European history and three credits from a course dealing mostly with matters after 1815 (which may simultaneously fulfill either the American or European requirement).

American History (choose at least one of the following): *either HIST410 OR HIST420 is required for state licensure):

European History (choose at least one of the following):

Thematic Course in Broad Field Social Studies (choose at least one of the following which may simultaneously fulfill either the American or World requirement):

Additional upper division electives (1-6 credits):

Recommended Religious Studies electives to complement the BFSS major:

Lower division

Upper division


For more information on HIST493 and HIST494, see the Senior Seminar Project section below.

Minnesota Teaching Licensure Track

Students seeking teaching licensure for the secondary level (5-12) are required to consult an academic advisor in both the History and Education Departments. In addition to the BFSS major requirements students who seek state licensure for secondary level (grades 5–12) teaching of social studies are required to take the courses listed previously with an asterisk (*) AND the following courses:

Additional requirements of all students completing Minnesota Teaching Social Studies licensure track at Bethany Lutheran College:

  • Maintain 2.75 GPA
  • Complete all standards based courses with a C+ or better
  • Pass the following two Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exams: (1) MTLE: Pedagogy K–6 or 5–12; and (2) MTLE: Subject matter/content 5–12 Social Studies
  • Complete the Human Relations/Diversity Component
  • Complete all courses required for Minnesota State Licensure
  • Submit proof of a valid first aid/CPR/AED certification
  • Satisfactory completion of Teaching Internships and Seminar
  • Satisfactory completion of Professional Portfolio

Note: An appeals process is outlined in the Elementary and Secondary Education Handbook. According to Minnesota Statute 122A.09 Subdivision 4(c), a candidate who remains unsatisfied with a dispute regarding recommendation for licensure may appeal the decision to the Minnesota Board of Teaching.

Bethany Lutheran College Education Programs are accredited by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB).

Senior Seminar Project

Students majoring in broad field social studies produce a senior thesis during the final semester of their college career. This capstone project involves research, writing, and an oral defense, similar to a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. In HIST493 Senior Seminar I and HIST494 Senior Seminar II, each student works closely with a research advisor. Two other professors also read and comment on the student’s thesis. If the student produces a research paper of exceptional quality, it will be filed in the senior seminar papers collection of the college library. True to the interdisciplinary nature of the broad field social studies major, students must incorporate not only historical methodology but also other techniques drawn from one or more of the social sciences: economics, geography, political science, psychology, or sociology. In recent years, broad field social studies majors have successfully defended senior thesis papers on the following themes:
  • The NAACP’s Impact on Three Civil Rights Organizations: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and the Black Panther Party
  • The Evolution and Impact of the British Invasion
  • The Battle of the Bulge: Bastogne and the German Objective
  • May It Please Mr. Madison, the Supreme Court Has Incorporated Your Fifth Proposal: An Examination of the Adoption of the Bill of Rights and Incorporation Doctrine
  • The Early Christian Church: A Reflection of Society
  • The Berlin Crisis of 1961: The Threat of Nuclear War and the Almost Annihilation of Mankind
  • Joseph Stalin: A Man’s Portrayal and Its Effects on a Nation
  • Creating a Robber Baron: Intellectual Movements, Personal Beliefs, and John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
  • A Historical Perspective on King Arthur from the First and Last Days of His Life
  • Longships upon the Liffey: The Viking Settlement in Dublin during the Ninth Century
  • A History of Professional Wrestling and How World Wrestling Entertainment Became One of the Top Businesses in Sports Entertainment
  • From Roosevelt to Roosevelt, American Progressivism Takes Root: The Progressive Era’s Unraveling of the American Constitution
  • Latvia: Behind the Dark Shadow of the Iron Curtain into the Light of Freedom
  • Grunge: Kurt Cobain and Grunge’s Lasting Legacy

Next Steps

Do you see Broad Field Social Studies in your future? Learn more about becoming a Bethany student. Questions about BFSS? Contact someone in the BFSS Department today!