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History Major

Bethany’s history major explores the people, ideas, and events that have shaped America and the world.

You will have the opportunity to study everything from ancient Egypt to the rise and fall of Napoleon to the Civil Rights Movement.

History discovers and preserves the greatest works of art, literature, and philosophy. By cultivating skills in critical thinking, research, and communication, history majors learn to frame the complexity of human interactions through a clear and wide perspective. This is necessary for intelligent decision making in a democratic society and a primary goal of a liberal arts education. Most importantly, history sheds light on the religious life of all people and our faculty strive to provide a Christian perspective on historical events.

Potential Careers

History studies can prepare you for a wide variety of careers.
  • Education: Teacher/professor, program administrator, admissions counselor, museum education coordinator
  • Government: Legislative aide, foreign service officer, lobbyist, policy advisor
  • Museum: Archivist, museum guide, historic preservationist, living history interpreter
  • Research: Grant writer, information specialist, library specialist
  • Pre-law: Attorney, paralegal, legal researcher
  • Media: Communications director, public relations officer, journalist

Alumni Profiles

Read stories from graduates of our history program:

Photo of Patricia Lillenthal smiling into the camera
Patricia Lilienthal

Patricia Lilienthal – Class of 2018 – History Collections Coordinator, Exhibit Designer, and Administrative Assistant at the Freeborn County Historical

Read More »
Photo of Peter Bockoven
Peter Bockoven

Peter Bockoven – Class of 2018 – History Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Theology/Pastoral Ministry, Graduation May 2022      

Read More »

History Major Events

Bethany’s History Department sponsors multiple events each year that enrich the studies of History Major students and others. See the History Department page for more information on history conferences and symposia, Constitution Day, apologetics seminars, and more.


Students majoring in history or broad field social studies (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).

Senior Seminar Projects

Students majoring in History 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 HIST495, each student works closely with a research advisor. Two other professors also read and provide feedback 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.

In recent years, history majors have successfully defended senior thesis papers on the following themes:

  • Benedict Arnold’s Expedition: Hero of the Wilds
  • The General Synod and Samuel Simon Schmucker: Theological Reductionism and an Ecumenical Plan
  • The Light Rising from the West: How Ireland Aided Europe’s Early Rebirth
  • From Condemnation to Advocacy: A History of the Acceptance of Birth Control among Conservative American Protestants
  • The Invasion of Iwo Jima
  • The Twenty-sixth Wisconsin: A Brief History
  • Seventeenth-Century American Socialism: The Unsuccessful Early Communal Practices of the Pilgrims in Plymouth Plantation and Their Successful Transition to a Private Enterprise System
  • Ebb and Flow: The Application of the Great Depression and New Deal to the Modern Economic Situation
  • Before Muddy Waters Became the “Hoochie Coochie Man”
  • A Look at the Origins of Democracy in Order to Understand Its Limitations
  • The Lutheran Reformation in Slovakia
  • A Look at the Origins of Democracy in Order to Understand Its Limitations
  • Women Spies in World War II: SOE Agents in German-occupied France
  • Indian Captivity Narratives: A Study in American Culture
  • The Capture and Fall of Jerusalem: The Success and Failure of the First Few Crusade Campaigns
  • The Collapse of the Dix-Hill Cartel: Good for the Union War Effort, Bad for Conditions inside Confederate and Union Prisons
  • Feringees and Mafsoods: The First British Occupation of Afghanistan, 1839-1841
  • The History of the Negro Leagues in America: 1860-1960
  • Artemisia Gentileschi: Interpretations of Judith, Susanna, and Lucretia
  • Fabian Legends: General Francis Marion, General Daniel Morgan, and the Demise of the British Southern Strategy
  • Causes of the Dakota Conflict: The Dakota Perspective
  • Your Friendly Adversaries?: The Changing Scottish Kirk and the Reception of David Hume’s Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century

Major Requirements

Mission Statement

History, while it may use tools of social science, the arts, science and religion, is fundamental to the humanities tradition within the liberal arts: history tells the story of humankind. History offers a certain original and important way of looking at the human experience. In contrasting the world’s past with the present, history shows the complexity of human interactions and gives a clearer and wider perspective. This is necessary for intelligent decision making in a democratic society and a primary goal of a liberal arts education. Graduates of the history major possess a well-rounded perspective in which to understand past events in relation to present lives and are well suited for careers in research, government, business, education, communication, and in museums.

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.

Please see the Program Requirements Disclaimer when planning your coursework.

Entry into the Major

Students should declare history as their intended major as early in their college career as possible by filing the 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. At least four of the required lower division requirements or electives should be completed 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.

Core Requirements

Required lower-division surveys:

Major Electives

Choose one of the following interdisciplinary history courses:

Eighteen additional credits in upper division history courses with at least three credits from American history, three credits from World history and three credits from a Thematic course that treats a focused topic across a broad chronological and/or geographical scope (which may simultaneously fulfill either the American or World requirement).

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

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

Thematic courses (choose at least one of the following which may simultaneously fulfill either the American or World requirement):

Additional upper division electives:

Recommended religious studies electives to complement the history major:

Lower division
Upper division

The minor in history requires the following courses:

Nine additional credits must be earned in upper division history (HIST) courses 9 cr.

To view the most recent course list and requirements for the elementary education major, please consult the Academic Catalog.

History Commentary

Next Steps

Interested in studying at Bethany? Scheduling a campus visit is a great way to see what we have to offer. You can meet professors or sit in on a class too! Contact our admissions office to learn more.