Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the History Department FAQ page. If you don't find the answers to your questions here, please contact us.

Transferring History Courses to Western

Which of my courses will transfer to Western's History Department?

Generally, any history course from an accredited institution will transfer, but such a course may not always be an appropriate prerequisite for one of our courses. Non-history courses are another matter, and students sometimes come to us with classes from other institutions that they want to have counted as history courses -- political science is the most common, but we have seen them from art history, anthropology, and sociology. In all such cases students are well advised to bring as much supporting material as possible, including course descriptions (usually you have a catalog from the institution), syllabi, writing assignments, and any other course materials you have.

What are the prerequisites for history courses at Western?

Please check out our catalog copy. All of the course descriptions with their prerequisites can be found there.

What should I bring to my transfer advising session?

Always bring as much supporting material as you can gather: test scores, transcripts, syllabi from courses, catalogs, etc. Your coming prepared will make it that much easier to determine your transfer credits, and may even mean that more credits eventually transfer to the major.

Declaring a Major or Minor in History

When should I declare my major in history?

Students begin their majors at different times. It is not uncommon for native students to be well along in the program by the time they have completed the sophomore year, while transfer students do not declare until they reach the university, most often at the beginning of the junior year. The department encourages students to declare the major as soon as possible.

How do I choose an advisor?

Choosing an advisor is easier than it may first appear. Often the advisor is someone the student has had for a course, and it is a good idea to approach an instructor with whom the student feels comfortable for information about the department and the major. That faculty member may end up being the student's advisor or may send the student to another faculty member who is better able to meet the student's needs. If the student does not know any faculty member it is best to begin with the main office. Staff there can direct the student to an appropriate faculty member.

>How do I declare a major in history?

Declaring a major is a simple process. The student can discuss major requirements with the advisor and may decide on areas of academic emphasis at this time, though the student is not required to so. The student will also complete a declaration of major card, which is then sent to the Registrar's Office. The student is entered in the university's computer system as a major and is cleared to take courses open only to declared majors. The student also receives mailings from the department.

What will happen in my declaration advising session?

The student and the advisor will review the student's academic record to determine which courses are necessary to allow the student to proceed to upper level work in any particular area of history. While there are no specific "gateway courses" for the history major, students should be aware that History 103 and/or History 104 are prerequisites for upper level American history courses, History 280 is required for upper level courses in the history of East Asia, and so on. The student should take care to complete necessary prerequisite courses in a timely fashion in order to be able to proceed to upper division work.

How often should I meet with my advisor?

It is important for the student to stay in contact with the department, and the department recommends that the student meet with an advisor at least once per quarter, preferably before registering for classes for the following quarter.

How do I declare a minor?

Declaring a minor is a simple process. The student must complete a Minor Declaration form, have it signed by a History Advisor and then deliver it to the Registrar's Office in Old Main 230. While planning for the minor, one must be sure that at least half of the minor credits are upper division (300-level or above). Before graduating, a Minor Evaluation must be completed and signed by a History Advisor. There are Minor Planning Sheets available on the History web site and in the Main Office, BH 364. The Minor Declaration forms and the Minor Evaluation forms are also available in BH 364.

What are the minor requirements?

The minor in History uses the same field designations as the major, i.e., United States, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, East and South Asia, and the Western Hemisphere (Canada and Latin America). The minor requires a minimum of 25 credits, distributed as follows: Three courses in one of the above fields; Two courses in a second field from the above list; Elective courses to bring the total to at least 25 credits. The student must maintain a 2.50 grade point average in courses counted in the minor, and no course with a grade lower than C- may be included. At least 12-1/2 credits must be at the upper division level.

History Classes

What is the 499 class?

The 499 is the senior research seminar in which the student decides on a research topic and develops a formal research paper on this topic. The student works with the instructor of their choice under their chosen field, and receives guidance on research areas and writing of the paper. The 499 is required for the history major, and cannot be taken as an independent study course. It is the writing intensive course for the history major and fulfills the student's writing proficiency requirement.

There is a pre-registration process during Spring Quarter for the following year's 499 course offerings.

Pay attention to mailings and updates to the web page if you plan on registering for a 499. Also, pre-registration is open only to declared majors.

Can I audit a course?

This can be done with permission of the instructor and in concert with the department of Admissions.

How do I get into a full course?

This is a tricky question, and you are likely to get a different answer depending on whether you are a major, whether you have taken the instructor of the course before, and whether the instructor allows classes to go beyond their capacity limits. The most common answer is: wait for the first day of the course, attend the class, and approach the instructor about getting an override into the course. Know that if you are a freshman trying to take a full 400-level class, it will not be likely for you to get into the class. If the class is, however, in your major area, and you need it to graduate for the next quarter, you are more likely to build a case for getting an override into the course. This is not an excuse to wait for your final quarter to take required courses. It is up to you to seek advisement and stay on track with your progress toward graduation.

How do I get an override into a course?

The first thing you need to do is to get permission from the instructor. If he or she is able to, the instructor will go ahead and give you an override. If the instructor is not able to, you must receive written permission from him or her and then come to the main office in BH 364, and give the written permission to the office staff. The staff will need your student ID (W#) and the CRN for the course. Please come prepared. She/he will then put a special code in the university's computer system that will allow only you to register for that spot in the course. You WILL still need to register, this does not automatically put you in the class.

Do you have waiting lists to get into classes?

No. Our department has not found this useful. Instead, we encourage you to determine whether it is the appropriate time to take the course, and if it is, approach the instructor on the first day of class and ask to get an override into the course.

Can I take an independent study course?

There are many options for taking independent credit. Some courses are offered though independent learning at WWU. Sometimes, you can fulfill the requirements for a course by signing up for a History Independent Study. This is where you will work individually with an instructor to fulfill the requirements for a course that this instructor teaches. You can also design a course that explores other areas if the instructor is willing to work with you on a special topic. The common rule is that the instructor will be more likely to work with you independently if you have taken courses from him/her before and have shown promise in that course. Be prepared to keep ahead of the workload if you want to complete an independent study. It is up to you to have the work done at the end of the quarter.

Which teachers are nice, easy, fun, etc.?

We are asked questions like this all the time, and we can tell you with certainty that all of the professors are NICE. They all have different styles of teaching and interacting with students, and you will learn over time which styles work best for you. Keep an open mind, however, sometimes there is more to be learned from someone you have not considered taking before. You will have varying kinds of experiences in the classroom, you will work harder in some classes than in others, and you will always get what you put into the classroom experience. All of our professors expect good work, and all of them are top-notch instructors and specialists in their fields. Enjoy the years of experience and special knowledge they bring to the classroom.

Applying for Graduation

When should I apply for graduation?

The general rule is: apply for graduation at least two quarters prior to your final quarter. For example, if you're graduating at the end of Spring Quarter, you'll need to apply for graduation during Fall Quarter. Plan to do your major evaluation as early as possible during the quarter, well in advance of registration. See information below about how to apply for graduation.

What if I'm not sure about the quarter I'll be graduating?

Go ahead and make an appointment with or drop in during office hours of your History Advisor for a major evaluation, following the procedures as outlined below-- "How do I apply for graduation?" he or she will evaluate your transcript(s) (or grade report cards) and determine the coursework you have remaining for completion of your degree. BRING TRANSCRIPTS FROM ALL INSTITUTIONS YOU HAVE ATTENDED. We'll then be able to determine your quarter of graduation.

How do I apply for graduation?

Make an appointment with your advisor or drop in during the office hours for your advisor to do your major evaluation. Bring a copy of your transcript(s) (unofficial is fine -- or grade report cards) so your coursework can easily be evaluated. Please make sure you have one from EVERY institution you have attended. We do not have access to work done other than at Western. You can print your unofficial transcript from Web For Students. Turn in your major evaluation, along with Degree Application packet, to the Registrar's Office. (Degree Application packets are available at the Registrar's Office, Old Main 230)


Are there any history honor societies at Western?

We have a chapter of the national honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, right here in the History Department. Check with the front office staff for the name of the current advisor and how to become a member. There are many fun and scholarly activities to participate in through our chapter. This can also be a good way to expand your knowledge of history and the association with the honor society is a great way to make connections for future opportunities in history.

Can I work in the History Department?

We have opportunities either for students with work study money or students who want credit. We do not usually have any departmental funds to pay students. There are administrative jobs open each year in the main office, and there are often opportunities to work as a research or teaching assistant for exceptional students. The latter requires the recommendation of a faculty member. If you are interested in these opportunities, please contact the main office at 360-650-3429.

Page Updated 05.17.2012