History Department


In our breakneck, media-saturated, rapidly globalizing world, historians ask us to slow down and consider the big picture. 

As a History student, you’ll move past tidy, black-and-white narratives, delving into the story of humanity with all its nuances, messiness, and lessons for today.

Saint Mary’s History Department offers the personalized attention of a tight-knit liberal arts college alongside a rigorous research university experience. Our outstanding faculty will guide you through 2.5 million years of human history, from the Paleolithic Era to the present day, equipping you to navigate primary texts and master modern digital research methods. You will develop your skills of analysis, critical thinking, and communication, highly prized strengths for any field.

Jan 403, Decadence in Venice, taught by Professor Gabriel Pihas and Brother Charles


students doing their study

History Department Scholarships

In addition to need- and merit-based scholarships, incoming History students are eligible for the History Department Scholarship, totaling $13,000 per year.



History Student Research

All History majors demonstrate their skills as historians by producing their own pieces of original research. Typically completed in the junior or senior year, the thesis is at least thirty pages of text.

people standing and listening to a student talk about their thesis

Students who wish to explore a topic, theme, or subject that the History Department does not offer as part of the curriculum have the option of creating a one-on-one tutorial with a professor and developing an independent study. With faculty approval, the student will engage in one semester of in-depth investigation and writing.

The criteria for the Independent Study option in History include:

  1. Overall GPA of 3.0
  2. Junior or Senior status
  3. Satisfactory completion of HIST 10
  4. Evidence the student has done previous course work on the region of intended study
  5. The subject matter is not regularly offered in the department
  6. The student submits a proposal that includes the following:
    • Information about previous work in the region of intended study (including courses taken, books read, and grades received)
    • The topic to be studied, including periodization
    • A reading list for the semester, prepared in consultation with the intended faculty advisor, for the equivalent of 27 hours
    • What writing assignments will consist of, including the number of pages
    • Timeline for completion
    • Name and approval by the faculty advisor
  7. The proposal must be submitted and approved before the end of the semester prior to semester the independent study will be undertaken. For the Fall semester, the deadline is May 1. For the Spring semester,  the deadline is October 31.
  8. The department chair must approve the proposal

Please get in touch with the Department Chair for questions and information.

Advanced history majors have the opportunity to work with faculty as paid research assistants.  Individual students and professors define a project to work on, including researching newspapers, bibliographies, or archives, depending on faculty interests and needs.  Students typically work as research assistants during the summer, but semester-long projects are a possibility.  

Please get in touch with the individual professor you want to work with for more information.


School Information

E. Elena Songster - Department Chair

Justine Wong - Administrative Assistant