Senior Thesis

Well-prepared and inspired seniors may choose, with departmental approval, to write a senior thesis in their fourth year. Students aspiring to graduate with "Honors in History" must complete a yearlong senior thesis. Initial proposals for theses are due in the spring of a major's junior year. Interested students should consult a faculty member by the winter/spring of their junior year to discuss possible projects, the submission of the initial proposal, and appropriate advisors. A proposal for the thesis is due in the spring of the major's junior year. During his/her senior year, the thesis student will work closely with both an advisor and second reader from the history faculty on this major original research project.

History Honors Program

The Department of History offers the opportunity for fourth-year students to be nominated for the History Honors Program. The Department Honors Program will enrich and inform a student's course of study at Holy Cross, particularly the quality and direction of a student's major in history. The Program involves significant commitment and work, offers the intellectual rewards of independent research and original writing, and the recognition of outstanding achievement.

In order to be considered for the award of 'Honors in History" upon graduation, students must initially meet the following criteria:

  1. Threshold GPA: Ordinarily, students must meet or exceed a threshold grade point standard of 3.5 overall and 3.6 in history.
  2. Two advanced courses (at least 1 seminar): During the junior and senior years, students must successfully complete two advanced courses (300-level or above), one of which must be a 400-level seminar.  The Colloquium (HIST 422 & HIST 423) does not fulfill this requirement.
  3. Participation in the Advanced Research and Writing Colloquium: During the senior year, students admitted to the Program, must participate in the bi-weekly (overload credit) Research Colloquium (HIST 422 & HIST 423).
  4. Senior Thesis and public oral presentation: Students must complete and publicly present a year-long senior thesis. The student is expected to work closely with two history faculty advisors on a major original research thesis. This thesis must be directed and evaluated by one consenting professor in the History Department. It must also be read by another consenting professor in the History Department. Interested students should explore potential thesis topics with advisors or possible directors and readers during their junior year. A proposal for the thesis is due in the spring of the major's junior year.
  5. Nomination and submission by the Thesis Director for Honors and Evaluation by the Committee. The Thesis Director may elect to submit the senior thesis of any candidate who meets all of the above criteria to the History Honors Steering Committee for evaluation. The Committee will then award "Honors in History" to those candidates it deems worthy. Please note that directors are under no obligation to submit theses, and the Committee is under no obligation to confer awards.

Phi Alpha Theta National Honor Society

Phi Alpha Theta is the national honor society in history. It is open to any undergraduate student who has achieved excellence in the study of history. Organized on March 17, 1921 at the University of Arkansas, the society now has active chapters in all 50 states, and the total number of initiates since its inception tops 200,000. Holy Cross' chapter, Kappa Omega, was founded on March 31, 1966. Emeritus Professors John B. Anderson, James T. Flynn, and James F. Powers were three of its charter members.

For invitation to Holy Cross' chapter, candidates must have completed six Holy Cross history courses and have a cumulative GPA of 3.20 and a departmental GPA of 3.50. Starting with the Class of 2028, students must have completed six Holy Cross history courses and have a cumulative GPA of 3.40 and a departmental GPA of 3.65.  A formal ceremony of initiation is held in the winter of the second semester and is attended by initiates, Phi Alpha Theta members, faculty, and parents.

Phi Alpha Theta is a professional society whose purpose is the promotion of the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication, and the exchange of learning and ideas among students and faculty of history. The society publishes The Historian a refereed historical quarterly offering both scholarly articles and book reviews. The organization also hosts annual national and regional conferences for undergraduates to present their scholarly work and grants a variety of awards for student writing and graduate study.

Edward F. Wall Prize

The Edward F. Wall Prize is named in honor of a former chair of the Department of History and class dean. Each spring, the history department invites history majors who are nominated by one or more faculty members in the department, to submit a research essay in any field of history.

The prize is awarded annually to a student whose essay is judged to be exemplary by a committee consisting of faculty members in the department. The prize carries a monetary award and a medal.

Study Abroad

The Department of History strongly endorses study abroad as a valuable component of a history major at Holy Cross.

We offer the following guidelines in order to assist students selecting courses in Study Abroad programs.

  • No more than four history courses taken outside the department can be applied to the history major. A student who is abroad for a full year may request credit for a maximum of four courses to the history major. A student who is abroad for only one semester may request credit for a maximum of two courses. There is no automatic transfer of credits to the major; courses taken abroad must be approved by the student’s academic advisor and by the history department chair.
  • Students are encouraged to take courses on the history of the nation or area in which they are studying, as for example, the History of Tuscany at the University of Florence, or the British Empire at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, or comparative and thematic history, such as Economic History at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Thus, for example, a United States history course taken abroad will normally not be credited toward the minimum of 10 courses for the major.
  • In order to receive the approval of their academic advisor and the history department chair, a student must submit the syllabus or course outline for the course for which the student is seeking approval; in addition to a description of the aims of the course and/or main topics covered, the syllabus must include a list of assigned readings and an indication of examinations and writing assignments. Courses which are taught outside of the history department at the institution at which the student is studying, or courses taught by an instructor who does not have a degree in history, will normally not be credited for the history major.
  • Courses taken in Study Abroad programs can only be used to fulfill distribution areas within the major with the approval of the history department chair.
  • All waivers to these guidelines are at the discretion of the history department chair.

Teacher Education Program

The Teacher Education Program (TEP) at Holy Cross prepares students for licensure in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Students majoring in biology, chemistry, classics, English, French, history, mathematics, physics, Spanish and visual arts are eligible to apply to the program. In addition to taking courses in the major, students enroll in education courses specifically designed to promote excellence in teaching.

The Holy Cross TEP places a special emphasis on issues surrounding urban education.

Visit the Teacher Education Program site for more information.