Decades’ worth of data gathered by the Rhodes College Alumni Office shows without a doubt that the answer to the old question: “What are you going to do with your history degree” really is “Anything you want!” To hear what some of our alumni have done, visit the Alumni Reflections section on the History website.
The history major (11 courses) is extremely flexible offering a wide range of topics from around the globe and fulfilling many of the college’s Foundation requirements, leaving time for minors, double majors, interdisciplinary majors, or graduate school prerequisites. Beyond two required courses, (“The Historian’s Craft” and “Senior Seminar”), students can choose courses in African, Asian, United States, European, Latin American, and Middle Eastern history over several centuries. Coursework taken abroad or at an accredited 4 year institution may be transferred into the major if pre-approved by the department chair.
Students interested in engaging in in-depth archival and bibliographical research can apply to undertake an Honors Project during the senior year. Students interested in pursuing Honors Research in History are encouraged to enroll in Directed Inquiry during the second semester of the junior year. After the applicant’s research proposal is approved by the Department, the student works with a faculty committee to conduct primary research and craft a 50-60 page research paper. The student presents his/her work at a campus-wide colloquium in the spring and is listed as having completed Honors Research in the College’s commencement program. Honors research carries a maximum of 8 credits and is recommended for those interested in pursuing graduate study in history.
Research is an act of discovery, and researching the past opens the minds of students to worlds previously unknown. By analyzing primary sources located in traditional or digital archives, history students at Rhodes conduct high-level research with nationally-recognized scholars. Rhodes history faculty have written or edited thirty-one books and published articles in some of the top academic journals in their fields. Those same faculty members train students in the historian’s craft by supervising research projects in 400-level seminars, directed inquiries, the Rhodes Institute for Regional Studies, and the College’s honors research program.
Fellowships provide hands-on opportunities for students to develop their skills as researchers, writers, and editors under the close supervision of a faculty or community mentor. These experiences do not carry academic credit.
Students can double major in history and educational studies if they wish to pursue teaching licensure in the state of Tennessee. Students in the program take a wide range of courses which will help them prepare for their teaching practicum and the PRAXIS examination required for licensure.
“My history degree from Rhodes has helped me grapple with tough questions in my professional life as the manager of the Memphis Cotton Museum. At Rhodes, I developed analytical skills that I use every day in my work. To be able to identify cause and effect and historical trends have been invaluable skills. I always know to ask, "Who's telling this story, and why?” - Matt Hicks ’15, Public History, Cotton Museum of Memphis
Phi Alpha Theta is a national honor society "whose mission is to promote the study of history through the encouragement of research, good teaching, publication and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians. We seek to bring students, teachers, and writers of history together for intellectual and social exchanges, which promote and assist historical research and publication by our members in a variety of ways." (from Phi Alpha Theta’s Mission Statement)
The John Henry Davis Award is named for the late Professor of History who taught at the College from 1926 through 1969. He was a founder of the College’s tutorial system and he created the interdisciplinary course, “Man in the Light of History and Religion,” later renamed “The Search for Values.” He was the first president of the British Studies at Oxford program. This award is given annually to the outstanding senior history major.