History FAQ for Undergraduates

Questions about an Undergraduate History major

Questions from Transfer Students

Questions about "Intensive Courses"

Questions about Secondary Education Certification


Questions regarding a History major

What can I do with a History major?

History majors graduate with a wide ranging skill set based on critical thinking and writing.  A degree in History opens up a broad range of options to graduates, including the law, government work, teaching, and further study.  For a more exhaustive discussion of the opportunities that a History degree offers, click here

If I am a History major, do I still need a minor to graduate?

Yes, with the exception of a few special field concentrations, everyone including history majors  must have minor, in order to graduate.

I want to make History my major and my minor.  Can I do that?

No.  Your minor must be in a different field.

How many hours do I need to graduate?

You need a minimum of 120 hours.  This must include your Undergraduate Core, a major, a minor, and whatever number of electives necessary to make 120 hours.   If you are seeking certification in Secondary Education, you will have more hours than 120, and it will take you more than four years to graduate.  For information, contact Dr. Burgess (R-S 109) and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, in Warf-Pickel Hall.

I had to take some Learning Support courses.  Do they count toward my graduation?

A:  No, they do not. No Learning Support course counts toward your 120 hours minimum necessary for graduation.

What is the difference between a BS and a BA?  And is one better than the other?

Neither is better than the other.  The difference is a matter of emphasis.  Please consult you catalogue for the exact course requirements, but in general, for the BS you must have two Sciences, in the same science, Math 1530, PHIL 2640 Science in the Modern World, and PHIL 2030 Practical Reasoning OR SPCH 2320 Argumentation and Debate.  For the BA, you need the equivalent of two years of college-level foreign language.

I took several years of a foreign language in High School. Do I have to start out in First Year Spanish (German, French, etc.)?

Not necessarily.  You need to contact the Department of Foreign Languages and see how they will handle your high school experience.

If I am doing a BA, not a BS, then how much Science and Math do I need to take?

You need to satisfy the General Education Core requirements.  They can be found in your catalogue, but in they require a minimum of eight hours in Science and 3-4 hours of Math.  Options are listed in the catalogue. (See Quick Links, on the Main ETSU webpage)

But I want to do Secondary Education. Which is required for certification?

Either degree will be adequate for Secondary Education Certification.  Science and math requirements depend upon which degree you are seeking.  Please consult with the Department of History's advisor for Secondary Education Certification, Dr. Doug Burgess or the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

How do I know which catalogue I am under?  Is it this year's?  The year I became a History major?  The year I entered ETSU?

In most circumstances, your catalogue is the one the one you entered under, unless you specifically wish to declare a later (not earlier) catalogue. If you are unsure, check with the Graduation Office or with Dr. Burgess (R-S 109).

Do I have to see my advisor every semester before I register?

All student must see their advisor, if they have less than 60 hours.  However, the History department wishes to see ALL advisees at least once each semester, particularly prior to registration.  If you have less than 60 hours, you will be unable to register until your advisor clears your advisement hold.  If you are seeking certification in Secondary Education, you need to see your advisor in Curriculum and Instruction AND your advisor in the History Department.

I don't have an advisor in the History department.  How do I get one?

Please come see Dr. Burgess, in  109 Rogers-Stout  (439-6691).

I want to change my major to History.  How do I do that?

Please see Dr. Burgess.  He will be glad to advise you and to fill out the necessary paperwork.

How many hours are necessary for a History major?

Thirty-three (33) hours is the minimum requirement.  This includes three required courses and a series of upper-level electives.  Please consult Requirements for a History Major or Minor for further details.

I want to go to Medical/Law School.  Will a History major be looked favorably upon by admissions committees?

Yes, in point of fact, many individuals admitted  to Law and Medical programs were History majors at the undergraduate level.  Both professions value a broad-based, liberal education.  History majors score competitively on the LSAT and MCAT with other majors.

I want to work for a museum (or library, or archive, or historical preservation project, or state/national park).  Is a History major required for this?

No, not absolutely.  BUT most of these professions require a graduate degree of some kind, and History is the natural undergraduate degree to acquire before proceeding to a post-graduate program in these specialized fields.

Must I take HIST 3910, Introduction to Historical Methods before I take an upper-level classes?

Yes, that it the intent of the curriculum for the department.  Each level (1000 through 4000) requires longer and more complex research and writing assignments.  You need, therefore, to take HIST 3410 after you have completed HIST 1010 and HIST 1020, and while you are completing HIST 2010 and 2020.  According to current departmental policy, issuance of cuts will go first to sophomores, then juniors, then seniors.  HIST 3410 is meant to be the FIRST upper-level class you take, NOT the last.

I don't see either HIST 2010 or HIST 2020 listed as part of the History major.  Do they count?

No, they do not.  They are 2000-level courses and part of the Undergraduate Core.  They are not designated by specific number in the department curriculum, nor are they either 3000 or 4000-level courses.

But HIST 1010 or 1020  can count as part of the Core, right?

This is correct.  Either will count toward the satisfying of Core requirements, but it will not reduce the total number of hours you need to graduate.

I am thinking about an African/African-American Studies (Appalachian Studies) minor.  Can I count classes in that minor, like African-American History since 1877, toward a History major as well?

No, you may not count a class toward both an major and a minor.

Can I take a class twice and then count it once toward the major and once toward a minor?

No.  If you repeat a class, the second grade automatically replaces the first grade and the first class is no longer figured toward your Earned Hours for graduation or your GPA.

I'm a transfer student.  I transferred in some classes, both in History and in other things that sound awfully similar to required ETSU courses.  How do I find out if that is the case?

The Admissions and Registrar's Offices have fairly clear and complete regarding what transfers and what does not, and if things transfer, how they transfer.  However, if you do have a class which you feel has been transferred incorrectly, go to see the advisor in the appropriate department.  Bring with you as much information as you have, including catalogue descriptions of the course(s), syllabi, notes, test, and so froth.  It the appropriate considers that there is a large degree of correspondence, he or she may write a letter to the Registrar's office, requesting that you be given the appropriate credit.  At the point, the matter is in the discretion of the Registrar, who may concur or decline.  Consult University policy in this, as in all such matters.

I need to drop a class.  How do I do that?

Provided it is not past the Drop date (the last day to drop a class), you should pick up the appropriate form from the Registrar's Office, complete it and turn it in.  If you are not sure about the last day to drop, consult your Schedule of Classes or   Important Dates.  Consult University policy in this, as in all such matters.

Okay, it's past the last day to drop, but I still need to get out of this class.  Do I have any options?

You can withdraw from the class(es) or you can withdraw completely from the University.  You need to go to the Registrar's Office for the appropriate forms.  You may receive either a "W" (Withdraw) or a "WF" (Withdraw Failing).  Consult University policy in this, as in all such matters.

What about Late Drops or Late Adds?  Are there no such things?

Yes, there are.  Each case is considered individually.  You need to see the appropriate professor and upon his or her recommendation that you be allowed to add or drop, you will need signatures on the appropriate forms, usually including the Departmental Chair, the Dean of Arts and Sciences (or your college) and the Registrar.  Simply filling out a form does not guarantee either a Late Add or a Late Drop.  Individuals may either concur or decline to concur with your request, depending on the relevant circumstances.  Consult University policy in this, as in all such matters.

I have financial aid for this semester.  I am going to drop some classes.  How will this affect my financial aid?

First, it would be best for you to consult the Financial Aid Office to make a determination on your particular circumstances.   Having said that, ETSU's students are paid financial aid awards based on ALL attempted hours from the first day of classes. ALL attempted hours are counted for financial aid satisfactory academic progress purposes, even if the attempted hours do not show on the transcript.

Please note that for continued financial aid eligibility,  there are both annual requirements for completion of hours AND a maximum number of total attempted hours allowed per student. The ETSU Satisfactory Academic Progress Standards may be found here .

Does History have an attendance policy for its classes?

No.  The Department has not department-wide policy regarding attendance.  Some professors do take roll and have an incentive system for regular attendance.  Check your syllabus and make an effort to comply, in good faith, with the expectations.  If you are a History major, if you consider the matter responsibly, it makes no sense for you to consistently miss the class which are in the very field in which you are majoring...and although you may pass on technicalities....you may not receive positive recommendations for employment, graduate study, or professional schools.

I need/want a particular class.  It isn't offered in the upcoming semester.  Aren't you teaching it anymore?

We cannot and do not teach every course listed in the catalogue every semester.  We go through a rotation, which depending on the number of courses any given professor teaches, takes from one to two years.  There are a few courses which are not currently being taught, since the professor who taught them has retired and not been replaced by someone in the same field.  Under Dr. Day's chairmanship, the Department has tried to make general plan for two to three years in the future.  If you have questions regarding this, contact  Dr. Burgess (R-S 109), who will try to acquaint you with the rotation for each professor.

I'm doing a Secondary Ed. program.  What about the requirements for that program?  What happens if they are not taught?

First, you need to wait for the rotation process to take place.  Then, on the off chance that a course you need is actually not taught, we can make some (limited) substitutions.  You need to see Dr. Burgess (R-S 107), to complete the appropriate substitution form.

In practice, the Department of Curriculum and Instruction will not accept the substitution until you pass the course in question.

Are there any scholarships available through the History Department to undergraduate students?

There are several scholarship opportunities available to undergraduate students in the History Department.  A complete list may be found here .

I am a graduating Senior and I just got a letter saying that I have to take something called a Core Exit Exam?  What is this and do I really have to take it.

Yes, you really have to take it.  It is an exam which is given to all graduating senior and is a determining factor in the funding of ETSU by the State of Tennessee

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Questions from Transfer Students

How do I know which courses will transfer?

In practice, if you went to an accredited school, most classes will transfer.  This does not mean, however, that all classes will have ETSU equivalents.  Some class which you took at your former school may not be taught at ETSU. These classes, if they are "close" to ETSU classes may be considered as "equivalent".  If they are not, they will still usually count as raw hours toward your 128 hours needed for graduation.  If you believe that a course which you took at your former school is equivalent to an ETSU course, please see your advisor.

But I took courses at  "State College" which I want to use to cover ETSU Core course, or courses in my major!  It doesn't seem fair that ETSU won't take them as equivalent courses!

We understand your feelings, but it is not always possible to count absolutely all of your courses as equivalents.  Sometimes this is the cost of transferring from one institution to another.  However, we will be make every attempt to work with you in a positive fashion.  Please, come to see  Dr. Burgess, who will try to help you resolve these matters.

I took a class on the Civil War (Viet Nam, Latin America, etc.) at my former school.  I don't seem to be getting credit for it at ETSU.  It is listed as a 2xxx elective.  Why is this?  And what can I do about it?

In practice, not much.  ETSU is disinclined to give you senior-level credit for a sophomore-level course.  If you attended a two-year institution, your World/Western civilization courses should be considered equivalent to our World Civilization courses.  2xxx-level survey courses in American History should be considered equivalent to our U.S. survey courses.  Any other courses are unlikely to be considered the equivalent of upper-level (3000-4000) courses.  They will count as hours toward your total necessary for graduation, but will not count toward you major.

What about these Intensive Courses?  Do I have to take them all?

Consult your catalogue, but in general, unless you transfer in more than 60 hours, you must meet the requirements for all of the Intensive Courses.  You need to check the pages that contain information about the Undergraduate Core for any special conditions which might exempt you from the Intensive courses.

I went to a religiously affiliated/supported school.  I notice that some of my required religion courses seem to have been listed as Philosophy or Humanities courses?  Why is this?

ETSU is a public institution, publicly supported, making every attempt to adhere to the First Amendment of the Constitution, both in the spirit and letter of the law.  We do not have a Department of Religion, or Christian religion, or whatever kind of religion.  Actual classes on religion are split between the departments of History, Philosophy, and Sociology, each of which examines religion from the perspective of each discipline.  Your classes transfer accordingly.  They may be applied to a Religious Studies Minor, which is housed in the Department of Philosophy.

I went to a religiously affiliated/supported school.  My school is not accredited by an association like SACS (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools); it is accredited by another group (ex. TRACS Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools).  Will my credits in history transfer?

The Department of History does not accept transfer credit from any accrediting association which is not recognized by the Southern Associatioin of Colleges and Schools.)

I have a couple of years worth of transfer courses?  How long will it take me to graduate? Can I still graduate in four years of total college work?

This varies from student to student.  Depending on what you took at your previous institution(s), you may be "on-track"...or you may not.  This if something which you need to consult your advisor about.  He/she will take a look at your record and then compare it against the degree requirements for ETSU.  You should be aware that some courses may not have ETSU equivalents, or that your previous institution may have had a somewhat different idea about what constituted an undergraduate core.  If that is the case, you will still have to meet ETSU Undergraduate Core Requirements.  However, if you came from an accredited school, in general practice, other courses will count toward your hours necessary for graduation.  There may be exceptions, however.  So you need to consult your advisor.

Does the University have any resources to help transfer students make a successful shift to ETSU?

Yes.  The University's Transfer Student Guide is a good place to start the transfer process, and has multiple resources to help smooth the path for you.

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Questions about the Intensive Courses

What are these "Intensive Courses", and do I have to take them?

Yes, you do have to take them.  They are required for your degree.   They are intended to reinforce certain academic skills: writing, oral communications, and some basic acquaintance with technology.  All students are required to complete a certain number of these courses, both in and out of their major, prior to completion of their degree.  You are no exception.  Please consult your particular catalogue for the exact number of courses you must complete to be eligible for graduation.

But I am a transfer student!!! Do I have to take them?

Yes, you are no exception.  However, depending on the number of hours you transfer on entering ETSU, you may have to take a smaller number than an entering freshman.  If you have 50 or more hours from your previous institution, in practice the number is cut roughly in half.  Please consult your particular catalogue for the exact number of courses you must complete to be eligible for graduation.

How many of these courses to I have to take?

In practice, if you are an entering freshman, you must take four (4) Writing Intensive courses, two (2) Oral Intensive courses, and (2) Technology courses.

How many of these do I have to take in my major?

In practice, a minimum of half in each category must be taken in your major.  You may take more than half, but please consult with your departmental advisor prior to registering.

I need some of these courses, but I don't know which course are designated as Intensive Courses.  How can I find out?

In each semester's schedule book, the any intensive courses offered are marked according to the type.  Or you can consult the Registrar's webpage for a list of the courses which have been designated as Intensive Courses.

I took HIST 3xxx/4xxx about three years ago.  It doesn't seem to be an Intensive Course then, but it is now.  Does that count for me as an Intensive course?

No, it does not.  The Registrar's webpage indicates which term any particular course was designated as an Intensive Course.  If you took it prior to that designation, it does not count, and you will have to take a course which is currently designated as such.

Why does the History department have only a few courses designated "Oral Intensive"?

Each discipline within the College of Arts and Sciences has different methods and types of information which it is trying to convey to the student (ex.: History and Physics).  Consequently, some disciplines lend themselves more of one kind of Intensive courses than the other.  In addition, enrollment in may courses offered by the History department is very high.  Large numbers make it difficult to meet the minimum requirements for a course to be designated "Oral Intensive."

I notice that the requirements for various Writing Intensive courses, for instance, differ from class to class.  Why is this?  I would have expected that requirements would be standardized.

The simple answer is that college is different from high school.  The longer answer is that the whole idea behind the Intensive courses is to provide you, as a student, with an integrated experience, based on a variety of types of work within each intensive "category".  One class may emphasize a writing experience which is brief and concise, and may involve extemporaneous writing.  Another may emphasize the idea of more lengthy and considered work, such as formal research papers or lengthy critiques of other work.

But I don't understand WHY I have to spend so much time writing and being graded on my writing?  I thought that History was learning dates and names?

This is a common mistake that people make, and given the experience that many people have in public school, this is not an unexpected conclusion.  Although there are may excellent history teachers in the public schools, and we are indeed fortunate to have some of the best in our local area, there are also many  everywhere that seem to be less than good.

From the beginning of the doing of history in antiquity, history was about communicating!  Communicating clearly and bravely. Remember that "historia" is a "critical inquiry in to causes and results".  How do you expect to do that if you cannot communicate yourself?  Part of our moral obligation, if you will allow the indulgence, is to teach you to communicate!!! Otherwise, the study of history is of no value.  Look at your teachers.  Can they communicate effectively with you?  That is a part of what we undertook to teach you when each of us made the decision years ago to this thing which we do, which we call history.  If  we do not teach you to think clearly, if we do not teach you to communicate that  which you think clearly, then we have failed, and for most of us, that means we have failed in our moral responsibilities.   If you cannot learn, or unwilling to learn, how to communicate clearly and bravely, then you have failed in the same moral obligation before you have even gotten started.  Think on these things.  You shouldn't undertake this just because you can't think of anything better to do.

If I took a course at another institution, and transfer it to ETSU, and it is considered to be an Intensive Course here, does that count toward my total.

No, it does not.  It was not an Intensive Course at East Stump Community College, or wherever you took it.  The only course which count as "Intensive Courses" are courses taught at ETSU and designates as such.

Can I get an exemption from taking an Intensive course?

ETSU is committed to seeing to it that all students who graduate have had these courses, because we believe that they will better prepare you for the rest of your life.  In consequence, neither the History Department nor the University grant exemptions from the Intensive course requirements, except under the most unusual of circumstances.  If you are seeking an exemption, please see Dr. Burgess (Rogers-Stout 109).

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Questions regarding Secondary Education Certification

My high school history teacher was important in my education.  I would like to teach history in high school.  Who do I have to see?

You need to contact   Dr. Doug Burgess (R-S 109), in the Department of History.  He will be happy to go over the requirements for graduation and certification.

You should also contact one of the Professional Advisors in the College of Education.  Their contact information may be found here .

My high school history teacher was the football coach.  Do I need to be a coach in order to teach history?

The short answer is no, you do not need to be a coach in order to teach history in high school.  However, it is the practice of some school board in East Tennessee to have the coaches teach history or to have the history teachers coach

I took several history classes.  I find that they do not match the list of courses required for certification.  Can I get substitutions for all of those course so that I don't have to take the courses the state expects?

Some limited substitutions are possible, before the fact.  This means that you must contact  Dr. Doug Burgess (R-S 107), PRIOR to taking the class, in order to see if the class you are thinking of taking is one which will substitute for any on the certification list.  Some courses will not substitute.  Please, do not wait until you are ready to graduate and have taken a full load of course before you come and ask about substitutions, you may find that some or all of the courses which you have take do not apply.

I would like to add History as a second field for certification.  How do I do this?  Is an "ADD ON" the way to go?

If you are an undergraduate and anticipate certification in two fields (history and "whatever"), then you need to meet the state certification requirements.  If you have not been made aware of what these are, you may contact  Dr. Doug Burgess (R-S 107), or the professional advisor in the College of Education.  The so-called "ADD ON" which you mention is designed for individuals who have already received certification, who have graduated with a B.A. or an M.A.T., who are currently teaching or seeking a teaching position, and who wish certification in an additional field.  It is not designed for certification for those who have not yet received a B.A.  If you are an undergraduate, seeking certification, you must meet the expectations of the State of Tennessee in each area in which you hope to obtain certification.  Please, see the advisor in the appropriate departments for that information.

I notice, when I look at the list of courses required for certification, that I don't get much choice.  I also notice that there are a lot of courses that I really don't want to take.  Is there an opportunity for more varied classword?

Both the Department of History (with it requirements for a major) and the State of Tennessee (with its requirements for certification) hold the opinion that a broad and diverse background in historical study is an imperative element in the education of secondary history teachers.  Teachers must have a broad base of knowledge, and must understand that the past is complex and complicated.  Nothing says that you cannot take additional courses in particular subjects which you personally find interesting; such things can only make you a better teacher.  However, you must meet state expectations in regard to particular courses.

Does HIST 4417 count as part of my major?

No, it is a part of your "professional core", required by certification standards.  We teach it as a courtesy, for the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

I have the "check-sheet" for certification in secondary education.  Can I go by this for graduation purposes?

No, you cannot.  It is only a list of courses required for certification.  If you only use that list to plan your courses, you will not graduate.  It does not contain may courses necessary for graduation.  Please, contact  Dr. Doug Burgess (R-S 109), for additional information.

I am getting close to graduation, I think I might want to teach high school.  Will this delay my graduation and for how long?

The core of classes needed for certification is a minimum of 44 hours, not including any history courses necessary for certification.  If you have not take any of these course, at the very minimum it will add three terms to your stay at ETSU.  If you do not wish to do this, you have two options open to you:  (1) you may graduate and then return as a Special student, and receive post-B.A. certification, or (2) you may seek an M.A.T. (Masters of Arts in Teaching). Either option will require a minimum of between 44 and 51 hours, depending on what you have taken as an undergraduate.  If you are unsure how to proceed, please contact  Dr. Doug Burgess (R-S 107), for additional information.

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