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Undergraduate | In-Person

History & Public Policy, BA/BS

More than ever before, our world needs young leaders dedicated to discerning the public good.

Why Major in History & Public Policy? 

The degree program in History & Public Policy prepares students for lives and careers committed to learning how to build structures of power that best serve all people groups. Our students seek to understand how public policy emerged in different contexts, and how it came to be what it is today.

Studying public policy from a wide array of global, historical perspectives, students will acquire qualitative skills with some exposure to quantitative reasoning. As a history degree, this program combines a liberal arts focus with exposure to professional programs specifically dedicated to public work.

What You'll Learn? 

  • Conduct historical research on structures of power and the recipients of public resources
  • Examine the complex relationships between diverse populations enmeshed in public institutions
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Apply data to understanding the stories that have shaped history and people groups
  • Get practical experience through public policy internships
Student smiling while having group discussion in classroom

Career Possibilities

  • Policy Analyst
  • Lawyer
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Political Scientist
  • Urban Planner
  • Research Analyst
  • Lobbyist
  • Civil Service Administrator
  • Market Researcher

Simeon Betapudi

Simeon Betapudi '26

"The History & Public Policy major has reshaped my understanding of history into an even more expansive discipline. By encouraging me to place policy in its proper historical context, Dr. Jackson broadened my perspective on the creation of policy by the government and the people. As a History & Public Policy and Data Science double major, I am especially interested in using this information to make decisions in the present."

Program Details


BELL Core Requirements: 53 Hours (minimum)

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

See All Program Requirements

Courses You'll Take

DSC 1010 Introduction to Data Science: 3 Hours

An interest and/or curiosity for computing, data exploration, and statistics is recommended. Successful students will have solid math skills taught in high-school algebra and pre-calculus courses. This course will introduce students to this field and equip them with some of its basic tools as well as its general mindset. The focus in the treatment of these topics will be on breadth, rather than depth, with an emphasis on problem-based learning. Real data sets from a variety of disciplines will be used. Students who complete this course will learn the steps involved in data collection, exploratory data analysis, modeling, data visualization, and effective communication.

ECO 2210 Principles of Macroeconomics: 3 Hours

An introductory course in macroeconomic theory. Primary emphasis is placed upon the study of economic aggregates. Topics to be studied include: the basic operation of a market economy; national income accounting, the determination of employment, output, and the price level; the banking system, fiscal, monetary, and supply-side economic policies.

HIS 2010 The American Experience to Reconstruction: 3 Hours

This course is a survey of the political, social, economic, and gender history of the North American region that became the United States from pre-European contact through the era of Reconstruction. Themes include Native American cultures and societies, European settlement, colonial British North America, the War for American Independence, nation-building, industrialization, slavery, western expansion, and the broader Civil War and Reconstruction.


HIS 2020 The American Experience Since Reconstruction: 3 Hours

This course is a survey of the political, social, and economic history of the United States since the Reconstruction Era. Themes include industrialization and its impacts, the changing role of the federal government, the rise of the United States as a world power, the complexities of American nationalism amidst persistent regional identities, the applications and implications of American’s racial and ethnic attitudes, and diverse cultural responses to the changes of the modern era.

Major Requirements: 33 Hours | Minor requirements: 18 Hours

HIS 2050 is prerequisite for all courses number 3000 and above for the History and Public Policy Major

History and Public Policy Core: 9 Hours

HIS 2050 The Craft of History: 3 Hours

An introductory course for history majors and minors which focuses on the nature of the discipline, historiography, and problems and controversies in history.

HIS 3050 Writing History: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: HIS 2050

This intermediate course requirement for history majors emphasizes research, writing, and historical methodology, and culminates in a major research project.

HIS 4015 History Capstone: 3 Hours. | Prerequisites: HIS 2050 and HIS 3050

This course revisits and expands upon both historical thinking and writing for research and teaching purposes. As such, the course includes conceptual and practical elements with an emphasis on career preparation. Students will also reflect on their college experience more broadly.

Electives from American History Courses: 9 Hours

Select 3 of the following electives:

HIS 3110 Civil War and Reconstruction: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

An examination of the American Civil War as a problem in historical causation and the social, political, and economic impacts of the war during the period of Reconstruction.

HIS 3340 American in Depression and War: 3 Hours

This course is a cultural and intellectual history of the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. Americans’ ideas about success and failure, the proper role of government in a market economy, the relationship between politics and art, the place of morality in war, and the role of American democracy in the world during these years figure centrally. Major events and themes include, among others, the worldwide Depression, New Deal politics, the Popular Front and popular culture, the war from the home-front, and the campaigns, strategies, and tactics employed in the European and Pacific theaters.

HIS 3410 History of American Political Thought: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: HIS 2010 or HIS 2020

This course is a survey of American political thought from the founding period to the Cold War. Some central questions will persist. Two themes, 1) the problem of human nature and 2) the relationship between ideas about the individual to ideas of community, develop throughout the course. In examining these themes, students will consider questions that have long troubled politicians, theorists, and philosophers who have thought carefully about the peculiarities of American democracy/republicanism.

HIS 4120 Revolution, Nation Making and the “Age of Jackson”: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

An examination of the constitutional conflict in the British Empire, independence and war, growth of political parties, and the emergence of republican systems of government and society. The course will follow these developments through the “Age of Jackson” in the 1840s, and via themes that might include economic development, expansion of slavery, interaction of slavery, interactions with Native Americans, religion and reform, and the changing roles of women, all framed by the ongoing struggle between nationalism and sectionalism.

HIS 4320 Seminar in The American West: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

A multicultural exploration of the frontier experience, and the trans-Mississippi American West, from exploration and settlement to the present. Gender, class and race, economic and industrial development, and the environment are emphasized. Themes might include exploration and conquest, westward migration and settlement, Manifest Destiny, wars with Mexico and Native Americans, the “Wild West”, transportation and technology, suffrage and reform, extractive industries and the environment, and the interpretations of “the West” as a cultural icon.

Electives from Non-U.S. History Courses: 6 Hours

Select two of the following electives:

HIS 3500 History of the Russian Empire: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

A history of the Russian Empire from the era of Peter the Great (1682-1715) to the early twentieth century. After a brief survey of medieval and early modern Russian history, the course will focus on the impact of Peter’s reforms, the social history of Russia in this period, Russian imperial expansion, efforts to reform and modernize the country, the rise of civil society, and the decline of the Romanov dynasty in the face of revolutionary movements and social crisis.

HIS 3510 Russia and the Soviet Union Since 1900: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

A history of Russia and the Soviet Union from the early twentieth century to the present. Important topics include the rise of revolutionary movements in the Russian Empire, the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the evolution of Soviet communism, Stalinist repression and terror, Gorbachev’s reforms, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of new post-Soviet states.

HIS 3540 Modern China: 3 Hours

The course begins with the creation of the Qing dynasty in 1644 and continues to the present day focusing on the period 1790 to present. These years encompass China’s decline in the nineteenth century, the destruction of the Qing Dynasty, the creation of the Chinese Republic, the rise of the Chinese Communist Party, war with Japan, and civil war. Finally, the course will look at Mao Zedong and his policies, as well as China’s resurgence as a regional and world power in the 1980s and 1990s.

HIS 3560 France Since 1870: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

This course is a survey of the development of France between 1870 and 1991 including its three republics, World Wars I and II, decolonization, and its role during the Cold War. It will also cover social and cultural changes, such as the emancipation of women and the effects of the modernization of agriculture and industry on the French people.

HIS 3720 Islamic Social and Religious Thought: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

This course serves as a basic introduction to Islamic intellectual life and thought. It begins with an introduction to the Qur’an, the hadith, and traditional forms of Islamic jurisprudence. Most of the course will focus on political, social, and religious thought during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as Muslim thinkers in the Middle East confronted the challenges of modernization, secularization, and rapid social, political, and social change. Topics include views of Western imperialism and cultural influence, the development of modern nationalism, Islamic reform and revival movements, Islamic perspectives on democracy, and the problem of terrorism.

HIS 3800 Latin America : The National Period: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

An investigation of broad themes, individual national histories, and U.S. policies in Latin America from the independence movements of the 1820s to the present. Themes might include the wars for independence, national building, struggles over political and cultural values, ethnicity and gender, the impact of the Cold War, global interactions, and recent political, ideological, and environmental developments in the region.

HIS 3850 Africa Since 1890: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

This course surveys the history of sub-Saharan Africa from the beginning of the colonial era to the present day. The course will offer historical background to the period to indicate the cultural, economic, social, and political impacts of colonization, emergence of nationalism, the move towards independence in the 20th century, and recent political, economic, and cultural developments.

HIS 4500 Europe in the Age of the World Wars: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

Although Europe dominated global affairs at the beginning of the 20th century, the pace of change within European societies generated economic rivalries and social and political tensions which erupted into world-wide war in 1914. This course, through an examination of these tensions - World War I, its aftermath and World War II and its aftermath - will explore the factors, especially the consequences of the world wars, which moved Europe from the center to the periphery of international affairs.

HIS 4710 Ecology, Technology, and Geography in World History: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

This course explores some of the broadest patterns in world history, specifically the impact of geographical constraints and opportunities, ecological and environmental considerations, technological developments, and cross-cultural interactions on the development of human societies. Cross Listed with HIS 6710.

HIS 4820 History of Modern Japan: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

An examination of the history of Japan as it undergoes social, cultural, economic, and political change from the end of its relative isolation to becoming a world power. The course covers the impact of modernization and westernization on Japanese society and culture, the quest for a East Asian empire that led to a devastating war in the Pacific, and national regeneration into an international economic power. This course is cross-listed with HIS 6820.

Interdisciplinary Electives: 9 Hours

Select three of the following electives (one course per subject prefix):

BPH 2010 Social Determinants of Health: 3 Hours

This course explores conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life and their relationship to health. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems. Theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of social determinants will be discussed from a social ecological perspective.

COM 2040 Public Advocacy: 3 Hours

The study of advocacy for the public good focuses in large measure on amplifying the voices of the disenfranchised. The “cases” section of this course examines specific message strategies used to develop support and understanding of large audiences for actions, policies, and programs which support disenfranchised persons.

PRL 3380 Social Media Measurement & Analytics: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: PRL 2710

This course emphasizes the identification of key performance indicators for strategic communications, determination of relevant and trackable metrics, measurement of communication outcomes, and analysis of data for strategic decision-making. Students will learn how to gather, assess and analyze data than can be used for trend-spotting, policy recommendations, and forward-looking communication strategy.

PSC 3340 National Security Policy and Process: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: PSC 2300 or instructor’s permission

Examines the evolution of security policy and the primary institutions involved in decision-making related to issues of foreign policy and defense.

PSC 3710 International Political Economy: 3 Hours

This course examines how two different forms of organizing human activity, states and markets, interact on a global scale. Thus it focuses not only on international trade and the forces that drive it, but also the policies and institutions that attempt to control it; not only on the policies that attempt to control international trade, but on the forces that drive those policies. Prior instruction in economics is not necessary but would be helpful.

SWK 3810 Social Welfare Policy Issues and Services I: 3 Hours | Prerequisites: SWK 2000

An examination of the institution of social welfare with emphasis on the history and systemic nature of service programs. Students examine economic and political processes that impact on the social welfare system especially as they relate to oppressed populations. Students will also be introduced to social policy analysis. Fall.

Belmont History Society

This organization is open to all Belmont students and plans engaging activities and opportunities for members to highlight historical topics together.


Located in the state capitol, Belmont places students in public policy and political internships each semester, allowing students to gain experience and learn in a hands-on setting.

Study Abroad

Belmont has a robust study abroad program designed to provide students with opportunities to examine historical shifts and government structures across various cultures and nations.

Research Opportunities

Students from our History Department have the opportunity to conduct research in multiple institutions, diving deeper into specific historical areas of study.

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College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Danielle Walden
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