History

Experience history through a hands-on, research-intensive bachelor’s degree program at Wells College.

By learning about the past, we learn to know ourselves, and the world in which we live. Our undergraduate History program offers unique opportunities to explore the nature of human experience through hands-on research and study, in a collaborative learning environment at a small, private liberal arts college. You'll move beyond textbooks, conducting research using primary sources such as journals, letters, and articles from a variety of historical periods. You'll also benefit from close interaction with top faculty who are exceptional educators, valuable mentors, and accomplished researchers in their respective fields of history. The History program is offered as both a major and a minor.

faculty and student at Commencement
Professor demonstrating design work
Professor teaching
students learning in a classroom

A Look inside the History Bachelor's Degree Program at Wells

As a history major at Wells College, you’ll find that studying history isn’t about memorizing names and dates: it’s about good storytelling and experiential education. You’ll learn to construct scholarly arguments, analyze source material, and draw evidence-based conclusions—skills you can apply to virtually any career. You’ll have opportunities to gain real-world experience through internships in the community or across the country or study history overseas through our undergraduate study abroad program. You’ll also get to explore history through innovative education methods such as game playing and roleplaying, in which you take on a famous historical persona, research and prepare for the role outside of class, and discuss the issues of the time through that individual's viewpoints in classroom debates and even on social media.

The History BA program is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, allowing you to draw on wide ranging areas of study including economics, political science, art history, film and media studies, philosophy, and many more. Classes are small and discussion-based and offer rewarding opportunities to engage with faculty and peers in a supportive, community-like learning environment. Our scenic campus in Aurora, New York, and the surrounding area is also rich with history, offering history majors an ideal location to research and explore.

What You’ll Learn as a History Major

  • How to think historically and understand why events happened, how people experienced them, and how they shaped societies
  • How to develop an argument, defend your point of view, and support it with evidence
  • Research, writing, and verbal presentation skills
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Beyond the Classroom: Experiential Learning in the History Bachelor’s Degree Program

 One of the unique aspects of our History BA program is the emphasis on hands-on learning and the wealth of opportunities you have to take your undergraduate education outside of the classroom and gain real-world expertise.

Internship and Study Abroad Opportunities

Wells College has established relationships with local historical societies and museums throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York to provide many options to learn and talk and teach others. In recent years, history majors at Wells have held a number of internships including: 

  • Ithaca College library archives, Ithaca, New York
  • National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  • National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.
  • New York City Landmark Preservation Commission
  • Rochester Historical Society, Rochester, New York
  • Seward House, Aurora, New York
  • Wells Fargo Historical Services, San Francisco
  • Women's Hall of Fame, Seneca Falls, New York

Want to study European history in Berlin, England, or Florence? In the History bachelor’s degree program at Wells, you can gain transformative experiences and amazing memories through study abroad programs around the world. Learn more about study abroad programs at Wells.

History Clubs and Other Aurora Campus Programs

Share your love of history while building leadership skills by getting involved with one of many active groups on campus. We are a small college but offer a wide variety of co-curricular activities. Below are just a few of your options: 

  • Political Activism at Wells College
  • Campus Greens Environmental Club
  • Japanese Culture Club
  • Collegiate Counsel (student government)
  • The History Society
  • Model United Nations
  • P.O.W.E.R. (Praising Our Work, Ethnicity, and Race) 

You can also get involved with planning, organizing, and participating in exciting annual events such as the Peachtown Native American Festival and Education Week, Activism Symposium, and others supported by modern languages faculty such as Tapas Night, Hispanic Heritage Month Film Series, and more.

Related Minor Degree Programs 

Complement your major area of study with one of our diverse minor degree programs. The History bachelor’s degree at Wells is available as both a major and minor. If you’re interested in studying history, you might also want to explore our minors in: 

Career Options for History Majors

When you earn your bachelor’s degree in History from Wells College, you’ll enter the job market or graduate school prepared to succeed. Career and graduate options for history majors include law, library science, education, writing, museum work, or the diverse field known as public history.

Current Research in the History BA Program

Professor of History Michael Groth has written a new book, Slavery and Freedom in the Mid-Hudson Valley, which will be published by SUNY Press in 2017. He recently gave a presentation on the topic at Mount Gulian Historic Site, one of different lectures and performances commemorating the life of James F. Brown, a former slave who became the master gardener of the Verplanck family's Hudson River estate during the decades preceding the Civil War.

Cynthia J. Koepp, Professor of History, attended the 15th annual "Reacting to the Past" conference in New York City. She participated in two workshops: "Greenwich Village, 1913: Labor, Suffrage, and the New Woman" and "Patriots, Loyalists & Revolution in New York City, 1775-76." Professor Koepp was recently interviewed by Sweden Public Radio for a program on "the history and future of work"—one of her research areas. She also gave a public lecture at the Women's Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y., entitled "Examining a Stereotype: Women and the Witch Craze, 1560-1680."

Apply Now to Pursue Your Bachelor’s Degree in History

Take the first step toward earning your bachelor’s degree in History at Wells College. Apply now.

Request More Information

Ready to learn more about Wells College and our History Bachelor of Arts program? Request more information. 

"I just got a glimpse of the school and I loved it. All you see coming up is the lake, and you just think—oh my goodness—I did not know a place like this existed!"

Abena Poku ’16
Visual Arts: Art History Major, Community Court Chair
David Shields
10-21-2015
The Wells College Book Arts Center presents "Muster hundreds! Towards a people's history of American wood type," the 40th Susan Garretson Swartzburg '60 Memorial Lecture by printing historian David Shields....
News: Academics
10-27-2016

Wells is pleased to be included in the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges, listed among 361 of the most environmentally responsible...

09-16-2016

Last spring, Wells received a silver rating on our first Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) evaluation, created by the...

Program Faculty
Michael E. Groth
Professor of History
Cynthia J. Koepp
Get Historical

History majors examine interesting and eye-opening texts from primary source material. In addition to those selected by their professors and discussed in classes, there are frequent opportunities to engage with the history of the region by working with the Aurora Historical Society and Archives, attending events arranged by the Peachtown Native American Festival and Education Week, or taking an internship with one of the many local museums. Paper writing and detailed readings are accompanied by the joy of learning to apply historical insights to any other subject offered here at Wells College—even while performing in campus theatre productions, participating in group art exhibitions, or working with Wells' archives and art collection.

Academics

Wells College promises a relevant liberal arts and sciences education. Intellectually challenging. Reinterpreted for today. Classroom teaching combined with hands-on learning. Wells graduates enter the world prepared for successful futures.

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