History Major with Topical Emphasis - Bachelor of Science (BS)

What is a topical emphasis in cultural and social history?

Students in UW-La Crosse History Department's history major with topical emphasis in cultural and social history will study the history of cultural and social forces embodied in movements and organizations; art, literature, and film; areas of human experience including apparel, architecture, and culinary practices; and the various commercial media inundating our daily lives. Our students will learn how social and cultural phenomena have historically affected and structured our material and intellectual environment in connection with ethical concerns involving political and economic questions.

In general, the History Department's cultural and social history emphasis will help students develop and make tangible the kinds of relatively intangible skills prospective employers and professional and graduate school admissions committees will value: problem solving, analytical and creative thinking, research skills, the ability to express oneself and one's thoughts clearly and persuasively both verbally and in writing, intercultural communication skills, and the capacity to address immediate concerns with the kind of "big picture" perspective that a historically grounded education provides.

The History Department will particularly encourage students in topical emphases to apply for and undertake internships with organizations and businesses related to individual students' interests, concerns, and plans. Our faculty will work with students, helping to place them in intern positions that will be of genuine value with respect to their intellectual and professional development. Internships along these lines will help students get their "foot in the door" in areas of prospective post-graduation employment and professional development.

What really sets apart the three new topical emphases including cultural and social history is that faculty will work with students to produce portfolios packaging and showcasing the aptitudes and skills they develop over the courses of their undergraduate education. To some, abilities obtained and developed through a traditional liberal education, such as analytical and creative thinking, may seem abstract and without specific content, being notoriously difficult to measure and assess through means such as standardized testing. However, cultural and social history students' portfolios are where their skills, aptitudes, and abilities will become manifestly palpable and concrete.

What is a topical emphasis in public and policy history?

A topical emphasis in public and policy history refers to scholarly work that seeks out audiences beyond the classroom and the academic journal. While professional historians may study a vast array of time periods, peoples, and topics, public and policy history is distinct in that it seeks to spread that research to broader audiences, and also to take as its subject of study those attempts to connect history to the people. Public history might include museums and memorials, oral history and landmarks, interpretive signage and educational outreach, heritage and cultural institutions. Policy history could be described as the study of past decision making or government institutions, with an intended audience of present-day representatives from those same groups, and might include topics or audiences in state legislatures or county government, prisons and courts, government social or environmental agencies, or the like.

What is a topical emphasis in religious studies?

Students in the UW-L History Department’s history major with topical emphasis in religious studies will have an opportunity to study the fascinating phenomenon of religion from a variety of disciplinary perspectives with course offerings in the Departments of History, Philosophy, Sociology and Criminal Justice, Archaeology and Anthropology, and Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The religious studies emphasis challenges students to question common stereotypes about religion and religious people, to become aware of the multiple roles and functions religion plays in human cultural life, and to both critically scrutinize and emphatically understand the rationales that have shaped the wide variety of religious world views, behaviors, and experiences that humans have used in the course of constructing, maintaining, and inhabiting their cultural worlds. In these ways, the religious studies emphasis sharpens students’ awareness of and understanding of human cultural diversity and prepares them for responsible global citizenship in a religiously pluralistic world.

(All colleges, excluding teacher certification programs)

40 credits

Core requirements
HIS 200Historiography and Historical Methods3
HIS 490History Research Seminar4
Select nine credits of the following:9
Survey of the United States
Survey of Latin American and Latino History
Survey of Ancient and Medieval Worlds
Survey of Europe
Survey of Asia
Survey of the Middle East
Survey of the History of Modern Science
Survey of Modern Africa
Electives (24 credits total) 1
Select 18 credits from one emphasis below, with no more than six of those credits coming from outside the HIS department.
Regional/world cultural zones6
Select six credits from any of the regional/world cultural zones listed below.
Total Credits40

The 400-level elective HIS courses have the same workload and expectations as 300-level HIS courses, and are open to all juniors, seniors, and sophomores with appropriate preparation.

Topical electives:

Select 18 credits from one emphasis below.

Cultural and social history
Comic Books and History
History of U.S. Science and Technology
Native American History
Peace and War
The Holocaust
Twentieth Century United States
Civil War and Reconstruction
America in the Cold War
Sugar, Coffee, Rubber, Bananas: Commodities in World History
Gandhi and the World
U.S. Labor History
The American West
Women in South Asia
The Idea of Asia
History Through Film
African Nationalism
Colonial Africa
Migration and Empire: 1200-1900
Topics in Social History
Government and Society
British Empire
Topics in Cultural History
History Internship/Field Experience
Foundations for Literary and Cultural Studies
Studies in Film and Literature
Gender and Human Rights
Survey of Art History
World Art
Public and policy history
Money and Crime
American Environmental History
Exhibition Development and Design I
Twentieth Century United States
Introduction to Public and Policy History
Public Education in Wisconsin and America
Crime and Punishment in America
Social Justice Informed Public History
Material Culture
Government and Society
History of Wisconsin State and Local Government
Exhibition Development and Design II
History Internship/Field Experience
Contemporary Issues in Government
Public Policy
Health Policy
Environmental Policy
Geographic Information Systems and Science I
Geographic Information System and Science II 2
Writing for Management, Public Relations and the Professions
Digital Content Writing, Strategy, and Experience Design
Grant Writing 2
Publishing in a Digital Age 2
Introduction to Professional and Technical Writing 2
Cultural Resources Management 2

Technical skills courses: Students are encouraged to complete three credits or more from this subset of courses.

Religious studies
Modern Christianity
History of Buddhism
History of Hinduism
History of Islam
History of Religions
The Ancient Greek World
Ancient Rome and the Mediterranean
Christianity to 1517
Maya Civilization
Gandhi and the World
Japanese Religions
Religion and Conflict in Modern South Asia
History Internship/Field Experience
Religion and Society
Rites, Rituals and Ceremonies
Special Topics in Sociology 3
Philosophy of Religion
International Multicultural Philosophy
Asian Philosophy
Zen Buddhism

When appropriately focused.

Total Credits: 18

Regional/world cultural zones electives

Select six credits from any of the following:

Africa and African Diaspora
African Environmental History
Women and Gender in Africa
African Nationalism
Colonial Africa
The Vietnam War Era
History of Hinduism
Themes in Chinese History
History of China
Modern South Asia
Gandhi and the World
Imperialism in Asia and the Pacific
Women in South Asia
The Idea of Asia
Modern Japan
Postwar Japan
Japanese Religions
Religion and Conflict in Modern South Asia
Peace and War
Peoples and Cultures of Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union
The Holocaust
The Ancient Greek World
Ancient Rome and the Mediterranean
Russia and the Soviet Union
The Middle Ages
Twentieth Century Europe
France and the French Empire: 1750-Present
Germany: 1848-1989
Spain to 1700
French Revolution
Women, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Europe
World War I
Ireland and the World: 1500-present
Global Fascisms
Latin America
Nineteenth Century Latin America
Twentieth Century Latin America
Latin America: 1450-1830
U.S.-Latin American Relations
History of Mexico
Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Latin America
Middle East
History of Islam
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Human Rights and the Middle East
History of Babylonian Language and Culture I
History of Babylonian Language and Culture II
Ancient Turkey
Iran before Islam
Women and Gender in the Middle East
Ancient Syria
Total Credits: 6

Writing portfolio requirement

To be certified for graduation in the history major with topical emphasis, students must submit and have approved a portfolio of professional writing especially geared towards their intended career path. Students must submit writing portfolios by the middle of the semester in which they intend to graduate. Specific deadlines, item requirements, and submission directions are posted on the department website. The list of required material will be different for each of the emphases. The submitted portfolio may include items of coursework completed during the student's undergraduate career, but might also require the production of additional materials. The materials might include a curriculum vitae or résumé, grant applications, a document written for a public audience, a sample of academic writing, or cover letters for job applications.

All students must complete the general education, college core, major/minor, and university degree requirements in order to qualify for a degree. The easiest way to track all of these requirements is to refer to the Advisement Report (AR) found in the Student Information System (WINGS) Student Center. All enrolled students have access to the AR. 

College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CASSH/VPA) Bachelor of Science core requirements

The following conditions apply to one or both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees:

  1. Students majoring in English (writing and rhetoric or literary and cultural studies emphases) or in the department of global cultures and languages must earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Education majors earn a Bachelor of Science degree; English major: medical professions emphasis majors may earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree.
  2. Students majoring in other CASSH programs may choose either a B.A. or a B.S. degree.
  3. Language courses (ARA, CHI, FRE, GCL, GER, HMG, JPN, RUS, SPA) used to fulfill general education requirement: "Mathematical/logical systems and modern languages" (GE 02, category 2) may also be used to meet the B.A. and B.S. language requirements.
  4. All other courses used to meet the requirements below must be in addition to the minimum 42 credits required in the General Education Program.
  5. At least one course in the B.A. or B.S. college degree program (core requirements) must be a CASSH designated diversity course.
  6. Applicable courses may be found on the CASSH B.A./B.S. Degree Option Course List or in the Advisement Report (AR) when the degree has been declared.

Courses used to fulfill general education requirements will not apply to core requirements except for language courses (ARA, CHI, FRE, GCL, GER, HMG, JPN, RUS, SPA) that count in the general education requirement: "Mathematical/logical systems and modern languages" (GE 02, category 2).

Bachelor of Science students complete four courses outside the department of the student's major as follows:
  1. A lab science course (from the general education list); and
  2. A social science course; and
  3. Another social science or general education natural science, or math course, or an approved CASSH alternative (ENV 101, PHL 334, PHL 339); and
  4. One additional course in humanities or fine arts or complete a global cultures and languages course 102 level or higher.
In addition to all other College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities core requirements, all students in CASSH must complete a second major, minor, or program option by satisfying one of the following:
  1. Complete a minor (or second major) outside of the student's major program, consisting of at least 18 credits; or
  2. Complete an emphasis, program or concentration of at least 18 credits outside the student's major program. General education courses may apply provided they are not being used to fulfill minimum general education requirements; or
  3. Complete 18 credits in two or more departments or programs (at least 12 credits earned at the 300/400 level). These courses must be outside the student's major department and can be from any college. General education courses may apply provided they are not being used to fulfill minimum general education requirements.

Baccalaureate degree requirements

Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degrees must accomplish the following:

  1. Fulfill the general education requirements.
  2. Complete at least one ethnic studies (diversity) course.
  3. Complete the courses prescribed by the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee for the degree desired in the respective school or college.
  4. Earn a minimum of 120 semester credits with at least a 2.00 cumulative GPA.1, 2
  5. At least 40 credits must be earned in 300/400 level courses. Transfer courses earned or transferred at the 300/400 level apply to this requirement.
  6. Complete major and minor requirements with at least a 2.00 GPA1, 2 in each major and minor (and concentration or emphasis, if selected).
  7. A minimum of 30 semester credits in residence at UWL is required for graduation. (See undergraduate resident requirement.)
  8. Submit an application for graduation via the "Apply for Graduation" link in the WINGS Student Center as soon as the student has registered for his or her final semester or summer term in residence. December and winter intersession graduates should apply by May 1. May and summer graduates should apply by December 1.

Grade point average requirements for some programs will be considerably higher than 2.00. Re-entering students may be required to earn credits in excess of the 120 needed for graduation in any curriculum in order to replace credits earned in courses in which the content has changed substantially in recent years. Each case will be judged on its own merit.


The grade point average recorded at the time the degree is awarded will not be affected by future enrollment.

No degree will be awarded unless all requirements are fulfilled and recorded within 30 days after the official ending date of each term.

Below is a sample degree plan that can be used as a guide to identify courses required to fulfill the major and other requirements needed for degree completion. A student's actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Also, this sample plan assumes readiness for each course and/or major plan, and some courses may not be offered every term. Review the course descriptions or the class timetable for course offering information.

The sample degree plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UWL in the fall term. Students should use the Advisement Report (AR) in WINGS and work closely with their faculty advisor(s) and college dean’s office to ensure declaration and completion of all requirements in a timely manner.

General Education Program
The general education curriculum (Gen Ed) is the common educational experience for all undergraduates at UWL. Sample degree plans include Gen Ed placeholders to ensure completion of the general education requirements. Courses may be rearranged to fit the needs or recommendations of the student’s program of study. Gen Ed courses may be taken during winter term (January between the semesters) and summer to reduce the course load during regular terms (fall and spring). Students should consult with their advisor and/or the college academic services director in their college/school for assistance with course and schedule planning. Refer to the general education requirements for more specific details.

At least 40 credits of the 120 credits required must be earned at the 300/400-level. 

Note: New students and transfer students with 15 or fewer credits earned are required to take FYS 100 First-Year Seminar (3 cr.) during one of their first two semesters at UWL.

This sample degree plan does not establish a contractual agreement. It identifies the minimum requirements a student must successfully complete, to qualify for a degree, in a format intended to assist the student in planning their academic career. Actual degree plans may differ.

Year 1
HIS 110 (Gen Ed World History)3ENG 110 or 112 (Gen Ed Literacy - Written)3
Gen Ed Self & Society3Gen Ed Natural Lab Science4
CST 110 (Gen Ed Literacy - Oral)3Gen Ed Minority Cultures3
Gen Ed Math4HIS Core Course (HIS 210, 220, 230, 240, 250, 260, 280, or 285)3
Gen Ed Arts2-3FYS 100 (Gen Ed First-Year Seminar)3
 15 16
Year 2
HIS 2003HIS Core Course (HIS 210, 220, 230, 240, 250, 260, 280, or 285)3
Gen Ed Lang/Logical Systems3-4Gen Ed Arts2-3
CASSH Core Course3History Topical Emphasis Course13
Gen Ed Global Studies3Gen Ed Health & Well Being3
HIS Core Course (HIS 210, 220, 230, 240, 250, 260, 280, or 285)3Minor Course3
 15 14
Year 3
Minor Course3CASSH Core Course3
Gen Ed Humanistic Studies3History Topical Emphasis Course13
History Topical Emphasis Course13CASSH Core Course3
CASSH Core Course - Natural Lab Science4Regional/World Cultural Zones Course23
Regional/World Cultural Zones Course23Minor Course3
 16 15
Year 4
History Topical Emphasis Course13Minor Course3
HIS 4904History Topical Emphasis Course13
Minor Course3History Topical Emphasis Course13
Minor Course3CASSH Core Diversity Course3
University Elective1University Elective3
 14 15
Total Credits: 120

Complete 18 credits from one of the following three emphasis areas (with no more than six of the 18 credits coming from disciplines outside the Department of History): cultural and social history; public and policy history; or religious studies.


Complete six credits from the following Regional/World Cultural Zones: Africa and African Diaspora, Asia, Europe, Latin America, or Middle East.

A writing portfolio is required.

At least two courses must be designed as writing emphasis.