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Department of History

Social Studies Education

There is little understanding of the present without a mature understanding of the past. The study of history at Williams is intended to broaden the student’s intellectual and cultural horizons while encouraging a reasoned and responsible approach to national and global social, political, and cultural events and institutions. Moreover, the study of history at Williams involves students in the intensive development of critical thinking and communication skills; skills required for success in any career.


Williams offers the Bachelor of Arts in History and the Bachelor of Science in Education in Social Studies. Students pursuing a major in history will complete an eclectic and challenging curriculum which serves as an excellent background for graduate study in history, or for careers in government service, law, politics, ministry, business, and many related vocations and professions.

The social studies education degree combines the detailed study of history with a background in secondary education. This degree prepares students to relate their knowledge of history in the classroom.

The department also offers a minor in history which is an excellent complement to many other majors.


The history and the social studies education majors at Williams emphasize American and European studies. Even so, students are challenged to place the American and European experience within the larger global context.

History majors are required to complete six hours of foreign language study and a course in computer literacy.


Law Schools do not require any particular degree or course of study for admission. Each applicant to law school is required to complete only a bachelor’s degree and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

A Williams history degree is an excellent preparation for those students anticipating a legal career since the degree emphasizes excellence in comprehension and communication skills.

History Honor Society

Students who excel in the Williams history curriculum are invited to join Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society. Founded in 1921, Phi Alpha Theta remains one of the premier academic honor societies.

Members of the Williams Phi Alpha Theta chapter, Alpha Zeta Xi, benefit from a regular schedule of special projects and colloquia. Moreover, the members of Phi Alpha Theta are given the opportunity to participate in regional and national meetings and symposia.

Individual Attention

Students in the Williams history program are taught "individually," that is to say they are treated as individuals with special needs and unique personal potential. Students work closely with senior professors. This close, mentoring process and relationship allows students to progress carefully, but rapidly through the thorough and rigorous curriculum.

Christian Emphasis

The Williams history faculty are Christians, and that faith shapes their relationships with students and informs their approach to the discipline of history.

The department unapologetically posits the essential value and dramatic influence of the Christian ideals and precepts in Western history. As Christians, the history faculty is committed to truth and attempts an explication of the past honestly and critically.

Moreover, the faculty values all people and rejects irresponsible, simplistic, or glib stereotyping of any historical or contemporary culture, community, or creed.