Major | Minor

Understand the decisions, people, and events that have shaped the world. Develop critical-thinking, cultural literacy, and citizenship skills to serve you well in work and life.

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Why Study History?

History teaches you how people and communities have functioned in the past and how those experiences continue to impact the present.

By studying history, you’ll deepen your understanding of the past and present world. Studying history will also help you live as an informed, well-rounded human being. You’ll learn about yourself through examining the lives of others.

Why Study History at Luther?

Our history courses provide countless exciting deep dives across many interesting topics. But more importantly, by studying history at Luther, you’ll gain skills like critical thinking, clear writing, and evidence-based argumentation. These abilities will benefit you in many ways throughout your life and in your future career. No matter what career path you’re thinking of pursuing, studying history will help you think more broadly about the world and better understand all of its complexities.

Program Highlights


Internships are a crucial component of active learning. Luther helps match history majors with choice internships at museums, historical societies, and various governmental organizations. You’ll be encouraged to engage in real-world learning to gain important professional experience and discover your passions.

Off-Campus Study

Study-away courses help you explore historical marvels around the world. Incredible off-campus courses are offered during both January and semester-long terms by the Center for Global Learning.

Writing Opportunities

The Luther Skald is the history department’s journal of student research. This journal gives outstanding student history writers a place to publish their hard work.

What You’ll Learn

History Major

Luther’s history department offers courses that cover a wide array of time periods and places around the globe. They include:

  • The history of the United States (from before its founding through the present)
  • European history (ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern)
  • African history (early modern and modern)
  • African American history
  • Asian history
  • Middle Eastern history
  • Classical studies

Plan I (non-teaching). With this plan, you must complete one course in historical methods,two courses at the 300 level, a research seminar, and a senior project. A writing course is also required. Double majors may elect to complete their senior project in another discipline.

Plan II (teaching US and/or world history). If you plan to teach in secondary education, you must also complete at least one certification area (US history, world history, or both) for teaching history in the state of Iowa, a minimum of four courses in US history (for certification in US history) and/or four courses in African, Asian, European, or transregional/comparative history (for certification in world history). You’ll complete the writing requirement through a Junior-Senior Seminar.

History Minor

The history minor consists of five courses. You must complete at least one course in three of the following areas of history: African, Asian, European, US, and transregional/comparative (at least one of these courses must be African or Asian history).

One of the five courses must be at the 300 level or above. Students select other history courses based on their interests and with history faculty approval and consultation.


Having experience with and understanding of historical study develops in each student a diverse and necessary skill set that will help address the ever-changing conditions of the post-college world
Berit Skogen '23
Read more about Berit
Sadie stands on a forest path, wearing a white sweater.
Majoring in history helped me to develop the tools I needed to become an excellent communicator, a detail-oriented researcher, and a more informed and empathetic global citizen.
Sadie Pichelmann '23
Read more about Sadie
Cate Anderson
After graduating, any history major from Luther will have the analytical and intellectual skills to understand historical issues that present themselves in the real world.
Cate Anderson '14

Careers and Outcomes

History encourages cultural literacy, good citizenship, and sensitivity to diverse peoples and contexts. A history major also helps you become a critical and scholarly reader. You’ll learn to write eloquently and persuasively. History research requires that you make sound arguments, clarifying your positions and justifying them using solid evidence—exactly the kind of work most professions seek.

Studying history at Luther means you’ll graduate with skills in research, writing, oral presentation, and critical thinking. With these transferable skills, Luther history alumni are successful in a wide variety of careers.

Career Fields

  • Business
  • Banking
  • Law
  • Archive management
  • Museum work
  • Foreign service
  • Teaching

Uncovering Historical Context

Student-faculty research projects often tackle big questions. Professor of History Anna Peterson and student Race Fisher ’19 helped the Vesterheim National Norwegian-American Museum research the history surrounding World War I political cartoons.

International Honor Society for History

Phi Alpha Theta is an international honor society for history. The Lambda Omega Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta was chartered at Luther college in 1966. Students and professors are elected to membership on the basis of excellence in the study or writing of history. The society brings students, teachers, and writers of history together both intellectually and socially through participation in campus, regional, and national activities.

Classical Studies

Explore the complex world of ancient Greece and Rome through Luther’s classical studies minor. You’ll tackle some of the most fundamental problems of human existence. Studying the classical world will expand your intellectual toolkit. Gain unique linguistic, literary, and historical skills to address modern-day problems.

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