History Professors Unconcerned With Lack of U.S. History Requirement

AP Photo/J. David Ake
AP Photo/J. David Ake

A new report has found that history majors at most of America’s top universities are not required to take a United States history course.

Although most major course requirements at American universities include diverse course selections across several areas of studies, a new report claims that America’s top universities do not require a U.S. history course for history majors.

ACTA’s new report,No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major, reveals that less than 1/3 of the nations leading colleges and universities require students pursuing a degree in history to take a single course in American history. Only 23 undergraduate history programs at the U.S. News & World Report’s top 25 national universities, top 25 public institutions, and top 25 liberal arts colleges require a single U.S. history class.

Despite the lack of a seemingly essential area of study for history majors, history department chairs at the top universities insist that the lack of the requirement doesn’t lessen the importance of U.S. history to their department’s curriculum.

Dan Smail, chair of the Harvard University history department, claims that because most history majors elect to take a U.S. history course, it’s not necessary to make it a requirement.“Almost all of our history majors love US history and take courses in it, so having a requirement would be a bit like requiring them to eat,” said Professor Dan Smail, chair of the Harvard University history department.

Despite this explanation, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, claims that the lack of a U.S history requirement is “a truly breathtaking abandonment of intellectual standards and professional judgement.”

Although several history department chairs defended their decisions to forego a U.S. history requirement, chairs at Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania insist that their departments do require at least one course in American history.

“Our majors are required to complete at least one course in the History of the United States or Canada. Given that we do not currently offer Canadian courses (and have not for over 40 years), this effectively means that everyone graduating with a degree (either as a major or a minor) has completed an American history class,” Robert Bonner, Dartmouth’s history department chair said.

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at tciccotta@breitbart.com