At Patrick Henry College the History major is firmly based on a Christian worldview. Biblical assumptions about human nature, moral standards, and God’s involvement in world history are central to that worldview. The Christian philosophy of history also has a rich tradition and literature, and professors who teach courses at the college draw upon it fully.
The college will challenge students who major in history to master the tools of first-class scholarship, to analyze historical topics in depth, and to defend their conclusions with rigor and intellectual honesty.
All History majors are required to take core courses in U.S. history, the history of Western civilization, and the philosophy and methodology of history. For students interested in historical topics outside of the U.S. and the West, there are electives in the history of Russia, China and the Middle East. We also offer history electives on thematic topics like Islam. In the senior year, a major project caps a History major’s curriculum: a year-long senior thesis based upon primary source research.
History majors are encouraged to acquire practical experience as historians. They may earn academic credit through time spent in internships in historical archives, libraries, living-history museums, and other history-related organizations.
What is it like to be a History major at Patrick Henry College? Why do PHC students major in history? Listen to these current and past PHC History majors:
“I have never once regretted my decision to come to PHC for a History degree. My professors have not simply given me facts to memorize, as if the true value of a historian was in his ability to recite trivia. They have challenged my presuppositions, forced me to think critically, instilled the value of empathy, and have raised the general quality of my writing. But more fundamental and important then any of these things, they have showed me by their example what it truly means to live for God.” (Brandon Flint, Class of 2009)
“I continue to be surprised at how well-rounded the history major is at Patrick Henry College. The facts of history were covered through rigorous classes taught by professors who have a true love for the subject, opening my eyes to the entire sweep and scope of history in ways that just reading a book could never do. The philosophical side of history was thoroughly addressed, helping me understand the theories that have motivated various historians and leading me to formulate my own Christian philosophy of history. The practical hands-on side of history was covered through the optional internship program (tailored to each student's interests), the process of researching and writing numerous papers, and my 100+ page senior thesis. Above all, however, I valued the caring attitude of the faculty and their efforts to encourage students to grapple with what it means to practice history as a Christian.” (Matthew Exline, Class of 2010)
“Patrick Henry College’s History major taught me the importance of living in context and heightened my understanding of the present through intense examination of the past. It challenged my writing skills and improved my ability to communicate abstract ideas in a lucid manner. The history faculty have both an academic and experiential knowledge of their field of study. They infuse the classroom sessions with a Christ-centered perspective that made my time at PHC spiritually enriching as well as intellectually stimulating.” (Holly Vradenburgh, Class of 2008)
“I recommend Patrick Henry College’s history major to any student who loves history, desires to understand the world, has a strong work ethic, and fears the Lord. The professors’ care and guidance fostered a passion and historical curiosity for each subject. The history classes I took, like History of Modern Russia, Modern Middle East, History of World War I, Age of Revolutions, and History of Terrorism gave me a coherent understanding of the world in which we live. My character also improved, as I worked hard and acquired greater empathy, intellectual charity, and intellectual honesty. I learned to reason better, articulate ideas, write clearly, and apply the skills I learned to my interpretation of current events. I learned to ask hard questions of historical matters, prompted by the thoughtfulness of godly professors who acknowledged Christ’s authority over history. I found the classes to be fascinating, the professors to be excellent, and the student body to be friendly, encouraging, and fun. There is a small part of me that wishes I could keep taking classes at PHC forever.” (Stephanie Swistock Helms, Class of 2011)