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MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

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History is the study of the recorded past. Since interest in the past is closely linked with a desire to understand the present, the history curriculum at MIT is tailored in part to put the modern world in historical perspective. Subjects explore the social, cultural, economic, and political transformations that shape the present; and efforts are made to suggest where traditional assumptions remain in present-day politics, society, and culture.

The curriculum seeks to encourage both an understanding of the human past and the development of skills necessary to express that knowledge effectively.

Bachelor of Science in History/Course 21H
[see degree chart]

The program leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in History is designed to encourage students to discover and reconstruct the past, to confront and understand the complexity of past human behavior for itself, and to inform their sense of the historical present. The curriculum includes the selection of at least one subject taken from the curriculum's 21H undergraduate seminars. Students are expected to take seven additional subjects of their own choice, selected in consultation with a major advisor. These must include subjects drawn from at least two geographical areas, as well as one pre-modern (before 1700) and one modern subject.

During the junior year, the history major is required to take subject 21H.390 Seminar in Historical Methods, which is intended to develop skills for independent research and writing, followed in the senior year by 21H.ThT History Pre-Thesis Tutorial and 21H.ThU History Thesis. Subjects 21H.390 and 21H.ThU satisfy the CI-M component of the Communication Requirement. Supplementing these requirements within the history curriculum is the stipulation of three additional subjects in a second field of humanities, arts, and social sciences that provide the perspectives of another discipline on the history of human thought and behavior. This program is intentionally flexible; the relatively large number of electives and unrestricted time allows for the design of a course of study that meets individual needs and interests.

Minor in History

The goal of this minor is to lead the student from basic survey subjects into more focused studies of individual countries or periods of time, and to encourage thinking about broader analytical and comparative issues in historical study.

The Minor in History consists of six subjects, which must include:

  • Four undergraduate introductory or intermediate subjects from the history curriculum
  • 21H.390 Seminar in Historical Methods
  • At least one 21H seminar in addition to 21H.390
  • At least two temporal periods—one pre-modern (before 1700) and one modern—to be covered by the five subjects other than 21H.390

For a listing of available subjects, consult the History Office, Room E51-255, 617-324-5134.

Concentration in History

The Concentration in History consists of three 21H subjects.

Minor in Applied International Studies

A range of subjects in history can fulfill requirements for the interdisciplinary Minor in Applied International Studies. For more information about this minor, see the program description under Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Programs and Minors in Part 3.

Joint Degree Programs

Joint degree programs are offered in history in combination with a field in engineering or science (21E, 21S). See the joint degree programs listed under Humanities.

Subjects in History are described in the online MIT Subject Listing & Schedule, Further information on subjects and programs may be obtained from the History Office, Room E51-255, 617-324-5134.

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Faculty and Staff

Faculty and Teaching Staff

Craig Steven Wilder, PhD
Professor of History
Section Head


Robert Michael Fogelson, PhD
Professor of History and Urban Studies

Philip S. Khoury, PhD
Ford International Professor of History
Associate Provost

Anne E.C. McCants, PhD
Professor of History
Director, Concourse

Jeffrey S. Ravel, PhD
Professor of History

Harriet Ritvo, PhD
Arthur J. Conner Professor of History
(On leave, fall)

Merritt Roe Smith, PhD
Leverett and William Cutten Professor of the History of Technology

Emma Teng, PhD
T. T. and Wei Fong Chao Professor of Asian Civilizations
Professor of Chinese Studies and History
MacVicar Faculty Fellow
Director, Women's and Gender Studies Program

Elizabeth A. Wood, PhD
Professor of History
(On leave)

Associate Professors

William Broadhead, PhD
Associate Professor of History
MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Christopher Capozzola, PhD
Associate Professor of History
(On leave)

Malick W. Ghachem, PhD
Associate Professor of History
(On leave, spring)

Eric Goldberg, PhD
Associate Professor of History

Meg Jacobs, PhD
Associate Professor of History

Assistant Professors

Sana Aiyar, PhD
Assistant Professor of History

Lerna Ekmekcioglu, PhD
McMillan-Stewart Career Development Assistant Professor of History
(On leave, spring)

Christopher R. Leighton, PhD
Class of 1948 Career Development Assistant Professor of History

Hiromu Nagahara, PhD
Cecil and Ida B. Green Career Development Assistant Professor of History

Visiting Associate Professor

Anya Zilberstein, PhD
Visiting Associate Professor of History


Joseph Cullon, PhD
Abigail Jacobson, PhD
Steven Ostrow, PhD

Professors Emeriti

John W. Dower, PhD
Ford International Professor of History, Emeritus

Loren Graham, PhD
Professor of the History of Science, Emeritus

Harold John Hanham, PhD
Professor of History and Political Science, Emeritus

Arthur Daniel Kaledin, PhD
Professor of History and American Studies, Emeritus

Bruce Mazlish, PhD
Professor of History, Emeritus

Peter Cushing Perdue, PhD
Professor of History, Emeritus

David Bird Ralston, PhD
Professor of History, Emeritus

William Braasch Watson, PhD
Associate Professor of History, Emeritus


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