Some of the scholarship recipients at the 2019 History Scholarship Ceremony.
Some of the scholarship recipients at the 2019 History Scholarship Ceremony.

History is a core discipline in any liberal arts education. The study of history enables us to see how the present world came into being; at the same time, it asks us to understand diverse people in different times and places. The interests of faculty and students in History range temporally from ancient times to present, and geographically from Asia and Europe to the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East.



  • History faculty have won 13 UW Distinguished Teaching Awards—more than any other unit on campus.
  • A leading US institution for the study of history. 
  • During the 2021-22 school year, the department taught over 4,700 students, most of whom were non-majors, in 150 classes.


Undergraduate majors


The Department of History offers a major in history and an interdisciplinary major in history and philosophy of science, as well as thematic majors and minors in general history; history of race, gender, and power; history of empire and colonialism; history of religion and society; and history of war and society. It also offers — in cooperation with other units — minors in diversity, labor studies, classics and ancient history, Hellenic studies, Jewish studies, Asian studies, history of science, and medical history and ethics. History also offers a track for both College and departmental honors.

History majors take at least two small, research-oriented courses: a methodology course during the junior year and a capstone seminar during the senior year. Additionally, undergraduates may pursue research opportunities through independent studies or internships, or in a two-quarter honors seminar; some receive funding for research projects from the department.

The department has embraced global and comparative history. Undergraduate course topics range from “The Cold War” to “Global Health History” to “Arctic Histories” to “History by Bollywood: Colonial India Through Film.” Graduate students may take fields in nine major divisions of study, including comparative colonialisms, comparative gender, comparative environmental history, and comparative ethnicity and nationalism. Recent PhDs have attained tenure-track appointments at many top colleges in the U.S. and Canada.

The Department of History is home to the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest and co-sponsors the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies with the Department of Political Science. Both centers support graduate students and undertake public programs.

Dr. Arbella Bet-Shlimon (right), winner of the 2017 UW Distinguished Teaching Award, working with a History undergraduate student.
Dr. Arbella Bet-Shlimon (right), winner of the 2017 UW Distinguished Teaching Award, working with a History undergraduate student.


Spring 2022

  • 240 Undergraduate majors
  • 3 MA students
  • 32 PhD students

Degrees Awarded

Autumn 2021 - Summer 2022

  • 103 BA degrees
  • 4 MA degrees
  • 4 PhD degrees

Major Undergraduate Student Awards


  • 1 College of Arts & Sciences Social Sciences Scholar
  • 1 Beinecke Scholar
  • 1 Boren Fellow
  • 9 UW Library Research Awards
  • 2 World History Association Phi Alpha Theta Pater Awards
  • 1 Grayden Tunstal Phi Alpha Theta Award
  • 1 College of Arts & Sciences Gonfalonier
  • 1 Husky 100 recipient
  • 1 Arts & Sciences Humanities Scholar
  • 45 History Department scholarships & prizes

Major Graduate Student Awards


  • 1 UW China Studies Fellowship
  • 1 UW Simpson Center Society of Scholars Fellowship
  • 1 Blakemore Fellowship
  • 1 UW Korea Studies Fellowship
  • 1 Sir James Lougheed Award of Distinction
  • 1 Social Science and Humanities Research Fellowship
  • 1 American Meteorological Society Fellowship
  • 1 Mellon Council of European Studies Dissertation Fellowship
  • 1 Conlon Fellowship


Autumn 2022

  • 17 Professors
  • 13 Associate Professors
  • 1 Associate Teaching Professor
  • 2 Assistant Professors
  • 1 Assistant Teaching Professor
  • 27 Professors Emeritus
  • 15 Adjunct Faculty

Faculty Honors & Awards

  • 1 MacArthur Fellowship
  • 8 Guggenheim Fellowships
  • 27 Fulbright Awards
  • 11 Mellon Fellowships
  • 31 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships
  • 19 American Council of Learned Societies Fellowships
  • 7 Ford Foundation Fellowships
  • 14 Social Science Research Council Grants
  • 18 Presidents of professional organizations


Faculty Research ranges widely. Recent faculty publications have focused on U.S. history, global health histories, law in medieval Europe, the history of science and technology, and comparative colonialism. Faculty, graduate and undergraduate students are also involved in a wide variety of digital history initiatives, touching on diverse thematic, geographic and temporal areas.

The Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest supports graduate student research, sponsors symposia and visiting speakers, co-publishes books with the UW Press, publishes Pacific Northwest Quarterly, and hosts public programs.

Recent undergraduate research theses have included “‘Socioecology of English Witch Trials: How Enclosure and Deforestation Reshaped America's Familiar Beliefs in Early Modern England,” "Translating Guilt to Commitment: Racial and Queer Intersections in Afro-German Berlin, 1981-1992," and "Being Good and Industrious: Indigenous Timber Work on the Late Nineteenth Century Puget Sound."

Interdisciplinary scholarship in History is encouraged by strong ties to other units, including the Jackson School of International Studies; American Indian Studies; Anthropology; American Ethnic Studies; Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies; Philosophy; Classics; Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures; French & Italian Studies; and the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

Areas of Research

  • Late Antiquity
  • Medieval Europe
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Modern Europe and European Empire
  • Russia and Eastern Europe
  • Pre-Modern Asia
  • Modern Asia
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • A​frica
  • United States
  • History of Science
  • Comparative History


History faculty speak frequently in the community, and each year faculty present the History Lecture Series. Faculty routinely visit secondary schools and serve annually as judges for History Day contests.

The department has a very successful program for Access students — students 60 years of age or older audit UW courses for a nominal fee. In addition to welcoming them into classes, the department sends out periodic informational mailings and hosts an annual reception for Access students and faculty.

The department reaches out to teachers and students in secondary schools and colleges in a variety of ways, including the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project, the Center for the Study of the Pacific, and the Sephardic Treasures project.


Department of History
Box 353560
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-5790


last update: December 2022