The Catholic University of America

Letter from the Chair

Welcome to the Web site of the Catholic University Department of History! You may be scanning these screens just to get a sense of who we are and what programs and events we offer. But you may also be here because you're thinking about joining us for an undergraduate or graduate degree. If that's the case, let me tell you why I think this is a great place to be a student.

For undergraduates, our department believes that we combine the best of worlds: we're a group of historians actively engaged in our research and profession, and at the same time committed to providing the best environment for friendly, spirited interaction with our students. Our undergraduate classes are small and interactive (typically well below 20 students), letting us make your education a two-way street, rather than a series of lectures. We emphasize class discussion, intensive writing, and developing research skills: the undergraduate history major culminates in two semesters of a reading/writing/discussion seminar and a research thesis by every student. We also believe that, unlike many larger institutions, we provide an atmosphere of open doors, easy access, and approachability. And the city of Washington provides some exciting further opportunities, including internships in law firms, businesses, nonprofit organizations, government departments, intelligence, information technology, and historical institutions throughout the city.

For graduate students we offer strong and deep expertise in medieval, modern European, U.S., and Latin American history. Graduate students work closely with faculty who are doing cutting-edge research. During recent years our departmental faculty have won a remarkable array of prizes and grants, including Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities grants and visiting fellowships at All Souls College in Oxford. The range of institutions in Washington that enhance our graduate programs is stunning: the Library of Congress, the Folger Shakespeare Library and Dumbarton Oaks, and the National Archives are just the more obvious examples, and most of our students find ways to do some work at these institutions. We also offer our students access to courses and areas of expertise not available at CUA through the Consortium of Washington Universities.

One thing that makes our department distinctive is our remarkable concentration of expertise in the later-medieval and early-modern periods of European, Atlantic, and Middle Eastern history, and in the history of religion broadly defined. 

In short, we have much to offer. I look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions about us or want to arrange a visit.

Katherine L. Jansen
Professor and Chair,
Department of History