We are a community of scholars and students passionate about studying the past in order to help us understand our contemporary world. In the History Department, Rice students learn with accomplished scholars in small classroom settings. Our faculty enjoy teaching, and many have been recognized with awards for exceptional teaching. The skills learned in history courses—how to sift through enormous amounts of information, how to read texts critically, how to write effective prose—are broadly applicable to many fields and careers.
Students who love history and who want the freedom to explore the past widely should consider majoring in history. Gifts to the department from alumni and friends offer history majors opportunities for travel and research. An honors program allows students to conduct original research and to write a thesis. The director of undergraduate studies is Aysha Pollnitz.
The graduate program accepts exceptionally motivated students who are interested in studying the history of the America South, the Atlantic World, Latin American History, the Middle East, Trans-national Asia, and the U.S. and the World. The unique dual degree program with the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) allows students fluent in Portuguese the opportunity to study in Brazil and to earn a second Ph.D. Graduate students fluent in Spanish can earn the same dual degree with our Mexico program with the Instituto Mora. The director of graduate studies is Sayuri Shimizu.
The undergraduate program offers courses in U.S. history; ancient and medieval history; intellectual history; and the history of science; and the early modern and modern history of Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, East and South Asia, and Africa. Faculty interests range from the Byzantine Empire to colonial Brazil and modern Mexico, from Qing and 20th-century China to colonial Indonesia, and from Kant to human rights. Within U.S. history, the department’s particular strengths are Atlantic migrations, slavery, the Old and New South, religion, race, and the Presidency. Within European history, the department's strengths lie in modern and early modern political and culture history, the international history of human rights, and the history of political thought. The department has a strong overall emphasis on colonialism across regions and time periods. The department encourages its majors to acquaint themselves with other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, especially literature, philosophy, fine arts, anthropology, sociology, and political science. The department strongly suggests that majors study a foreign language, and offers a special international track to promote that goal.
The graduate program, which trains a limited number of carefully selected students, offers these fields: United States (including colonial America, the U.S. South, and United States and the World), Latin America and the Caribbean, the Atlantic World, transnational Asia and the Middle East. PhD students may concurrently pursue a graduate certificate through the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, or the Center for Critical and Cultural Theory. Students will earn their MA while working towards their Ph.D. We do not have a program for MA degrees exclusively.
Through graduate reciprocal agreements with the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil and the Instituto Mora in Mexico, the department offers qualified graduate students the opportunity to earn a second PhD at a top-ranked university in Brazil or Mexico. Students in the dual degree program study in Brazil and write a dissertation that is co-supervised by faculty at Rice, UNICAMP, or Mora.