Seminar Program for History Majors, NJIT and Rutgers-Newark

The Seminar Program for History Majors at NJIT and at Rutgers-Newark

The Seminar Program for History Majors is required for the Bachelor of Arts degree in History both at Rutgers-Newark, where the course designations are 510:489 Seminar-Readings and 510:490 Seminar-Research and at NJIT, under the course designations HIST 489 Seminar-Readings and HIST 490 Seminar-Research.  Students from either school may take the sequence on either campus.  Students usually take the seminar sequence as seniors, but may do so as soon as they have met the prerequisites.  Juniors must enroll if they anticipate a December graduation or if they are preparing for teacher certification and will spend one semester of their senior year in student teaching.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Must I take 21&62:510:489 and 510 490 in order to graduate?
Yes, one must take either the sequence 510:489 and 510:490 or the sequence HIST 489 and HIST 490 .

What Should I expect in the History Major Seminar?
 Under the Seminar system, each course is topically focused and taught by a member of the faculty with particular expertise in that field.   Students progress from 489 to 490 with the same instructor, maintaining a continuity of topic focus. Both 510:489 and HIST 489 are topical seminars with particular attention to historical methods, while 510:490 and HIST 490 are topically-focused research seminars leading to a substantial research paper.

  1. Students are encouraged to consider taking 510:489, 490 as soon as they have fulfilled the prerequisites.
    1. For HIST 489 or 510:489
      1. Completion of the General University Requirements in English and Cultural History (9 credits)
      2. Basic Social Sciences (6 credits)
      3. A 300 level history course
      4. R510: 315 or 316 Perspectives in History
    2. For HIST 490 or 510:490
      1. HIST 489/R510:489: Seminar Readings
      2. HSS 404: History Senior Seminar--NJIT General University Requirement.
  2. Three different sections of the seminars are offered at various times, making it easier for students to fit them into their schedules.

Is there a prerequisite for 510:489 Seminar-Readings and 510:490 Seminar-Research?
Typically, the prerequisite will be a survey course in the general field of the seminar.   For example, a seminar in Latin American history might require 510:207, 208, or a seminar in U. S. history might require 512:201, 202.   All prerequisites will be clearly indicated in the Schedule of Classes. HIST 489 also has the following prerequisites:  two courses of English Composition, two courses in Western Civilization and one 300 level history course

The reason for the prerequisites is to make certain that all students come to the seminar with a basic knowledge of the field, which will mean that the course can be taught at a more advanced level.

Is 510:489 a prerequisite for 510:490?
Yes, one must complete 510:489 or HIST 489 before enrolling in 510:490 or HIST 490.

Further, 510:489, 490 and HIST 489, 490 are  taught as a year-long sequence by the same professor, in which case his/her section of 510:489/HIST 489 would be the prerequisite for his/her section of 510:490/HIST 490.  

When should I enroll in the Seminars?
You may take them as soon as you have fulfilled the prerequisites.

When should Education students who plan to do their student teaching take the Seminars?
You should take them in your junior year so that the second semester of your senior year is free for student teaching.

May I take more than one Readings Seminar or Research Seminar?
You certainly may.   Students who enjoy the small-class setting may want to take several seminars before they graduate.

Are the Seminars WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum-Rutgers) and IL (Information Literacy-NJIT) courses?
510:490 and HIST 490, Seminar-Research are WAC and IL courses.   At the discretion of the faculty member, 510:489 may be designated a WAC course.   If so, it will be indicated in the Schedule of Classes.

May I still write an Independent Senior Thesis?
Yes, you may.   Some students may still wish to write a senior thesis, either because the topic they wish to write about is not available in one of the above courses, or because they wish to produce a more lengthy and substantial piece of writing for future use.   They may do so as an independent study (HIST 401, HIST 402 or510:499, 512:499) which may be substituted for 510:490.   NJIT students who wish to pursue such a course will need the advance permission of the faculty member who will advise them, of course, as well as the permission of the NJIT Federated History Department Chair.

Why must History Majors take the Seminar Sequence?

First, we think that students should have experience in historical methods and research, and we wanted to encourage them to start taking seminars as soon as they had fulfilled the prerequisites.   Second, the faculty thought that the students would get more out of the seminars if all students in a particular section were studying in the same general field and developing their expertise together. Faculty members will also be able to offer students better guidance on their research if it is in a field in which they themselves have expertise.

In addition, some students have found the prospect of writing a long research paper in their senior year daunting, especially if they have not written medium-length research papers previously. R510:315 and 316 Perspectives in History has been added as a prerequisite to help students prepare by working intensively with primary source documents in medium-length writing assignments. Our goal is to help all of our students become accomplished young historians by providing them with the skills, supervision, and encouragement they need. In topically-focused seminars, they will be able to receive useful feedback from their fellow students.