Seminar Program for History Majors, NJIT and Rutgers-Newark

The Seminar Research 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 R510:490 Seminar-Research, and at NJIT under the course designation HIST 490 Seminar-Research.  Students from either school may take the seminar on either campus.  Students usually take the seminar as seniors, but may do so as soon as they have met the prerequisites.  Juniors must enroll if they are preparing for teacher certification and will spend part of their senior year in student teaching.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Must I take R510:490 or HIST 490 to graduate?
Yes, one must complete either R510:490 or HIST 490 with a grade of C or better to qualify for the B. A. in History.  Qualified students may be permitted to take a suitable graduate history research seminar in place of the undergraduate history research seminar.

What should I expect in the History Major Research Seminar?
This one-semester-long seminar allows students to apply the skills they learn in the History major to specific topics that vary semester by semester. In these small classes, students conduct research with attention to historical methods. With close guidance from instructors, students explore local archives, design a paper topic of their individual interest in conjunction with the professor, and write a research paper.

What course is the prerequisite for HIST 490 or R510:490?

Students may choose to complete either R510:315 or R510:316: Perspectives in History.  Students no longer need to take R510:489 or HIST 489 as prerequisites for 490, as  R510:489 and HIST 489 are being phased out, but those students who already successfully completed  R510:489 or HIST 489 in the past may use it as a prerequisite for R510:490 or HIST 490 in place of Perspectives.  See below for the other prerequisite courses.

When should I enroll in the Seminar?

You may take it as soon as you have fulfilled the prerequisites and students are encouraged to do so.   The prerequisites are:

  • HSS 404: History Senior Seminar (General Education Requirement)
  • R510: 315 or 316 Perspectives in History (3 credits)
  • Completion of the General Education Requirements in English and Liberal Arts (9 credits)

It is anticipated that the research seminar will be offered every semester, at varying times of day in succeeding semesters, making it easier for students to fit into their schedules.

What are the Perspectives in History courses like?

These Writing Intensive courses are required for History majors, who are required to take at least one before the Research Seminar (510:490) They are also open to other students. The courses focus both on specific historical topics and on training students in how to handle a wide range of different primary source texts. They are designed to teach students superior analytical skills by emphasizing how to evaluate and interpret primary source evidence, and in this way they help prepare History majors in particular for writing the Research Seminar paper (510:490).​  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 have been added as a prerequisite to help students prepare by working intensively with primary source documents in medium-length writing assignments.  

Is there other recommended coursework in preparation for HIST 490 or 510:490 Seminar-Research?
Typically, it is recommended that students take a survey course or a 300 level course in the general field of the seminar.   For example, a student registering for a seminar in a United States history topic would benefit from having had previous work in American history; while a student registering for a seminar in Latin American history would benefit from having taken R510:207 History of Colonial Latin America, or R510:208, History of Modern Latin America previously.  

When should Education students who plan to student teach take the Seminar?

Education students should take it in their junior years so that part of the senior year is free for student teaching.

Are the Seminars Information Literacy (IL at NJIT) and Writing across the Curriculum (WAC at Rutgers) courses?

Yes, 510:490 and HIST 490, Seminar-Research are Information Literacy and Writing across the Curriculum courses.   

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 or R510:499, 512:499) which may be substituted for R510:490.  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?

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.  Third, in topically-focused seminars, students will be able to receive useful feedback from their fellow students.  

Our goal is to help all of our students become accomplished historians by providing them with the skills, supervision, and encouragement they need.