Students can augment their history studies through honors thesis work, independent study of specialized topics, and internships.


Honors & Independent Study

Students can explore a topic of interest for a semester as an independent study or distinguish themselves by pursuing honors through completing a yearlong thesis.
See the Honors and Individual Study section at the bottom of the courses webpage for more information.

Common reasons students cite for pursuing honors:

  • preparing for graduate school
  • honing research skills on a topic of personal interest
  • learning techniques valuable for use in future plans
  • synthesizing four years of knowledge
  • gaining experience apart from coursework
  • combining two or more academic interests
  • demonstrating advanced aptitude in a topic
  • meeting an exciting challenge

Recent honors theses in history include:

  • “(Un)Mounting an Army: The Contested Horses of the American South, 1860-1864” – MJ Alexander ’16 (Thesis advisor: Professor Zallen)
  • “Victimhood, Commemoration, and Die Heimat: Narratives, Aspirations, Policies, and Demands of the German Expellee Community and the Adenauer Government, and their Evolution through the 21st Century” – Mason Thomson ’16 (Thesis advisor: Professor Weiner)
  • “The Girls’ Schools of Morocco: Alliance Israélite Universelle and Mission Civilisatrice, 1860-1912” – James Klimek ’15 (Thesis advisor: Professor Goshgarian)
  • “Labor and Landscapes: The Birth and Development of Jamaica’s Banana Industry” – Matthew Plishka ’15 (Thesis advisors: Professor Pite and Professor Cohen)
  • “A De-Stalinized Lenin: The Problem with Reestablishing Leninism during the Thaw” – Christine Shanahan ’15 (Thesis advisor: Professor Sanborn)


Internships offer students the ability to see how they might use their history degree after graduation. History majors work for local historical societies and museums, city and county government offices, charitable organizations, legal offices, and businesses. Students gain experience in such roles as assistant teachers in local high schools, apprentice reporters at The Express-Times newspaper, and assistants at local TV and radio stations.

Lafayette student interns experience life-changing opportunities within the program. One recent internship saw students working with Easton’s Lou Reda Productions on The History Channel’s WWII in HD episode “The Air War.” As a history major, Tyler Bamford ’12 said of his role as a researcher for the show, “This internship has been one of my greatest experiences at Lafayette in terms of hands-on experience working with a topic I might make a career out of one day.” (See “Students Help Lift the History Channel’s ‘The Air War’ off the Ground.”)

EXCEL Scholars Program

Open to sophomore, junior, and senior full-time Lafayette students in all disciplines who maintain a 3.25 GPA or higher, The EXCEL Scholars program gives students nominated by a faculty member an opportunity to pursue research alongside a faculty adviser/researcher. These studies open career doors for students, as the work is fully collaborative and involves cutting-edge research that pushes the boundaries of knowledge.

Recently, three history major EXCEL Scholars assisted in research for the book Supreme City: New York City 1927, an examination of life in the Big Apple in the heady days before the stock market crash. Author Donald L. Miller, John Henry MacCracken Professor of History, enlisted their aid. Each student had a specific assignment and all were responsible for sending edits on the entire book to Miller for his consideration in the final draft. (See “Three Students Explore New York City’s Rich History for Professor Donald L. Miller’s Latest Book Project.”)

Examples of other EXCEL Scholar projects with history professors

  • “Database of Imperial and Wartime Japanese Postcards/Photographs” – Ning Jing ’19 and Professor Barclay
  • “Cold War Internationalism: Ethereal and Corporeal” – Jenn Arko ’18 and Professor Sanborn
  • “The Social History of Lucifer Matches and Outworking Seamstresses” – Tyler Schwartz ’19 and Professor Zallen

The EXCEL Scholars program runs both semesters and during the summer. Students receive hourly wages and are provided housing during the summer session. Further details are available on the EXCEL Scholars webpage.

Study Abroad

Encounter history where it happened. History majors enjoy learning about the past in-country through the study abroad program. Paul Barclay, associate professor of history, and Naoko Ikegami of foreign languages and literatures, teach INDS 140: A History of Japanese Culture and Government: 400–1600 AD during the January interim session. Joshua Sanborn, professor of history, and Ida Sinkevic, professor of art, teach REES/HIST/ART 241: Art, History, and Culture of Russia and Eastern Europe. This course includes an “embedded study abroad” component through which students cap a semester of classroom learning with a week in Russia or Eastern Europe completing projects and learning more about the region. In addition, Lafayette teams with other elite colleges and universities to offer summer and semester opportunities for study abroad.

Learn more about the study abroad program.