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Public History

Bachelor of Arts

Public historians provide an educational passage to the past. Whether you want to work in classrooms, museums, historical sites, libraries, government or business, the Public History program offers valuable insights into how to turn your passion for history into a rewarding career.

Program Overview

Share your passion for history with your community.

The Public History emphasis introduces you to the associated fields of historic preservation, archival sciences, museum curatorship and oral history while being supported by historical content courses. Through intensive coursework, you will expand your historical knowledge and develop practical field skills.

The Public History emphasis is made up of a History core supported with multidisciplinary courses including Anthropology, Geography, Communication Arts, Environment & Sustainability and Recreation & Outdoor Education. This degree program combines academic and practical skills and knowledge desired by the field.

Upon graduation, you’ll have the preparation needed to continue your studies in Cultural Resource Management, Archival Management and/or Museum Studies. This degree can be the foundation for your career as a museum curator, registrar, collections manager, archivist, museum or historic site educator, or National Park Interpretive Ranger.

Historical knowledge

Public Historian students learn to bring our most important insights about the past to people of all ages outside of specialized academic settings through their work in classrooms, museums, historical sites, libraries, government and business.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

Program Requirements

The comprehensive programs in History are the Public History Emphasis and the Secondary Licensure Emphasis. These emphases do not require a separate minor, and allow students to pursue a course of study in which History is integrated with other disciplines across campus.

This emphasis prepares students for graduate work and employment in Public History fields. A minimum of 65 credits is required, including the required 33 credit History Core, 26 credits of required supporting courses and 6 credits of designated elective courses. 

HIST 200Historical Inquiry3
HIST 370Public History3
HIST 371Oral History Workshop3
HIST 372Monuments and Museums3
HIST 373History of the National Parks Service3
HIST 399Internship in History3
HIST 402Engaging the Past3
Select two of the following:6
HIST 101
World History to 1500 (GT-HI1)
HIST 102
World History Since 1500 (GT-HI1)
HIST 126
U.S. History to 1865 (GT-HI1)
HIST 127
U.S. History Since 1865 (GT-HI1)
Select two of the following:6
HIST 330
Colonial America
HIST 333
American Revolution and the Early Republic
HIST 340
Emergence of the Modern U.S.
HIST 343
Depression and World War II
HIST 346
Recent American History
HIST 348
History of the Trans-Mississippi West
HIST 349
History of the Hispanic Southwest
HIST 350
Environmental History of the Borderlands
Total Credits33
Required Supporting Courses
ANTH 107Introduction to General Anthropology (GT-SS3)3
ANTH 219Archaeology (with laboratory)4
ANTH 230Cultural Anthropology (with laboratory)4
COM 231Stagecraft I3
COM 323Media/ Arts Management3
ENVS 100Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2)3
ROE 230Interpretation of Natural and Cultural History3
One of the following:3-4
BIOL 130
Environmental Biology (GT-SC2)
BIOL 150
Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)
BIOL 151
Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory)
GEOL 101
Physical Geology (GT-SC2)
Two of the following:6
ACC 201
Introduction to Financial Accounting
ANTH 344
Native North America
ANTH 467
Ethnography Field School
ART 222
Art History I
ART 223
Art History II
ART 321
American Art: Colonial to Modern
ART 422
Native American Art of North America
BUAD 185
Business Communication
BUAD 210
Legal Environment of Business
BUAD 270
Principles of Marketing
BUAD 275
Innovation + Entrepreneurship: Mindset
BUAD 300
Business Ethics
COM 205
Communication Arts I
COM 305
Communication Arts II
COM 346
Multimedia Communication
CS 120
Professional Computer Skills
CS 160
Introduction to Web Design
GEOG 120
Introduction to Human Geography (GT-SS2)
GEOG 222
Our Digital Earth
POLS 282
Issues in State and Local Government
ROE 235
Foundations of Teaching Environmental Education
Total Credits32-33

Capstone Course Requirement

The following course in the History Major fulfills the Capstone Course Requirement: HIST 402 Engaging the Past.

Graduation Requirements

Undergraduate programs require a minimum of 120 semester credits for graduation.  Of those 120 credits, 40 credits must be in upper-division courses (those marked 300 and above).  Fifteen of these 40 upper-division credits must be earned in courses that are part of the standard or comprehensive major program being pursued. 

Students are expected to review all graduation requirements, which can be found in the Western Undergraduate Catalog: Graduation Requirements

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
ANTH 107 Introduction to General Anthropology (GT-SS3) 3
ENG 102 Academic Writing (GT-CO1) 3
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
MATH 113 Statistical Thinking (GT-MA1) 3
Elective HIST Elective 3
ANTH 218 Biological Anthropology (with laboratory) 4
COM 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2) 3
ENVS 100 Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2) 3
HIST 200 Historical Inquiry 3
Elective HIST Elective 3
Year Two
ANTH 219 Archaeology (with laboratory) 4
HIST 370 Public History 3
Gen Ed Natural Sciences w/lab (BIOL 130/BIOL 135 or GEOL 101/GEOL 105 or BIOL 150) 4
Gen Ed Arts & Humanities 3
ANTH 230 Cultural Anthropology (with laboratory) 4
ROE 230 Interpretation of Natural and Cultural History 3
COM 231 Stagecraft I 3
Gen Ed Arts & Humanities 3
Elective Elective 3
HIST 373 History of the National Parks Service 3
Year Three
HIST 371 Oral History Workshop 3
HIST 399 Internship in History 1-3
Elective Elective (upper division) 6
Elective Public History Elective 3
COM 323 Media/ Arts Management 3
HIST 372 Monuments and Museums 3
Elective Elective (upper division) 6
Elective Public History Elective 3
Year Four
HIST 402 Engaging the Past 3
Elective Elective (upper division) 9
Elective HIST Elective (upper division) 3
Elective Elective (upper division) 10
Elective HIST Elective (upper division) 3
 Total Credits118-120


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  • History majors
  • Must have a 3.2 cumulative GPA
  • Must be a full-time junior or senior (completed 30 credits at Western)
  • Scholarship and intellectual inquisitiveness are major considerations


This scholarship is provided by the family and friends of Dr. Charles Livermore, who was an extraordinary teacher, scholar and administrator, a professor of history and chairman of the Social Studies Department at Western.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: Donor Scholarship Committee (T.L. Livermore) in cooperation with the Western Colorado University Foundation.


Contact the Behavioral & Social Sciences Department for application and deadline information.

970.943.7011 | Kelley Hall 240

Learn more about Western’s History Program.


  • Full-time students
  • Colorado residents
  • Must be sophomore or higher, History major
  • Must have completed 24 credit hours at Western
  • Demonstrate financial need


This scholarship is provided by family and friends to memorialize Robert Glenn Wilson, an outstanding example of academic achievement, citizenship, and student growth at Western Colorado University.

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by: History Department


The Robert Glenn Wilson Jr. Memorial Scholarship is awarded based on the recommendations of and selection by the History Department faculty.

Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 1 for 2022. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Council, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.


Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming first-year student or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found below. Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.


Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.


The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming first-year students.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

Expand your community and your network.

There are so many ways that you can maximize your educational experience at Western Colorado University. Take advantage of these opportunities to advance your career.

  • Field Experience: Public History majors travel to historical locations and visit local, regional and state museums and archives.
  • History Honor Society: Join Iota Nu Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, one of Western’s oldest academic honor societies.
  • History League: Sponsors student activities including movie nights, Ancient Games and historical field trips.
  • Internships: Land an internship with local, regional, state and national museums, historical preservation commissions, and historical societies.
  • Study Abroad: Travel to India, Ecuador, Prague, London, Italy or Belize through Extended Studies and earn History credit through independent study or transfer credit.

History buffs

The Public History emphasis is built on a core of History courses, which introduce students to the associated fields of historic preservation, archival sciences, museum curatorship and oral history while being supported by academic historical content courses.

News & Research

Public history students

Public History Students in the Field

Read More about Public History Students in the Field
Spotlight: Ashley O’Hara, Alumna

Spotlight: Ashley O’Hara, Alumna

Read More about Spotlight: Ashley O’Hara, Alumna
Sarah with her dog

Spotlight: Sarah Bellian, Alumna

Read More about Spotlight: Sarah Bellian, Alumna
Western adding new minors, emphases to curriculum for 2018-19

Western adding new minors, emphases to curriculum for 2018-19

Read More about Western adding new minors, emphases to curriculum for 2018-19

Department Chairperson

Heather Thiessen-Reily, Ph.D.

Professor of History

Administrative Assistant

Patricia McCarthy

Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences Administrative Assistant

Campus Location

Western Colorado University
Kelley Hall 240
1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81231

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