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Overview and Learning Outcomes

Knowledge   I   Habits of Mind   I   Practical Skills

The University of Utah is a co-educational, non-sectarian, state-supported institution of some 27,000 students and 4,000 faculty. Founded in 1850, it is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning west of the Missouri River. The 1,500 acre campus is located along the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, the westernmost branch of the Rockies, overlooking Salt Lake City.

The Department of History offers courses of study leading to the PhD, MA, and MS degrees, and has a particular strength in the history of the American West. In addition to the life of the Department, faculty and graduate students are engaged with the University’s most exciting interdisciplinary programs. Among them are the American West Center, Gender Studies Program, the Middle East Center, the Asia Center, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Confucius Institute, the Environmental Humanities Program, the International Studies Program, and the Tanner Humanities Center.

All graduate students have generous accommodations in the Department including a reading room and lounge as well as a dedicated consultation room in which teaching assistants can meet with students. The Department boasts a reserve library for graduate students researching the American West.

Graduates of the program not only learn about the past, they also develop a capacity for careful and rigorous thought, cultural competence, and abilities that promote success in careers throughout the global economy. These learning outcomes* include content knowledge, habits of mind, and practical skills.

Content Knowledge

  • Identify key events that express change over time
  • Identify and explain the causes of both continuity and change
  • Describe the influence of political ideologies, economic structures, social organizations, cultural perceptions, and natural environments on historical events 
  • Discuss the ways in which factors such as race, gender, class, ethnicity, region, and religion influence historical narratives

Habits of Mind

  • Explain how people have existed, acted, and thought in particular historical periods
  • Explain what influence the past has on the present
  • Develop an international perspective on the past that addresses the cumulative effect of global exchange, engagement, and interdependence
  • Interpret the complexity and diversity of situations, events, and past mentalities
  • Compare eras and regions in order to define enduring issues
  • Recognize and understand a range of viewpoints
  • Compare competing historical narratives
  • Challenge arguments of historical inevitability
  • Analyze cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causation
  • Identify and address the problem of evidentiary ambiguity

Practical Skills

  • Evaluate competing claims
  • Differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations
  • Assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources
  • Formulate historical questions
  • Obtain historical data from a variety of sources
  • Recognize the discipline's standards for accurate and ethical research
  • Construct and support a coherent and compelling historical argument


*The History Department participates and promotes “History Tuning” at the State level through USHE, and at the national level through the American Historical Association. The History Tuning program was founded, and funded, by the Lumina Foundation. This faculty-led process has identified History Learning Outcomes for the discipline and is being implemented in all higher education institutions in the state. The History tuning program synchronizes well with the University’s move towards integrating Learning Outcomes into the core curriculum and by providing meaningful modes of curricular assessment. In the History department, for undergraduate assessment, this has taken the form of a new methodologies course (History 3100), the existing capstone senior seminar (History 4990) acting as an assessment tool, and a graduating seniors exit survey centered on Learning Outcomes 

Last Updated: 11/3/21