Skip to main content
SPS Logo

Program Overview

History

History

Pursue a course of study focusing on the analysis of historical developments, events, and interpretations. Students will deepen their understanding of current scholarship on the past, as well as of the fundamental problems of historical evidence and explanation.

START MY APPLICATIONRequest InformationATTEND AN INFORMATION SESSION

 

About the History program

History Course Schedule

The History Course Schedule page provides you with detailed information on the program's offerings.

History Faculty

You can find a full listing of our instructors in this certificate program on the History Faculty page.

Admission for the History program

Applicants to this certificate program must hold a graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college, university or its foreign equivalent. A competitive graduate record that indicates strong academic ability is required. Work, internship, or research experience is highly desirable, but not a requirement. Work, internship, or research experience is highly desirable, but not a requirement. A list of admission requirements can be found on our History Admission page.

History Tuition

Tuition costs can vary for each of our programs. For the most up-to-date information on financial obligations, please visit our History Tuition page.

History Registration Information

Our History Registration Information page outlines important dates and deadlines as well as the process for adding and dropping courses.

Gainful Employment in History

Common questions and answers related to cost, financing and success in this certificate program are found on our Gainful Employment in History page.

Additional Information

This post-graduate certificate in history may be especially beneficial to educators, students who are thinking of going on to a PhD program, or anyone who wants to combine interdisciplinary methods with specific subjects. The coursework will:

  • Expose students to Northwestern University’s distinguished and world class instructors.
  • Provide students with countless opportunities to engage with others who are passionate to learn more about vitally important social and cultural issues through history, religion, philosophy, art, literature and film.
  • Prepare students for the intellectual demands of professional life by enriching students’ understanding of a broad array of social and cultural issues while improving their ability to analyze, write and complete research.
  • Sharpen analytical and writing abilities, which can help prepare students for application to PhD programs.

Applicants must possess a graduate degree in order to be considered for this program.

 

Find out more about Northwestern's History program

History Course Options

To complete this certificate, students may take any four courses available in the topic area (which may include courses available through The Graduate School). To satisfy the four units of credit required for the certificate, students also have the option to register for the following:

  • An independent study, which is a customized course of study undertaken by a single student under the guidance of an instructor. Denoted by the course number, 499, independent studies are comparable in their demands to other graduate-level courses.
  • A capstone project, which is an essay of 45 to 75 double-spaced pages written under the supervision of an approved faculty member. The project presents an opportunity to research and explore a topic thoroughly. Students often elect to expand a seminar paper from a previous course. Students who wish to pursue a capstone project must do so as their fourth and final course in the certificate program.

Students who did not previously study the humanities at the graduate level are strongly encouraged to take IPLS 410: Introduction to Cultural Analysis. This course introduces students to interdisciplinary cultural analysis through an intellectual history of critical theorists and thinkers. Through close reading, seminar discussion and presentations, students develop their critical analysis skills.

Please note that courses completed in the certificate program cannot be transferred to the corresponding graduate degree.

Core Courses:Course Detail
Tolerance: A Global History <> IPLS 401-0

The current election cycle seems be bringing into stark relief some fundamental questions surrounding difference in contemporary society. One of the hallmarks of modern society is its attempt to produce a truly diverse populace through the elevation of tolerance—of neighbors who lead culturally different lives—to a primary value. As noble as the idea of tolerance may seem, it has faced and continues to face resistance in our contemporary world for a variety of reasons. This course begins with the premise that tolerance is not a simple concept, that it has a complicated origin story in the Reformation/Counter-Reformation and that, ironically, it was global Christianity in its missionizing that laid the groundwork for the proliferation of ideologies of tolerance and diversity in modernity. The course will begin its focus on missionaries, a group of people rarely identified with tolerance. We will read primary texts associated with the conquest of the New World that attempt to characterize and cultivate native populations, whose own religious patrimonies represented not only a barrier to conversion but a genuine threat to global Christian ways of understanding phenomena in the world. In this context we will examine as case studies the writings of religious scholars who encountered different religious cultures in North America and South Asia. We will see how these missionary scholars employed religious categories like “idolatry” and “superstition” to think about the different societies they encountered and to process elements of these societies that could be tolerated as "cultural" difference. This material will prepare us for a transition to Enlightenment philosophical writings about tolerance. We will closely examine Voltaire's Treatise on Tolerance and John Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration and consider these in light of the emerging philosophical tradition and in contrast with the missionary texts that, we will see, pave the way for some of the ideas contained within these works. Finally, we will reflect on contemporary society’s tolerance challenges and consider what scholarly works from early modernity and the Enlightenment could teach us today. (This course may count towards the History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
From Hamilton to “Hamilton” <> IPLS 401-0

This course will explore how Lin Manuel Miranda has repurposed early American history to resonate with present-day concerns such as immigration, citizenship, and upward mobility. His musical "Hamilton" has become a national sensation, and its popularity affords us an opportunity to learn not only about our nation's founding, but also about the evolution of hip hop and the meaning of the country's demographic transformation. We will examine primary texts from Alexander Hamilton’s time, in addition to more recent musical recordings, narratives of Latina/o History, and documents related to the career of Miranda himself, including excerpts from his first musical, “In the Heights.” (This course may count towards the History, American Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Introduction to Digital Studies <> IPLS 420-0

How do we better understand the conjuncture of digital technologies and the humanities? What kinds of thinking, research, teaching, politics, and cultural analysis can the digital enhance? How, in turn, do the fields that constitute the humanities (history, literary and language studies, philosophy, art history, musicology, cultural anthropology, media studies, etc.) offer guidance and grounding in today's wireless world? This course introduces students to the emerging field of critical digital studies, which looks at the intersection of digital technology and the humanities. Through a blending of weekly online engagements and three, Saturday afternoon face-to-face seminars, we address topics such as: what is the history of both the humanities and digital approaches to it as an interdisciplinary project? How can we address humanities questions today through new tactics of computational study found in informatics, statistical analysis, data visualization, and "big data" approaches? What new modes of publishing and scholarly communication do digital technologies make possible (multimedia presentation, podcasts, video, visualization, etc.)? How do we understand the ethics and politics of the digital world (surveillance, open source, net neutrality, sustainability, power)? Each week, students conduct readings and viewings, explore case studies, and complete online experiments. We pursue vigorous online discussion and convene in person for a seminar three times over the course of the quarter. Students pursue a final digital project in consultation with the instructor and in relation to individual interests and pursuits (graduate work, professional interests, digital humanities methodologies). Weekly topics include: digital annotation and database construction for close reading; "distant reading" tactics; digital mapping and timeline building; data and archives; network analysis; glitching and deformance for hermeneutic interpretation; and platforms and social media for humanities inquiry. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, Digital Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Literature, British Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course is required of MALS and COAGS students, specializing in Digital Studies. But any interested graduate student may take the course as an elective. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on January 13, February 10, and March 17.)


There is no available section.
Courses:Course Detail
Cinema, History, Const. of Rel <> IPLS 401-0

Since the early years after their introduction in the closing decade of the nineteenth century, motion pictures have constituted the most popular and pervasive form of entertainment for the US general public. Even under the competitive assault of television, movies still hold the preeminent position, inasmuch as a major portion of the content of television programming, whether via the commercial networks or the plethora of cable providers, is comprised of movies - either those produced for the theater venue or specially made-for-TV/cable. From the outset, the claim has been made in various quarters that cinematic productions have significant formative influence - positive or negative - on their audiences. This course is offered on the premise that movies do, in fact, have significant influence on the formation of social and religious values, the formation of the narrative of who we are as a nation, and in informing the mode of our interaction with the public sphere. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Religious and Ethical Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Film, Literature, and Visual Culture or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Religion, Existentialism, and Film <> IPLS 401-0

In the aftermath of the World War I, many artists and filmmakers asked new questions about the relationship between realism and religion. Could one reconcile concrete reality (or realism) with faith in the other-worldly? Many of the artists under discussion in the course drew upon themes that had already been raised by Kierkegaard in the 19th century. What is the relationship between religion and modernity, faith and ethics, reality and the supernatural, observable phenomena and invisible causes? How does one make sense of death in a meaningless universe? Is the universe meaningless? Can meaning be found in realism itself? This course asks students to grapple simultaneously with philosophy and film. We will dig into the language of existential philosophy and compare it to the language of film. We will read Kierkegaard and Sartre and watch films made by Robert Bresson, Luis Buñuel, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ingmar Bergman, and Woody Allen. In so doing, we will study how mid-to-late 20th century filmmakers sought to understand and portray life's many meanings, presenting protagonists who actively take up religious life, or who consider themselves inhabiting a godless and meaningless universe. In both genres, we will think about the problem of “experience” and how to narrate it. We will discuss the relationship between realism, atheism, Christianity and modernity, as well as the role of Christian symbolism in existentialist literature and film. (This course may count towards the American Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may count towards the Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


There is no available section.
Imagining the Internet: Fiction, Film and Theory <> IPLS 401-0

Much recent fiction, film, and theory are concerned with representing the internet and online environments. Sometimes cyberspace is depicted as a continuation of previous media such as television, cinema, or telephone, but often it is envisioned as a new frontier. This course will examine the ways in which digital interfaces appear in cultural discourses. We consider how technological objects and tools participate in shaping elements of our culture that may appear natural, logical, or timeless. Our guiding questions will include the following: In what ways are these narratives shaping collective perceptions of the internet? How have virtual technologies challenged experiences of language, gender, sex, race, ethnicity, and location? We will focus on literary and filmic representations of social networking, gaming, news delivery, and artificial intelligence. Following a Cultural Studies model for inquiry, this course will be text-based with require that you develop close reading strategies, as well as revise your work. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Digital Studies, History, Religious and Ethical Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. But any interested graduate student may take the course as an elective. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on January 13, February 10, and March 17.)


There is no available section.
Seminar II:Chicago Communities <> IPLS 402-0

Chicago is known both as a city of neighborhoods and as a city made up of multiple ethnic groups. This course explores both, and especially their intersection in local ethnic communities. It will look at the historical waves of immigration that built the city and compare that to current ethnic groups and the construction of today's local urban communities. We will explore issues of identity, inequality, and political economy surrounding ethnicity. Finally, we will locate these issues in the context of Chicago as a global city. (This course may count toward the American studies, history, and Chicago studies specializations.)


There is no available section.
Asian Religions in Lit & Film <> IPLS 402-0

Since the age when the maritime explorers searched for a passage to India and a shorter route to the East, Asia has held a fascination for the West and the religions and cultures of Asia have influenced Western literature, philosophy and religion. This course explores some of the classic literature of the Asian religions, Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism, and also considers some of the ways that this literature has been interpreted in the modern period in both Asian and Western film and literature. Among our readings will be two of the great epics of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita and the Ramayana, as well as key writings from the Buddhist tradition, and the Chinese Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing). We shall also view examples of Asian and Western film and read modern works by authors such as Thoreau, Forster and Kerouac in order to inquire how this Asian literature and its religious themes have been interpreted and re-imagined in the modern period. (This course may count toward the American, World and Comparative literature, or Literature, film, and visual culture specializations in MALit. It may count toward the American studies, History, and Religion and ethical studies specializations in MALS. It may also count toward any of these specialization certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


There is no available section.
Paradigms and the Cold-War <> IPLS 492-0

Can a single book capture the imagination of an entire nation? Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions has come close. Since its publication in 1962, Kuhn’s portrait of scientific revolutions and his theory of “paradigms” have inspired intellectuals, professionals, and would-be revolutionaries in many walks of life. Behind Kuhn’s book, however, lays a story of intellectual ambition and student-teacher rivalry, of the challenges facing Jewish intellectuals in America, and the geopolitical ‘struggle for men’s minds’ that consumed Joseph McCarthy’s America in the 1950s. Through readings and discussions on social history, history of science, and archival documents, this course will examine Kuhn’s book as a mirror of cold-war American history and as a framework for posing broader questions about social pluralism, the nature of scientific truth, and roles of intellectuals in American society. (This course may count toward the American studies and History specializations in MALS. It may also count toward any of these specialization certificate programs.)


View IPLS 492-0 Sections
Queer Theory <> IPLS 492-0

This course will introduce you to Queer Theory and theories of sexuality, emphasizing the practice of reading theory from a variety of textual sources as well as conceiving of sexualities within both local and transnatinoal contexts. We will trace the development of both the term queer and the history of queer theory, beginning with foundational texts about sexuality and its regulation by Foucault and seminal essays about queer theory by Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Michael Warner and Lauren Berlant. We will then read canonical essays by a variety of queer theorists which will serve the basis for analyzing several books and films including Lawrence Chua's Gold by the Inch, Jules Rosskam’s Transparent, and the British television series, Metrosexuality. Discussions will query how queer theory formulates racial, class and national identities in relation to sexuality, and how it might offer politics beyond those based on identity. In the duration of the course, we will discuss "gay" versus "queer"; processes for conducting a “queer critique”; the historical emergence of the concept of sexuality; the emergence and trajectory of Queer Theory as a disciplinary category; techniques of normalization; the authority of experience; politics beyond identity politics; the aesthetics of self-formation, self-care, self-replication, and selfdissolution; polymorphous perversity; intersectionality and its relationship to Queer Theory; race and class as key interventions into the Queer Theory canon; trans theory as it intersects with and contributes to with Queer Theory; intergenerational sex; transnational queer theories and concerns; how queer theory formulates racial, class and national identities in relation to sexuality. Reading list to include: Michel Foucault History of Sexuality Vol 1 Laurence Chua Gold by the Inch Ed. Hall and Jagose Routlege Queer Studies Reader (2013). (This course may count towards the History and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


There is no available section.
France at a Time of Crisis, 1930-1950 <> IPLS 492-0

The period 1930-1950 is considered one of the most unstable, terrifying and debated periods in French cultural history. Over the past 65 years, historians, sociologists and the French Establishment have consciously or unconsciously chosen to emphasize, de-emphasize and neglect certain aspects of this traumatic period. This course, rooted in history and textual analysis, will evaluate how key events of this era such as the Great Depression, the Popular Front, the threat of fascism, World War II, Resistance and Collaboration, and the revival of parliamentary government are “remembered” by the French people. Students will complete an in-depth topical investigation in this course that will contribute to both their knowledge and their research skills. (This course may count towards the History and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs.)


View IPLS 492-0 Sections
Defining Chicago <> IPLS 492-0

In this course, we will examine two parallel, though often intersecting, discourses which attempt to define Chicago: formal urban planning documents and literary representations of the city. From Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett’s 1909 Plan of Chicago onwards, Chicago powers-that-be have tried to transform the chaotic city into the City Beautiful (and/or the City Profitable) with formal planning documents, some aspects of which (when enacted by law) transform the cityscape itself. These documents demonstrate deep and complicated relationships between economic forces, political power, and human agency and identity. Meanwhile, Chicago’s poets and fiction writers shape our understanding of American identity in that same dynamic cityscape. In this course, we will examine planners as poets, and poets as planners to explore the evolution of Chicago from the early 20th Century to today. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


There is no available section.
Race, Space & Place in Chicago <> LIT 492-0

Chicago is still the most segregated big city in America, and it has a long history of writers who represented its racial and ethnic conflicts. In this course, we will read and discuss the canon of Chicago’s African-American literary tradition, along with other writers who represent how American identity is shaped by the Chicago, by issues of access to space, and the freedom (or lack thereof) to move through the urban landscape.

Our texts will include: Gwendolyn Brooks, Selected Poems; Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun; Richard Wright, Native Son; James T. Farrell, Chicago Stories; Bill Granger, Time for Frankie Coolin; and Bruce Norris, Clybourne Park.

(This course may count towards the American Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the liberal studies graduate and advanced graduate study certificate programs. )


There is no available section.
Chicago Transformed <> LIT 492-0

The only constant in Chicago history, and literature, is change. In this course, we will read and discuss more than a century's worth of textual explorations of fundamental shifts in Chicago's built environment, racial and ethnic identities, and literaary expressions. Who lives where? Who has power and who takes it? Who expresses the most important aspects of these transformations, and how do writers across generations agree and disagree? Our readings will include canonical and more obscure writers, from Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Nelson Algren to Bill Granger, Stuart Dybek, and Dan Sinker. (This course may count towards the  American Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may also count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


There is no available section.
The US-Mexico Border in Literature and Film LIT 492-0

The US-Mexico border has been the site of intense cultural conflict since the mid-nineteenth century. It marks both the connection and the division between two nations, and many of our most fraught conversations concern whether the border should be a bridge or a wall. As an entry point into these conversations, this course will survey literature and film centering on the US-Mexico border. Students will become familiar with the history of the border, beginning with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in 1848 and extending through NAFTA and up to the current political climate. Together we will consider how the border has become such a potent site for contemporary mythmaking, a flashpoint for anxieties about race, labor, gender, and sexuality. Literary texts will include Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands / La Frontera (1987), Sandra Cisneros’s Woman Hollering Creek (1991), Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing (1994), Carlos Fuentes’s La frontera de cristal (1995), Juan Felipe Herrera’s 187 Reasons Mexicans Can’t Cross the Border: Undocuments (1995), and Carmen Boullosa’s Tejas (2014). (Texts originally written in Spanish will be taught in English translation.) Films will include The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982), Selena (1997), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), and Sin Nombre (2009). (This course may count towards the American Literature, Comparative and World Literature, Film, Literature, and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may count towards the American Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or an elective in the creative writing program.)


There is no available section.
Back to top