A history degree without studying U.S. history? It’s possible at top colleges like Harvard, Yale and Stanford

The council’s survey of programs at 76 highly ranked colleges and universities found that 53 do not require history students to take a course focused on the nation’s history. Among the 23 that do have such a requirement were the University of California at Berkeley, the College of William and Mary, Columbia University and — not surprisingly — the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy.

But faculty interviewed at some of the 53 no-requirement schools said the situation is not as dire as it looks. Most history students take courses on the United States regardless of the fine print, they said.

“From a purely pragmatic point of view, our curriculum committee has not felt the need for such a requirement because virtually all [history] students take at least one U.S. history course without our needing to require it,” said Daniel Lord Smail, chair of the history department at Harvard.

Among Harvard’s requirements for the major is a half-course in U.S. or European history, as well as half-courses in non-western history, pre-modern history and various other seminars and electives.