We are not [just] makers of history. We are made by history.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
We believe that effective leadership is applied history. Therefore, the mission of the U.S. Naval Academy History Department is to ensure that each one of our more than one thousand graduates each year knows what she or he needs to know from history to be an educated and effective leader – first as junior officers, later as mid-career and senior officers, and ultimately for all, as citizen-leaders competently and honorably executing the challenging responsibilities we teach them to embrace as their life’s work. To discharge this obligation to the people of the United States, the History Department at the Naval Academy must be one of the finest undergraduate history departments in the nation.
Our graduates lead teams of diverse Sailors and Marines on deployments outside the continental United States where they will interact with partners and peoples around the world. They must know the history and cultures of those peoples as well as their own. To accomplish this aim, we teach three core courses: American Naval History (HH104) for plebes and two courses in a two-semester world history sequence (HH215 and HH216) for upper classmen. We also teach a large number of varied and interesting upper-level courses for History Majors that are also open to the Brigade as a whole. In addition to being a best-practice, broad-coverage history department, we serve the Naval Academy Mission by excelling in three particular areas – Naval & Military History, Regional History, and the challenging history of Human Differences.
We believe that a diverse faculty given the freedom to follow their intellectual curiosity and develop into unique professionals are the best teachers and historian-role models for our students. We foster a community of historians that also includes our students both in and outside of our courses and classrooms. Midshipmen majoring in History graduate from the Naval Academy with a B.S. degree in History.
McMullen Naval History Symposium
The History Department is the home of the world-renowned McMullen Naval History Symposium held biennially. It's the premier academic conference to showcase the latest research on naval and maritime history from experts all over the world. The 2021 Naval History Symposium brought together over 600 online and in-person participants. The 2023 Naval History Symposium will be held on 21-22 September 2023.
In addition to the standard major, there is a special honors major in which selected students may participate. Students also may be selected for the Trident Scholar Program and the Voluntary Graduate Education Program.
The faculty of the History Department includes specialists in many areas of history with doctorates from leading universities around the world.
The History Department sponsors many awards annually, including the Horace Porter and Merrill Bartlett Prizes. Every year, qualifying midshipmen are inducted into Phi Alpha Theta, the national History honor society.