Undergraduate Major

Understanding how science, medicine and society interact is key to addressing almost any of the challenges facing the 21st century. Indeed, science and medicine have become integral to our conceptions of race, gender and identity; national security, economic growth and natural risks; sex, death and illness. Science and medicine pervade politics, markets and culture to a larger extent than ever before.

Studying the history of science and medicine provides a critical entry into understanding these relationships between science, medicine and society. Indeed, history is not primarily about the past, but first and foremost about building intellectual tools to make sense of the world we live in today.

History of Science, History of Medicine (HSHM) is an interdisciplinary program of study within the History Department that leads toward an understanding of the development and interactions of science, medicine and society. It explores a great variety of topics, such race and medicine in America, Chinese science, women and medicine, genetics and biotechnology public health and epidemics, science and the state, medical technologies and pharmaceutical drugs.

The program offers students considering a career in medicine, public health, or other fields of health care a way of combining the requirements of their preprofessional training with a broad liberal education. It also provides excellent preparation for many other careers in which a contextualized understanding of science and medicine is essential, including areas of law, industry, journalism, museum work, public policy, and government, as well as graduate study in the history of science and/or medicine.

For additional information about the major, including curricular requirements, the teaching faculty, and courses offered, see the online Yale College Programs of Study at
http://www.yale.edu/yalecollege/publications/ycps/chapter_iv/history_of_science.html. Official Yale College program and course information is found in Yale College Programs of Study, available on line at

The Major's Director of Undergraduate Studies

The principal faculty contact for prospective HSHM majors is the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS). The DUS for 2014-2015 is Professor Naomi Rogers, whose office is SHM L126 in the Sterling Hall of Medicine. She can be reached by e-mail (naomi.rogers@yale.edu) and by phone (203) 485-4341. Students interested in obtaining information about the HSHM major or who wish to register for it should contact Professor Radin. Professor Radin is the advisor for all sophomores in the major.

Individual Faculty Advisors

At the beginning of the academic year, juniors and seniors majoring in HSHM will be assigned to individual faculty advisors. They should seek the advice of their advisor in choosing their courses and constructing their course of study. Students are to have their course cards signed by these advisors at the beginning of each term. Undergraduate advisors for juniors and seniors are ordinarily drawn from the HSHM's core faculty and affiliates. Click here for a list of the faculty and their specialties.

Senior Project

By the end of reading period in the spring term of the junior year, students choose whether they will work toward a yearlong or a one-term senior project. Yearlong senior projects are completed in HSHM 490, 491; one-term projects are completed in HSHM 492. Students who choose a one-term project must take an additional seminar in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health during the final term of the senior year. Distinction in the Major is awarded only to students who complete a yearlong senior project.

For both the one-term and yearlong senior projects, students select a project adviser, propose a tentative topic and title, and submit a proposal to the senior project director. The final product of the senior requirement may be a written essay or an alternative project such as a film, exhibition, catalog, atlas, or historical data reconstruction. In the case of an alternative project, the student must identify a second reader in addition to the adviser before the project is approved by the senior project director. Either the adviser or the second reader must be a member of the faculty in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health. A written component to the senior project must illustrate sources and the intellectual significance of the project. For more details about requirements and deadlines, majors should consult the HSHM Senior Project Handbook; copies are available from the senior project director and on the program's web site (hshm.yale.edu).

The History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health's senior project director for 2014-2015 is Professor William Summers. His email address is william.summers@yale.edu. The HSHM Registrar is Ms. Barbara McKay (barbara.mckay@yale.edu) Her office is in 207 HGS and her phone number is: 432-1365. Students may consult her or the DUS about their records in the major, progress toward the completion of requirements for graduation, or other similar matters.

Undergraduate Contacts

Paul Freedman
Program Chair
Hall of Graduate Studies, Room HGS 300D, 320 York Street
Office Phone:  (203) 432-1399

Naomi Rogers 
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Sterling Hall of Medicine, Room SHM L126, 333 Cedar Street

William Summers
Senior Project Director

Barbara McKay
Undergraduate Registrar
Hall of Graduate Studies, Room 207
320 York Street
Office Phone: (203) 432-1365

Requirements of the Major for the Class of 2014

Students in the Class of 2014 may fulfill the requirements of the major in History of Science, History of Medicine that were in place when they entered the major, as described in previous editions of the Yale Bulletin or students in the Class of 2014 may fulfill the requirements of the major in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health as described below for the Class of 2015 and subsequent classes.

Requirements of the Major for the Class of 2015 and Subsequent Classes

The major in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health requires twelve term courses, including the two-term senior requirement. Students select a pathway of seven courses that guides them through an area of specialization. The seven pathway courses must included two courses in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health; one seminar numbered 100 or above in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health or in History; one science course; and three electives chosen from relevant courses in any department.

The five standard pathways in the major are medicine and public health; global health; science, technology, and power; gender and sexuality; and arts and media. Students may also design customized pathways in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. No later than the beginning of the junior year, students in the major must select a standard pathway or indicate that they wish to design their own.

Beyond the seven pathway courses, students must complete three additional electives in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health. One of the electives must be a seminar, and one must be chosen from a pathway other than the one selected for the major. All courses for the major are chosen in collaboration with the student's adviser.