Is World History Mandatory in College?

World history is an incredibly broad subject, encompassing everything from the earliest civilizations to the present day. As such, it’s no surprise that many colleges and universities require students to take at least one course in world history as part of their general education requirements.

But is this requirement really necessary? Let’s explore the pros and cons of mandating world history in college.


Broadens Horizons

One of the biggest advantages of requiring world history is that it exposes students to a wide range of cultures and perspectives. By studying the histories of different countries and peoples, students gain a deeper understanding of how these groups have shaped the world we live in today. This can help foster greater empathy and appreciation for diversity, which are important qualities in an increasingly globalized society.

Develops Critical Thinking Skills

In addition to broadening horizons, studying world history can also help develop critical thinking skills. By analyzing different historical events and their causes and effects, students learn how to evaluate evidence, construct arguments, and draw conclusions based on multiple perspectives. These skills are essential not just for academic success but also for navigating real-world challenges.

  • Cons

Limited Relevance

One argument against mandating world history is that it may not be relevant to all students’ interests or career goals. For example, someone who plans to major in computer science or engineering may not see how studying ancient civilizations will have any practical application in their field. This could lead some students to feel disengaged or resentful towards the requirement.

Diversity Can Be Overemphasized

While exposure to diverse cultures is undoubtedly beneficial, some critics argue that mandating world history courses can overemphasize identity politics at the expense of other important areas of study. For example, a student who is passionate about environmental issues may feel frustrated if they are required to spend a semester learning about ancient Mesopotamia instead of focusing on topics that align more closely with their interests.


Overall, the question of whether world history should be mandatory in college is a complex one. While there are certainly benefits to exposing students to diverse cultures and developing critical thinking skills through the study of history, there are also valid concerns about relevance and overemphasis on certain topics.

Ultimately, it may be up to individual colleges and universities to decide whether mandating world history is the best approach for their students. However, regardless of whether it is required or not, taking a world history course can still be a valuable and enriching experience for those who choose to do so.