What Do You Learn in American History in College?

As a college student, one of the classes that you might be required to take is American History. This course offers an in-depth exploration of the political, social, and economic events that have influenced the development of the United States. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what you can expect to learn in American History in college.

Overview of American History Course

American History is a comprehensive course that covers the major events and themes that have shaped the United States. This includes the exploration and colonization of America, the American Revolution, westward expansion, slavery and abolitionism, Civil War and Reconstruction, industrialization and urbanization, World War I and II, Cold War tensions, civil rights movements, and 21st-century America.

Exploration and Colonization

The course begins with an examination of early European exploration and colonization efforts in America. This section covers topics like Christopher Columbus’s voyages to America, the Spanish conquest of Mexico and Peru, British colonialism in North America, French expansion into Canada and Louisiana territory.

American Revolution

The American Revolution is another major theme covered in this course. Students will learn about key figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin who played pivotal roles in securing independence from Britain. The Declaration of Independence will be explored as well as important battles like Lexington & Concord.

Slavery & Abolitionism

The course delves into slavery – one of the most controversial topics in American history. Students will learn about the transatlantic slave trade that brought millions of Africans forcibly to work on plantations across America. The rise of abolitionist movements particularly Frederick Douglass’s work will also be covered.

Civil War & Reconstruction

One major event that shaped America was Civil War which was fought over issues including slavery secession. Students will learn about the key battles and military leaders of this era, including Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Ulysses S. Grant. The Reconstruction period after the war when the federal government worked to rebuild and integrate southern states into the Union will be explored.

Industrialization & Urbanization

The American history course also covers the rapid economic growth during the late 19th century brought about by industrialization and urbanization. This includes topics like mass production, technological innovations, rise of big businesses like Carnegie’s steel production and Rockefeller’s oil refinery.

World War I & II

The course also examines America’s involvement in World War I & II – two global conflicts that had a significant impact on American history. Students will learn about the causes and consequences of both wars as well as America’s role in each conflict.

Cold War Tensions

Another major event covered in American History is Cold War tensions between the US and Soviet Union that lasted from 1945-1991. The course explores how this geopolitical conflict shaped international relations, domestic politics, and popular culture.

Civil Rights Movements

Finally, students will learn about civil rights movements of 1960s that aimed at ending racial discrimination against African Americans in America. Key figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X will be discussed along with key events like Montgomery Bus Boycotts or March on Washington.


In conclusion, American History is a fascinating course that offers an extensive exploration of key historical events and themes that have shaped America over centuries. By studying this subject matter in college students gain a deeper appreciation for how far America has come in terms of social progress while also understanding its struggles from past till today.