U.S. History Challenge Exam

Only enrolled CSUS students may take this exam.

California state law requires all candidates for graduation from a state institution of higher education to demonstrate a basic knowledge of United States history. This requirement may be met at CSUS by completing one semester of U.S. history in an approved course. It may also be met by passing a challenge examination in U.S. history, which is offered by the Department of History.

Students will have a better chance of passing the exam if:

  1. they have recently completed a very good high school course in U.S. history;
  2. they have read widely in the field on their own; or
  3. they can quickly and easily absorb and comprehend textbook material.

Students interested in taking the exam should contact the History Department Chair via email.

The U.S. History Challenge Exam covers the major social, political, and economic themes of American History from the colonial era to the present. To prepare for the exam, carefully study any comprehensive textbook account of U.S. history (see recommendations below).

Students will have three hours to fully answer the questions - typically two comprehensive essay questions and about ten short-answer questions. CSUS history faculty will grade the exam. To pass, a student must demonstrate a satisfactory general knowledge of American History approximately equivalent to that required of a student who has successfully completed the introductory courses in American History (HIST 17A and 17B). Papers will be scored pass/no pass. A pass on the exam satisfies the requirement but confers no credit. (In other words, you will receive credit for meeting the U.S. History requirement, but will not receive 3 units). The decision by the History Department is final.

It will be necessary to bring three bluebooks and some pencils or pens.

Recommended Texts:

Alan Brinkley, et al. American History: A Survey. Vol. I and Vol. II.

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty! An American History, Vol. I and Vol. II

Leon F. Litwack. The United States: Becoming a World Power. Vol. I and Vol. II.

Mary B. Norton. A People and a Nation: A History of the United States. Vol. I and Vol. II.

R. Jackson Wilson, et al. Pursuit of Liberty: A History of the American People