The program concentrates on the area of social history, which is a broad-ranging and diverse field. It is this which gives it its identity and it is through this diversity that researchers are able to express their understanding of historical phenomena. The French Annales school and Anglo-Saxon historians of the Marxist tendency have inspired objects, the search for different types of historical sources and the formulation of problems. However, the trademark of USP’s social history program is its diverse approach towards theoretical approaches: from microhistory and the new wave of political history to the history of concepts, engaging in the broad cultural aspects of societies and some of the problems posed by postcolonial or postmodernist studies. Concern about the complexity of Brazilian social history is central. However, the program is also recognized for bringing together experts in the fields of European history, as well as the history of the Americas, Africa and Asia. The time span that is covered is from the first organized human existence until the present day.

The multiplicity of themes is also characteristic of USP social history program, which incorporates issues such as slavery, race, gender, popular culture, religion, art, immigration, food, science, ideas etc. Such plurality incorporates seven areas of research in which experts are dedicated to their specialties. Researchers also meet in research laboratories that are linked to the areas of research and they operate in a transversal manner, disseminating the academic production that originates within the program.