Skip to Content

M.A. Program


The Masters Degree in History

NOTE: The department recently adopted new requirements (listed below) for M.A. students entering in Fall 2008 and subsequent years. Students who entered before this date are still subject to the old requirements, which are still available on our website.

Download M.A. program policies and a typical timetable of progress here.

Major field requirement

Students must declare a major field of study, chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor.

[back to top]

Plan of study

By the end of the first quarter in the program, students are required to file a Plan of Study, signed by the advisor, in which they state their major field, list all anticipated course work and specify their language requirement. The Plan of Study may be modified later by agreement of both student and advisor. All Plans of Study are reviewed and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

[back to top]

Course requirements

First-year sequence (3 courses)
All first-year M.A. students are required to take the following:

  • HIST 612, Historical Methods, taken in fall term
  • HIST 615, Professional Development and Field Preparation (1 credit, P/NP), taken in conjunction with HIST 611 or its equivalent in winter term
  • HIST 616, History Conference (1 credit, P/NP), taken in spring term

Field readings (1 course)
The one-course field readings requirement, to be completed in the first two quarters of the first year, may be fulfilled in one of three ways:

  • HIST 611 Field Readings, with advisor
  • An appropriate 500-level course with advisor
  • HIST 608 Colloquium, if in field and equivalent to Field Readings

Seminars (2 courses)

Two seminars, numbered HIST 507 or HIST 607, one of which must be completed in the first year.

Colloquia (2 courses)
Two colloquia numbered HIST 608, or HIST 508 with permission.

[back to top]

Credit requirements

The Graduate School requires a minimum of 45 graduate credit hours and a minimum grade point average of 3.0. At least 30 graduate credit hours must be taken in History, and 24 of the 30 must be graded. Additional credit requirements include:

  • at least 3 credit hours each quarter, including the quarter when the thesis defense is held,
  • at least 30 graduate credit hours (24 of them graded) taken in residence over at least two quarters, and
  • a maximum of 15 graduate credits accepted in transfer credit

[back to top]

Language requirement

All M.A. students must demonstrate proficiency in at least one foreign language by passing an exam that tests the ability to read and comprehend a passage of average difficulty drawn from primary sources or the secondary literature. The language exam is offered once each quarter during the regular academic year.

Advisors must approve the choice of language. M.A. students whose thesis or research papers require work in foreign language sources are strongly urged to complete this requirement by the end of the first year of study. Advisors may set higher standards and/or include additional languages in which students must demonstrate competence. These standards should be established at the time a faculty accepts a graduate student and written on the Plan of Study form.

[back to top]

Writing requirements

There are two options for satisfying the major writing requirement for the M.A.

Option One. Students complete a master’s thesis in their major focus of study and pass an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of three faculty members.

Option Two. Students complete two substantial research papers and pass an oral defense of these papers before a committee of three faculty members. For the purposes of this option, a research paper is defined as a paper of 25 pages or more, based on primary source research.

Students completing the Thesis Option may enroll in a maximum of 10 Thesis Credits (HIST 503), usually in the winter and spring of their second year. Students choosing the Two-Paper Option may register for 5 credits of Research (HIST 601), usually in either winter or spring of their second year.

[back to top]

Time to degree

Under ordinary circumstances, it takes students two full years of work to complete this program.

[back to top]