History M.A. Degree

We welcome applicants of all ages and backgrounds. Our students have included lawyers and judges as well as translators and union organizers, recent undergrads as well as retired state department employees. While most of our students complete their degree in two years, others work on their MA part-time so they can continue their jobs while going to school, or combine family responsibilities with their own education, or simply explore the possibilities of graduate study at their own pace. All students must complete the program in six years.

Our graduates have gone on to excellent PhD programs such as UC-Berkeley, UCLA, Carnegie-Mellon, The College of William and Mary, Columbia University, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, The Ohio State University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University, Stanford and Yale University.  Other graduates move on to diverse jobs, many that are related to directly to history and some that are not, such as the law, banking, building, coaching, marketing, publishing, etc. A degree in history will teach you to read critically and to write well. These skills are useful in most jobs, and employers know it.

Requirements at a Glance

The History M.A. requires a minimum of thirty hours of coursework. You may include a maximum of six hours of Independent Study (HI 599) in your plan of graduate work. Curricular exceptions will be granted only with written permission of your advisor and the Director of Graduate Programs. Consult the History M.A. Handbook for detailed information on policies and procedures.

Core Courses, 6 Hours

  • HI 597: Historiography and Historical Method
  • HI 598: Historical Writing Seminar

In the first semester, students take Historiography and Historical Method (HI 597).This course covers the major steps of historical investigation, analysis of historical research, and discussion of methodology and archival materials used by historians. In the second semester, students take Historical Writing (HI 598). This small research seminar emphasizes the writing of history.

Primary Field, 12 Hours

The primary field consists of at least twelve hours of history courses, 500-level or above, in the student's specialty. Common major fields include United States history, ancient history, and European history. Students select their primary field in consultation with their advisor. Students must take two sections of Colloquium in History (HI 792) in either the primary or secondary field.

Secondary Field, 6 Hours

The secondary field consists of at least 6 hours of coursework, normally at the 500 level and above. The secondary field must be “distinctly different” from the primary field. For example, students may not have a primary field in nineteenth-century United States history and a secondary field in twentieth-century United States history. Students may also choose a minor program (typically 9 credit hours) outside of history from departments with graduate programs. With the advisor’s approval, students may take one non-history course at the 400 level (but not lower) in the secondary field. Students must take two sections of Colloquium in History (HI 792) in either the primary or secondary field.

Thesis, 6 Hours

​In the 6 hours of Master’s Thesis Research (HI 695), the advisor will help the student develop a research and writing plan. The committee will review thesis chapters and recommend changes while the work is in progress. Students who have fulfilled all degree requirements except the thesis must enroll in at least one hour of Master’s Thesis Preparation (HI 699) in order to meet the university’s continuous registration requirement.

Language Requirement

Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. The Department of Foreign Languages and Literature offers a certification exam to fulfill the language requirement. The certification exam consists of translating material from the foreign language into English. A student may also demonstrate proficiency with a grade of "C" or better in an advanced course in a foreign language.​​

Oral Examination

The advisory committee conducts an oral examination on the thesis and coursework in the final semester. Students should be able to provide an oral summary of their major findings in their thesis, the nature of the sources used, and their historiographical contribution in the field.