Master's Degree

To be considered for admission to the masters program, candidates must have a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences degree. Their grade point average during the last sixty hours of undergraduate work must be at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. They also must have completed at least eighteen hours of work in undergraduate courses in history, with a grade point average of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale in those classes.

Candidates who lack the necessary undergraduate hours in history must take coursework to remedy that deficiency before they can be considered for admission. They should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies about appropriate classes. Graduate School regulations prohibit a non-degree student from taking more than twelve hours of coursework.

The department requires that the candidate take upper-level classes in history to correct his/her deficiency in hours. Candidates must achieve a grade point average in these classes of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale to be considered for admission. N.B.: A 3.3 GPA or higher does not guarantee admission. Coursework taken as a non-degree student to remedy a deficiency in prerequisites ordinarily will not count toward the MA degree.

Requirements for the Degree

Residency: A minimum of two semesters of full-time enrollment (9 hours each semester) or three semesters of part-time enrollment (6 hours each semester). Enrollment in all graduate courses requires the consent of the student’s adviser and the instructor(s) of the class.

Hours: Thirty semester hours of graduate credit are required by the Graduate School for the MA degree. The Graduate School also mandates that at least fifteen of these hours be in courses at the 8000 or 9000 level, and will not count more than twelve hours of individually directed studies toward the thirty hours necessary to earn the degree. The department requires that at least twenty of these hours be in history. For students of United States history, at least fifteen hours must be in formally constituted US history courses. For students in the non-United States history program, at least twelve hours must be in formally constituted non-US history courses. Independently directed work does not count toward fulfilling this requirement in either category.

Required Courses: A readings seminar in every semester in which as many as nine credit hours are carried, unless the student is granted an exemption by the Director of Graduate Studies. Every masters student must take History 8480, Historiography, unless excused by the Director of Graduate Studies. History 8480 is offered every other year.

Every student who is a non-thesis candidate must complete at least two research seminars before receiving the MA degree. No masters candidates in US or non-US history are required by the department to demonstrate reading proficiency in any foreign languages or to develop research skills before receiving the MA degree. Individual advisers, however, can require MA candidates to become proficient in reading foreign languages and/or develop specific research skills if they determine such knowledge is essential for the successful completion of a student’s masters program. As soon as any such determination is made, students will be informed by their advisers. The advisers will also discuss with them processes for achieving and demonstrating those proficiencies.

Masters candidates in Ancient History must demonstrate proficiency in at least one ancient language (Greek or Latin) and at least one modern language (generally, either French or German) before they begin work on their theses, if they choose that alternative, or before they take the non thesis MA examination, if they are seeking a terminal masters degree. These students should also be aware that ancient history graduate courses can include readings in Greek and Latin. For directions on how to demonstrate proficiency in these ancient and modern languages, students should talk with their advisers and obtain a written description of this process from them. N.B.: No student will receive graduate credit for any course in which s/he earns a grade below B. The grade of C in a graduate class is the equivalent of an F in an undergraduate course.

Masters candidates in Medieval History must demonstrate reading proficiency in Latin before the degree can be conferred. Proficiency may be demonstrated either by passing a departmental examination or by superior performance in an advanced level medieval Latin course.

Satisfactory Progress: At the beginning of every Winter Semester, each student’s progress toward the masters degree is assessed by his/her adviser. After discussion of his/her record for the last year, the adviser determines whether the student has made satisfactory progress and, with the student’s participation and concurrence, establishes goals for the next year. A written copy of these findings will be given by the adviser to the student. S/he must sign a copy of this report, certifying he/she has understood the assessment, and agrees to meet the expectations outlined in it during the next 12 months. The adviser then sends the “Faculty Adviser Report on Graduate Student Progress” form to the Director of Graduate Studies. It becomes part of the student’s permanent record.

If aspects of his/her performance are unsatisfactory in the adviser’s judgment, the student must correct them during the next year. Failure to do so, or the failure to meet the agreed-upon goals for a year, can have serious consequences. These may include loss of financial aid or even dismissal from the program. The student may appeal any assessment to the Director of Graduate Studies. If not satisfied, s/he may seek the remedies described in the Graduate School catalog.

Plans for MA Degrees

Thesis plan: All students who wish to apply for admission to doctoral programs in history either at the University of Missouri-Columbia or at other institutions must write a thesis. A thesis involves an original and extended analysis of an historical issue that requires substantial research. The topic of the thesis must be approved in advance by the student’s faculty director and the thesis committee, which is composed of the director, at least one other member of the history faculty, and one faculty member from outside the department.

Graduate School regulations require that there be an outside faculty person on each thesis committee. At the discretion of the director, additional faculty members may be added to the committee. The appropriate forms, signed by the adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies, will be submitted to the Graduate School.

Students will take History 8090, Thesis Research, during those semesters they are actually engaged in writing their thesis. N.B.: The Graduate School only permits six hours of History 8090 to count toward the 30 hours necessary to earn a masters degree. Students should also note that hours earned in History 8090 do count toward the maximum of 12 hours of independent study, i.e., History 7085 (Problems), History 8089 (Research), and History 8090 (Thesis Research), the Graduate School will accept as credit for this degree.

Non-thesis plan: Students may earn a masters degree without writing a thesis. A non-thesis MA is a terminal degree. Those who receive it will not be considered for admission to the doctoral program. These students must successfully complete two research seminars in history. These seminars will count toward the thirty hours required for an MA degree. One of the seminar papers must be submitted to the department to fulfill the Graduate School requirement for a substantial effort reflecting creativity or originality.

Examination for the MA degree

For thesis plan: The student must defend her/his thesis before a committee of at least three faculty members, one of whom must be the thesis director. Another must be from a department other than History. The committee is appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School upon recommendation from the Department of History. The examining committee decides:

  • whether to recommend the awarding of the MA degree to the student
  • for prospective doctoral candidates, whether the student shall be permitted to enter the doctoral program. This latter action constitutes a decision on the qualifying examination required in the doctoral program. Afterwards, the appropriate form(s) will be signed by the adviser, committee members, and the Director of Graduate Studies, then sent to the Graduate School.

For non-thesis plan: A comprehensive oral examination covering all work for the degree will be conducted by a committee of the adviser and at least two other faculty members, one of whom may be from a department other than history. The examining committee decides whether to recommend the awarding of the MA degree. Afterwards, the appropriate form(s) will be signed by the adviser, committee members, and the Director of Graduate Studies, then sent to the Graduate School.

Thesis Submission: Students must meet Graduate School deadlines for the awarding of degrees and the submission of theses. The final form of the thesis must be in conformity with the Graduate School requirements.

Requirements revised 2005.

The University of Missouri-Columbia does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, disability, status as disabled veteran or veteran of the Vietnam era, and provides equal opportunity to all regardless of sexual orientation.