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 studies course 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 master’s student must take HIST 8080, Maximizing Graduate Studies in History, during their first year or the first year it is offered upon their arrival. Students may take HIST 8080 for 1-3 credits. Every masters student must take History 8480, Historiography, unless excused by the Director of Graduate Studies. History 8480 is offered regularly.

Students must either write a thesis or defend two seminar papers to receive an MA.

No masters candidates are required by the department to demonstrate reading proficiency in any foreign languages or to develop research skills before receiving the MA degree. However, in fields where such languages will be necessary for success, advisors shall make clear to applicants what they expect in terms of language competence.  Expectations must be clearly stated before or when offers of admission are sent.  The student's acknowledgment of these terms will be confirmed in a written response (including email) either separate from, or within, their acceptance of the offer of admission.

Special note: No student will receive graduate credit for any course in which the student earns a grade below B.  The grade of C in a graduate class is the equivalent of an F in an undergraduate course.

Satisfactory Progress and Annual Review: At the beginning of every Spring Semester, students must complete a “Progress Report” on the Graduate Schools' Graduate Student Progress System (sometimes referred to as “online assessment”). This report will be read by the student’s faculty advisor, who will then submit an “Advisor Response.” In addition, the student and advisor should meet to discuss the student’s progress, confirm expectations for the coming year, and address any concerns either may have regarding the report.

This is an extremely important process for two reasons. First, the advisor determines whether the student is making satisfactory progress toward a degree. If s/he is not, the advisor informs the student what needs to be done to rectify the situation. The student then usually has a year to return to making satisfactory progress. Failure to do so may result in loss of financial aid or dismissal from the program. Second, if the student is making satisfactory progress, the advisor and s/he decide together on what reasonable goals are for the next twelve months. These goals will define “satisfactory progress” at the next assessment meeting.


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.

Effect of Progress Report Completion on Funding

Completion of the Graduate Student Progress System forms by both student (Progress Report) and faculty (Advisor Response) is mandatory to maintain eligibility for any form of financial aid from the department. Receipt of financial aid requires confirmation by a student’s advisor that the student is making satisfactory progress. No student in the program who applies for, or who is seeking renewal of financial aid will be eligible for aid without a complete and up-to-date Graduate Student Progress System Report on file.

Plans for MA Degrees

Plans for MA Degrees: Thesis plan

For those students who opt to write a thesis, this involves an original and extended analysis of a 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.

The 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 advisor and the director of graduate studies, will be submitted to the Graduate School.

Students will take HIST 8090, Thesis Research, during those semesters they are actually engaged in writing their thesis. N.B.: The Graduate School only permits six hours of HIST 8090 to count toward the 30 hours necessary to earn a master’s degree. Students should also note that hours earned in HIST 8090 do count toward the maximum of 12 hours of independent study, i.e., HIST 8085 (Problems), HIST 8089 (Research), and HIST 8090 (Thesis Research), that the Graduate School will accept as credit for this degree.

Plans for MA Degrees: Non-Thesis Plan

Students who choose the non-thesis option must defend two seminar or research papers. One of the seminar/research 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 PlanThe student must defend their 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 Graduate School upon recommendation from the Department of History. The examining committee decides:

  1. whether to recommend the awarding of the MA degree to the student.
  2. 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 advisor, 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.

Graduate School Deadlines for receipt of the MA degree

Students must meet the Graduate School’s 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.

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