History (MA)

Our MA program provides students and their faculty advisors with maximum flexibility in designing fields of study. Many of our MA students choose to continue their studies in our PhD program, while others have won admission into some of the most prestigious programs in North America, including Princeton University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Toronto, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Become conversant and proficient in the most important interpretive frameworks and significant debates in history, as well as the major historical sub-disciplines.
  • Become conversant and proficient in the most important historical scholarship in at least one major research field.
  • Able to present persuasive historical arguments to scholarly and public audiences in both written and oral form, substantiated with primary and secondary sources.
  • Able to navigate historical archives, both physical and digital, in order to produce new historical knowledge that is relevant for the discipline and the broader public.\
  • Knowledgeable about the major professional organizations, conferences, and funding organizations for the discipline. Knowledgeable about the various career opportunities available to professional historians, including but not limited to work in academia, public history, public service, and non-profit organizations.\
  • Able to productively collaborate in a multicultural context being aware of historical issues of equity and inclusion for historically marginalized individuals/groups within and around the workplace.

Master of Arts in History

Applicants are expected to have completed an undergraduate degree in the liberal arts with emphasis on history. The MA program is typically completed in two years of full-time study. Before receiving the degree, students must demonstrate competence in a second language.

Students must write a master’s thesis or complete two substantial research papers in the primary field and defend the thesis or research papers in an oral examination.

Major Field Requirement

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

Plan of Study

By the end of the first term 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.

HIST 611Field Readings 15
HIST 612Historical Methods and Writings 25
HIST 615Professional Development 31
HIST 616Graduate Student Conference 41
HIST 507Seminar: [Topic] (two seminars)5
or HIST 607 Seminar: [Topic]
HIST 608Workshop: [Topic] (two colloquia) 55

Language Requirement

All MA 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 term during the regular academic year.

Advisors must approve the choice of language. MA 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 or include additional languages in which students must demonstrate competence. These standards should be established at the time a faculty member accepts a graduate student and fills out the plan of study form.

Writing Requirement

There are two options for satisfying the major writing requirement for the MA:

  • A students must complete a master's thesis in his or her major focus of study and pass an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of three faculty members
  • A student must 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 twenty-five pages or more, based on primary source research

Students completing the thesis option may enroll in a maximum of 10 credits of Thesis (HIST 503), usually in the winter and spring of their second year. Students choosing the research papers option may register for 5 credits of Research: [Topic] (HIST 601), usually in either winter or spring of their second year.

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