MA Program


Students in the Department of History pursue M.A.s through the terminal M.A. degree program, the 4-1 Program, and the Ph.D. Program. Students follow either a “thesis” or a “non-thesis” track (see below).

Every student has a supervisory committee. This committee, chaired by the advisor, oversees and evaluates the student’s academic progress. For the M.A., the supervisory committee normally consists of three members: the major advisor and two other members of the graduate faculty.

Major Fields and Fields of Concentration
Department guidelines stipulate that students pursuing the M.A. must complete 12 credit hours within a Major Field of Study. There are no department-wide rules dictating coursework within the Field of Study, but in practice many sections advise students to prepare a specialized Field of Concentration within a Major Field. Students should consult with their advisors and the section web pages about any such guidelines. Wherever available, M.A. students should take a research seminar that is close to the area of specialty.

The table below lists the Major Fields of Study and the associated Fields of Concentration.

Major Fields Fields of Concentration
African West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa
European Medieval, Early Modern, Modern
Latin American Colonial, Post-Colonial, Spanish America, Brazil and the Caribbean
United States Colonial, Nineteenth-Century, Twentieth-Century

Summary of M.A. Requirements

In addition to the particular requirements within each Major Field, all M.A. students have the following requirements (these are also summarized on the Plan of Study forms: MA (thesis option) and MA (non-thesis option).

All M. A. students must complete the following:
• 30 credits of graduate study
• 12 credits in the Major Field of Study
• 3 credits in the History Department, but outside of the Major Field of Study
• 3 credits of Historiography (HIS 6061)
• 3 Credit Hours Outside the Department of History (courses at the 3000 or 4000 level may count, subject to Supervisory Committee’s approval)

Students in the nonthesis track must:
• Complete a major research paper (the nonthesis paper). This is a roughly 35-40 page paper based on primary sources.
• Pass a written examination administered by the supervisory committee.
• Pass a two-hour oral examination on the student’s coursework and the nonthesis paper administered by the supervisory committee.

Students in the thesis track must:
• Register for 2-3 credits of Thesis Research (HIS 6971) in the semester when the thesis is to be defended.
• Complete and defend a Masters Thesis. This is a major research paper that must meet the standards of both the History Department and the Graduate School. The thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School for approval.
• Pass a two-hour oral defense administered by the Supervisory Committee.

Students pursuing an MA in U.S. history must take the Nineteenth-Century foundation course (AMH 6199), and either the Twentieth-Century America (AMH 6290) or Early America foundation course (AMH 6198). Students admitted to the doctoral track, of course, must take all three of the foundation seminars. Consult the Graduate Orientation Handbook under “Plans of Study” for information about the final comprehensive exam.

The B.A./M.A. Program

The Department of History offers a degree program that enables outstanding undergraduate majors to obtain a B.A. and an M.A. after the successful completion of 150 credit hours. The program (sometimes referred to as the 3/2 program, sometimes as the 4/1 program) is designed for students who wish to continue their education in history past the undergraduate level but who may not necessarily desire a career as a professional historian.

The entry point into the program is the beginning of the undergraduate’s senior year. Students will enroll for a minimum of two and a maximum of four graduate-level courses (between six and twelve credits) in their senior year, which will double-count for both undergraduate and graduate credit. The B.A. will be earned after the successful completion of 120 hours of University course credit as a History major. Then students will enter the graduate program with between six and twelve credits of graduate work towards their M.A. In the year after their B.A., students usually take twelve credits of graduate courses in each academic semester in order to complete the thirty credit hours required for the Master of Arts degree.