History - Master of Arts (M.A.)

Master of Arts (M.A.) - History

College of Humanities and Sciences

Degree Specific Credits: 30

Required Cumulative GPA: 3.0

Catalog Year: 2022-23



  1. Students must complete thirty (30) credits beyond the B.A. Up to six (6) of these thirty (30) may be "Thesis" credits (HSTA699). With approval from the Graduate Committee, students may apply up to six (6) credits in cognate fields towards their history M.A. Graduate school rules require that a minimum of one-half of all coursework be done at the 500-level.

  2. All students must take a 400 or 500 level research seminar.

  3. The History Department requires that students complete a minimum of four 500-level reading courses. Two 500-level reading courses must be in the student's major field: United States, Europe, or the World. Students must also take at least one 500-level reading course in one of the two other fields.


MA students, especially those working on topics outside of U.S. or British history, may need to work with sources in languages other than English (e.g., French, Spanish, German, Russian, etc.). In such cases, the advisor, with approval of the Graduate Program Committee, may require the student to demonstrate suitable reading proficiency in any research language(s) necessary for the completion of the degree.


Students may elect to earn their degree by writing a master's thesis. The thesis must be a monographic study, make an original contribution to scholarship, and be presented in acceptable literary form. A maximum of six (6) thesis credits may be counted toward the total of thirty (30) credits required for the MA These credits may be taken in any semester or semesters during which the student is working on the thesis.

Thesis Proposal and Thesis Committee

Students are required to submit a proposal for a thesis project, which must be approved by the student's thesis committee. In consultation with their advisor, students choose members of their thesis committee and gain the consent of each faculty member concerned. Normally, committees are composed of three faculty members: the student's advisor, who serves as the chair of the committee; one other member of the History Department; and one outside faculty member to be selected by the student and advisor. Students should consult with all members of their thesis committee while constructing the thesis proposal.

The student and thesis committee will convene a Thesis Proposal Hearing where faculty members assess the strength of the thesis proposal. Thesis proposals will be assessed on a pass or fail basis. All members of the committee must agree that the student has passed. Students are informed orally, at the end of the proposal hearing, of the dissertation committee's evaluation of their thesis proposal. 

Students are required to hold their Thesis Proposal Hearing no later than 3 months prior to the intended date of the oral defense of the thesis. To schedule your Thesis Proposal Hearing, please fill out the MA Thesis Proposal Hearing Scheduling Form and submit a copy to the History Department Office and to the Director of Graduate Studies. 

Thesis Defense

The final stage will be an oral defense of the thesis. The student must provide the members of his or her thesis committee with completed copies of the thesis at least two weeks before the defense. Oral examinations are open to the public and guests may ask questions on recognition by the chair. Thesis will be assessed on a pass or fail basis. All members of the committee must agree that the student has passed. Students are informed orally, at the end of the defense, of the committee's evaluation of their thesis.

M.A. candidates must adhere to the schedule determined by the Graduate School, which stipulates that the approved committee draft of the Master's thesis must be submitted to the Graduate Dean at least twenty days before the end of the semester in which all degree requirements will be completed. The draft must be approved by the Graduate Dean before the final oral examination. The University must be in session and students must be enrolled at the time of the defense. No thesis may go to committee nor may any examination thereon take place until all other requirements for the degree have been fulfilled.

To schedule your Thesis Defense, please fill out the MA Thesis Defense Scheduling Form and submit a copy to the History Department office and the Director of Graduate Studies. 


Alternatively, students may elect to earn their degree without writing a master's thesis. Students choosing this option will:

  1. Complete thirty-six (36) hours of course work. No more than three (3) professional paper credits (599) may count toward the degree.

  2. Prepare one professional paper of "publishable quality." Specifically the professional paper shall consist of an article-length, monographic study, based substantially on primary sources. A professional paper committee, composed of the director of the professional paper, one additional faculty member, and a faculty member from outside the Department, will conduct an oral defense of the professional paper, with a "pass" to be determined by unanimous vote of the committee. The final draft shall be submitted to the second departmental reader and the outside reader no less than ten days before a scheduled defense.


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