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M.A. in History

History StudentThe 30-credit Master of Arts in History is designed for those who plan to pursue a new career as a social studies teacher; practicing social studies teachers who need to fulfill their master’s requirement, professionals considering new careers options, as well as those who wish to deepen their knowledge of history. It also provides a springboard for those who plan to enter doctoral programs in history. The master’s degree program places emphasis on learning to think with rigor, to assess evidence, interpret historical events and write with clarity and precision. Graduate courses are structured as seminars that meet once a week in which students discuss readings in depth and develop literacy in recent scholarship. Graduate history courses cover a range of historical subjects including: “Ancient and Medieval Economic Life,” “Modern Europe,” “The Atlantic World,” “America During the Civil War and Reconstruction,” “Historical Myth and Popular Memory,” and “Latin America.” All M.A. students are required to take HIS 601 (Historiography) which examines different theories of historical thought and models of historical methods.

Graduates of the Master of Arts in History program are ideal candidates for positions as researchers, educators, journalists, museum curators, and public service professionals. A number of our graduates go on to doctoral programs to become professional historians.

Program Options

A candidate who is admitted to the Master of Arts degree program has a choice of three plans:

Plan I – Thesis Option

The Thesis option is designed for those students who seek to develop their skills in historical research and writing and for those planning on graduate study of history at the doctoral level. It requires 24 credits in graduate history courses and 6 credits of thesis work. The thesis is designed to demonstrate a candidate’s knowledge of the scholarship about a specific historical subject, the ability to locate and interpret primary sources, and success in formulating meaningful conclusions. Students must submit a written proposal for a thesis topic and have it approved by a faculty member who will act as the thesis advisor. Another faculty member will serve as the second reader. The M.A. thesis is approximately 75 pages in length and an oral thesis defense is required for completion.

HIS 601 Historiography
HIS 707 Thesis Seminar
HIS 708 Thesis
Elective Courses (21 credits)

Plan II – Comprehensive Exam Option

The comprehensive exam option is designed to give M.A. students broad exposure to graduate coursework and faculty members. Students must pass two oral examinations that demonstrate their ability to interpret secondary sources on distinct historical subjects. The Graduate Advisor will provide a list of possible exam topics, each of which will have four scholarly books. Students will choose two topics and prepare to discuss the works in the presence of two faculty members. Comprehensive exams are offered three times a year. This option requires 30 semester hours of courses.

HIS 601 Historiography
Elective Courses (27 credits)

Plan III – Public History Option

The Public History option provides an opportunity for master’s students who wish to investigate the application of history in public venues. Students may choose to design a public history project in cooperation with a local museum or historic site and work under the joint supervision of a qualified member of the site’s staff and a department faculty member. Alternately, students may choose to develop a “contemporary issue project” that results in a research paper that explores the historical background of a current social problem. Interested students must present a proposal to a faculty member who will serve as the project advisor. This option requires 30 semester hours of graduate history courses, including HIS 705, the independent study in public history.

HIS 601 Historiography
HIS 705 Practicum in Public History or Policy
Elective Courses (24 credits)