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Graduate Program

MA Program

Our master’s program enables students to engage in the professional study of history by taking one year of coursework and by writing either a master’s essay or thesis. An MA in history is a great opportunity for students to learn whether or not they wish to go on for a PhD, to gain credentials for social studies teaching, or to augment their historical knowledge in preparation for other careers. 

Like PhD students, candidates for the MA explore the world of nations, the world of goods, and the world of ideas as those spheres of inquiry intersect with the research and writing interests of department faculty. Transnational and comparative study is especially encouraged.

MA students share fully in the intellectual and social life of the department, and enjoy the benefits of studying in a personalized program at a research university.

MA students usually receive funding in the amount of one-half of the cost of tuition. Living stipends are not available, but there are some limited funds for research and travel. 

The two tracks in the MA program are known as Plan A or Plan B. Plan A requires students to write a 50-to 100-page thesis, while plan B requires a 35-page essay. Both plans require the completion of 30 credit hours.

By the beginning of the spring semester, students who wish to complete Plan A must submit an acceptable thesis prospectus to a faculty member willing to supervise the student’s work. Otherwise students will remain on Plan B. 

Plan A

Plan A requires students to complete a thesis, which in turn demands a greater commitment of time and resources than Plan B. The requirements for Plan A are:

  • Fall semester—15 credit hours (usually three courses, including HIS 500: Problems in Historical Analysis)
  • Spring semester—15 credit hours (usually three courses, including HIS 501: Worlds of Inquiry)
  • Students must take at least six and no more than 12 credits of independent reading and research (49X)
  • A master’s thesis, usually between 50 and 100 pages (0 credit hours)
  • A thesis defense before a faculty committee consisting of the advisor, a second reader from the department, and an outside reader.

Plan A students are encouraged to complete the program in two years. Students beyond the first year must pay the continuation fee. Students are allowed up to five years from the time of enrollment before they must petition the dean for an extension.

Plan B

Most students complete Plan B, as follows:

  • Fall semester—15 credit hours (usually three courses, including HIS 500: Problems in Historical Analysis)
  • Spring semester—15 credit hours (usually three courses, including HIS 501: Worlds of Inquiry)
  • Note: Plan B students are permitted to take no more than six credits of 49X (independent reading and research courses)
  • A master’s essay of around 35 pages completed in a research seminar or other course
  • Revision of the essay over the summer, if necessary (0 credit hours)

The essay must be read by two faculty members, with one of these being the instructor in whose course the student did the work.

Plan B enables candidates to complete an MA degree in one calendar year.

Questions

For more information on our MA program, please fill out this form.