Master of Arts Program

M.A. students must complete thirty credit hours of course work, including six hours of graduate seminars, a master's essay, and a comprehensive examination. The three major fields in which the department offers M.A. degrees are:

  1. United States
    Early America
    Modern America
  2. Europe
    Medieval Europe
    Early Modern Europe
    Modern Europe

Students in Modern European, United States history and Global history will take examinations in one major field and one minor field. Students in Medieval history will be examined only in that field. M.A. comprehensive examinations are usually taken early in the spring semester of a student's second year of full time studies. Members of the examination committees are appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies; each of them evaluates both sections of the exam. A 2-0 vote is required to pass.

It is highly recommended that there be a compatibility of time periods between the major and minor fields. For instance, M.A. students specializing in modern European history would be well-advised to choose modern U. S. history for their minor field. The selection of the two fields of study should be made in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) during the first semester of enrollment.

M.A. will be examined by means of eight hours of essay questions: six hours for the major field and two hours for the minor field. There will be no oral examination. Those students who fail the M.A. comprehensive exam will be given one opportunity to re-take the written exam within six months of the first examination. In addition to a written component, students who are re-examined will be required to take a one-hour oral examination.

M.A. students are required to take two 6000-level research seminars. Only in extraordinary circumstances and with prior approval from the DGS can a 6995 (independent study) course satisfy the seminar requirement. Although all students are strongly encouraged to take graduate level courses whenever possible, up to twelve credit hours can be taken at the undergraduate level. Six hours of graduate work can be taken outside the history department, although permission must be obtained from the director of graduate studies before registering for non-history classes.

M.A. students must also complete a master's essay, which is normally a seminar paper that has been revised. For instance, essays will often include more historiographical background than contained in the original papers. They should be at least thirty pages long, exclusive of bibliographies and other end matter. The "Master's Essay Approval Form" must be signed by a primary reader (usually the faculty member in whose seminar the paper was written) and by the director of graduate studies. The deadline for submitting essays to the graduate school is normally about a month prior to graduation; a student must make a draft of his or her essay available to the primary reader at least one month before the due date set by the graduate school in order to give the reader adequate time to read and make suggestions for improving the essay. The student is responsible for delivering the completed essay and form to the graduate school prior to the deadline.


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