The Department of History offers the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, each degree reflecting different levels of skill and knowledge. Candidates for the M.A. degree must demonstrate mastery of the three fields of study that they select for examination in the master's degree examinations. That field mastery must surpass the level of simple factual knowledge and must include familiarity with the salient issues of historical interpretation in the student's fields of study and a working knowledge of the secondary literature pertinent to those issues. In addition, all candidates for the degree must, in the context of their examinations and course work, give evidence of their ability to assess and employ the primary source material in their fields and their capacity to present, in coherent and well-written form, the results of their research in both seminar papers and the M.A. essay.
Candidates for the Ph.D. must demonstrate mastery of their four fields of study on comprehensive examinations, but they must possess other skills as well. Because the Ph.D. represents more than the simple accumulation of a set number of courses or a body of factual knowledge, candidates must also demonstrate their mastery of the primary sources and research methods in their fields as well as their command of the scholarly literature of those fields. Taken together, these skills represent the power to conduct independent scholarly investigation. That capacity is demonstrated by development of intellectual processes that are both analytical and critical, by preparation of seminar papers of increasing sophistication, and most importantly, by the completion of a dissertation that is the product of independent research in primary sources and that makes an original contribution to historical scholarship.