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The Master of Arts Degree

Last revised on May 15, 2009


Students can pursue a Master of Arts Degree in History by choosing one of two tracks


Master of Arts-Academic Preparatory Track

A student in this plan must successfully complete at least 36 hours of graduate work to receive the Master of Arts degree. A minimum of 24 hours must be taken in the History Department. This includes 12 hours taken at the 5000-level in a geographic area of concentration (US, Europe, or World) and 12 hours of electives.  Of the electives, 6 hours must be chosen from geographic areas outside of the student’s geographic area of concentration.  Also of the electives, students must take a minimum of 6 hours at the 5000-level and may take no more than 6 hours at the 7000-level.  Students must also complete HIST 5304 (The Nature of History) and HIST 6301 (Research Methods Seminar) in the first semester they are offered after the student’s admission to the program. History 5304 and 6301 must also be taken before completing 6 hours of HIST 6000 (Master’s Thesis).  Within this framework, students are strongly advised to plan their programs with the advice and consent of the Graduate Advisor and their thesis director.



36 hours distributed as follows:

Geographic Area of Concentration                                                                                                12 hours

Electives                                                                                                                                         12 hours

HIST 5304 (During the First Semester it is offered after Admission)                                                3 hours

HIST 6301 (During the First Semester it is offered after completion of 5304)                                  3 hours

Thesis (6000)                                                                                                                                    6 hours

One language




Foreign Language Requirement


One Language according to the following guidelines:


Proficiency in one language other than English is required of all candidates for the Master of Arts degree. 


For the purpose of the above listed requirements, "proficiency" in a language is defined according to the following parameters: that is, native speaker status, attainment of a grade of C- or better in a fourth semester undergraduate course (in Texas numeration, the 2302 course); attainment of a grade of B- or better in the second semester of an accelerated graduate language course  (in Texas numeration the 5342 course); other class work equivalent to the above; or demonstration of an equivalent level of competency through an approved examination (administered by the Department of Classical and Modern Language and Literature when possible, by an approved outside agency, or by a scholar with demonstrable experience in the language in question) or by some other means acceptable to the committee, the Department, and the Graduate School.




Thesis work is directed by a committee consisting of at least two members of the History Graduate Faculty. Frequently a third member, who may be a scholar with relevant expertise from the history department, another department, or even from another university, is added if the thesis director, student, and Graduate Advisor conclude that the nature of the thesis topic warrants it. Students may select any member of the History Graduate Faculty as the director of their theses; the Graduate Advisor is available for consultation if a student desires. Usually a student, with the approval of the thesis director, chooses the other committee members. A degree plan that includes a listing of committee members must be filed with the Graduate Advisor by the end of the student’s second semester of graduate coursework.  Subsequent changes made to the committee must be filed with the Graduate Advisor.

When the student and his or her advisors have arrived at a general plan for the thesis, a written proposal (in outline or narrative form) shall be presented to each member of the thesis committee. Proposals should be presented no later than the beginning of the student’s third semester of coursework.  The proposal will be evaluated, revised if necessary, and approved by all committee members.

The completed thesis should demonstrate the student's competence to research a historical problem, to organize a rather sizable mass of information, and to present the findings on the topic selected in a clear and accurate form.

The penultimate draft of the thesis must be presented to the members of the committee at least two weeks prior to the defense of the Master's Thesis. The thesis is not in final form until after the defense and any required changes have been successfully completed


Thesis Defense

After the thesis has been approved by the committee, students are required to pass an oral defense of this thesis. The committee chairperson must file a written report of the outcome of the defense with the Graduate Dean and the Graduate Advisor.

Terminal Master of Arts (Non-Thesis Professional Enrichment Track)


This plan is designed to assist persons for whom a two-year graduate degree would provide career advancement in a chosen or desired field other than that for which a history Ph.D. is required.  The focus of the terminal MA is on providing a platform for developing critical analytical skills (reading, written, and oral) within a historical framework.  The program provides intense study of up to three interrelated geographic, temporal, and/or thematic fields.  The terminal MA concludes with the presentation of a portfolio. It does not end in the completion of a thesis-length work.  For this reason the terminal MA track is not intended whose interests are oriented toward undertaking Ph.D. work in history.


Some of the careers for which obtaining a terminal MA in History may be an asset include:

Education (K-12)                                                                                                                Archivist/Archival Administration

Education (Community College)                                                                                          Public Historian

Library Studies                                                                                                                   Corporate Management

Non-Governmental Agencies                                                                                             Community Organizer

Social Work                                                                                                                         Counseling

Journalism                                                                                                                           Public Affairs

Campaign Management                                                                                                       Political Activism

Genealogist                                                                                                                         Entertainment Industry – historical consultant


Course Requirements

A student in this plan must successfully complete at least 36 hours of graduate work to receive the terminal Master of Arts degree.  A minimum of 24 hours must be taken in the History Department and at least 3 hours must be taken at the 6000-level. No more than 6 hours may be taken at the 7000-level. Students must complete HIST 5304 (Historical Methods).  Students are also required to select at least two and no more than three focus areas (either geographic and/or from the thematic fields list produced by the department).  For each focus area students are required to complete a minimum of 9 hours.  The remaining 6 hours toward the degree can be used to either intensify work in an already selected focus area or pursue an appropriate minor in another department.  Within this framework, students are strongly advised to plan their programs with the advice and consent of the Graduate Advisor and their committee chair.  The student is to select a committee chair by the second semester of coursework and, in conjunction with the chair, will select one department faculty member for each focus area chosen.


36 hours distributed as follows:

Focus Area One                                                            9 hours

Focus Area Two                                                           9 hours

Focus Area Three                                                         9 hours *

Minor Field or Discretionary Hours                                6 hours

HIST 5304                                                                      3 hours

[At least three hours must be at the 6000-level]


No language is required for the Terminal Master of Arts Option.


Professional Enrichment Portfolio

At the end of their 36 hours students will be expected to produce a portfolio detailing their scholarly achievements and corresponding professional implications. The portfolio is to contain sample representative work from all courses including a copy of the major writing assignment completed in each course, an updated copy of the CV, and copies of any articles, publications, or other projects completed in conjunction with, or developing out of, the undertaken studies. Finally, the student will write an 8-10 page intellectual biography explaining the connections between chosen coursework, skills developed, and other aspects taken from the studies which have helped them in a professional capacity. This portfolio will be distributed to the student’s portfolio review committee at least one month before the intended graduate date as outlined in the course catalogue.  

Portfolio Defense

After the Professional Enrichment Portfolio has been approved by the committee, students are required to pass an oral examination, emphasizing the general area of their course work and portfolio. The committee chairperson must file a written report of the outcome of the examination with the Graduate Dean and the Graduate Advisor.

 *If students choose three areas of concentration then they would take 9 hours in each.  If they choose two, they could divide those hours up in a configuration of 12 and 15.