Master of Arts in History Program FAQ

Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in history to apply to the program?

No. The program doesn't require any particular undergraduate degree. We welcome students from all backgrounds. Students who have been out of school a while, or who didn't major in history as an undergraduate may find the Department's Content Boot Camp helpful. This is a course that provides content lectures on important subjects in both American and European history. The Department also has a Writing Boot Camp to help students brush up and review with basic writing skills. In addition, all students should purchase copies of both American and Western Civilization textbooks (contact Dr. Blum for recommendations), and read through these prior to starting the program.

What's the difference between the thesis and non-thesis track?

Although the number of required hours is the same for both tracks, there are some differences.  Students in the thesis track will develop and write an original project, based on primary sources, called a thesis.  The thesis is approximately 100 pages in length, and is supervised by a Thesis Advisor and a committee of scholars.  Thesis track students take only 1 comprehensive exam, in their secondary field.  They also have to demonstrate reading proficiency in a foreign language, chosen in consultation with the Graduate Program Director and the Thesis Advisor.  Overall, this track is for students who want to continue their graduate research with a Ph.D.

Non-thesis track students want to continue their interest in history, but don't want to continue graduate work with the Ph.D.   They take comprehensive exams in both their primary and secondary fields (3 questions total) at the end of their program. 

Are there required books for the program?

Each of your classes will have lists of required books.   The program itself has one book, which is required for ALL history graduate classes.  That book is Kate Turabian, A Manual For Writers.  Make sure you are getting the most recent edition.

How do I pick my thesis topic?

Pick something that you're interested in, because you'll be doing a lot of work on it over the course of your program!  Your first step is to look at the research areas of the Department of History faculty.  Your topic must be guided by one of our graduate faculty, so research areas and your proposed topic must match.  Contact Dr. Blum ( if you have questions about who your idea might fit with.