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The MA in History provides the highly-motivated student with an opportunity to work intensively under the direction of one or two faculty members. During the senior year, honors students enroll in upper-level undergraduate courses that include graduate students. As MA students, they work in a graduate seminar with Ph.D. students and in upper-level undergraduate courses. MA, student also participate in individually-designed tutorials under the direction of a faculty advisor. By undertaking intensive research in primary sources in the undergraduate honors program, students are prepared to complete the Master's degree no later than August of their fifth year.

Departmental eligibility requirements

The MA in history is open only to history undergraduate majors who successfully complete the honors program in history.

Program of study

In the senior year, students take eight courses, three of which are in the Honors Program: one directed readings course (HIST 299) in the general area of the student's research, and two Honors Thesis courses (HIST 297), one each semester, in which the student conducts research in primary sources and completes an honors thesis (followed by an oral defense with the thesis advisor and one other department faculty member). Of the five remaining courses, the studetn would typicall take several other history courses, mostly at the 200 level and related to the student's area of specialization.

MA Requirements Effective Fall 2013

A master's thesis is the primary research requirement for the MA degree. Incoming fifth-year students are expected to identify and contact a thesis advisor. They should begin exploring a feasible research topic - by reading secondary sources and identifying primary sources - over the summer. When they return to campus, they should consult with their advisor in order to complete a research proposal for their thesis by October 1.

In the fifth year, the student typically takes one graduate seminar each semester, one 200-level course (with additional graduate level work assigned), and one thesis research directed study each semester (HIST 399: Directed Study). Typically, the thesis directed study courses is taken for two academic credits, so that the student takes four graduate credit units each semester.

Program Fees

Students entering their fifth year are required to pay a one-time Program fee of $1,000. This fee is assessed on the student's bill in the first semester of graduate study. 

In addition, all graduate students pay a $15.00 activity fee in the fall and in the spring semesters and a one-time Enrollment Fee of $100 in the first semester of graduate study.

Program advisor

Professor Wim Klooster
History Department
Jefferson Academic Center

Advice for students

The most important advice for students wishing to enter the BA/MA program in history is that they need to acquire the necessary research and writing skills as an undergraduate in order to complete the rigorous research requirements for the master's degree within one year. The student ideally should decide by the sophomore year to become a History major, and should take History 120, Writing History, in the second semester of the sophomore year. Then in the junior year, the student should take several 200-level history courses, and at least one seminar, in preparation for the honors program in History in the senior year. Seniors must take a seminar in advance of undertaking honors. The honors program, with three courses in the senior year, two of which are devoted to research and writing the honors thesis, provides excellent training for the rigors of graduate-level work in the fifth year.

Student profiles

  • Melodee Beals completed her BA in 2004 and her MA in 2005. Her senior honors thesis, directed by Professor Greenwood, was entitled, “Caledonian Canaan: Scottish Cultural Identity in Colonial New England.” Building on her honors thesis, she wrote a master's thesis, directed by Professor Klooster, “Thinning Acquaintances: National, Familial, and Commercial Identity in the British Atlantic World, 1740-1840.” Melodee's research in Scottish history has led her to the University of Glasgow where she is pursuing a doctorate.

  • Jeffrey Malanson completed his BA in 2003 and his MA in 2004. Working with Professor McCoy, Jeff wrote an honors thesis on “The Symbiotic Evolution and Complex Relationship of the Electoral College and Political Parties.” His master's thesis, “The Monroe Doctrine Revisited: Its Origin, Principles, and Intent,” was directed by Professor Klooster. Jeff is currently working on his Ph.D in American history at Boston College.

  • Lisa Donofrio completed her BA in 2003 and her MA in 2005. She pursued her interests in the Holocaust, African American slavery, and women's history in her honors thesis, “Blessed Burden: A Comparative Analysis of Motherhood as Experienced by Jewish Women during the Holocaust and African-American Women during Slavery,” directed by Professor Greenwood. Lisa completed her MA with two original research papers: one that analyzed letters of ex-slaves to their former masters in the U.S. South after their migration to Liberia; and second paper that compared domestic service among black women in the Jim Crow South and South Africa during apartheid. Lisa currently works for a social services agency in Pittsburgh.