- Areas of Study
- About A&S
- Faculty & Staff
- Cultural Initiatives
- Research Initiatives
- Undergraduate Programs
- Major and Minor
- Major Requirements
- Minor Requirements
- Undergraduate Forms
- Masters Program
- Masters Guidelines
- Doctoral Programs
- Doctoral Guidelines
- Past Theses & Dissertations
- Graduate Forms
Master's Degree Guidelines
Master's of Arts Degree - Thesis Guidelines
At its core the Master's thesis is both an extended argument on a particular topic and an exercise in method. The finished product should demonstrate a sound grasp of the fundamental methods associated with historical research, represent a contribution to the field, and be of a quality suitable for submission to an academic publication ¬ which means that it must also be well written.
More specifically the Master's Thesis should demonstrate:
1) A mastery of basic research skills, either in regards to traditional archival work or engagement with other "primary sources".
2) An ability to construct an original argument from primary source documents.
3) An ability to understand and integrate the historiography of a period, a method, and a specific debate.
4) The ability to construct a sustained, long-form, argument.
The Master's thesis must include:
1) Formal and proper academic citation of primary and secondary sources both as footnotes and in a separate bibliography.
2) An introduction which is historiographical in nature and which clearly indicates: (a) the significance of the work; (b) the methodology to be employed; and (c) the original and substantially unique historical or historiographical argument that will be proven.
3) At least two more substantive chapters and a separate conclusion (the typical MA thesis will contain four or more chapters and range anywhere from 70 to 150 pages in length.)
Master of Arts Non-Thesis Project Guidelines
The M.A. Independent Research Project demonstrates the student's ability to investigate a topic and organize a scholarly report based upon that investigation. This project may take a variety of forms, but these must serve to demonstrate the student's mastery of principles, methods, and forms of scholarly historical research.
Specifically, the Master of Arts Non-Thesis Project will demonstrate:
1. A mastery of basic historical research skills appropriate to the sources used for the project.
2. An ability to construct a valid historical argument, and to organize the evidence drawn from research accordingly.
3. An understanding of the historical theory, method, and historiography relevant to the project, and the ability to integrate this understanding into the project itself.
4. Thorough competence in the skills of written communication, as well as any other communicative medium necessary to the project.
The Master of Arts Non-Thesis Project has two required components:
1. The Core Project: The student will work closely with a primary faculty adviser to develop a project to meet the criteria outlined above. The form of this project can vary widely: Thus, students working within the public history stream, might prepare studies evaluating particular existing collections of a museum, a gallery, or an archive, and, using their expertise in the field, offer a reasoned critique of how these collections and their manner of display could be improved. Students might also use their project to produce finding aids for a substantial archival collection, to create catalogs for particular museum or art gallery displays, to produce photographic or other visual displays suitable for public viewing, to develop new digital and on-line collections - the examples and possibilities are almost endless.
2. Scholarly Essay: In addition, The Master of Arts Non-Thesis Project must include a complementary article length (25 page) scholarly discussion of the project with the following components:
1. An introduction, establishing the importance of the topic/project.
2. An analysis of the historiographical context of the topic/project.
3. A methodological statement.
4. A working hypothesis or central argument that the body of the paper will prove, using a combination of primary and secondary sources.
5. Properly formatted scholarly apparatus, including, at minimum, citations and bibliography, following a recognized and approved style (Chicago or Turabian unless otherwise specified).
M.A. Non-Thesis Comprehensive Examinations
The M.A. Non-Thesis Comprehensive Examinations demonstrate the candidate's thorough competencies in the historiography, theory, and core knowledge of history. Three examinations are required, two of which must be written. The examinations must respond to the student's Program of Study and research emphasis: one exam must cover the candidate's major field of historical research, while the other exams may cover subsidiary fields, areas of particular emphasis, or topics relevant to the student's research project.
Format and Timetable: The student may sit for exams only after having advanced to candidacy, and no earlier than the semester preceding the semester in which the student intends to graduate. Well before this time (3-6 months in advance) the student will meet with his or her examining/supervisory committee under the direction of the primary adviser to co-ordinate this process. Examinations in all fields will be based upon a list of readings mutually agreed upon by the supervising faculty members and the candidate. The student's primary adviser will coordinate this process, ensuring that reading lists are comparable.
The M.A. student's advisor will also superintend the actual examination process and ensure that questions are gathered from all field supervisors; the field supervisors will be responsible for setting the examination questions and grading the final product.
Administration: All examinations will typically be administered on campus. The required written exams shall constitute two discreet four-hour examinations, of two to three essay style questions. No external sources shall be used in the course of writing these examinations. The third examination may employ this form as well, but may also take an alternative form, such as an oral examination, an oral presentation, poster presentation, or "take home" essay at the discretion of the primary adviser and examining committee. All examinations shall be conducted over a two week period, with no more than two examinations required in any given week, and will be graded in a timely fashion by the supervising faculty.
In order to graduate the M.A. student will need to earn a grade of 3.5 (B+) or better on each examination. If a student fails to meet this standard they will be allowed to retake the failed examination(s) once within six months of the first attempt. Any subsequent failure will result in termination from the program.