Master's Degree in History

Within the master’s program, the department follows the contemporary trend in going beyond a national and Western framework of study and employs a variety of approaches, including political, economic, social, and intellectual history. The department aims to acquaint students with the goals, methods, and results of historical research, especially analysis of primary source evidence and understanding of historiography, the changing and debated ways in which history is researched and interpreted over time and across difference schools of thought.

The department directs the attention of students to the possibilities of combining work in history with work in other departments and to the creation of individualized programs of study (to be arranged in consultation with the departmental Director of Graduate Studies). Students should also be aware that history courses that may be useful in related fields such as library science, museum management, historical preservation, and the like.


Requirements for Matriculation

These requirements are in addition to the general requirements for admission.

1. The applicant must be approved by the department’s MA Admissions Committee.  Approval is based on the satisfactory completion of sufficient work in history or related fields to pursue graduate work in history.

2. An applicant whose undergraduate preparation is considered inadequate by the department’s committee may be admitted as a qualifying nonmatriculated student. Satisfactory completion of approved courses will be required before the student can matriculate. Undergraduate courses taken to make up for inadequate preparation cannot be counted toward the MA degree. Graduate courses, provided they are approved by the director of graduate studies, may be counted toward the MA degree. In some instances, students whose undergraduate preparation in history is judged inadequate may be required to take additional hours in graduate history to remove those deficiencies.

3. Applicants whose first language is not English and who were educated in a country where English is not the official language must submit proof of having achieved a score of 575 or better on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Applications for admissions may be submitted via the Graduate Admissions Office. Your application must include a copy of all academic transcripts, 3 letters of recommendation (at least 2 of which should be from teachers who can comment on your performance in their classes), and a personal statement not to exceed 750 words.

The personal statement allows the History Department Graduation Admissions Committee to learn about you, beyond what can be learned from your academic transcripts. Use this opportunity to discuss your academic background, why you would like to be part of the MA program in History, your past experience researching subjects in History, if any, and/or research papers that you completed as an undergraduate, and/or professors you would like work with as an MA student at Queens College, aspects of history you wish to study in the future, and any other information you deem relevant.  We only review applications once they are complete.  Make sure to follow up with your recommenders to ensure that they have submitted their on-line letters of recommendation for you.


Research and Professional Tracks

The MA in History can be completed by either of two tracks: the Research Track or the Professional Track.

A student who is formally admitted to the Master of Arts program should confer with the Director of Graduate Studies  during the first semester of study within the program to discuss their program.

The Research Track is designed for students who have an interest in pursuing the PhD, working as professional historians at the university level, or simply the desire to develop their research skills and writing abilities during several months to one year of independent research and writing after their coursework is completed.

The Professional Track is designed for those interested in history beyond the undergraduate level who, for whatever reason, do not have the time or ability to conduct the independent research and multiple revisions of their thesis chapters required to complete the MA thesis.  The Professional Track is ideal for students who view the MA as their terminal degree in the field and it is often useful for teachers at the elementary and secondary level.

All MA students should take HIST 791 as one of their first courses in History.  This introduction to historical research methods will give students the opportunity to explore possible thesis topics and to consider pursing the Research Track.  Students are also encouraged to consult with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) about their initial preferred course of study within 18 credits. Students interested in pursuing the Research Track must apply to the DGS before their last semester of classes and before entering HIST 796.  See below.

All MA students (research and professional track) are required to pass a first comprehensive exam by the end of 18 credits.  (Professional track students must take a second comprehensive exam will be given near or at the end of 36 credits.) These exams are given in the context of courses, administered during the scheduled final exam period, and proctored by the professor teaching the course. Students will take comprehensive exams in a “field” that covers a general area in history, that builds on the course syllabus, and that also reflects additional reading.  MLS/MA students are exempt from both exams.  Only full-time members of the History Department administer these exams. No comprehensive exams may be taken during summer courses.

A student may take usually no more than three courses of one semester each outside the History Department and only with the formal consent of the Director of Graduate Studies


    Requirements for the professional track

    1. Thirty-six credits of coursework, which must include HIST 791 (3 cr.).
    2. Comprehensive exams. Students must pass two comprehensive exams in two broadly defined subject areas, which may be determined in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and relevant faculty members.  Professional Track students take their first exam at or near 18 credits, the second is taken at or near 36 credits.
    3. Capstone project. Students must complete a capstone project, which may be determined in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The capstone is typically an electronic portfolio of papers that a student has written in coursework.  An oral presentation delivered in a departmental context, conference paper, or a collection of other examples of historical work may also be considered with approval from the DGS

    Comprehensive exams will now be given in the context of regular MA courses, administered during the scheduled final exam period, and proctored by the professor teaching the course. However, these exams are different from traditional final exams.  Students will take comprehensive exams in a “field” that covers a general area in history, that builds on the course syllabus, and that also reflects additional reading.  Instructors will provide a list of approximately 4-7 academic monographs, perhaps more, and will advise students about how to prepare in their specific field.

    Examples of possible fields include Medieval Europe, American history, Modern Germany, the Roman Empire, Brazil, and Pre-colonial Africa.  Some professors may offer thematic or conceptual fields that depart somewhat from a course syllabus (i.e. women’s history, the history of medicine, African American history, film studies, or the Cold War.)  If a student cannot find an MA course being offered on a desired field, they should alert the DGS.  However, students will still be expected to work with their professors to decide on a suitable field according to the new 18/36 credit timeline.

    Students will be examined on all assigned readings for the course, plus additional books chosen by the professor.  Course instructors have the discretion to set exam time limits (two hours or less); to give closed or open-book exams; to create either general or specific/tailored exam fields; and to make other accommodations regarding the administration of the exam.  Some instructors will give a choice of two questions to answer.  Some may require two or more.  Students must formally declare their intention to use a course as “comprehensive exam course” by the fourth week of the term.  Students will have one chance to re-take a failed exam and receive guidance from the instructor.  Students may not resolve a failed exam by electing a new comprehensive exam course.  

    MLS/MA students are not required to take these exams.

    For more information about the two tracks and all current graduation requirements, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).


    Requirements for the Research Track

    Application

    MA students are now required to apply for the Research Track. After the completion of 24 credits, students interested in writing an MA thesis should apply to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). The application consists of a one-page statement describing the proposed thesis topic and a brief note (email) from the full-time faculty member who has agreed to serve as Thesis Advisor.  After the advisor has reviewed the statement/proposal, the student should submit both (in one email) to the DGS. Specify “Research Track Application” in the subject line, along with student’s full name. The MA Committee will review applications. Academic performance in MA coursework will be one admission criteria. Students will not be admitted to HIST 796 unless they have been approved. Email your application to the DGS by Nov. 1 to enroll in HIST 796 in the spring, or May 1 to enroll in the fall.

     

    Requirements for students who matriculated before Fall 2018

    1. Thirty credits of coursework, which must include HIST 791 (3 cr.) and HIST 796 (3 cr.).

    2. An approved prospectus for the Master’s thesis. The prospectus is a detailed plan of what the student hopes to achieve with the thesis; the composition of a prospectus, typically around 12–15 pages, is largely the goal of HIST 796. The student must formally present, or “defend,” the prospectus at a meeting of two faculty readers, who must approve it for the student to advance.          

    The prospectus should:

    • describe the specific topic you will investigate and your main research questions,
    • briefly review the secondary literature/historiography on your topic
    • discuss the primary sources you propose to examine (and that you can access)
    • provide a tentative outline of your thesis chapters and table of contents.

    Consult the department's prospectus guidelines. If the prospectus is acceptable to the student’s advisor, the advisor will schedule a 20–30 minute discussion/examination with the student and a second faculty member who will have read the proposal. The student will receive a pass / pass contingent on requested revisions / fail. The two faculty readers must fill out and sign the department's thesis proposal examination form and return the completed form to the DGS. The student may not retake this examination more than once. After passing the examination, the student will inform the graduate advisor in writing about the name of the topic.

    3. A Master’s thesis. The thesis is an original historical argument based on extensive research in both primary sources and secondary scholarship. It is written in consultation with a faculty advisor, who must formally approve the final draft. It must be a minimum of 16,000 words (approximately 65 pages).
    A satisfactory thesis answers a well-focused question and offers conclusions based on a thorough investigation of pertinent evidence. The thesis is conducted under the general supervision of the graduate advisor and the specific direction of a member of the History Department. A thesis generally runs from 65 to 85 pages, with 75 pages considered optimal.

     

    Requirements for students matriculating in Fall 2018 or later

    1. Thirty-three credits of coursework, which must include HIST 791 (3 cr.), HIST 796 (3 cr.), and one independent study HIST 798.3 taken with the student’s thesis advisor in preparation for graduation (3 cr.).

    2. An approved prospectus for the Master’s thesis. The prospectus is a detailed plan of what the student hopes to achieve with the thesis; the composition of a prospectus, typically around 12–15 pages, is largely the goal of HIST 796. The student must formally present, or “defend,” the prospectus at a meeting of two faculty readers, who must approve it for the student to advance.

    The prospectus should:

    • describe the specific topic you will investigate and your main research questions,
    • briefly review the secondary literature/historiography on your topic
    • discuss the primary sources you propose to examine (and that you can access)
    • provide a tentative outline of your thesis chapters and table of contents.

    Consult the department's prospectus guidelines. If the prospects is acceptable to the student’s advisor, the advisor will schedule a 20–30 minute discussion/examination with the student and a second faculty member who will have read the proposal. The student will receive a pass/pass contingent on requested revisions/fail on this examination. The two faculty readers must fill out and sign the department's thesis proposal examination form and return the completed form to the DGS. The student may not retake this examination more than once. After passing the examination, the student will inform the graduate advisor in writing about the name of the topic.

    3. A Master’s thesis. The thesis is an original historical argument based on extensive research in both primary sources and secondary scholarship. It is written in consultation with a faculty advisor, who must formally approve the final draft. It must be a minimum of 16,000 words (approximately 65 pages). During the required independent study, students will consult with their advisor and finalize revisions of their thesis.  This course should be taken after the student passes the prospectus defense exam (discussed above).

     A satisfactory thesis answers a well-focused question and offers conclusions based on a thorough investigation of pertinent evidence. The thesis is conducted under the general supervision of the graduate advisor and the specific direction of a member of the History Department. A thesis generally runs from 65 to 85 pages, with 75 pages considered optimal.

    4. First Comprehensive Exam.  At or near 18 credits, students must pass one comprehensive exam, regardless of the student’s intention to pursue the Research Track. (see above)


    Format

    The MA candidate must submit three (3) copies of the thesis with format and title page as described below. Do not staple any portion of the thesis.

    All front matter, all text, all notes and all appendices must provide for a margin of 1.5 inches on the left side of the paper. All text must be double-spaced.

    The title page, as its top line, displays the title of the thesis and then, two or three spaces down, the student's name. Further down on the title page, the following sentence must appear, arranged in a multi-line block: "Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in history, in the Graduate Division of Queens College of the City University of New York," followed by a thesis advisor signature line and a date line. See sample title page here.

    Unless otherwise specified by the thesis advisor, all notes should follow the "humanities" or "documentary note" system as specified by The Chicago Manual of Style or the same system presented by Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.

    Plagiarism is not tolerated. All cases of plagiarism involving any stage of the master's thesis will be reported to the Dean of Students, in the case of MS students to their Education Advisor, and will result in a one-year suspension from the MA program as a minimum and dismissal from the program as a maximum.

     

    Submitting the Thesis

    The signature of the thesis advisor, written on the title-page signature line, signifies final approval of the thesis as complete in all aspects. The advisor must sign three copies of this title page; these will serve as the cover page for each copy of the thesis.

    In addition, there is a separate M.A. Thesis Approval Form. Print up one copy of this and have your advisor sign after he or she has signed the thesis title-pages. This will then be submitted to the History Department. (The History secretaries will pass along copies to the Dean of Graduate Studies, Richard Bodnar, and the Registrar's Office.)

    Once all forms have been signed and the Thesis Approval Form has been submitted to the History office, the student must pay a binding fee of $35.00 at the Bursar's Office and take the receipt plus the three (3) copies of the thesis to the Rosenthal Library for binding (Room 201). One copy is for the Library, the second is for the History Department, and the third is for the student. 

    Procedures for completing a master's thesis