Degree Requirements (Department)

Degree requirements are set in part by the Graduate School and in part by the History Department. The MA student must satisfy the degree requirements that are in force at the time the MA is awarded.  MA students should read all relevant information on the History Department’s website and the Graduate School’s website. These requirements are subject to change at any time. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of the requirements in effect at the time of the degree.

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Degree Requirements (Departmental)

Courses, Credits and Grades

  • A student must earn a grade of at least 3.5 in each numerically graded course and HSTRY 600 credits must receive CR in order for their credits to be applicable to degree requirements.
  • In assessing credits applicable to the degree, the History Department includes History courses numbered 400 and above (with the exception of courses numbered 491-499), and courses numbered 400 and above offered by other departments with content relevant to the student’s program of study in History.  Credits from language training courses (at any level) are not counted toward degree credits.
  • Credits taken in professionalization courses (HSTRY 570, HSTRY 571, GRDSCH 615, GRDSCH 616) do count toward the 10 credits of graduate-level coursework needed for fulltime registration. They are not counted toward degree credits.
  • Completion of HSTRY 500: Historical Perspectives required for all first-year graduate students. HSTRY 500 counts toward graduate degree credits.
  • MA students specializing in US History are required to take HSTAA 521: US History to 1877 and HSTAA 522: US History since 1877 in their first year in the graduate program.
  • MA students specializing in modern European History are required to take the three-quarter Modern European Core Research Seminar: HSTEU 510 (Autumn Quarter), HSTEU 511 (Winter Quarter) and HSTEU 512 (Spring Quarter). The second two quarters of the sequence (HSTEU 511/512) are research seminar, in which students complete a seminar paper. This sequence is usually offered in alternate years; if the European Core is not taught during a student’s time in the MA program, s/he can complete the MA seminar paper in another research seminar that is being offered or as an ad hoc research seminar and then take the European Core Seminar to fulfill the seminar paper requirement for the PhD
  • All History graduate students must take HSTRY 571: Academic Career Preparation in both their second and third years of the graduate program.

Satisfactory progress and performance in the masters program.

Establishment of the MA Committee and two fields

  • Graduate admissions decisions are based on the faculty field specialists’ evaluation of the applicant’s previous coursework, research experience, language training, etc. as preparation for graduate work in the applicant’s proposed fields of study.  Therefore, once admitted to the graduate program, a student cannot significantly change the geographical, chronological or substantive focus of his/her primary area of study.
  • A student cannot switch the primary field to one in another division after admission to the graduate program.  For example, a student admitted to study European history cannot change his/her area of study to Asian history after admission to the graduate program.
  • A student cannot significantly change the geographical, chronological or substantive focus of his/her primary area of study within a division after admission to the graduate program. For example, a student admitted to study Japanese history within the Asia division cannot switch to studying Korean history within the Asia division after admission to the graduate program; or a student admitted to study Twentieth Century US history in the US division cannot switch to Early America in the US division after admission to the graduate program.  With the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee it may be possible for a student to change the faculty member supervising the primary field (as specified in the graduate application) to another if more than one History faculty member supervises that graduate field.
  • MA students must officially set up their MA Committee and two fields no later than the end of their second quarter in the graduate program. The Request for Establishing a Masters Supervisory Committee forms (which officially establishes both the M.A .Committee and the MA fields) must be submitted to the History Graduate Office.
  • Students construct their fields of study in consultation with their supervising faculty.
  • The MA fields must each be different in scope and content, and each must be supervised by a different faculty member (one faculty member cannot supervise both fields).
  • Both MA fields must be History fields and each must be supervised by a UW History Department faculty member.  Both field supervisors must be members of the History graduate faculty.
  • As the MA is the student's first professional degree in History, MA fields should be broadly defined (e.g. Modern Russia, Early Imperial China, Twentieth Century U.S.).  These typically are fields that will be further defined, refined and supplemented in the student's work at the PhD level.
  • The supervisor of the first (primary) MA field serves as Chair of the MA Committee.
  • A field in the Comparative History division (Comparative Gender, Comparative Ethnicity and Nationalism, Historiography, Comparative Colonialisms) cannot be a student’s first (primary) MA field.
  • The faculty supervisor determines the required and recommended preparation needed for the field and the faculty supervisor (not the student) completes those portions of the field form.
  • Establishment of the MA Committee and fields also requires the submission of the Graduate School’s Human Subjects form. This is a Graduate School requirement.
  • You are no longer required to take a course with each of your MA committee members.  You still must work with them in some substantive way via development of the seminar paper, a 600 class, or other requirement determined by that committee member.

Completion of the MA seminar paper

  • The MA seminar paper must be completed before the end of the quarter prior to the MA Examination.
  • The seminar paper must be completed in a two-quarter research seminar either as a regularly-scheduled research seminar course or, if necessary, through a two-quarter ad hoc research seminar.
  • The seminar paper should be the length and format of a journal article (10,000 to 15,000 words including footnotes). One of the student’s MA Committee members must be substantively involved in the supervision of the seminar paper.
  • The seminar paper must be read and approved by both MA Committee members before a student can schedule the MA Examination. The student must provide the History Graduate Office with a copy of the MA seminar paper for inclusion in the student’s file as a prerequisite for taking the MA Examination.
  • The UW History Department does not offer the MA thesis option; all MA students must complete a seminar paper as part of their degree requirements

The MA foreign language requirement

All graduate students in the program must formally demonstrate a proficiency in at least one foreign language (by translation exam or petition) before the student takes the PhD exams.

As foreign language demands vary by division and field of study, the student’s MA Committee determines whether or not the student must fulfill a foreign language requirement prior to taking the MA Examination.  Students should discuss this with their MA Committee members and any specific foreign language requirement must be included in the field preparation section of the MA Field Form, to be completed by the MA field supervisor.

If the members of the MA Committee require that the student formally demonstrate a proficiency in a foreign language (by translation exam or petition), this requirement must be fulfilled no later than the end of the quarter preceding the quarter in which the student intends to take the MA Exam.

If the members of the MA Committee do not require proficiency in a foreign language at the MA level or if they are satisfied with the student’s proficiency in a foreign language based on the student’s language training for the purposes of the MA, the student is exempted from formally demonstrating proficiency in a foreign language by translation exam or petition for the MA.

All MA students who promote to the PhD program must formally demonstrate a proficiency in at least one foreign language (by translation exam or petition) before the student takes the PhD exams.

  • For students who fulfilled a foreign  language requirement for the MA degree by translation exam or petition:   The MA language can satisfy the PhD language requirement if the student’s PhD Committee requires no additional language(s) at the PhD level. Students must discuss this with their PhD Committee members and any specific foreign language requirement(s) must be included in the field preparation section of the PhD Field Form, to be completed by the PhD field supervisor.  PhD language requirement(s) must be satisfied by a translation exam or petition and must be fulfilled no later than the end of the quarter preceding the quarter in which the student intends to take the PhD exams.
  • For students who did not fulfill a foreign language requirement for the MA degree by translation exam or petition:  Students must discuss the PhD language requirement with their PhD Committee members and any specific foreign language requirement(s) must be included in the field preparation section of the PhD Field Form, to be completed by the PhD field supervisor.  If the members of the PhD do not have a specific foreign language requirement, the student can fulfill the PhD language requirement with any foreign language in which they are proficient.  PhD language requirement(s) must be satisfied by a translation exam or petition and must be fulfilled no later than the end of the quarter preceding the quarter in which the student intends to take the PhD exams.

Incompletes, X grades and N grades must be removed from the student’s transcript by the end of the following quarter. (Students intending to take the MA Exam must remove all Xs, Is and Ns from the transcript before the beginning of the quarter in which the MA Exam will be taken.)  "Removed from the transcript" means not only that the work has been completed by the student, but also that the faculty supervisor has submitted an online change-of-grade and the X, N or I grade has been replaced with a numerical grade or CR.

Demonstrate a mastery of a substantial body of historical knowledge by an oral MA Examination, a 60-90 minute oral examination that covers the student’s two MA fields and the seminar paper and is graded pass/fail. Where circumstances warrant, the committee members may choose to have students read a moderate number of additional books to ensure that they are properly prepared.

  • It is the MA field supervisors’ responsibility to determine whether a student has completed the necessary field preparation to proceed to the MA Examination.
  • Students should take the oral MA Exam and complete the MA degree no later than the Autumn Quarter or Winter Quarter of the student’s second year in the graduate program. Extending the time to completion of the degree beyond these limits can be cause for concern about the student’s progress in the masters program and, consequently an extension will be granted only in cases of extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control such as the faculty’s requirements for field or language preparation. A student who must postpone the completion of the MA beyond the expected norm must submit an explanatory petition, supported by a letter from the Chair of the MA Committee, for the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Each quarter the History Graduate Office posts a message on the histinfo electronic list setting a deadline for students to sign up to take the M..A Exam in the next quarter.  After the sign-up deadline has passed, the Graduate Office checks the file of each student who signed up for the MA Exam , and informs the student of any outstanding requirements and the deadline by which the requirements must be fulfilled in order to be eligible to take the MA Exam the following quarter (seminar paper and foreign language by the end of the quarter preceding the MA Exam quarter, removal of  Is, Xs and Ns from the transcript before the beginning of the MA Exam quarter, etc.).  Students who fulfill all the requirements to take the MA Exam in the following quarter are sent via email further instructions and the MA Examination Scheduling Form for scheduling the day and time for the MA Exam.  The student is also reminded to apply for the MA degree through the Graduate School's website, which produces the Warrant for the MA Degree.
  • The student must provide both members of the MA Committee with a copy of the MA seminar paper no later than the end of the first week of the MA Exam quarter.  Committee members have two weeks to read and review the seminar paper once they receive it.  In cases where the paper was written for a third faculty member not on the student’s MA Committee, the MA field supervisors must inform the student if the seminar paper supervisor will be asked to attend the MA Exam.
  • Once the MA field supervisors have read and reviewed the seminar paper, they and the  student must then find a day with a 90 minute time slot for the oral MA Exam that is conducive to all participants.  The M.A .Exam may be scheduled for any time up to the end of the seventh week of the quarter (the MA Exam can be held later than the seventh week of the quarter only in extenuating circumstances). The student must submit the completed MA Exam Scheduling Form form (with original signatures) to the History Graduate Office at least one week prior to the MA Exam.  The Graduate Office will then reserve a room for the M..A Exam.  The Graduate Office will inform the student and faculty of the location, and also send a reminder of the day/time and location a few days before the MA Exam.
  • The Graduate Office will provide the MA Chair with the MA Exam grade sheet, to be completed at the conclusion of the MA Exam. There are three possible grades for the result of the MA Examination:
  • Pass, with a recommendation that the student apply for promotion to the History PhD program.
  • Pass, without a recommendation that the student apply for promotion to the History PhD program.
  • Fail.  If the student fails the MA Examination, a written explanatory evaluation of the student’s performance in the exam must be provided by the MA Committee.   The evaluation will be placed in the student’s file. The grade sheet and the evaluation are not confidential—the student may see both. There is no re-examination for the MA
  • If the student passes the MA Exam, the MA Committee members must also sign the Graduate School's Warrant for the MA Degree at the conclusion of the MA Exam.  The Graduate Office transmits the Department's approval for the degree to the Graduate School.
  • The MA Exam grade sheet and the signed Warrant are placed in the student's file.
  • A student cannot be exempted from writing a History PhD examination in a field based on the result of the UW History MA Examination in that field or based on an examination or other work completed in a program outside the UW History Department.