MA Program Requirements


Note: if you are looking for "requirements" for applying to our MA Program in History, please consult this link. The following information is intended for our current in-program MA students.


Current MA students should also be aware of the Office of Graduate Studies' website for important dates and policies relevant to program completion:


Click on the links below for answers to specific questions:

What are the requirements for the MA Program in History?

What are the requirements for the Public History track for the MA Program in History?

What are the requirements for the World History track for the MA Program in History?


What are the requirements for the MA Program in History?

University-mandated requirements for the MA degree are listed in the PSU Bulletin online.

Specific departmental requirements are listed below:

  • A minimum of 48 credits of approved graduate-level courses are required for the MA in History.

    Of these 48 credits, students must complete a minimum of 36 credits in history, to include two seminars (HST 592) and eight credits of thesis writing (HST 503).

    With the approval of their thesis advisor, students can apply to their MA program a maximum of 12 credits from graduate courses taken outside of history.

    Students are normally admitted for the Fall term, and are strongly advised to complete HST 500, Introduction to the MA Program in History during their first term of study. While HST 500 is strongly recommended for all entering graduate students, it is required for those who have not completed an undergraduate course in Historiography (HST 300 or equivalent).
  • Course work for the MA must include two historical fields; these are generally defined geographically and/or thematically, and are also generally chronologically delimited.

    The first field (the major field) will consist of a minimum of 12 credits of coursework, and the second field (the minor field) a minimum of 8 credits. 

    These fields are generally left for the student to determine, in consultation with their graduate advisor. Students must articulate the coursework comprising their field at the time of their examination by completing a departmental Graduate Field Report. Generally, a student's major field will correspond with the field of expertise of at least one tenure-line faculty member of the History Department, and this member will generally serve as the student's major field advisor. Information on faculty fields of expertise is available here.

    All students are required to take written examinations covering their chosen fields of concentration. The written examination in the student's major field should be passed before the end of the first year of graduate study (i.e., 24 credits). Students should pass the written examination in the minor field before the completion of 32 credits.

    Students must complete both written examinations before they may begin writing the thesis.

  • The department stresses the importance of adequate preparation in foreign languages to be utilized by students in their advanced study and research.

    Graduate students should demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language (either by passing a 203-level language course or by examination) germane to their thesis field no later than the point at which they have completed 32 credits of graduate study.

    Students must demonstrate language proficiency before they may begin writing the thesis.
    In-program students are responsible for acquiring the form demonstrating language proficiency from the PSU Department of World Languages and Literature.

    For more information on the foreign language requirement for the MA degree, consult the Department of World Languages and Literature.

  • The Master of Arts in History focuses upon the preparation and defense of a thesis that is based upon primary source research that follows from a program planned in consultation with the student's major field advisor. A total of 8 credits of thesis work (HST 503) is required for the MA degree in History.

  • For graduation, finally, each student must successfully defend their thesis in an oral examination before a thesis committee composed of:
    (1) the student's major field advisor;
    (2) the second field examiner;
    (3) a third reader from the History Department;
    (4) a member from outside the History Department.

    With the approval of the major advisor and the Department Chair or Graduate Coordinator, another member of the History Department can serve on the committee in lieu of the second field examiner.

    Ordinarily, each thesis committee has four members; however, with the approval of the major advisor, the Department Chair, and the Graduate Coordinator, the committee may comprise members (1), (2), and either (3) or (4).

MA students are encouraged to use the MA program worksheet to plot out their course of study with their primary field advisor.


What are the requirements for the Public History track for the MA Program in History?

Students wishing to pursue a career in public history are urged to consider the department's MA in Public History track.

Public history students take field courses, seminars, internships, and laboratory courses that cover a broad range of public history sub-fields, including: archival management, oral history, museology, cultural resource management, site interpretation, publications, and historic preservation. Coursework includes a balance of classroom and practical offerings.

Students choosing the public history track as their primary field are required to have a secondary field that is geographically defined.

In addition to fulfilling all other requirements for the MA in History, students must also complete:

  • HST 593, Introduction to Public History (4 credits; unless student has already successfully completed this course at the undergraduate level)
  • HST 594, Public History Seminar (4 credits)
  • HST 595, Public History Lab (4 credits)
  • a minimum of 6 credits of HST 504, Public History Internship (6 credits)
  • A thesis or public project, e.g., exhibit, web site, public program, audio, or video document as part of the required 8 credits of HST 503, Thesis (8 credits).

What are the requirements for the World History track for the MA Program in History?

A specialization in World History is available through the department's World History MA track.

Students pursuing the world history track fulfill all of the requirements for the MA in History, with world history as their primary (major) field. In addition, the world history track requires two regional concentrations instead of a single minor field.

The field requirements for the world history track thus include:

  • Twelve (12) credits of HST 590, Comparative World History (an appropriate advisor-approved course can replace 4 credits of HST 590)
  • Two regional concentrations of a minimum 8 credits in each, for a minimum total of 16 credits

Regular MA students can still choose world history as a secondary field and fulfill this requirement in the standard way by taking 8 credits of HST 590.