History Graduate Programs

Jan 10, 2019

Graduate degree programs in history are very diverse to allow students to specialize in a particular region, time period and/or topic in the field. Learn more about 3 specific graduate degree programs in history and their admission requirements.

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There are a wide range of available graduate degree programs in history, as well as dual degree programs. These programs typically allow students to focus their studies in multiple areas within the field of history and usually include various research-based requirements. Here we discuss a few of the more common graduate programs in history.

Types of Graduate Programs in History

Master of Arts in History

Master of Arts (MA) in History programs usually require around 30 credit hours and can be completed in 2 years. Students in these programs are usually able to choose from a variety of major and/or minor areas of concentrations, in areas such as U.S. history, European history, Latin American history, African history and Asian history. Many of these programs offer thesis and non-thesis options, where students in the non-thesis options may be required to complete a research report, research seminar or public history internship, depending on the program, in place of a thesis. Coursework for these programs usually include research courses/seminars, courses in special readings and courses in advanced topics in students' given concentration area.

Doctor of Philosophy in History

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in History programs may be around 60 credit hours and may take 6 to 7 years to complete. These programs typically require comprehensive exams, a dissertation and may require students to have reading knowledge in 2 different foreign languages. Depending on the design of the program, students usually take coursework in a major and minor area or choose a concentration, like American history, that has additional specializations within it, such as religion, race and ethnicity or politics and economy. Due to the various focus areas, coursework topics for these programs vary greatly but the curriculum usually requires the most credits in a student's major area, followed by courses in the minor area and then credits in research and dissertation work.

Dual Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in History

Students interested in law and history may pursue a dual Juris Doctor (JD)/MA in History degree program that typically allows students to finish both degrees faster than taking the degrees separately, such as finishing in 6 semesters instead of 8 semesters. These programs may vary in the number of credits required, based on the program and/or whether students choose a thesis or comprehensive option. Students in the dual program usually need to complete specific requirements for both the JD and MA degree, which may include oral exams, research papers, professional skills courses and more. Like other history degree programs, coursework is typically available in a wide range of areas, but students may be likely to take courses in topics like American legal history, Constitutional law, legal research and historical research.

Common Entrance Requirements

Admission to graduate degree programs may be competitive due to their typically small cohort/class sizes, and therefore, some programs may have a minimum GPA requirement (usually around a 3.0) and/or expect high GRE test scores. Most graduate programs in history, at both the master's and doctoral levels, expect students to submit their official transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement or statement of purpose and a writing sample with their application. It is also fairly common for students to need to include a resume or CV. Students applying to dual JD/MA programs usually need to apply to each program separately and may need to take the LSAT for the JD program.

Students can choose from several different graduate degree programs in history, including MA, PhD and dual JD/MA programs. Students in these programs can expect to complete a thesis, dissertation or other research-based final project, depending on the type of program.

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