MA Program

The MA in history is intended as either a terminal degree or a preliminary degree for those students who have been admitted to the program leading to the PhD in history. Students admitted to the MA program who desire to advance to doctoral studies may apply to the Graduate Studies Committee to be considered for the PhD program.

Language Requirement

The candidate must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one relevant foreign language. This regulation emphasizes the need for genuine ability to use foreign languages in advanced courses and in certain kinds of research. Language examinations, consisting of one or more passages to be translated (a dictionary is permitted), are given in September, January, and April.

If the candidate has passed a reading examination at another accredited graduate school and submits evidence to that effect to the chair of the Graduate Studies Committee, the departmental requirement in most instances will be waived. The Department of Modern Foreign Languages offers reading courses for graduate students in French (GRS LF 621), German (GRS LG 621), Italian (GRS LI 621), and Spanish (GRS LS 621). Passing one of these reading courses fulfills the department’s language requirement.

Course Requirements

Of the eight semester courses (32 credits) needed to satisfy the requirement of work in residence, all students must take the following four courses: GRS HI 800: European Historiography, HI 850: American Historiography, HI 870: African Historiography, and HI 801: The Historian’s Craft. HI 800, 850, and 870 are reading courses focusing on historiographical issues and approaches in the areas where the department has special strengths and a sizable array of courses. HI 801 is a course intended to provide students with the necessary range of analytical, research, and expository skills and methods that are associated with the historian’s craft. Toward that end, the course is designed to move from the original conception of a problem to a publishable article. At least one of the reading courses (HI 800, 850, or 870) must be taken prior to taking HI 801, which will be offered every year in the spring semester.

Candidates for the MA may count only two courses designed primarily for undergraduates (these courses are offered at the 600 or 700 level and ordinarily have 200 or 300-level equivalents) for the degree.

Courses taken at other accredited graduate schools or in other schools or colleges of Boston University not used toward the awarding of any other degree may be transferred on recommendation of the department. For the MA degree, no more than two such courses may be transferred.

Major Research Paper/MA Capstone Experience

Within the context of HI 801 (see Course Requirements above) students will write a major research paper, which will be separately certified by the Graduate Studies Committee as the student’s capstone experience. The paper must be between 25 and 40 pages in length, the equivalent of a publishable journal article, based on primary sources, and meeting professional standards of documentation, argument, and literary structure. It will be graded by the instructor of HI 801, after which a copy of the paper must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee, which will determine if it fulfills the research requirement. A paper accepted as fulfilling the requirement remains in the student’s file.

Applying for Graduation

Students must file an application for graduation in the Graduate School office (check with this office for deadlines). Note that an application is good only for the specified date (September, January, or May); if a student needs additional time to complete requirements, a new application must be filed. Note also that a student must be registered for the semester in which he or she graduates and in the preceding one and that a student must be registered for any semester in which a degree requirement is completed (such as submission of the research paper or passing the language examination).