The Master of Arts degree in History provides students with a common grounding in rigorous historical methods, as well as the flexibility to pursue their individual interests. The program offers two tracks, one culminating in a thesis and one culminating in comprehensive exams.

The MA in History is designed to take two years for students enrolled in the program full time. Full-time graduate students typically take 8 units, or 2 classes, per quarter. The department recognizes that many students have professional or personal commitments that prevent them from taking a full load each quarter, so works with students to find an appropriate course load. 


Program Coursework

During their first year, all students take HIST 504: Graduate Study in History, which provides an introduction to historical study at the graduate level. To complete their Masters degree, students either undertake original historical research, by writing a thesis, or deepen their expertise in two historical fields of their choice, through the comprehensive exams option.

Throughout the program, students take small graduate seminars on a variety of historical topics, periods, and methodologies. These 500-level courses are capped at fifteen students and taught by faculty who are recognized experts in their fields of study. In addition, students have 16 units of history electives, which allows them to take additional 400-level or 500-level courses in their areas of interest or to receive course credit for interning with local museums, historical societies, and other non-profits through the internship course, HIST 467.


History Seminars

Graduate seminars are offered as topics courses, with each instructor choosing a subtopic within the broader field described by the course title. For example, “U.S. Labor History,” “Historical Memory in Early America,” and “Post-World War I America” have recently been offered under the umbrella title “HIST 505: Seminar in American History.” Because each subtopic is so distinct from the next, students can repeat graduate seminar courses up to three times so long as the subtopic is different.

Recent subtopics offered include:

  • American West: California and Its Borderlands
  • Colonial Latin America: History and Historiography
  • Comparative World History
  • Early Modern Witch Hunts
  • Historical Memory and Early America
  • Imperial Spain
  • Modern Maritime History
  • Post-World War I America: Politics and Culture
  • Science in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800
  • Taiwan and China
  • The People’s Republic of China
  • U.S. Labor History
  • United States Environmental History

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