The Department of History Offers Students Two Ways of Completing the Master of Arts Degree:

The thesis option, which emphasizes depth of knowledge and research competence acquired through writing a substantial master’s thesis.
The research paper option, which emphasizes breadth of historical knowledge acquired through additional coursework and the writing of smaller research papers.


The Thesis Track:

Coursework and Requirements

  1. Students Must Complete 32 Hours of Coursework:
    1. This includes Historian’s Craft (HIST 6000), the introduction to the discipline and to graduate study
    2. The 3-credit course is offered once a year and usually taken during the student’s first semester in the program
    3. It is not counted toward the 3 primary field courses
    4. The 32 hours includes at least, but no more than 6 credit hours of thesis credit, which can be divided up and taken over several semesters
    5. Thesis credit is arranged by the student, in conjunction with his/her thesis director
  2. Fields of Study:
    1. Student will choose as her/his field U.S History and/or World history (all non-U.S. courses are considered world)
    2. Take 3 courses in each chosen field
    3. The remaining hours can be allocated as the student sees fit
  3. Additional Requirements/Restrictions:
    1. Student can take no more than three 5000-level courses
    2. Students must take at least one 5-credit hour seminar to prepare him/her to do thesis research
    3. This can be in the area of his/her thesis or outside it
  4. Language Exam:
    1. Student must demonstrate competence in another language by passing an exam before defending the thesis
    2. The exam requires that a student translate, with the help of a dictionary, a 500-700 word (in the original language) essay
    3. The exam can be repeated until the student passes it and up to twice per semester
    4. The language is of the student’s choosing, unless English is not her/his first language
    5. A member of the history faculty will conduct this examination and choose the test for translation
  5. Substitute for Language Exam:
    1. Students can choose to demonstrate competence in quantitative methods
    2. Satisfactory completion (B- or better) of either PSYCH 2201 Psychological Statistics or SOC 3220 Sociological Statistics, or their equivalent
    3. Please check with Director of Graduate Studies if you decide to pursue this option


The Thesis

  1. Thesis Track Definition:
    1. Is an argument-driven piece of original research based on primary sources on a topic of the student’s interest and choosing
    2. It demonstrates expertise in a particular area
    3. Choosing to write a thesis will most likely increase the time to graduation
    4. Many students choosing this track aim to go on to a Ph.D. program
  2. Thesis Committee:
    1. The student chooses a committee of history department faculty, including a director and two additional members, one of which can be outside the department and/or university
    2. The student will work with the committee to complete the thesis
    3. The committee is usually chosen at the beginning of the student’s second year
    4. The student cannot register for thesis credit until her/his committee is selected and the M-2 (History only M2) filled out and submitted to the director of graduate studies. See links to all forms below)
  3. Thesis Defense:
    1. The student will defend the thesis in front of his/her committee (and other members of the department) after s/he has completed the final draft
    2. Committee members may ask student for further revisions after the defense
    3. Two weeks prior to the defense, the student needs to submit the M3 and tentative final copy of the thesis to the graduate school
    4. Deadline for the Defense: In order to meet program requirements, students must defend the thesis no later than 4 weeks before the end of the semester in which they intend to graduate
  4. Submission of Thesis:
    1. The thesis is now uploaded (by student) and approved electronically (by thesis advisor)
    2. After the defense and making the required changes, student will upload his/her thesis
    3. A step-by-step outline of the process is available here.
    4. Thesis advisor will must submit final approval of thesis
    5. S/he can find instructions here.
    6. The necessary form s/he must fill out is here.

The Research Paper Track

Coursework and requirements

  1. Fields of Study:
    1. Student will choose as her/his field U.S History, World History (all non-U.S. courses are considered world), History Education, and/or Public History
    2. Take 3 courses for each chosen field
    3. Remaining hours can be allocated as the student sees fit
  2. Students Must Complete 36 Hours of Coursework:
    1. This include 3 5-credit hour research seminars in the student’s area of choosing
    2. The research papers produced from these 3 courses constitute the requirement for graduation
  3. Research Papers:
    1. In each of the 5-hour seminars, student will write a research paper based on original primary-source research
    2. The research paper is argument-driven and not a summary of the literature
  4. Additional Requirements/Restrictions:
    1. This includes Historian’s Craft (HIST 6000), the introduction to the discipline and to graduate study
    2. The 3-credit course is offered once a year and usually taken during the student’s first semester in the program
    3. It is not counted toward the 3 primary field courses
    4. Student can take no more than 3 5000-level courses

Required Forms:

To graduate, all students must fill out an M-4 form at the start of their final semester.  Instructions for the M-4 form and precise deadlines can be found on the Graduate School website.  Students on the Thesis Track must also fill out M-2 and M-3 forms and should consult the Graduate Director for appropriate deadlines.

Admission Requirements:

All applicants, regardless of the track they choose or whether they complete the program on campus, online, or a combination of the two, must meet both the general criteria of the Graduate School (see Graduate School webpage) and departmental standards:

  • The applicant need not have majored in history, but s/he must demonstrate high academic potential
  • Only students with at least a 3.25 grade point average in their undergraduate major are considered
  • Successful applicants have higher grades

To apply, applicants must submit:

  • Three academic letters of recommendation (those from family friends or co-workers will not suffice)
  • Official copies of all undergraduate and graduate (if applicant has done graduate work) transcripts
  • A high-quality academic writing sample
  • An online application (see UMSL homepage for link)

The admissions committee takes the entire above requirement into its decision. Please note: the application deadlines are: March 15 (for fall semester) and Oct 15 (for spring semester). 

The 2+3 B.A. and M.A. in History enables students of demonstrated academic ability and educational maturity to complete the requirements for both degrees (137 credit hours) in five years of full-time study:

  • Student can apply for admission when s/he has completed at least 75 hour but no more than 105 credit hours
  • Must have at least a 3.35 grade point average
  • Student will hold provisional status until s/he has 105 hours
  • After completing 105 credit hours, student may be admitted to the graduate program based on the recommendation of the Graduate Director and approval from the Dean of the Graduate School
  • Before contemplating admission, student should see the Director of Graduate Studies to discuss his/her application
  • The Graduate School tightly monitors the progress of students in this program. A student must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher throughout the combined program. Should s/he fall below a 3.0 GPA, the Graduate School will officially remove the student from the 2+3 program, although the student is still eligible to complete the B.A. or B.S. degree
  • Students who withdraw from the 2+3 will be awarded the B.A. or B.S. degree when they complete all remaining requirements for the degree