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Advanced Skills and Practices for Further Study or Career Achievement

The M.A. in history prepares students to read, write, research and think critically and analytically about the past at an advanced level. Fellow students may be people who are simply seeking to expand their knowledge and critical skills in specialized fields of historical study. Others may be teaching professionals who wish to gain continuing education credits and enhance their professional opportunities. Overall, the skills students gain are essential to success in graduate school and law school, as well as careers in:

  • business
  • civil service
  • government
  • research
  • teaching

The course of study will consist of a mix of seminars and advanced lecture courses that address the most recent scholarship and trends in a wide variety of historical specialties. Students will explore history across a variety of chronological, regional and thematic frameworks.


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Program Details

Thesis and Seminar Plan

All students must choose between a thesis plan and a seminar plan. In both the seminar and thesis plans, you will pursue independent research from a variety of theoretical, investigative and pedagogical approaches and the widest possible range of historical writing. 

Thesis Plan

Students in the thesis plan will produce a major research paper that is based on extensive independent research in primary sources and that comprises an original contribution to the historical literature of the topic. The thesis plan requires a minimum of 30 credit hours, including HIST 501, 521, 561, 562 and 571. Six credit hours must be in HIST 599, which culminates in a written thesis. With your advisor's approval, 3 credit hours may be elected in a related discipline, such as languages, statistical methods or computer science. After completion of the program, you must pass an oral examination on your thesis and your major field. 

Seminar Plan

The seminar plan also requires a minimum of 30 credit hours, including History 501, 521, 561, 562, and 571. In addition, HIST 561 must be taken a second time. With your advisor's approval, 3 credit hours may be elected in a related discipline, such as languages, statistical methods or computer science. 

Whether you’re in the thesis plan or the seminar plan, you may take up to 6 credit hours of graduate courses at the University of Rhode Island from the university's 400- and 500-level Department of History course offerings, with the consent of your advisor or department chair.

Program/Learning Goals

Upon completion of this program, students will demonstrate:

  • An advanced understanding of the origins of history as a field of study and how it has evolved and continues to change.
  • An advanced understanding of the various interpretive schools of historical writing, with emphasis on causal relations and multiple perspectives, and of the role of bias in the construction of historical narratives.
  • Advanced research and writing skills, including the ability to critically evaluate the widest variety of historical sources and to produce thoroughly researched, carefully conceptualized and clearly written projects.
  • An understanding of the evolution of a variety of world cultures, especially within the context of comparative historical research.
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Department of History

History is a multidimensional field that historians and students have approached in a multitude of ways. At its core, history tackles fundamental questions of human society.