Apr 13, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog 
2014-2015 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

History MA

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►   Graduate School Rules  apply to this program 

The master of arts in history requires 36 semester hours (12 courses). Students applying for admission to the program should have some background in history, though not necessarily a BA in the subject. The department encourages applications from individuals of any age interested in resuming their education. Graduate students in history develop skills in critical thinking, writing and independent research. Our program prepares students for a wide variety of professions, including teaching, government service, museum and archive management and historic preservation, as well as further degree work in history, law, librarianship and business. The department expects that students graduating with an MA in history will master the following general skills for their degrees:

  • The ability to pursue independent historical research projects
  • The ability to analyze historiographical arguments
  • The ability to analyze primary documents and develop arguments from them
  • The ability to create bibliographies using archival, library, and Internet resources
  • The ability to write in a variety of formats, including historiographical essays, book reviews, and research papers

Students will also master knowledge of the basic historical content of both their major and minor fields, and an understanding of the historiographies and historical methods in their major and minor fields.

Admission Requirements

  • In addition to the general admission requirements of the Graduate School, the Department of History requires an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.25.
  • All applicants to the history program must take the GRE. GRE scores form a part of the department’s consideration of students’ qualifications.
  • Applicants are required to submit a sample of written work, usually a term paper or project of similar length.
  • All applications must include three letters of recommendation, preferably from college or university faculty.
  • Applicants should address any gaps, weaknesses, or special circumstances in their academic records in the statement of purpose portion of the application. In special circumstances, the department may modify its admission standards.


April 1               Fall admission
October 1          Spring admission

Admission decisions are made by a graduate committee composed of the graduate advisor and faculty representing fields in U.S., European, global, and public history.

Graduate School Policies

All history MA students are subject to Graduate School policies related to graduate study, as well as to all relevant university policies. These policies cover such topics as time limits on degree completion, changing degree programs, incomplete grades, and more. Further information on these policies can be found in the Graduate School  section of this online catalog.

Transfer Credits

With approval from the graduate advisor and the appropriate faculty, students may transfer up to nine graduate-level credits accrued before enrollment in the CU Denver MA history degree program, provided that they earned a grade of B+ or better in these courses. Students must submit a syllabus for each course they wish to transfer, and faculty may require students to complete additional assignments to meet the expectations of the department. The department will not accept transfer of courses comparable to HIST 6013, Introduction to the Professional Study of History.

Grade Requirements

The history department requires that graduate students maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and will not accept grades lower than B- (2.7) toward the completion of course work for the master’s degree. Students who earn less than a B- in HIST 6013 must retake the class.

Residency Requirements 

The history department requires a residency of at least one academic year for the degree.   

Graduate Advising

Upon admission, students will sign a check list indicating their understanding and acceptance of the department’s expectations. Early in their first semester, students should contact the history department graduate advisor to discuss their path through the program and to receive advice regarding the selection of major and minor fields.

Degree Tracking Responsibility

Although faculty will provide reasonable guidance, it is up to students to monitor their own progress through the program in consultation with the graduate advisor and their major advisor; this includes knowledge and understanding of application and graduate deadlines, degree requirements, comprehensive exam expectations and processes, thesis guidelines, etc.


Choosing Advisors and Fields of Study

All history MA candidates choose a major field and a minor field. Students will take courses in these fields (see Degree Requirements below) and will be tested in these fields (see Comprehensive Examinations). After consulting with the graduate advisor, students are responsible for securing two field advisors, one to oversee their progress in the major field, the other to oversee their minor field.  All students should have chosen their fields and advisors by the end of the semester in which they have complete 12 credit hours.  Students will also need a third advisor for the comprehensive examinations.  This third advisor is typically in their major field and should always be consulted during preparation for the examinations. 

Major Fields, Minor Fields, and Concentrations

The MA in history seeks to provide students with a balance of breadth and depth in the study of history. Major fields are broad areas of study within which students gain a general picture of historical processes. Concentrations provide focus for developing expertise within the major, either regionally or thematically. Minor fields provide a complementary or comparative area and must sit outside the major field. [Please note that only the primary major field will be noted on the student’s transcript; it will not include additional concentrations or minors.]

Advisors and students together will work out Plans of Study, which indicate the courses students intend to take to meet their requirements, based on their selection of major and minor fields. Students should make every effort to enroll in courses which best fit their major field, major concentration and minor field.

Students can choose to major in one of the following four fields:

  • European History
  • Global History
  • Public History
  • U.S. History

The department has core readings for the Public History and US History fields. Students will draw on these readings for their comprehensive exams.  Students working in all fields will coordinate their readings with their major and minor advisors.

Major Field Concentrations

Students work with advisors to select one of the major field concentrations listed below. Concentrations provide thematic or regional focus to a broad geographical major (e.g. for the global history major, students could concentrate on trade, borders, imperialism, etc. or any of the areas of regional expertise of our faculty). Readings for the major field concentration are in addition to the core reading list.

Minor Fields

Students can define their minor field as a specialization within one of the four major fields or as topics from the list of concentrations.

Regional Concentrations/ Minors United States History Chronological Concentrations/Minors Topical Concentrations/Minors (these can be regional or global and must be negotiated with students’ field advisors)
American West Colonial and Federal Colonialism and Imperialism Nation and State
Britain Nineteenth Century Cultural and Social History Politics
East Asia Twentieth Century Diplomatic History and Foreign Policy Race and Ethnicity
Germany   Economic and Business History Science, Medicine, and
Islamic World Public History Concentrations Gender, Women, and Sexuality    Technology
Latin America Historic Preservation Globalization Urban History
South Asia Museum Studies Intellectual History War and Revolution
Western Europe State and Local History Labor  



Degree Requirements

All history MA students must have a major field and a minor field, and they must complete half of their course work at the 6000 level.

Total: 3 Hours

Major Field

Core course in Major Field (3-6 semester hours)

Public history and U.S. history major fields require core courses covering major approaches and themes. The core courses familiarize students with the field in a broad sense.

Research Seminars (3-6 semester hours)

Research seminars focus on students’ development of an original, primary research paper. One 3-semester-hour research seminar is required of all students. A second research seminar is required for students not in public history; the second 3 semester hours can be taken within the major or minor field.

Major Electives (9-12 semester hours)

Electives are made up of courses in the major and concentration, including readings courses, that address specific field historiographies, and optional extended research credits. Students who choose to do a thesis may apply 6 thesis semester hours (HIST 6950) toward the major electives requirement.

Total: 18 Hours

Minor Field

Minor Electives

Electives are made up of courses in the minor field, including readings courses, which address specific field historiographies, or research seminars.

Total: 12 Semester Hours

Open Elective

Students may use the open elective to explore a course outside their major or minor or to do extra course work in one of their fields.

Total: 3 Hours

Degree Total: 36 Hours


Candidates may register for up to 6 hours of internships or independent study, only one of which may be at the 6000-level. Students will not be allowed to fulfill the research seminar requirement with an independent study or internship. Any independent study or internship at the 6000-level needs the permission of the graduate advisor. Students interested in pursuing an independent study or internship must find a faculty member willing to oversee their work, and they should expect the workload to equal or exceed that required for other courses at the same level.


All history MA candidates must pass a comprehensive examination in the major and minor fields after the completion of course work and generally before embarking on a thesis, curriculum project or public history project.  The comprehensive exam evaluates students’ knowledge of their course work and their reading lists for their major, minor and concentration. The exam consists of a take-home written section, with broad essay questions in both the major and minor fields; this is followed by an oral exam with the student’s faculty committee. In answering their exam questions, students are expected to construct arguments and to show mastery of the historiographies, narratives and historical content in their fields. The comprehensive exam is administered and evaluated by a committee of the major advisor, the minor advisor and an outside reader from the history faculty. Students should expect to read 80-100 books combined, as well as significant articles, in their major and minor fields

Master’s Degree Extended Research Options

The MA program in history offers a set of courses in which students can develop extended research interests. Students must select an advisor and develop a proposal for a specific research agenda in the semester before beginning work on a project.

Students majoring in public history must complete either a thesis (6 semester hours) or a project (usually 3 semester hours).

Students majoring in U.S., global or European history can choose to write a thesis (6 semester hours in their major field).
Students who undertake their master’s program when they are already teachers or who are teachers-in-training can choose to construct curriculum projects relevant to their teaching practice. See the separate section below on “Opportunities for Teachers and Teachers-in-Training.”

Thesis Requirements

Students writing theses are expected to develop an original research agenda resulting in an extended paper. Students work with their major field advisor, who will help guide them through the process of research and writing. Students will enroll for six credit hours in HIST 6950 to complete their theses over one or more semesters. Before registering for HIST 6950, students should have a thesis proposal and initial bibliography approved by their advisor.

A thesis is evaluated by a committee of three, including the major advisor and two other faculty members chosen by the student in consultation with the major advisor. Upon completion of the thesis, the student meets with the committee members, who ask questions about the research and conclusions which the student must defend. In most instances, the committee will require further revisions, sometimes major in scope, before the thesis is accepted and cleared for submission to the Graduate School  in fulfillment of degree requirements.

Project Requirements

In lieu of a thesis, public history majors may choose to enroll in one semester of HIST 6952 to complete a public history project. Projects, which are usually conducted in collaboration with a public history organization, can entail creating an exhibit, organizing a museum or archival collection, conducting a preservation survey or similar activities. Students are required to prepare an analytical paper describing the process and results of their project.

Opportunities for Teachers and Teachers-in-Training

Curriculum Projects

Licensed teachers and teachers-in-training enrolled in the history graduate program may choose to complete a curriculum development project. Students arrange curriculum development projects with a sponsoring faculty member. Generally, students are expected to develop and submit a complete course curriculum plan for each 3-semester-hour project. Projects need to show evidence of familiarity with the relevant historiographies and primary sources. Students may apply the hours from HIST 6951 to either the major field or the minor field, depending on the project subjects. Curriculum plans must meet minimum criteria established by the history department in the document Advanced History Curriculum Development Projects .

Secondary Teacher Licensure

Students interested in secondary teacher licensure should consult with the School of Education and Human Development. See the Urban Community Teacher Education Program  for information. 

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