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Master of Arts

The Master of Arts program is intended to provide students with research skills and experience, to develop greater depth of knowledge and to enhance professional opportunities. Master of Arts students may choose either the thesis option or the non-thesis option.

Students apply through Graduate Admissions in advance of review by the History Department. A candidate for admission must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 to be considered for admission. In addition to items noted above, to be considered for admission to the MA program, the applicant must provide (please send to Graduate Admissions):

  • A statement of purpose that outlines the proposed field(s) of study and the applicant's reasons for seeking admission to the program
  • Three recent letters of recommendation
  • A sample of written work, preferably from a prior history course
  • GRE scores
  • One to two page curriculum vita/resume
  • College transcripts (copies OK)

During the first semester of study, a Master of Arts student will be assigned a temporary faculty advisor. By the end of the first academic year, the student will select a formal major professor and additional faculty members to constitute a committee, and will complete and file an Appointment of Major Professor and/or Committee Form with the College of Graduate Studies. It is also the student's responsibility to complete and file an official College of Graduate Studies Study Plan with the College of Graduate Studies. Thereafter, students will not be permitted to enroll or be eligible for financial aid until these requirements are met.

The major professor is responsible for the academic and administrative supervision of the student's program. Students should give special attention to the general requirements for Master's Degrees and Specific Requirements for Masters Degrees in the College of Graduate Studies section of the University of Idaho General Catalog. Ultimate responsibility for seeing that all requirements are met in a timely and appropriate manner rests with the student.

An M.A. committee consists of at least two, optionally three, members of the history department, and one non-history faculty member (the outside member). The student's major professor serves as the chairman of this committee. It is the student's responsibility to file the Appointment of Major Professor and/or Committee form with the College of Graduate Studies.

M.A. candidates have the option of changing committee members in the course of study. It remains the choice of faculty to serve or not to serve on any M.A. committee. In addition, a faculty member has the right to resign from a committee at any time, although always with prior notice to the student, the major professor and the department chair. Any changes in the committee must be made on the Graduate Program/Committee Change form and filed with the College of Graduate Studies.

A graduate student must attain a grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) for all courses taken in or applied to the program. A GPA below 3.0 is not passing in graduate work and will result in termination from the program.

Students are normally expected to complete all requirements for the M.A., including thesis and exams, within three years (six regular semesters) of their acceptance into the program. Students may petition the department for either a one semester or maximum one year extension. Exceptions may be made for medical or other extenuating circumstances at the discretion of the department. Failure to complete degree requirements in the time allotted will mean immediate and permanent termination from the program.

The M.A. program comprises 30 credits beyond the B.A./B.S., with the following conditions:

  • Students may take up to three graduate courses offered through Washington State University (WSU). Under the thesis option, these courses may include one graduate historiography course and one graduate seminar relevant to the student’s area of emphasis.
  • Under the non-thesis option, the courses may include one graduate historiography course and one field course relevant to the student’s area of study. A third course could be an additional seminar for the thesis option or an additional field course for the non-thesis option.

Under both options, a total of 18 credits (normally six courses) must be in graduate level (500) history courses, including those noted above. The remainder may be at the 400 level. Under the thesis option, no more than six of the required 30 credits may be satisfied by History 500 Master’s Research and Thesis. Under both options, up to six credits may be in acceptable non-History 400 or 500 level related fields.

In all curricular matters, the student should consult with his/her major professor. In the case of History 502 (Directed Study) and 599 (Research), the student must obtain the major professor's permission before enrolling.

Finally, it is the student's responsibility to complete and file an official College of Graduate Studies Study Plan with the College of Graduate Studies. This study plan, which may be amended, (on the Graduate Program/Committee Change form and filed with the College of Graduate Studies) will outline the classes to be taken to satisfy the M.A. course requirements.

Thesis and Non-Thesis Options

The Master of Arts program is intended to provide students with research skills and experience, help students develop greater depth of knowledge and enhance professional opportunities. Master’s students enjoy the option of completing a thesis or a non-thesis option. The thesis option is ideal for students who plan to continue graduate study at the doctoral level or who desire to pursue in depth an original research project of substantial length. The non-thesis option can be useful for those graduate students seeking a terminal degree whose career or educational goals can be satisfied with less original research. In either option, students deepen their knowledge and skills in historical research, thinking and writing through their coursework.

In consultation with the student’s major professor, the time, date, and place for the defense are determined. The student then delivers the Request to Proceed with Final Defense of Thesis form to the College of Graduate Studies. The major professor notifies the department, and presides over the defense. During the defense, the student's committee (all of whom must be physically present) may ask questions related to the thesis. In addition, the student should anticipate and be prepared to answer broad questions about the nature of the discipline. At the conclusion of the defense, the final defense form is signed by the committee and returned to the College of Graduate Studies.

M.A. students choosing to pursue the non-thesis option take a set of three comprehensive examinations. The fields and questions are determined in consultation with the major professor and committee and may include: United States to 1877, United States Since 1877, Medieval Europe, Early Modern Europe, Europe Since 1750, Latin America, Asia.

  • Exams may never be waived, in whole or in part.
  • Exams will be graded Pass/Fail. The final arbiters of a student’s passing or failing an exam(s) are the members of his/her M.A. committee. A clear majority of the members (two of three, or three of four) must vote in favor for a student to pass the exams.
  • All members of a student’s committee will participate in preparing questions for the exams. A student will sit for three written examinations. The student should expect questions that will reveal knowledge of chronology, major issues and interpretations. Each exam will be a maximum of two and a half hours, including breaks.
  • Exams may be hand written or on a computer.
  • If a student fails all, some, or any one of these examinations, he/she may repeat the exams only once. The second attempt may be made no sooner than three months and no later than one year following the first attempt. The student must secure the consent of his/her committee for reexamination.
  • Failure to pass all of the exams at the end of the second attempt will result in immediate and permanent termination from the program.

    Revised Seminar Paper

    Students in the non-thesis M.A. option must present to their committee one 20-30 page paper selected from previous coursework. The paper may be revised before submission.


Physical Address:
315 Administration Building

Mailing Address:
History Department
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3175
Moscow, ID 83844-3175

Phone: (208) 885-6253

Fax: (208) 885-5221


Web: History Department