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Master of Arts

Program Coordinator
Michelle Jolly 

The History MA program provides a broad context for understanding the human experience in the past, and the curriculum is designed for the student to gain mastery over historical methodology in pursuit of their own areas of inquiry and goals. Furthermore, the program stresses the ability to apply the skills learned to allow students to study in a manner that may be largely self-directed and autonomous. This is especially important since MA graduates pursue a wide range of professional careers and personal goals.

The course of study requires 30 units, at least half of which must be taken at the 500 level in courses dedicated to graduate students only. The remainder can be at the 300/400 level. Students take core courses in historiography, research methods, and historical writing and presentation. In addition, they choose from a range of chronological, thematic, and methodological courses, including courses in public history, college teaching, oral history, and digital humanities. Interested students may take electives in other departments including Women and Gender Studies, Art History (museum studies), and modern languages. Within the History Department, students may choose concentrations in areas such as Colonial and Revolutionary America, Nineteenth Century U.S., Twentieth Century U.S., Recent U.S., U.S. Women’s History, Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe, Early Modern Europe, Atlantic World, Modern Europe, British History, Imperial Spain, Modern Russia, Latin America and the Borderlands.

Students have the option of writing a thesis or taking comprehensive exams (in two areas) as their culminating experience. See the History department Graduate Handbook for more information about the types of culminating projects available.

Students are strongly encouraged to explore different aspects of historical work during your time in the graduate program. You may undertake internships or research assistantships, work in special collections, serve as an embedded tutor in a classroom, work with a faculty mentor to explore college-level teaching, lead the History Society, publish in or edit the History Journal, and present you work in a variety of venues throughout the course of their graduate career. Because SSU students come from a variety of backgrounds – from recent graduates to mid-career professionals to high school teachers to retirees who finally have an opportunity to explore a passion – you may learn as much from peers as from the faculty who lead your classes.

Deadlines for Applications and Scholarships
Admission for Spring semester - September 30, 2023
Admission for Fall semester - Rolling admissions beginning December 30, 2023 - March 1, 2024 - (DEADLINE EXTENDED TO MAY 3, 2024)
SSU Scholarships - Scholarship application filing period is November 1, 2023 to February 1, 2024
FAFSA deadline - FAFSA has a priority filing deadline (March 2, 2023) but can continue to receive FAFSA applications beyond this date. All students are advised to fill out the FAFSA because some merit and equity scholarships require a completed FAFSA form.

Requirements for Admission

  1. BA degree from an accredited institution. Students with undergraduate majors in fields other than history must complete prerequisite courses in history before entering the program. (Contact departmental Graduate Coordinator for more information.)
  2. Grade point average of 3.00 or better in the all undergraduate history courses (and in previous graduate courses attempted) as evidenced by official transcripts.
  3. Two letters of recommendation, completion of program application and a statement of purpose, and a writing sample. (See SSU graduate application for specific guidelines).
  4. Completion and acceptance of online application for admission to the University through CalState Apply ( ), and
  5. Favorable recommendation for admission by the departmental Graduate Committee after review of the complete file. This confers advancement to classified standing as a graduate student.
    For more information, please refer to Graduate Degrees in the Degree Requirements section of this catalog (being updated for Fall 2024). 

Requirements for the MA Degree

Advancement to candidacy form (GS01 - MA in History) signed and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office prior to engaging in the culminating experience.

  1. Grade point average of 3.00 or better for all work attempted in graduate status and in all work approved as part of the specific pattern of study. With the approval of the departmental Graduate Coordinator, a maximum of 9 units of post-graduate transfer or extension credit (or any combination of the two) may be included as part of the student’s specific pattern of study. All courses are to be taken for letter grade.
  2. All requirements for the MA degree in history, including any language and conditional requirements stipulated at the time of admission to candidacy, must be satisfactorily completed within seven years from the time the first course is completed, and the culminating project must be completed and submitted within four semesters from first enrolling in the culminating experience course. Completion of Requirements form (GS02 - MA in History) must be signed and submitted to the Graduate Studies Office
  3. With the approval of the student’s committee chair and the departmental Graduate Coordinator, the satisfactory completion of one of the following two options:

Master’s Thesis Option
(Chosen in consultation with committee chair – see departmental graduate handbook for more information):

Required courses at the 500 level (such as HIST 500, 510, 596)9
Elective courses at the 300, 400, or 500 levels (HIST 597 highly recommended)15
HIST 599 Master’s Degree Thesis Research6
Total Units required for the MA30

Comprehensive Examination Option
(Chosen in consultation with departmental Graduate Coordinator and examining professors)

Required courses at the 500 level (such as HIST 500, 510, 596)9
Elective courses at the 300, 400, or 500 levels (HIST 597 highly recommended)15
HIST 598 Comprehensive Examination Reading and Research (3 units, to be taken twice, once for each exam)6
Total Units required for the MA30

Learning Objectives (History MA)

Broad AreaLearning Outcome
Historical Knowledge1a. Compare and contrast historiographical traditions, how they change over time, and how they are reflected in non-academic contexts and sources.
 1b. Identify and participate in scholarly (historiographical) conversations, and position your own work in relation to other scholars.
 1c. Recognize significant historical questions in your historical field(s).
 1d. Develop broad and in-depth knowledge about your chosen fields of historical study.
 1e. Demonstrate understanding of differing historical narratives and discuss their unique emphases
Research Skills2a. Use library and online tools for finding scholarly sources such as books, articles, reviews, documents.
 2b. Evaluate academic and non-academic historical sources for reliability and usefulness.
 2c. Frame historical research questions suited to the scope of a project, availability of materials, and scholarly conversation.
 2d. Recognize uses and pitfalls of different historical methods and types of sources (e.g. oral history, statistical analysis, material culture, etc.),.
 2e. Analyze documents, images, and other primary sources using appropriate historical analysis methods.
Teamwork & Collaboration3a. Work effectively with experts (such as librarians, archivists, and faculty members), peers, and colleagues.
Presentation Skills4a. Write clear academic prose appropriate to different academic contexts.
 4b. Adapt projects to different scopes and audiences, both academic and non-academic.
 4c. Practice the skill of providing the most accurate, appropriate, and useful historical information and analysis possible to given audiences.
Historical pedagogy 5a. Write and present a lecture for a college course.
 5b. Design and lead a discussion in a college course
 5c. Be able to design a college-level course syllabus in a area of historical interest
 5d. Discuss and apply pedagogical trends and tools in historical college teaching.
Foundations of Professional Identity as a Historian6a. Discuss the ethics and practices involved in being a history professional.
 6b. Demonstrate awareness of historical and research skills learned in the MA Program and how these can be applied in a variety of career contexts.

Useful Resource Links:

Graduate Studies Office

Application for Graduate Admissions

Document: Graduate Handbook rev. 2023.pdf (473.32 KB)