Program Description

The M.A. program in History offers students advanced training in historical research, writing and teaching. Seminars are small in size, providing students with unparalleled opportunities to work directly with faculty. Students have the option of pursuing their degrees full or part time, and classes are held in the afternoon and the evening.

The graduate program includes courses in historical methods and research, surveys of specific historical fields (e.g., United States History, Modern European History, Latin American History, California History, Borderlands History, American Indian History, Ancient and World history), and professional development for careers in teaching, archival administration and public history. Graduates of the program have gone on to teach at high schools and community colleges, pursued careers in museums and archives, and gained admission to top-tier Ph.D. programs.

The History M.A. program consists of 30 units (10 classes) of coursework, followed by a culminating project course in which students revise, expand and deepen a research paper with the goal of turning it into a publishable article. Alternatively, at the invitation of a faculty member, students may elect to write a thesis.

Students seeking additional information about the program should contact the graduate coordinator, Dr. Rachel Howes, or make an appointment by calling the History office at (818) 677-3566.

Program Requirements

A. Requirements for Admission

  1. A baccalaureate degree with a major or strong background in history, a cumulative minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and a cumulative minimum GPA of 3.3 in the last 60-semester (or 90-quarter) hours. Students who do not meet these criteria must demonstrate sufficient preparation or interest in history, as determined by the department’s graduate coordinator. This can be achieved by showing a minimum GPA of 3.5 in at least three History courses at the 400- to 600-level (upper division or graduate), including HIST 601 (Theory and Historiography) or the equivalent and at least one course requiring a substantial research paper.
  2. Two letters of recommendation from faculty under whom the applicant worked as an undergraduate or graduate student.
  3. One- or two-page statement of purpose describing the applicant’s academic background, career goals, historical interests and anticipated field of study.
  4. A writing sample, such as a research paper, not to exceed 25 pages in length.
  5. Acceptance by the History department.

Refer to the Department of History website for application deadlines and instructions.

B. Requirements for the Degree

1. Course Requirements (30 units)

A minimum of 30 units of approved graduate work consisting of:

  1. HIST 601 to be taken during the first two semesters in the program.
  2. Seven graduate-level history courses (21 units) to include at least two 600-level research seminars and three 500-level graduate colloquia.
  3. Two courses (6 units) at the 500- or 600-level in history or at the 500- or 600-level in related disciplines with approval of the graduate coordinator.

Students should meet with the graduate coordinator and faculty in their chosen areas of interest to develop a cohesive academic program.

2. Culminating Experience (3 units)

In addition to the 30 required units of coursework, M.A. students must successfully complete either a culminating project or an M.A. thesis.

Culminating Project

Students will enroll in HIST 698D, a course designed to establish students’ mastery of the historian’s craft. This culminating graduate course requires students to use an existing research paper that they produced in one of their two 600-level classes and spend the semester revising it. Students will be expected to transform the paper into a piece that could be submitted as a conference paper, a writing sample and/or an article for publication. They will prepare a cogent 20-minute presentation of their work that may serve as a conference presentation, a mini-lecture for a class or a brief job talk.


Students may apply to complete an M.A. thesis. To be considered for the thesis option, students must work with a faculty advisor to develop a thesis proposal that demonstrates the viability of the thesis project and the student’s ability to complete the requisite research and writing. Proposals must be submitted in the Fall semester and will be evaluated by a department graduate committee. If the committee approves the proposal, the student will enroll in HIST 698 and will form a three-person faculty thesis committee with the faculty advisor as chair to oversee completion of the work.

C. Foreign Language Requirement

The History department strongly recommends that all students learn a foreign language, especially those who are planning to pursue a Ph.D., but leaves to the discretion of the student’s area advisor the determination of what, if any, level of competency is required in a given foreign language.

D. Grades

All courses taken to meet any requirements of the program must be completed with a grade of “B” or higher.

Total Units Required for the M.A. Degree: 33


Department of History
Chair: Jeffrey Auerbach
Sierra Tower (ST) 612
(818) 677-3566

Graduate Coordinator: Rachel Howes
(818) 677-2755

Program Learning Outcomes

Students receiving a Master of Arts in History will be able to:

  1. Analyze and explain problems of historical interpretation.
  2. Learn to read and interpret historical sources critically and analytically.
  3. Select a research problem and to search for relevant primary and secondary sources.
  4. Express orally and exchange historical ideas.
  5. Write a research essay using a scholarly format that includes footnotes and bibliography.
  6. Demonstrate a complex understanding of the history of United States, Europe, and one other region or culture over a period of time of time.
  7. Understand historical subjects that transcend regional boundaries.
  8. Become experienced at evaluating and leading review sessions, and to have the opportunity to prepare and deliver a lecture.
  9. Become acquainted with basic and advanced archival techniques.