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Graduate Program

Degrees Offered

Master of Arts in Historical Studies. In addition to a wide range of subject/area specialties, the M.A. includes the option of a track in Public History. Note: the Public Policy Ph.D program offers a concentration in policy history. For further information, contact the Department of History for information about the Policy History Track in the Public Policy Program. The Department of History is also affiliated with the Language, Literacy, and Culture Doctoral Program.

Contact Information

Graduate Program Director:

Dr. G.Derek Musgrove
Office: 509 Fine Arts Building
Telephone: 410-455-2044

Graduate Program Administrative Assistant:
Ms. Carla Ison
505 Fine Arts Building
410-455-2312


Master’s Program in Historical Studies

M.A. Program Description

The Master of Arts program in Historical Studies is designed to accommodate a variety of interests and career paths, including students who are considering going on for a Ph.D. as part of the path to a formal academic career in history, those already engaged in K-12 teaching, students seeking to deepen their knowledge of history, or those who wishing to enter the growing field of public history for a career in museums, archives, libraries, or other historical institutions. The program is characterized by a core emphasis on academic training in historiographical methods and theory; in current conceptual tools and techniques for organizing historical evidence; and in primary research in a large number of subject/area specialties. In addition, the program includes the option of a Public History track which offers an opportunity to explore the practice and theory of “public history” in fields such as archival management, historical editing, construction and administration of public history sites, the writing of institutional or policy history, and the use of electronic media techniques in exhibits and Internet sites. The scheduling of courses in the program is arranged to suit full-time students as well as part-time evening students.

The department also offers qualified undergraduates an Accelerated B.A./M.A. program that may culminate in the M.A. in Historical Studies. For further information, contact the History Department’s Graduate Program Director.

Program Admission Requirements and Deadlines

The admission requirements and procedures correspond to the requirements set forth by the Graduate School of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, with the provision that the GRE is NOT required (you may submit your GRE results if you believe it could help your application). Applicants should include a 5-10 page sample of their academic or professional writing that demonstrates their writing, research, and analytical skills. Finally, applications must include three letters of recommendation that provide information about your potential as a scholar and the ability to engage in the academic work of history at the graduate level. Candidates with questions or concerns regarding such letters are invited to consult with the Graduate Program Director, well before the application deadline.

All applicants wishing to be considered for departmental funding (which may include teaching assistants, research assistants, and any departmental funding not issued directly by the federal government) must submit their application by February 15. To be considered for funding, you must check the relevant boxes under “Financial Assistance Information” in Section V of the Graduate School application form, and submit your application by the deadline of February 15.

Admissions to start the program in the fall will be considered after the initial deadline of February 15 of each year. Admissions will continue on a rolling basis until August.

Program Degree Requirements

A minimum of 30 graduate credits is required. All students must take HIST 701 (The Study of History) and HIST 702 (The Practice of History). They will normally take at least three courses in the 700-level seminar series and up to three courses from the 600-level series. Finally, they will take at least six credits of Master’s Thesis (HIST 799). Special Topics in Historical Studies (HIST 798) may, with permission from the program director, be substituted for some courses in the 600 and 700 series. The Internship/Practicum in Historical Studies (HIST 790) may also, with permission from the program director, be substituted for some part of the normal series of courses. Every attempt is made to individualize the student’s total degree program to meet particular interests and career goals.

By the time students have completed 15 credits of graduate work they must select a faculty advisor. The Graduate Program Director should be consulted when selecting an advisor and only members of the Regular or Associate Graduate Faculty in the UMBC Department of History qualify. All students who have completed 15 credits must complete the Declaration of Faculty Advisor Form.

Students must be continuously enrolled in the program unless granted an authorized Leave of Absence (LOA). Students are limited to three authorized LOAs. All requirements for the master’s degree must be completed within a five-year period. See the UMBC Graduate School website for general information on master’s degree programs and important university deadlines.

M.A. Thesis: The thesis in history (six credits of HIST 799) demonstrates a student’s ability to create historical scholarship that integrates both primary and secondary sources. All theses involve working with a faculty advisor and at least two additional faculty as committee members. The thesis includes a substantive writing section examining the historiography of the chosen research topic integrated with the student’s insights. Some theses also include historical scholarship presented in a variety of professional formats such as websites, exhibitions, and lesson plans.

Students ready to begin work on the M.A. thesis should register for 1-3 credits of HIST 799 with the approval of a faculty advisor. Before registering for a fourth credit of HIST 799, students must submit an 8-10 page prospectus to the advisor and thesis committee. The prospectus must be approved by all members of the committee before a student may register for the final 3 credits of HIST 799. (see new “Prospectus Approval Form”). The prospectus should include:

  • Discussion of the major research question
  • Review of the topic’s general historiography
  • Preliminary bibliography and a discussion of the sources to be used
  • Proposed outline

Student must complete six (6) credits of HIST 799 for the M.A. in Historical Studies and pass an oral examination on the thesis.

Research/Travel Funding for Graduate Students:

The History Department provides funding to support research and research-related travel by current students in the Historical Studies program. You may apply for maximum $500 per year to help fund your research expenses (scanning, photocopying, purchase of materials, hiring of research help, etc.) and/or travel expenses related to research (to visit archives, interview subjects, etc.). The funding is meant to supplement funding available from the Graduate Student Association (GSA). It is not intended to support travel to conferences, which is available from the GSA.

Applicants are required to

  • be in good standing in the Historical Studies MA program,
  • write a short explanation of their proposed research and/or travel,
  • provide a detailed proposed budget of their expected expenses,
  • ask their thesis supervisor to write in support of their budget and application,
  • show that they have applied for funding from the Graduate Student Association (and that additional support may be required to supplement the GSA funds),
  • apply to the History Department at least 30 days ahead of the proposed research and/or research travel,
  • if requesting funds for travel, put in an eTravel request ahead of the application to the History Department, and include the eTravel number with the application,
  • and provide receipts of expenses with their request for reimbursement.

Applications should be submitted to Dr. George Derek Musgrove, Graduate Program Director, for consideration by the Graduate Committee.


Subject Area Specialties

Department faculty focus their research and teaching in the following fields: United States history (all periods and several sub-areas including politics and public policy, social history, diplomatic history, economic/business history, urban history, women’s history, military affairs, and race relations/civil rights), Pre-Modern European history (including the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and early modern England), Modern European history (with particular emphasis on Britain, France, Germany, Eastern Europe, history of the Holocaust, and Russia), Atlantic World history, institutional and policy history, and Asian history, with particular emphasis on the history of China and Japan.


Public History Track


Graduate and Research Assistantships

The Department of History annually awards a limited number of assistantships to students accepted into the Historical Studies graduate program. These confer tuition remission, a stipend of $14,000, and health insurance benefits. Both new applicants and continuing students in the Historical Studies program are eligible to apply. To be considered for funding, new applicants must check the relevant boxes under “Financial Assistance Information” in Section V of the Graduate School application form, and submit their application by the deadline of February 15. Continuing students wishing to be considered for an assistantship must send (by the same deadline) a separate letter indicating interest and qualifications to the Historical Studies Graduate Program Director, Dr. Daniel Ritschel. Be sure to also visit the Graduate School and the Graduate Student Association websites for information about other graduate assistantship opportunities for incoming and continuing students.