Program Requirements

The student must take a minimum of 30 units of upper division and graduate coursework. Of these units, at least 21 (15 for students who enrolled before the Fall 2010 semester and 18 for students who enrolled before the Fall 2013 semester) must be graduate level work (i.e. courses numbered 700 and above). In addition to coursework, the student must satisfy a Culminating Experience Requirement (either a comprehensive examination in the major field or a master's thesis and oral defense of thesis) and the Auxiliary Skills Requirement.

Coursework

Culminating Experience

Overview of Coursework

Distribution of Courses for History Master's Degree

  • HIST 700: 3 units (3 graduate level)
  • HIST 896 or 898: 3 units (3 graduate level)
  • Major Field: 15 units (6-9 graduate level)
  • Minor Field: 9 units (3-6 graduate level)
  • Total: 30 units (18 graduate level)

1. Courses common to all history graduate students (6 units):

History 700: History as a Field of Knowledge

(This course must be taken in the first or second semester of study or in the semester immediately following the successful completion of any conditions attached to admission into the graduate program. Under normal circumstances, this course is a prerequisite for other graduate seminars.)

History 896: Directed Reading (the M.A. Comprehensive Examination)

or History 898: the Master's Thesis

2. General Field and Research Requirements (24 units):

A candidate for the Master of Arts in History must be prepared in two fields: a major field (15 units) and a minor field (9 units). A slightly different set of requirements shapes the World History concentration; see its special requirements below. The candidate will be expected to demonstrate competence in the major field by passing a four-hour written comprehensive examination in that field. Under certain circumstances a student may be permitted to write a thesis and make an oral defense of the thesis in the major field of study.

Graduate coursework must include at least one research seminar, in which students complete research based on primary sources. The research seminar may be in either the major or minor fields of study. Usually, course descriptions will state explicitly if a seminar has been designed to be a reading or a research seminar. But, if you have doubts, be sure to ask the instructor or the graduate coordinators.

Note that under university rules, students may list only six units of History 899 (Special Study) on their Graduate Approved Program, three in their major field and three in their minor field. Upon approval from the graduate coordinator students may substitute one required graduate seminar for another.

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The Major Field (15 units)

The Major Fields consist of the history of the United States, World history, Europe before 1500, Europe after 1500, Medieval and Early Modern Europe, and Gender in History. Students should consult with the graduate coordinators and their advisor(s) to establish the necessary coursework for the major field. The major field consists of 2-3 graduate seminars and 2-3 undergraduate courses (total of 5 courses or 15 units.) Please note that graduate seminars may be taken more than once as long as it is on a different topic. Moreover, upon consultation and with consent of your adviser and the graduate coordinator, students may take up to three units of work in their major field outside of the department.

When consulting advisors and instructors in your major field, keep in mind that the purpose of the required and recommended upper-division courses is to fill in any gaps in your academic background and in anticipation of comprehensive examinations. Hence, it is important to consult with an adviser to see which courses are the most appropriate for you.

(1) Europe Before 1500

Required graduate courses: History 710 (Seminar in Ancient History); History 720 (Seminar in Medieval History)

(In some cases, a graduate seminar in an ancient or medieval topic from another department may be substituted for either History 710 or History 720; depending on the topic, History 730 may satisfy the medieval requirement.)

In addition, students may also select up to three upper-division courses from the following list or upon consultation with advisor(s); courses should be chosen from both antiquity and the middle ages so as to provide a chronologically balanced program:

  • HIST 320, Archaic and Classical Greece
  • HIST 328, Early Christian Church to 313
  • HIST 321, Hellenistic Greece
  • HIST 329, Early Christian Church, 313-787
  • HIST 322, The Roman Republic
  • HIST 330, The Early Middle Ages
  • HIST 323, The Roman Empire
  • HIST 331, The High Middle Ages
  • HIST 325, Late Antiquity
  • HIST 334, The Renaissance
  • HIST 327, The Medieval Mediterranean
  • HIST 632, Jewish History to 1650

(2) Europe Since 1500

Required graduate courses: History 730 (Seminar in Early Modern Europe); History 740 (Seminar in European History since 1815)

In addition, students may also select up to three upper-division courses from the following list or upon consultation with advisor(s); courses should be chosen from various time periods so as to provide a chronologically balanced program:

  • HIST 334, The Renaissance
  • HIST 347, Women in Modern Europe
  • HIST 336, The Reformation
  • HIST 348, Modern European Intellectual & Cultural History
  • HIST 337, Knowing and Unknowing
  • HIST 385, The Russian Revolution
  • HIST 338, Europe and the Wider World
  • HIST 386, Soviet Russia, the West, and the Cold War
  • HIST 342, Europe and the French Revolution
  • HIST 389, European International History, 1848-1918
  • HIST 344, Nineteenth- Century Europe
  • HIST 390, European International History, 1918-present
  • HIST 346, Recent European History
  • HIST 400, Modern European Imperialism

(3) Europe - Medieval and Early Modern

Required Graduate Courses: HIST 720 (Seminar in Medieval History); HIST 730 (Seminar in Early Modern History)

(Depending on the topic, HIST 740 may also be used)

In addition, students may also select up to three upper-division courses from the following list or upon consultation with advisor(s):

  • HIST 331, The High Middle Ages
  • HIST 338, Europe and the Wider World
  • HIST 334,The Renaissance
  • HIST 342, Europe and the French Revolution
  • HIST 336, The Reformation
  • HIST 349, Topics in European History (Early Mod. Topics)
  • HIST 337, Knowing and Unknowing
  • HIST 632, Jewish History to 1650

(4) Gender in History

Required graduate courses: History 805 (Seminar in the History of Women)

(This course may be taken twice, each time with a different topic; a second graduate seminar may be taken outside the department with the consent of a graduate coordinator. Or, other graduate seminars in the Department of History on any topic may fulfill this requirement, if the research contains a significant gender component.)

In addition, students may also select up to three upper-division courses from the following list or upon consultation with advisor(s):

  • HIST 313, Comparative History of Love and Sexuality
  • HIST 468, Women in the United States 1890 to Present
  • HIST 314, Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual History
  • HIST 469, Childhood: Past and Present
  • HIST 347, Women in Modern Europe
  • HIST 535, Women in Latin America
  • HIST 467, Women in the United States to 1890
  • HIST 575, Women in China and Japan

(5) Latin America

Due to faculty retirements, Latin America is not currently available as a stand-alone major field.  Students who wish to concentrate on Latin American history should choose World History as their major field.

Required graduate courses: History 830, (Seminar in Latin American History)

(This course may be taken twice, each time with a different topic; a second graduate seminar may be taken outside the department with the consent of the graduate coordinators.)

In addition, students may also select up to three upper-division courses from the following list or upon consultation with advisor(s):

  • HIST 500, Colonial Latin America
  • HIST 528, History of Brazil
  • HIST 501, Latin America : National Period
  • HIST 535, Women in Latin America
  • HIST 520, Central American and the Caribbean
  • HIST 550, Social Change in Latin America
  • HIST 524, History of Mexico

(6) World History

The World History concentration is structured differently than the other concentrations. Students must build their major fields along a transcultural and transregional theme (e.g. colonialism). Their minor fields must be rooted in a specific geographic area (e.g. the Middle East, the U.S., etc.)

Required graduate courses: HIST 701 (The Historiography of World History); HIST 850 (Topics in World History since 1500) or other appropriate graduate seminar.

The following classes have been selected for automatic inclusion in the World History concentration. Students must select from these classes to fulfill major field requirements. If you are interested in taking a class not on this list for your major field you must get prior approval from one of the graduate coordinators and be prepared to make a case for the importance of the class in your particular field.

  • HIST 313, Comparative History of Love and Sexuality
  • HIST 584, History of Indian Subcontinent
  • HIST 317, Holocaust and Genocide
  • HIST 588, History of Southeast Asia
  • HIST 323, Imperial Rome
  • HIST 604, Islamic World I: 500-1500
  • HIST 325, Late Antiquity
  • HIST 605, Islamic World II: 1500-Present
  • HIST 326, Byzantine Empire
  • HIST 611, Modern Africa
  • HIST 327, Mediterranean World
  • HIST 632, Jewish History: Beginnings to 1650
  • HIST 386, Soviet Russia, the West, and the Cold War
  • HIST 633, Jewish History: 1650-Present
  • HIST 389, European International History, 1848-1918
  • HIST 640, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 390, European International History, 1918-1945
  • HIST 642, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 400, History of Modern European Imperialism
  • HIST 644, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 460, U.S. Foreign Relations to 1913
  • HIST 710, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 461, U.S. Foreign Relations, 1913-Present
  • HIST 720, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 473, Unfree Labor
  • HIST 740, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 500, Colonial Latin America
  • HIST 790, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 550, Social Change in Latin America
  • HIST 830, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 570, Imperial China
  • HIST 840, Various Topics on Advisement
  • HIST 571, Modern China
  • HIST 850, Various Topics on Advisement

(7) The United States

Required graduate courses: History 780 (Seminar in U.S. History to 1877); History 790 (Seminar in U.S. History since 1877)

In addition, students may also select up to three upper-division courses from the following list or upon consultation with advisor(s); courses should be selected so as to provide a chronological balance in the program:

  • HIST 420, American Colonial History
  • HIST 426, U.S. 1877-1916
  • HIST 422, Founding of the American Nation
  • HIST 427, U.S. 1916-1945
  • HIST 424, U.S. 1827-1877
  • HIST 428, U.S. since 1945
  • Other 400-level courses

Note: History 450, California History, is the one 400-level course that will not fulfill the major field requirements in U.S. History.

The Minor Field (9 units)

The Minor Field consists of 1-2 graduate seminars and 1-2 undergraduate courses for at total of 3 courses (9 units). The Minor Fields are the United States , Europe before 1500, Europe since 1500, Early Modern Europe, Latin America, East Asia, Gender in History, World History, and, with the prior approval of the Graduate Coordinators, a special field designed by the student (e.g., urban history, labor history, historiography, or public history). Students should consult with instructors and the graduate coordinators before constructing a Minor Field. Three units of work in the minor field may be taken outside of the department.

Research

Within the student's coursework, three graduate units must be devoted to research in either the major or minor field. If the student takes a research seminar, this requirement will be met by that course. If the student takes three reading seminars, a directed research course must be taken, preferably in the form of, in conjunction with and directed by the instructor of one of the student's graduate reading seminars. This research must involve the use of primary sources and should ordinarily involve the utilization of the student's auxiliary skill.

Auxiliary Skills

Each M.A. candidate is expected to have one skill to aid in her or his historical study. In almost all cases, this skill will be a reading knowledge of a foreign language; but, upon advisement, a candidate may design a two semester course of study in another skill that is relevant to their research.

For the candidate fulfilling the auxiliary skill through a foreign language, evaluation may be by either coursework or examination.

To complete the requirement through coursework, the student should take six semester units of advanced level courses (through at least the second semester of the second year) in a given language. Comprehension of the language needs to be current; the coursework must have been completed within the last seven years. The courses do not have to be completed at SF State; community colleges offer the level of coursework that will satisfy the language requirement.

To complete the requirement through examination, students must pass the translation examination administered by the faculty of the Department of History once a semester (typically during the first or second week of classes.)

Students must file a Completion of Specified Graduate Requirements form when they have completed their auxiliary skill. It is the responsibility of each student to inform the graduate coordinators that he or she has satisfied this requirement.

Filing the Advancement to Candidacy Form (ATC)

Each student must prepare, in consultation with the graduate coordinators, an Advancement to Candidacy Form (ATC). The ATC form, which can be obtained online from the Graduate Studies website , should be filled out and filed in the penultimate semester of graduate work (with no more than six units remaining to be completed). Be sure to review the university requirements for the ATC.

The ATC lists the specific courses to be fulfilled by the graduate student before the degree is awarded; it includes all history classes (and approved non-departmental classes) taken for the degree, along with the classes still to be completed in the final semester. This form is to be downloaded, printed, and signed by a graduate coordinator (as the "advisor") and the department chair (as the "school committee"). After the ATC is signed and filed, the student should prepare and submit the Proposal for Culminating Experience in order to set up a formal committee either to take the Comprehensive Examination or write the Thesis. Students must possess a minimum grade point average of 3.0 when they enroll in the Culminating Experience and by departmental regulations, they may have no remaining Incompletes at that time.

In addition to the minimum thirty units of coursework for the master's degree, the ATC also contains certification that the student has met the university's first level written English proficiency requirement, and indicates how the second level requirement will be met. In the Department of History, the first level requirement is satisfied by a score of 4.0 or higher in the essay portion of the GRE and the second level by successfully completing the writing requirements of History 700.

If the ATC lists transfer classes (up to six units of transfer credit are permissible), then a Transfer Unit Evaluation Form must be submitted along with the ATC.

The Comprehensive Examination in History

It is usual for the history M.A. candidate to take the Comprehensive Written Examination. This examination is given toward the end of each semester, the exact date varying according to the academic calendar. In the semester prior to taking the exam, the student will select an examining committee of at least two members of the permanent history faculty (those holding the ranks of professor, associate professor or assistant professor).  Ordinarily, the student will have completed coursework with the faculty who serve on the committee.

Starting with the Fall 2015 cohort, M.A. examees will be required to test in two sections in their primary field of emphasis AND one section in their minor area of emphasis.

The committee will create, read, and evaluate the exam, assigning it to one of the following categories: Pass with Distinction, Pass, or Fail. The entire selection process is formalized by means of the Culminating Experience Form. Sample copies of previous examinations can be obtained from the graduate coordinators. At the beginning of the semester in which the exam is to be taken, the candidate must sign up for History 896; at this time, the student should confer with the graduate coordinators. Throughout the semester the student is obliged to meet periodically with her or his examining committee to discuss readings and preparations for the exam.

If the examination is initially failed, it may be repeated once and only once.

Thesis Option

Students wishing to write a thesis must first confer with a graduate coordinator. The purpose of this conference is to review the student's academic record. Students will be asked to demonstrate their capacity and preparation for writing a thesis in two ways: (1) they must possess an excellent academic record with a pattern of coursework that demonstrates not only a breadth of training but also a background for doing the proposed work; (2) they must have completed a graduate research seminar with a grade of no lower than A-. The appropriateness of the general topic in terms of available faculty and potential library and archival resources will also be considered at this first meeting.

Students who successfully pass this initial screening must then submit a well-conceived research design to proposed members of the thesis committee. This prospectus must include the following items:

  1. A clear identification of the problem to be studied; the student should indicate the significance and importance of the problem as well as the aims and objectives of the study; a brief review of the literature should also be appended;
  2. As precise a description as possible of the materials to be used in the thesis; the student should indicate here why this body of material is potentially useful and what the difficulties in using this material might be;
  3. A statement of the methodology or approach to be employed in the course of the thesis;
  4. A timetable for the completion of the project.

This research design will be the basis of a one-hour oral discussion, with all members of the committee present. If the committee formally approves the research design, they will then sign the Culminating Experience Form, which the student may then file. Remember, you must submit a GAP to the Graduate Division before you file your Culminating Experience form. After both forms have been filed, the Graduate Division will allow you to sign up for History 898.

Students must observe specific regulations in preparing and filing the thesis. Detailed format instructions are contained in the publication Guidelines for Preparation and Submission of Theses/Written Creative Works. Be sure to review these guidelines before you begin submitting draft chapters of your thesis to your committee.

Enrollment in Hist. 898 is good for a full year. At the end of the first semester, you will receive a grade of WP--“Work in Progress.” You will not need to pay an additional fee for the subsequent semester. Special forms, available from the Library or from the graduate coordinators, will allow you to request library privileges in the second semester of thesis work.

Different faculty members may have varying expectations about the process of mentoring a thesis candidate, so it is important for students to find out what their committee members require. Typically, the chair of the committee may want to approve drafts of individual chapters, while the second and third readers may prefer to wait until an overall draft is complete. At any rate, make sure that you get your final rough draft to your committee in plenty of time for them to read and evaluate the work before returning it to you for revisions. Students who wish to graduate in December MUST have a complete draft to their committee by October 15; students who plan to graduate in May MUST have their draft to their committee by March 15.