History Department

Comprehensive Examinations

Students may take Comprehensive Examinations as the culmination of their work towards the M.A. This will consist of three, three-hour written examinations, completed within a two-week period, followed by a one-hour oral examination with the Graduate Advisory Committee. Candidates will present themselves for examination in three of the following subfields of History: Late Antiquity; Medieval and Early Modern; Modern Europe; East Asia; Latin America; the Middle East; the U.S. to 1877; the U.S. 1877 to the present; or another subfield approved by the Department Graduate Committee.

Students will find lists of thirty to forty books/articles for each subfield on the History Department M.A. program website. They can expect to read some of the books/articles for each subfield in the readings seminars (HIST 610-680). As they prepare for their comprehensive exams, students will build a reading list in consultation with each of the faculty members supervising their chosen exam fields.

Normally, students pursuing the Comprehensive Examinations track should fill out a Master's Degree Program Plan (PDF)  form by the end of their first year in the program. In consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, they will ask one faculty member from each of the subfields to serve on their Graduate Advisory Committee. As they prepare for their examinations, students may ask one member of their committee to supervise an Independent Study (HIST 697) on one relevant subfield. In consultation with their committees, students will choose the two-week period during which they will take their exams. For each subfield, students will be given a written examination synthesizing the arguments and evidence from at least fifteen of the books/articles on the subfield list.

The Graduate Advisory Committee members will read each of the exams prior to the oral examination. Immediately following the oral examination, committee members will confer with one another as to whether each of the three exams is of sufficient quality to be accepted as fulfilling the requirement for graduation. A candidate will qualify for an M.A. in History if all three members of the Graduate Advisory Committee agree that the candidate has demonstrated competency in the subfields of History that the candidate has selected.