Master of Arts Program

The M.A. program is broadly concerned with skills development (written and oral) and advanced learning, rather than with pre-professional training for academic scholars. While the master’s program does prepare students for entry into the doctoral program, it is equally aimed at enhancing the skills and historical perspective of teachers, lawyers, journalists, museum professionals, editors, and others in both the public and private sectors.

The MA program offers two tracks. Students choosing Plan A will complete 21 credits of coursework and write a thesis. Students choosing Plan B will complete 30 credits of course work and complete a written and oral final examination.

Advisory Committee

Upon admission to the program, a student is assigned a major advisor to act as chair of an advisory committee. At least two associate advisors also serve on the committee and are selected by the student by the end of the first year of study. A student’s program of study must be developed with the major advisor and have the concurrence of the associate advisors.


  • Students should design a program of study that enhances their general knowledge of history while allowing them to focus also on a common theme in some of their courses.
  • Students elect one of two programs in pursuing the master’s degree. Plan A requires a minimum of 21 credits of course work and 9 credits of Master’s Thesis Research (GRAD 5950 or GRAD 5960). Plan B, which is the option chosen by most students, requires a minimum of 30 credits of course work and no thesis.
  • HIST 5101 (Introduction to Historical Research) is required for all graduate students and usually taken in the student’s first semester. HIST 5102 (Historical Research and Writing) is required of all graduate students and usually taken the following spring. Master’s students on Plan A may opt out of 5102 with the approval of their advisor and the graduate director.
  • See listing of recently taught Graduate courses.
  • No more than 6 credits may be taken at the 3000 level. (Graduate students may not take 2000- level courses for credit.)
  • Students may take no more than 6 credits as independent studies (HIST 5199). In exceptional circumstances, students may petition the Graduate Advisory Committee for permission for additional independent studies.
  • Graduate students may take for degree credit up to two graduate-level courses in other UConn departments. These courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisory committee and should make a clear contribution to the student’s program.
  • Graduate students may count up to 6 credits of graduate-level UConn History courses taken as a non-degree student towards the MA.
  • Incoming students with insufficient training in history may be required to take additional courses beyond the 30 credits required for the degree.

Plan of Study

At the beginning of their final semester, students prepare a formal Plan of Study, which is then signed by the three members of their advisory committee and submitted to the department’s graduate program assistant, who will forward the plan of study to the Graduate School. The plan of study form is available here on the Graduate School’s website.

Master’s Final Assessment

Student’s choosing Plan A will write a thesis. The thesis must represent independent investigation of a significant topic. The choice of the topic is made in consultation with the major advisor and must have the concurrence of the advisory committee.

The majority of students will choose to do Plan B which involves a written and oral final examination which gives students the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills acquired in course work and to think critically, develop larger ideas, and participate in debates about the practice of history. The foundation of the M.A. exam is a field of focus, defined by each student in collaboration with the student’s advisory committee. The exam includes both written and oral components.

Schedule for Plan B Final Exam

Early in their third semester, in consultation with the three faculty members on the advisory committee, students develop a field of focus by drawing up a list of 15-18 books, many but not all of which the student will have already read during course work, and which permit the student to think broadly across the historiography. The student must have the field of focus and final reading list approved by all three committee members before the end of the third semester.

Early in the fourth semester and in consultation with their advisory committee and the graduate program assistant, students should set a specific date in February or early March in which to take the written exam. The advisory committee will use the student’s reading list to develop three questions about the history and historiography relevant to the student’s field of focus. One question will address a broad issue. Two questions, from which the student will pick one to answer, will be more specific and allow the student to address a particular topic in greater depth. The student will write two 4-6 page essays (i.e., two essays each approximately 1500 words in length). The examination period will begin on a Friday and end ten days later on a Monday. The exam will be open book and open note, word processed, and appropriately footnoted. The advisory committee, led by the student’s advisor, will read the student’s essays and compile a list of questions that the student’s advisor will both deliver in writing and discuss with the student within two weeks after the conclusion of the written exam. These questions will provide some direction for the student to prepare for the one-hour oral exam, which the student should schedule to take place sometime in the last three weeks of the semester. The oral exam will entail further consideration of the original three questions, the student’s two written answers, and the new questions raised by the committee in response to the written work.


Final assessment of the M.A. exam will be based on a combination of the student’s performance on the written questions, the student’s responses to recommended areas of further attention, and performance in the oral exam. The exam will be graded as a whole, achieving a pass with distinction, a pass, or a failure. If, after the oral examination, the student is judged by the committee to have failed, the student will not receive the M.A. without retaking the oral portion of the exam. The student must retake the oral exam the following semester, after having further reviewed the committee’s instructions for preparation. No further financial support will be granted for this preparation.