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Master of Arts in History

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About the M.A. in History

The program offers courses in all areas of historical study. Emphasis is placed on the history of the United States, particularly the South; Britain, Europe, Russia, Latin America, Asia, and Africa; and on the history of classical and medieval civilizations, science and technology, documentary editing, and archival management.

The M.A. in history has two objectives that aim to prepare students for history-related careers in teaching, public or government service, law, historical editing, archival management, and business: 1) to increase the student’s knowledge of the areas of history in which he/she wishes to specialize; and 2) to provide the student with skills for performing historical research, analyzing the sources and information gathered, and writing results in an acceptable scholarly essay or thesis.

Degree Requirements

  • Admission to M.A. Program

    Application Deadline: The History Department offers only Fall admission. Applications must be submitted no later than January 20.

    Students are admitted to the graduate program by the dean of the graduate school upon the recommendation of the department’s graduate program coordinator or department chair. All persons applying to the M.A. program in history must submit the following to the Graduate School.

    Final transcript(s) for the B.A. sent by the applicant’s undergraduate school(s), showing a minimum Grade Point Ratio (GPR) of 3.0 in history courses; and 2.5 in all courses during the last two undergraduate years.

    1. Three letters of reference, preferably from undergraduate professors.
    2. A sample term paper.
    3. A personal statement addressing the applicant’s background in history, intended areas of specialization, and reasons for applying.
    4. A completed Graduate School application form.

    Additionally, if the applicant has 1) a GPR of less than 3.0 in the history major for the B.A. degree and/or 2) a B.A. degree, including the major and minor, in subject(s) other than history, he or she shall take a minimum of four upper-level undergraduate history courses at Clemson or at another accredited university or college and receive a grade of “B” or higher in each course before admission to the program. The only exception to this requirement shall be persons who demonstrate that, as a part of their B.A. degree, they completed a minimum of four upper-level undergraduate history courses with a grade of “B” or higher. All exceptions to the requirements indicated in this paragraph above require the consent of the department’s Graduate Committee.


  • Course Requirements

    The M.A. in history requires 30 credits in courses that must be divided as follows:  

    1. Three credits in Historiography (HIST 8810) offered in the fall semester.
    2. Three credits in a research seminar offered in the spring semester.
    3. Eighteen additional credits at the 8000-level.
    4. With approval from the M.A. coordinator, students may take up to two 6000-level history courses or may take one 6000-level history course and one independent study course on their way to fulfilling their course credit hours.
    5. A minimum of six credits in graduate thesis research (HIST 8910).
  • Registration and Course Offerings

    Registration for courses must be done according to regulations and procedures set by the office of the Registrar. For information, see the Registrar’s website.

    Courses Numbered 6000 to 7990
    Courses numbered 6000–6990 are courses in U.S., African, Latin American, ancient, British, early and modern European, diplomatic, social, comparative, and legal history. The 6000-level courses also include studies in the history of ideas and of science and technology. The enrollment of each 6000-level course will not exceed more than five students. Courses numbered 7000-7990 are designed for candidates for the Master of Education degree.

    Courses Numbered 8000 and Above
    These courses include seminars that are designed to provide training in historical research and writing. They may be repeated for credit with the approval of the graduate program coordinator. Other courses at the 8000 level include archival management and historical editing. HIST 8850  (“Independent Study”) allows a student to undertake critical study of a historical topic, selected according to the needs of the student and with the approval of the graduate program coordinator.  HIST 8850 cannot be repeated more than twice for credit towards graduation. It counts as a 6000-level course and cannot substitute for 8000-level courses.

  • Thesis
    Additionally, the student must write a thesis acceptable to the department as determined by the graduate committee. More information about the Thesis can be found here.
  • Studying Foreign Languages

    Studying foreign languages is crucial for studying history because historians value studying primary sources and many of those sources are written in languages other than English. Although the M.A. program does not require competency in a foreign language for graduation, it does strongly encourage and, when possible, financially support students who learn foreign languages for research purposes. Recent students in the program have learned German, Japanese, Latin, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili, among other languages.

     New students in the program should think about learning a foreign language to advance both their intellectual and professional goals. Not only students who wish to pursue history at the Ph.D. level, where competency in two foreign languages may be required, but all M.A. students should feel encouraged to learn a foreign language so as to explore the global richness and variety of the past.

  • Final Exam

    A final examination, which may be written or oral or a combination of the two forms, is required of all candidates. The student, upon completion of the thesis, and at least three weeks before the degree is to be awarded, must pass a final examination administered by the thesis advisory committee. The examination, which may be oral and/or written, will ascertain the general knowledge of the candidate resulting from his/her thesis and coursework. The examination will consider both the thesis itself and questions arising from the coursework. At least one week prior to the examination the student should contact each committee member to receive a set of questions and/or topics expected to be addressed in the course of the examination. In addition, further questions may arise as the examination proceeds.

    The department’s graduate program coordinator shall notify the Graduate School of the time and place of the examination at least ten days prior to the time scheduled, and the examination will also be posted for the students and faculty of the department at least one week prior to the exam, so the student and the thesis committee must see to it that the program coordinator is informed of the scheduling of a final examination. Within three days after the examination, the committee, through Form GS7, will notify the graduate dean of the results of the examination. A student who fails a final examination may be allowed a second opportunity only with the recommendation of the thesis advisory committee. Failure of the second examination will result in dismissal from the Graduate School.

  • Other Requirements
    Full-time graduate students must carry 12 hours each semester. Those holding assistantships must carry 9 hours each semester. The student must maintain a cumulative “B” average in all graduate-level courses (6000 level or above). Students who fail to meet these requirements become ineligible for graduation and are placed on academic probation by the Graduate School. The probationary status remains in effect until 9 additional semester hours of graduate credit have been attempted and the “B” average restored. A student’s receiving a grade of incomplete (“I”) in any course is discouraged, especially for someone holding a graduate assistantship. With the approval of the graduate program coordinator, a student may take graduate-level courses outside the history curriculum, but normally no more than two such courses.

Graduate Coordinator

The student entering the graduate program must be advised on his/her coursework by the graduate program coordinator. New students should contact the graduate coordinator to discuss this soon after they have been admitted. Consultation with the graduate coordinator should continue for the duration of the program.

Contract Graduate Coordinator
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Department of History and Geography
Department of History and Geography | 126D Hardin Hall, Clemson, SC 29634