Graduate Program: Master of Arts in History
The M.A. degree in history offers students an opportunity for sustained study and research with concentrations in American history, Medieval history, Early Modern European history, Modern European history (encompassing English, Irish, Continental European, Eastern European, and Russian), and Latin-American history. The department also offers coursework in African history, Middle Eastern history, and Asian history.
The Boston College M.A. is a “taught” degree, meaning that while students will take at least one research seminar, and have the opportunity to write a Master’s Thesis, the degree is largely based on course work. The M.A. is a terminal degree, but many students will use it as an opportunity to strengthen their application to Ph.D. programs. Others will find employment in education, public history, archives and the private sector.
MA students are required to take a total of 30 credits, or 10 courses. Among those courses, they will need to take one colloquium and one seminar, although those who are considering continuing their graduate education should consider taking more than this minimum. Students are not allowed to complete the MA program by attending only summer sessions, but are required to take a total of at least four courses (12 credits) during the regular academic year.
All candidates for the M.A. in history are encouraged to pursue an individualized course of study developed in conjunction with their faculty advisor and selected by the student during the first year in the program. In making their selection of courses and seminars, students are urged to widen their chronological and cultural horizons while deepening and specifying one special area of concentration.
Students must choose a major and minor field. As many as seven courses (twenty-one hours) can be taken in the major field. Major fields for the M.A. are:
- US history
- Medieval history
- Early Modern European history
- Modern European history
- British and Irish
- Asian history
- Latin American history
- Middle Eastern history
- International and Global history
The minor field is made up of a minimum of three courses (nine hours), at least one of which must be numbered 7000 or above. Minor fields can be chosen from the same list of major fields or can be more conceptual or historiographical. Such fields, for example, could include a field in economic, social or labor history, or could concern race, gender or world history. Minor fields must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.
MA candidates are required to pass one foreign language reading examination before graduation. Students who are concentrating in Medieval History must take the Latin exam. The use of dictionaries is permitted. Students who fail an exam are welcome to retake the exam until they obtain a passing grade.
Students must complete one of the following comprehensive exercises:
- An oral comprehensive exam administered by the student’s advisor and a faculty member from the minor area;
- A portfolio of lessons plans, course materials, selected primary source readings that may be used in teaching at the secondary level and an oral exam on the portfolio administered by two faculty members, one from the major and one from the minor area;
- A six-credit thesis in their final year in the program, culminating in an oral defense of the thesis before a committee of two faculty members.
The Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program for secondary school history teachers is administered by the Lynch School of Education. It requires admission to both the Graduate School of Education and to the Department of History. Course requirements vary depending upon the candidates's prior teaching experience; however, all Master's programs leading to certification in secondary education include practica experiences in addition to coursework. For further information on the MAT, please refer to the LSOE section on Master's Programs in Secondary Teaching, or call the Lynch School of Education, Graduate Admissions Office, at 617-552-4214.