Before receiving the MA degree, candidates must demonstrate an adequate reading ability in a language other than English - either French or a foreign language appropriate to their field of study. Students who require a foreign language (or languages) for their thesis research will normally be expected to take the language exam in that language.
The department holds language exams twice yearly (usually in November and April) in which candidates must successfully translate a passage from the language they have chosen into English, with the aid of a dictionary, but without the assistance of a lap-top computer.
Exemption from the language exam may be granted under certain circumstances. Several departments at the university offer courses to help students acquire a reading knowledge of a foreign language, such as French, German, or Russian. Students who have successfully completed such a course at the third-year level or above, with at least a B (72%) average, can apply for exemption from the History Department's exam by submitting evidence of completion of the course to the graduate secretary.