Program Requirements - Master's Degree

The MA program consists of three parts:

  1. six one-term (3 credit) courses;
  2. thesis;
  3. language requirement.

The normal completion time for the MA program represents twenty-four months (2 years). Typically, the majority of courses (4) are completed in year 1, while year 2 represents finishing the remaining courses (2) and focusing on research and thesis writing.

The MA program may be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Part-time students are not eligible for funding and must complete the MA program within five years.

The Research Seminar (3 credits)

  • The mandatory research seminar introduces students to the problems, materials, and research methods in the discipline; candidates must demonstrate their ability to use documents and other sources, and to write and defend papers based on such research.  Ideally, the seminar paper will be the nucleus of the MA thesis.

Historiography (3 credits)

  • Students are also required to take the Historiography seminar which involves an intense introduction to varieties of historical writing and the philosophic assumptions behind historical thinking. The Comparative History courses, which vary in focus from year to year, are designed to broaden student's knowledge and compensate for gaps created by specialization.

Readings and Topics Courses (4 courses, 3 credits each)

  • The purpose of the readings and topics courses is to introduce students to the main historiographical problems and secondary literature in their fields of specialization. Readings and topics courses require written work (approx. 3,000-4,000 words per course) from students as evidence of their growing mastery of secondary literature.

With the permission of the Graduate Advisor, students may take up to 6 credits of course work from outside the History Department in lieu of readings or topics courses.

Language courses may not be substituted for graduate readings courses.

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.

The MA thesis should take as its model a publishable 40-page article, the preparation of which involves isolating, defining and explaining an historical problem through the use of primary materials. The emphasis of the thesis is on the quality of the historical work, rather than exhaustive treatment of the subject.

Once a research topic is identified in consultation with the advisor, students should prepare a 1-2 page thesis prospectus that indicates the nature of the problem they plan to investigate, the research methods and the literature relevant to the problem, and the availability of relevant materials. This should be completed by the end of the first year. At this stage, students will select a second committee member who will provide advice and assistance throughout the remainder of the process.   Students must maintain frequent contact with both supervisor and committee member during the progress of the research and the writing of the thesis. If research prevents a student from being in Vancouver, such reports may be submitted by arrangement with the supervisor by mail or e-mail.

A thesis is evaluated by the supervisor, committee member, and a third independent reader. The grade is decided by a consensus between the supervisor, committee member, and third reader. In matters of disagreement or failure to reach a consensus, the issue will be mediated by the graduate advisor on a case-by-case basis. A thesis may be accepted as presented, returned for revisions, or rejected. A grade lower than 60 will be rejected. If the thesis is rejected, the student will be asked to withdraw from the MA program.

When a thesis has been approved, the Master's Thesis Approval and Program Completion form signed by the student's supervisor and the graduate advisor must be submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Effective January 1, 2011: Students are expected to submit all final theses/dissertations electronically.  Approval of the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies is required for non-electronic submissions.  Hardbound copies are no longer required to be deposited in the History Department Ofiice. Electronic Submission procedures and technical requirements for formatting theses may be viewed at the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FoGS).

Semi-annual progress review

Twice a year, in January and April, the department reviews each candidate's progress. Reviews are undertaken by the Graduate Advisor, who gathers the opinions of department members teaching graduate courses. Please note that while the Faculty of Graduate Studies minimum for passing a graduate course at the doctoral level is 68%, the History Department requires a minimum average of 76% (B+) in required coursework. Candidates whose average falls below 76% will normally be asked to withdraw from the program.

Transferring to the PhD Program

An MA student with high first-class standing in coursework and whose independent research is of high quality may, at the discretion of the graduate committee, be allowed to transfer directly into the PhD program at the end of the first year of M.A. study. In such cases no MA degree will be awarded.