MA Admissions & Student Resources

Close-up of a student writing in a binder with a pen.

Find the information and tips you need regarding applying, advising, how to write a thesis and more. For further details, consult the Columbian College Master's Student Handbook.

CCAS Graduate Student Academic Policies

Accepted Students

How to Prepare Once You Are Accepted
  • Read the Columbian College CCAS Graduate Student Academic Policies for background on grading and transferring credits, course load, examinations, graduation requirements and much more.
  • Learn about the full-time faculty and read the recent publications of those whose interests overlap with your own. Use GW's library resources to browse journals like The American Historical Review, The Journal of Asian Studies, The International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies and The Journal of Modern History.
  • Read academic articles and book reviews to learn more about the areas of history the relevant full-time faculty are interested in as academic history scholarship can be quite different from other history writing.
  • Work on your research languages, especially if you plan to study sources in languages in which you are not yet fluent. Read magazines and watch films in that language.

All M.A. students are automatically assigned a faculty advisor. If you choose to write a master's thesis, the thesis advisor also serves as your general advisor. The advisor consults on course choices, degree requirements, career and academic questions and much more.

Grading and Incompletes
  • Contrary to the Columbian College's general M.A. requirements, master's students in the History Department must maintain a GPA of at least 3.3 each semester to avoid dismissal from the program.
  • A grade of B+ is fine for an M.A. student, but it should be taken as a warning that your instructor does not think that the work you did for the course reflects the ability to do a successful Ph.D. dissertation. Be sure to discuss any grades that concern you with the faculty member who gave you the grade or with your advisor.
  • A single low grade does not mean anything about your inherent ability or faculty perceptions of your inherent ability.
  • If you do not complete your work for a course by the end-of-semester deadlines, the instructor may allow you to submit it at a later date, within up to one year. In that case, you will receive an "Incomplete," and an I will appear on your end-of-semester grade report. It is your responsibility to ensure that the professor submits your final, updated grade before that one-year deadline. If your remaining work is not completed, graded and reported to the registrar within one year, the I will automatically become an F. The I will remain on the transcript even after you complete the work for the class. If the completed work is deemed worthy of an A, for example, the final grade on your transcript will be IA rather than A, in order to show that you took more time to complete the work than did other students in the class.


Optional Master's Thesis

Master’s students have the option of writing a thesis. Students who do so should enroll in two semesters of HIST 6999. Students writing theses will work out the specifications with their advisors.

Thesis Advisors

Your thesis advisor should be a full-time faculty member whose research interests are close to your own and with whom you have a strong intellectual rapport. You must ask a faculty member to be your thesis advisor and receive their permission. While you are writing, send your advisor monthly progress reports and consult with him or her regularly.


In order to graduate, all GW students must apply for graduation following the Office of the Registrar’s instructions.

Additionally, Department of History students must also submit approved, final theses to Columbian College, and all degree requirements must be reported complete by the stated submission deadlines. You can find the current submission deadlines at the Master's Thesis ETD Submission page.

Visit the Office of the Registrar


Style and Sources

A typical thesis runs over 50 pages and may be modeled on an academic article in The American Historical Review, The Journal of American History or another leading journal in the field. The paper should be based on research in primary sources and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of relevant historiography.

All footnotes and bibliographies must be formatted according to the latest Chicago Manual of Style edition. Use the style the manual calls “Documentation One” unless told otherwise by your advisor. Your advisor may have certain style requirements or preferences; you should follow that style consistently throughout your work.

Document Format
  • Follow the University Formatting Requirements for CCAS on the GW Libraries website for page numbering and Roman numeral use, font size and layout, with one exception: left-hand margins should be 1.5 inches to allow for binding, with 1-inch margins at top, bottom and right side.
  • Submit an original hard copy of the thesis or dissertation on high-quality, durable, white paper, 8-1/2-by-11 inches in size and 20-pound in weight.
  • Submit an additional copy on 20-pound white paper.
  • Use printing and photo-offset processes for text, illustrations and tables provided that all copies are legible and capable of being microfilmed.
  • Do not submit loose-leaf copies with punched holes.
  • Do not insert or cross out any words by hand.
  • Insert special characters and symbols that are unavailable on computer software carefully in the manuscript by hand using permanent black ink.
  • Pages in the thesis should be organized as written in the sample title page (PDF) on the GW Libraries website.
  • Endnotes, if used, should appear immediately before the bibliography.
  • Graduate Student Services will examine the thesis to see that the requirements of style and form have been met. Theses that are judged unacceptable will be returned to the student for correction and reapproval by the faculty concerned.
  • Illustrations (photographs, maps, graphs, etc.) may be scanned and printed on high-resolution printers. Photocopies must be on permanent, durable paper.
  • If mounted, photographs and other illustrative material must be dry mounted on good quality, 20-lb. white paper. Rubber cement, other glues or double-sided tape are not acceptable methods of attachment.
  • Large illustrations must each be preceded by a regular sheet of thesis paper with the title or identification and, if necessary, the source or sources.
  • The title or legend page may be oriented in the usual manner or may be oriented so as to face the illustration. Smaller illustrations may have the title or legend placed on the same page.
  • All illustration and legend pages must be numbered.
  • Illustrative material must fall within the stated margins. If the material is oversized, it may be (a) photographically reduced, (b) enclosed in an envelope or pocket or (c) prepared (folded) for binding.
  • If reduced in size, the illustrative material must be easily readable.
  • If folded, the material must be arranged on the page to allow the 1.5-inch margin on the binding edge. The illustration should be folded carefully so that there are as few folds as possible and so that the page can be easily unfolded after the thesis is bound. The folded outer edges of the illustration should be .5 inches smaller than the text pages at the top, bottom and right-hand edges. Oversize sheets must be folded to come within the text area so the folds will not be trimmed off or bound in during the binding procedure. The overall dimensions of the folded illustration will then be approximately 8x10 inches. Please note, however, that oversized pages complicate microfilming and should be avoided whenever possible.
Thesis Review Timeline
  • Choose a second reader in addition to your thesis advisor. This should be a faculty member with whom you have already worked and who has some expertise in the thesis topic.
  • Give the thesis draft to the second reader for approval once the thesis advisor has approved it.
  • Submit the thesis once both readers have approved it and it is correctly formatted.
Thesis Submission

Follow the GW online submission guidelines.