MA in History

History student sits in a lecture hall.

The Master of Arts in History prepares students for a broad range of professions, from teaching high school students to pursuing doctoral study to conducting historical research in the private sector. M.A. students can combine core faculty courses, consortium classes and courses from other departments for a personalized program of study.

All MA students may choose to specialize in a particular area of history in consultation with the MA advisor and relevant faculty members. Surrounded by museums and archival institutions, students have access to the best historical research tools and conference opportunities in the world.

Application Deadlines

Please visit the GW Bulletin for the most up to date information regarding our application process.


Course Requirements

Notes: M.A. students who are in their first semester at GW must take HIST 6005, a historical methods course. Students must also take HIST 6007, Writing History, in one of their final two semesters. 

All M.A. history students in history must take two research seminars. A research seminar is a graduate course that includes a research paper. If it is not clear from the course title, ask the instructor whether it is a research seminar.

Pending approval of the instructor, students may earn graduate credit for undergraduate courses at the 3000-level by completing additional work. Typically, this entails extra reading and more sophisticated paper assignments.

Students must choose between completing a thesis or completing two graduate seminars for which a research paper is required. The thesis option entails completing two semesters of HIST 6999, Thesis Research.  

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

A minimum of 30 credits in upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level courses, including completion of 6 credits in a field of focus*. Remaining credits are taken in elective courses selected in consultation with the advisor.

Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.3 to remain in good standing and to earn the degree.

 *A field of focus is centered on a specific period, region, or theme. Students work with the MA advisor to decide the specifics of their field of focus. 

HIST 6005Introduction to Historiography (*taken in the first semester)
HIST 6007Writing History
Thesis option (6 credits)
HIST 6999Thesis Research
Non-thesis option (6 credits)
Students choosing the non-thesis option must complete two research seminars for which a research paper is required.
For all students, remaining credits are selected in consultation with the advisor. Up to 9 credits in undergraduate courses may be taken for graduate credit. To receive graduate credit for an undergraduate course, the course must be taken at the 3000 level or above and the student must arrange with the instructor for extra work. A maximum of 6 credits in approved courses may be taken outside of the Department of History. Students may take up to two courses (6 credits) as part of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan area.