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 master’s students specialize in a concentration of choice and complete two research seminars. Surrounded by museums and archival institutions, students have access to the best historical research tools and conference opportunities in the world.

Application Deadlines

Fall Semester: April 1 (February 1 for fellowship applicants)

Spring Semester: October 1

Please visit the Office of Graduate Admissions for the most up to date information regarding our application process.



  • Historic Preservation
  • History and Public Policy
  • Imperial and Colonial Studies
  • U.S. Legal History
  • An original concentration, with departmental approval

When registering for classes, students should prioritize 6000-level reading and research courses taught by faculty members specializing in areas close to their chosen concentration. Students concentrating in Imperial and Colonial Studies should take the required HIST 6128 and 6050 the first semester they are offered, since they are taught only in alternate years.


Course Requirements

Notes: M.A. students who are in their first semester at GW must take HIST 6005, a historical methods course.

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.

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

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

 Visit the program website for additional information.

The program consists of a minimum of 36 credits of upper-division undergraduate and graduate-level courses, including at least six graduate-level courses. Students choosing the thesis option take HIST 6998 Thesis Research and HIST 6999 Thesis Research as part of the 36 credits but in addition to the required six graduate-level courses. Students choosing the nonthesis option must write two research papers in the course of completing their program. See the Undergraduate Programs Bulletin for a listing of upper-level undergraduate courses offered by the department. A maximum of 6 credits may be in approved courses outside the History Department. To receive graduate credit for undergraduate courses, master’s candidates must arrange for extra work with the instructors. Each student completes a major field in which at least 9 credits of coursework must be taken. Major fields are listed below, under the Doctor of Philosophy in the field of history. Students in all history Master of Arts programs must maintain a GPA of at least 3.3 both to remain in good standing and to earn the degree.

Concentration in historic preservation

This 36-credit degree program combines courses in United States history and historic preservation. It includes at least 18 credits of U.S. social history, U.S. urban history, man-made America, and the seminar sequence in historic preservation.

Concentration in imperial and colonial studies

 This 36-credit degree program emphasizes the comparative study of empires. HIST 6128 Europe and the World, 1500–Present and HIST 6050 Modernization, Imperialism, Globalization are required, along with a 15-credit major regional field and a minor regional field of 6 to 9 credits. Up to 9 credits may be chosen in related disciplines within the University.

Concentration in public policy

This 36-credit degree program emphasizes the study of history as it relates to the analysis and conduct of public policy. HIST 6011 Reading and Research in History and Public Policy and an internship done in conjunction with HIST 6012 Internship in History and Public Policy are required. One-third of the coursework is taken outside the History Department in a discipline relevant to the student’s policy interests.

Concentration in U.S. legal history

This 36-credit degree program combines a major field in U.S. history with a focus in U.S. legal history. Students may take up to 9 credits of legal history offered by the Law School.