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GRADUATE

MA Frequently Asked Questions About:

Note: The M.A. in History program is in transition. The History Graduate Student Handbook is available in PDF form online with comprehensive information about our graduate programs for prospective and current students. Please see the side menu under Graduate Studies for the appropriate handbook.

Advising
The Mentor
The 700-Level Seminar Sequence
The Comprehensive Examination Committee
The Comprehensive Examination
Advanced Topics (HIS 692)
Independent Study (HIS 697, Directed Readings)
Language Exam
Plan of Study
Training Opportunities


Advising

The Director of Graduate Studies will be your first adviser within the Department. He or she will help you design your course of studies, answer questions you may have about the M.A. program, and be your contact person with the Faculty. You must consult with the Director of Graduate Studies each semester before registering to draw up your course of study to update your Plan of Study (see below).

The Mentor

You are required to select a mentor by the end of your first year of courses (or upon approaching the completion of 18 credit hours). The mentor, with whom you will do a good deal of work, should obviously have expertise in your major field. Also he/she will be the person from whom you take at least one, and possibly both, 700-level seminars.

The mentor will advise you on scholarly and professional matters and will chair your M.A. Comprehensive Examination Committee (see below). Unless your mentor makes some other arrangements with you, it will be expected that you will draw up a reading list of works that you have read in your major field for which you will be responsible on the Comprehensive Examination. This will include works that you have read both inside and outside your classes; the mentor will check the list and, if necessary, make suggestions for filling in any gaps or omissions. It is strongly advised that students draw up their reading lists and consult with their mentors at least one semester before their Comprehensive Exam.

It is, of course, necessary to consult with the person whom you would like to serve as your mentor and secure his or her agreement to act in that capacity. As soon as you identify your mentor, please request the "mentor form" from the Director of Graduate Studies, get the necessary signatures, and return it to the Director.

The 700-Level Seminar Sequence

HIS 703-704 students must complete a major research paper (approximately 30-40 pages).

HIS 703 will be organized as follows: a) students will meet regularly with their mentors; b) the mentor will be fully responsible for directing each student's project and for determining the final grade; c) each seminar will be designated either pre-1865 or post-1865, and students, upon consultation with the mentor, will find a topic suitable for a research paper.

The organization for HIS 704 is essentially the same. Mentors will work one-on-one with their respective student(s) in the process of researching, writing, and revising a research paper and will be responsible for determining the final grade. In addition to one-on-one sessions with the mentor, all students will participate in a student conference where they will present a report on the findings of their seminar projects and respond to questions. This conference will be organized by the students themselves in conjunction with their mentor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

The Comprehensive Examination Committee

Students will develop three fields of study based upon the specializations of their three-member faculty committee. Any graduate faculty member in the Department of History may serve as the main advisor. If a student selects a faculty member whose specialization is in United States history as main advisor, then at least one of the committee members must be a specialist in a non-U.S. field. If a student selects a faculty member whose specialization is in European history as a main advisor, than at least one of the committee members must be a specialist in a non-European field. Similarly, if a student selects a faculty member whose specialization is outside United states or European history, at least one of the committee members must come from either U.S. or European history. Some faculty members may require that students have completed at least one course with them before agreeing to serve on a committee; students should consult with prospective committee members early in their graduate career. A faculty member from another UNCG department or program who has graduate faculty status can serve on an MA committee and create a field of study.

The Comprehensive Examination

All students must pass a written comprehensive examination in each of their three fields of study. The exams are usually administered twice a year, during fall and spring. Students may retake a failed comprehensive exam once.

The comprehensive exam, which students usually take in their last semester of course work, is divided into three sessions of one and one-half hours each. In each session students will be given two questions; they will choose one and will write on it for the hour and a half period.

One final note about "Comps." You should not view this exam with foreboding or as a massive obstacle in your path on the way to graduation; we have designed the Comprehensive Exam Committee to help you get a pretty good idea of the material on which you will be tested. You should look upon your preparation for Comps as a time to review, appreciate, and perhaps even marvel at all that you have learned. Comfort yourself in the knowledge that, almost without exception, students who perform well in the program also perform well on the Comps.

Advanced Topics (HIS 692)

HIS 692, Advanced Topics, allows students to take 300-level courses, with the prior permission of the instructor and the Director of Graduate Studies, and to receive 600-level credit. Normally, the 300-level course in question would cover material not covered in our 500- or 600-level offerings. The instructor, of course, will increase the work load to make the course appropriate for graduate credit. To enroll in HIS 692, students must obtain the appropriate form from the Director of Graduate Studies, have the instructor sign off, and return the form prior to registering for the course.

Independent Study (HIS 697, Directed Reading)

HIS 697, Directed Reading, allows students to explore particular topics not available in other courses (or not treated with enough specificity or in sufficient depth). Once again, students can only sign up for HIS 697 with the prior agreement of the instructor. To enroll in HIS 697, students must first fill out the "Permission to Register for Independent Study," which requires signatures of the instructor, the Director of Graduate Studies, the Department Head, and the Graduate Dean. MA students are allowed to take no more than 3 hours of HIS 697 in any given semester and only a total of 6 hours of HIS 697 may be applied towards the requirements for the MA degree, according to Graduate School regulations.

Language Exam

Many areas of historical research require proficiency in foreign languages. Students who intend to concentrate in such areas are encouraged to receive certification of language competence by passing the written language exam administered by the Department. Passage of the language exam will reduce the minor from 12 to 9 hours (and the total degree hours from 33 to 30). Students intending to pass the language exam are urged to take it during their first or second semester in order to determine their level of proficiency; there is no penalty for re-taking the exam. Students are strongly discouraged from taking the language exam for the first time during their last semester. Students can use a dictionary and are allowed one and a half hours to complete the translation.

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is an audit sheet of all the requirements for the degree. You may obtain the form from the Director of Graduate Studies or on the History Department website. It must be filed twice with the Graduate School: the first should be turned in before achieving 18 credit hours; the second should be turned in when you pay your application fee for graduation (check with the Graduate School for deadline). You must also turn in a duplicate copy to the Director of Graduate Studies and keep a copy for your personal files.

Training Opportunities

Guilford Technical Community College provides an opportunity for graduate students with the appropriate number of hours or interested M.A. graduates to apply for a position as a Teaching Associate. See GTCC's web page for Faculty in Training for more information.

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