History Department

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Master's Degree Requirements

There are two plans for the master’s degree in history: thesis and non-thesis. Each requires that a student’s advisor and the graduate coordinator approve all course work plans.

A field outside of history may be presented as part of a student’s program.

Any grade below B- will not be accepted for graduate credit but will be averaged into the student’s grade point average.

A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved in all graduate work attempted toward the degree.

A minimum number of credit hours of course work at the 700-level is required in each program (not including thesis credits):
700-level credit hour minimum total credits

  • Thesis plan 16 (+ 6 thesis hours) 31
  • Non-thesis plan 16 34
  • Thesis plan with public history minor 22 (+ 6 thesis hours) 34*
  • Non-thesis plan with public history minor 22 37*

For students entering the program prior to January 2005, 1 credit hour less is required in each program:

  • Pre-January 2005 requirements 700-level credit hour minimum total credits
  • Thesis plan 16 (+ 6 thesis hours) 30
  • Non-thesis plan 16 33
  • Thesis plan with public history minor 22 (+ 6 thesis hours) 33*
  • Non-thesis plan with public history minor 22 36*

*The extra three credit hours required for the public history minor are internship credits.

The student is required to have a reading knowledge of a foreign language if that language is necessary to do research in the selected field.

Specific Plan Requirements

Thesis Plan

  • A minimum of 31 graduate credits, including six credits of thesis.
  • A minimum of 16 credits in the major area of study
  • A minimum of nine credits in a minor area (the public history minor requires an additional three credits of internship)
  • Course requirements are three credits of historiography (HIST 740), six credits of colloquium (724, 726, 728, 730, 732, 734, 736, or 769), and four credits of seminar (725, 727, 729, 731, 733, 735, or 737).
  • A maximum of nine credits at the 600-level can count toward degree requirements.
  • Students must also successfully complete a written examination in the major area of study. This may be taken at the completion of 21 credits of course work and must be taken no later than the completion of 25 credits. The examination consists of two parts, each of which is composed of two essay questions. Students write one essay in each part of the exam (total of two essays, two hours for each essay—four hours total). Questions are written by the student’s two major field committee members.
  • A thesis prospectus must be filed prior to enrolling in thesis credits.
  • An oral defense of the thesis is required.

Non-Thesis Plan

  • A minimum of 34 graduate credits
  • A minimum of 25 credits in the major area of study
  • A minimum of nine credits in a minor area (the public history minor requires an additional three credits of internship)
  • Course requirements are three credits of historiography (HIST 740), six credits of colloquium (724, 726, 728, 730, 732, 734, 736, or 769), and four credits of seminar (725, 727, 729, 731, 733, 735, or 737).
  • Students must also successfully complete a written examination in the major and minor areas of study. This may be taken at the completion of 24 credits and must be taken no later than the completion of 34 credits. The examination consists of three parts, each of which is composed of two essay questions. Students write one essay in each part of the exam (total of three essays, two hours for each essay—six hours total). Questions are written by the student’s two major field committee members and by the minor field committee member.

Fields of Study

Students choose a major field and a minor field of study from the fields of Asia, Europe, Latin America (minor field only), public history (minor field only), and the United States.

Courses

Students design their program, including the choice of courses, in consultation with their advisor and their committee members.

Courses prepare students for comprehensive examinations. Thus, students should take as many courses as possible with the members of the examination committee. Students are also strongly encouraged to take courses at the 700-level.

Students may not earn seminar credit through independent study except in circumstances deemed extraordinary by the department chair and/or graduate coordinator. For independent-study credit at the graduate level, a student must read a minimum of three books (or equivalent in primary research and periodical literature) per credit.

A field outside of history may be presented as part of the student's program, but no more than nine credits outside of history may be counted toward the degree. X-courses may not be included in a proposed graduate degree program.

Grades

Any grade below a B- will not be accepted for graduate credit but will be included in the student's GPA. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be maintained in graduate work applicable toward the degree.

In accordance with the Graduate College Grading System (see the UNLV Graduate Catalog), the department interprets letter grades at the graduate level as follows:

  • “A” represents excellent work.
  • “B” indicates minimally satisfactory performance.
  • “C” suggests work below minimum graduate standards.

Pluses and minuses should be interpreted accordingly.

The department assumes that students should regularly perform at or near the A level on the grading scale. Students whose GPA falls below 3.0 following the completion of 12 credits in History courses may be placed on probation or separated from the program.

Normally probation will be reserved for short-term contingences or problems such as an extended illness, personal problems, or personality conflict with an instructor. By contrast, separation will be recommended for serious or continuing academic problems or deficiencies deemed irremediable. In addition, students who receive one grade below a B will automatically be placed on probation; students who receive two grades below a B will normally be separated from the program.

Bibliographies

Approximately four months before the comprehensive exam is given, a student taking the test submits to the entire examination committee a bibliography listing the books and articles that have been covered in course work. Individual committee members may then add more materials to fill the gaps in the student's knowledge. The reading list for the major field will be at least 60 books (30 to 35 books in each of the two areas of concentration within the major), and the reading list for the minor field will be approximately 30 to 35 books. Faculty may use History 760 (Advanced Studies in History) to broaden the student's knowledge before the exam. The student's examination questions will be based on these materials together with the general history (i.e., events and policies) of the student's major and minor fields.

The Advisor (Committee Chair)

The graduate advisor advises all new students in the master's program. As soon as possible and no later than at the completion of nine credits of course work, students choose a permanent advisor who chairs the student's committee. For students who are not writing a thesis, this committee is an examination committee. For students writing a thesis, this committee is both an examination committee and a thesis committee. The chair is responsible for coordinating the activities of the committee (including all scheduling and preparing of examinations and all meetings of the committee).

The student's entire graduate program is a product of discussion between student and advisor. A student should consult regularly with the advisor on all aspects of the program in order to achieve coherence and quality.

The Examination Committee

In consultation with the permanent advisor, the student selects the other members of the committee. The student consults with committee members to plan the student's program. The committee sets and evaluates the written comprehensive examination and, where applicable, the thesis and the thesis defense.

The master's committee has four members, three from the History Department and one drawn from outside the History Department. All committee members must be members of the UNLV graduate faculty. For students writing a thesis, all members of the committee may be Americanists or Europeanists. For students not writing a thesis, one member of the committee must represent the minor field. Faculty who agree to serve on a master's committee are obligated to fulfill their duties while they are on leave. Temporary faculty have no obligation to assume Graduate Committee duties.

Foreign Language

Students writing a thesis must have reading competence of any foreign language required to do primary research in the student's field.

Comprehensive Exams

The History Department administers M.A. comprehensive examinations three times a year, in September, February, and April. A comprehensive examination must be held at least three weeks before the last day of instruction of any given term.

Students preparing for examination may ask to see sample exam questions. The examination committee drafts and approves all questions for the examination. The exam questions strive to place specialized knowledge in a larger conceptual framework.

All examination questions remain confidential. The precise definitions of the examination fields are determined by the student's course work and the bibliographies created by the committee members. Students tested in U.S. history generally choose between two time spans: "To 1877" and "From 1865," though there is some flexibility in determining the chronological parameters of the program.

All committee members grade all essays. To pass the exam as a whole, the student must pass all of the essays by a two-thirds vote of the history committee members. If one committee member fails the student on two essays, the student does not pass the exam as a whole. The Graduate College representative has veto power. When a student fails an exam, the committee drafts written comments on the student's performance on all essays; these comments are filed with the exam and available to the student. If a student fails an essay, that essay may be retaken once not sooner than three months after the first attempt; passed essays need not be retaken.

Thesis Plan Exam Structure

Students who are writing a thesis take a two-part examination over four hours:

  • Part I. One essay in the student’s major field from a choice of two questions, set by the chair of the student's committee.
  • Part II. One essay in the student's major field from a choice of two questions, set by the second member of the student's committee in the major field.

When filing the Notification of Examination form, thesis plan students must schedule the major area exam (Parts I and II) for four hours on one day (with an optional one-hour break between the two parts).

Non-Thesis Plan Exam Structure

Students who are not writing a thesis take a three-part examination over six hours.

  • Part I: One essay in the student's major field from a choice of two questions, set by the chair of the student's committee.
  • Part II: One essay in the student's major field from a choice of two questions, set by the second member of the student's committee in the major field.
  • Part III: One essay in the student's minor field from a choice of two questions, set by the member of the student's committee in the minor field.

In the case of a major field in Asian history, the department's specialist prepares all four questions in Parts I and II of the examination.

When filing the Notification of Examination form, non-thesis plan students must schedule the major area exam (Parts I and II) for four hours on one day (with an optional one-hour break between the two parts) and the minor area exam (part III) for two hours on either the next day or the day after.

The Thesis

The Thesis Prospectus must be filed by the term preceding the comprehensive exam or the first registration for thesis credit, whichever occurs first. After completing all course work, the student must register for three thesis credits each regular semester until graduation. A student may not graduate until a minimum of six thesis credits have been completed. Each member of the thesis committee reads the thesis and may require revisions. The thesis must be approved by the entire membership of the thesis committee. Once a suitable final draft has been accepted and the major suggestions of committee members have been addressed, an oral defense of the thesis can be held.

The oral defense will be a minimum of one hour in length and a maximum of two. The thesis defense is “open to all graduate faculty and administrators” of the university community. Other guests may attend with the permission of the student’s advisory committee.

Continuous Enrollment

In a calendar year, a student must complete at least six credits in course or thesis work applicable to the history degree program. A student who does not plan to do so must request approval for a leave of absence from the History Department. Upon returning, the student must file an Application for Registration for a Former Student Returning.

Overload

A student wishing to take more than 13 credit hours (or 10 credit hours if the student is a graduate assistant) in a regular semester, or more than six credits in one five-week summer session or 12 credits in two, must file an Authorization for Overload with the Graduate College. Overloads are strongly discouraged by the Graduate Committee.

Annual Evaluation

The history department's Graduate Committee conducts an annual evaluation of all graduate students in the program. The Graduate College requires all students to complete a minimum of six credits each calendar year. The department expects all students to make continuous progress toward their degree. The cases of students whose satisfactory progress is in doubt are reviewed by the Graduate Committee and the student’s Advisory Committee. Students are then notified as to whether they remain in good standing in the program.

Forms and Deadlines

The student and student's advisor are responsible for the paperwork required by the Graduate College. The Appointment of Examination Committee and the Proposed Graduate Degree Program forms must be submitted after the completion of nine credits. All changes in the composition of the committee must be approved by the graduate coordinator.

Any change in a student's proposed graduate degree program (including thesis topic) must be filed on the Change in Proposed Degree Program form. Changes in committee members are made by a memo to the Graduate College, copied to the department; however, a change in committee chair requires the submission of a new Appointment of Examination Committee form. The Notification of Oral or Written Examination form must be submitted each time an examination is scheduled.

Summary of Graduate Procedures and Deadlines

  • Applying for admission
  • What to do deadline
  • Submit application and supporting documents to the History Department and Graduate College. Ph.D. admits only for the fall semester: June 1 for fall; Nov. 1 for spring; April 1 for summer
  • If applying for graduate assistantship, Feb. 1
  • After admission
  • Confer with graduate coordinator ASAP and regularly
  • Choose a permanent advisor
  • During first year of course work, choose exam committee and submit Appointment of Examination Committee and Proposed Degree Program forms before completing 16 credits
  • Completing the thesis plan
  • Pass written comprehensive exams by the last term of course work
  • Submit Thesis Prospectus in term preceding exams or prior to registration for thesis credits, whichever comes first
  • Submit thesis draft to committee at least two months before planned graduation date
  • Apply for graduation and pay fee (see class schedule)
  • Schedule Thesis Defense (notify Graduate College) at least two weeks before Defense
  • Submit final thesis version to committee at least one week before Defense
  • Pass Thesis Defense at least three weeks prior to end of semester of graduation
  • Deposit thesis with Graduate College at least two weeks before end of semester
  • Completing the non-thesis plan
  • Submit bibliographies to committee four months prior to comprehensive exams
  • Apply for graduation and pay fee (see class schedule)
  • Pass written comprehensive exams at least three weeks prior to end of semester of graduation

*Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. Please consult the Graduate Catalog early and often and meet regularly with your advisor.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistants (GAs) in the MA program receive a stipend of $10,000 per year (payable in 10 monthly installments) and a tuition credit that covers 87 percent of in-state or out-of-state tuition and fees.

GAs are responsible for 20 hours’ work as a teaching assistant (discussion leader and grader, or grader) or research assistant.

Each spring semester, the department selects a number of graduate assistantships and part-time instructor graduate assistantships for the next academic year. All students in the program are eligible for these awards and are encouraged to apply. Applications should include:

  • Application cover sheet (downloadable from the Graduate College website). Submit to Graduate College.
  • Two letters of recommendation, preferably from university faculty. For new students, these letters have already been submitted to the History Department as part of the application for admission. Continuing students, including current GAs and PTIGAs, should request letters of support from the faculty.

These materials should be submitted by Feb. 1 for applicants to receive full consideration for GA and PTIGA positions. All current GAs are required to apply for renewal of their assistantships. For assistantships to be renewed, current GAs need to be performing well in their course work and need to be performing their GA assignments well.

Occasionally, assistantships do become available for the spring semester. To be eligible for these awards, students need to have submitted the required application materials by Nov. 1 of the preceding fall semester. Students who submit materials by Feb. 1 for consideration for the following fall and do not receive GA awards will automatically be placed in the pool of eligible applicants for spring semester awards.