M.A. Program

The Department of History has two M.A. programs:  a thesis option and a non-thesis option.  The latter requires additional coursework and written comprehensive exams in lieu of a thesis. Under either option, students can choose from a wide variety of major fields, ranging from ancient to contemporary history and including many geographic areas.  Degree requirements under either option can be completed in two academic years.  Most M.A. students in our department choose the thesis option.  Students should select this option if they plan to pursue a Ph.D. degree or other advanced academic training.


We expect that students who seek admission to the M.A. program will hold a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and will have majored in history or a closely allied discipline, such as political science.  Applicants without significant undergraduate course work in history will still be considered, but they must provide clear and convincing evidence that they are prepared for graduate study in history.  

The History Department requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 for admission to any graduate program; we expect that an applicant’s GPA in history courses will be significantly higher.  The History Department requires GRE scores and three letters of recommendation.  In addition, an applicant must submit a writing sample that demonstrates the ability to engage in advanced historical research and to express ideas clearly and persuasively.  A research essay from an undergraduate course would be an appropriate writing sample.  

Finally, we require a statement of purpose (approximately 500 words).  This should explain your reasons for seeking admission to our M.A. program and what you hope to study.  Try to be as specific as possible.  We do not expect that you propose a thesis topic, or a schedule of particular classes, but in making our decisions on admission we do look to ensure that a student’s interests can be well served by our course offerings and faculty expertise.  Please do not hesitate to be in touch with any faculty member with whom you think you might like to study.  Click here for individual contact details and more information about the wide-ranging scholarly interests of our faculty.

Please click here for further information about Ohio University’s graduate admission requirements.

All graduate applications must now be submitted electronically. Click here to apply to the M.A. program in history.

When to Apply

The deadline for applications for the Fall Semester is February 1 of the preceding winter.  The History Department’s Graduate Committee will make decisions on admission shortly afterward.  Applicants will be notified of those decisions by early to mid-March.  Almost all admissions to our program occur in this cycle.  Please note that applicants for Fall Semester have priority for financial aid in the form of teaching assistantships and fellowships. 

The History Department’s Graduate Committee may admit applicants to start in the Spring Semester.  Such candidates should apply no later than November 1 of the preceding fall.  Admissions on this cycle, however, occur very rarely and only in extraordinary circumstances.  Please note that teaching assistantships and fellowships are typically unavailable in this cycle.

Thesis Option

The thesis option requires the completion of seven graduate-level courses, including a one-semester research seminar, plus a thesis.  Thesis-option candidates must choose a major field (three courses) and a minor field (two courses) from the following areas of concentration:

  • United States
  • Modern Europe
  • Early Modern Europe
  • Antiquity/Medieval Europe
  • Latin America
  • Africa
  • Southeast Asia
  • East Asia

Within these areas of concentration students develop a chronological, national, or thematic focus.  This enables students to complete both the major and minor fields within the same area of concentration, although many students complete the major and minor fields in different areas of concentration.  Students admitted to the Contemporary History Institute may use the two required courses in that program to satisfy the minor field.

Non-thesis Option

The non-thesis option requires the completion of eight graduate-level courses:  six courses split between two fields of three courses each; a historiography course; and a one-semester research seminar.  At the end of the program the student must take written, comprehensive examinations in two fields of three courses he or she has selected.  The exams will be based on the student’s course work in those fields.  The available fields are the same as those in the thesis option (see the list above).

Language Requirement

There is no language requirement under either option.  However, a thesis supervisor may require a student to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English if necessary for the completion of his or her degree program.  This is typically the case in thesis-option fields outside US or British history.  For instance, a student pursuing a thesis-option M.A. in German history would be expected to use German language sources in writing his or her thesis.

For More Information

Go to the Graduate Student Handbook for more information about program requirements.