MA Requirements

Established in 1938, the history graduate program is one of the oldest at Marshall University. During the last fifty years more than 300 Master of Arts degrees in history have been awarded. Although many students have concentrated on U. S. and European history, the department also offers courses in Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, African American, and Women’s history.

In all fields of study students receive personal attention and direction that is often not available in larger graduate programs. Students may pursue either the thesis option or Non-thesis option, but are encouraged to write a Master’s thesis.

Undergraduate Requirements Students who have not completed an undergraduate major in history must have at least 15 credit hours of undergraduate courses in history, including 12 credit hours in the World and U.S. History survey courses.  Student with deficiencies in these areas should apply for conditional admission to the program and may be asked to take undergraduate courses suggested by the Director of Graduate Studies before being fully admitted to the program.
Graduate Admissions Requirements
  1. Application for Admission to the Graduate College;
  2. an official transcript;
  3. satisfactory GRE scores;
  4. 2 letters of recommendation from persons familiar with your academic work;
  5. a writing sample drawn from work in a college course.

Graduate Admissions Deadlines

The department has established two dates for the submission of applications to the program. October 1 (for a spring semester start) and March 1 (for a fall semester start) are the deadlines for the submission of all application materials. Shortly after those dates the graduate committee will review applications and make its decisions concerning individual applicants. All application materials must be sent to the Graduate College Admissions Office, not to the Department of History.

Program Requirements

History students may choose to pursue either a thesis or non-thesis option in the program. All M. A. students must complete a minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate coursework. At least fifty percent of these hours must be completed at the 600 level. Students who choose the thesis option must complete HST 681 for three to six credit hours.

History students are required to complete HST 600 Methodology: Seminar in Historical Methods. The department recommends that students earn credit hours in a wide distribution of historical areas and periods from a diversity of instructors.

The Department of History offers a program of high quality and high standards. Therefore, students should expect a rigorous evaluation throughout their enrollment in the program. Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) in their history courses specifically and in all graduate work applicable to the degree. A student who receives a second grade of C or below at any time while pursuing the Master of Arts degree in history will be withdrawn from the program.

Independent Study

Tutorials, directed and independent readings, directed and independent research, problem reports, etc. may be taken for graduate credit only when extremely unusual circumstances warrant such courses. Independent study is never to be sought as an alternative to a regular course. Rather, it is a means of pursuing some area of study essential to a student’s program that would not be possible to pursue through the regular course schedule. Students wishing to earn independent study credit should ensure that the proposed instructor is willing to offer the course and obtain approval from the Director of
Graduate Studies. If an independent study is approved, the requirements must be put in writing and signed by the student.

Plan of Study

All graduate students must submit a completed Plan of Study during the semester in which they will complete their 12th graduate credit hour. This must be on a form obtained from the department’s Director of Graduate Studies.

Composition of Committees and Examinations

All graduate students must form a Supervisory Committee during the semester in which they submit their Plan of Study . This committee must be composed of full-time faculty members. The composition of this committee will be approved through completion of a Supervisory Committee Form, obtained from the Director of Graduate Studies. The Supervisory Committee administers the comprehensive oral examination for non-thesis option students or the thesis defense/comprehensive oral examination for thesis option students.

Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive oral examinations and/or thesis defenses must be completed toward the end of the student’s graduate program, usually during the semester in which they expect to complete all graduation requirements. Students must make all arrangements for their exam by October 1 for Fall Semester, and by March 15 for Spring Semester.

Students having chosen the thesis option will be examined on both their thesis and course work. Students having chosen the non-thesis option will be examined only on their course work. Successful completion of this examination is required for graduation, and the Department of History will provide students with forms which must be signed by the Supervisory Committee and the student at the conclusion of the examination.

Thesis Option

The Department of History urges all students to choose the thesis option because the research and writing of history is an integral part of the craft of history. Students
who plan to continue their graduate studies should write a thesis.

The thesis must reflect: original research from primary documents; expertise in the subject area; value to the discipline of history as an original contribution; the ability to do research in the field of history; and the ability to write in a professional and scholarly manner. After the thesis option has been approved in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, the thesis topic should be explored and developed in conjunction with an interested faculty member who the student has asked to serve as their thesis advisor. Working in conjunction with their thesis advisor, students should next identify two secondary readers willing to become members of their Supervisory Committee. Although the Department of History hopes that students will begin research directed toward their eventual thesis early in their program, students should certainly have begun work on their official thesis proposal by the time the Supervisory Committee is being organized.

Thesis proposals must be approved by the Supervisory Committee and submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies no later than the semester following that in which they completed their Plan of Study. Thesis proposals should be a concise, typed summary of the student’s research and writing plans to successfully complete their thesis. The content of thesis proposals will be ultimately determined by the student’s Supervisory Committee, but should include, at a minimum: a description of the research topic and related themes, preliminary hypotheses developed, a description of the primary sources to be utilized, and an initial review of relevant secondary literature addressing the proposed topic or themes. In addition to the proposal, students should obtain and complete a Thesis Proposal Form from the Director of Graduate Studies, which should be submitted with the approved proposal. During the development of a thesis proposal, and at all stages of the preparation of the thesis, students should work closely with their thesis advisors. At the appropriate time, students will write a first draft of their thesis, under close supervision of their thesis advisor. When a first draft is completed to their satisfaction, a copy of this draft should be given to their advisor for comments and criticisms.

The thesis advisor must be given at least two weeks to review the first draft, after which he or she will deliver the first draft, with comments and criticisms, to the secondary readers who will also have at least two weeks to review it. After the secondary readers have read and commented on the first draft, and returned it to the student and his or her thesis advisor, the student and thesis advisor will review all comments and discuss any conflicting positions.

Students will then rewrite the thesis to incorporate the recommended changes and will provide a copy of the second draft to their thesis advisors and secondary readers for approval. This second draft of the thesis should be close to final form. All content revisions should be made, and all errors should be corrected. Once again, the faculty readers should complete their review of the second draft in approximately two weeks. When the advisor and secondary readers agree that the second draft of the thesis is complete, or nearly complete, and all are satisfied, the final oral comprehensive examination/thesis defense will be set up in accordance with Graduate College procedures, and in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.

During periods when the university is not in session and during summer terms, those requirements may be lengthened to accommodate the needs and obligations of the thesis readers. Students need to be aware that faculty members are not always available during these times and that faculty members have a variety of responsibilities preventing them from returning thesis drafts to students in precisely two weeks or less. Therefore, students should take these factors into consideration when preparing thesis drafts for graduation deadlines.

Submission of Completed Thesis: After students have successfully defended their thesis and any final revisions of the thesis have been made, students must submit their thesis electronically to the Graduate College. Instructions for electronic submission of theses and notice of the various administrative procedures and fees required for graduation are to be found online at Students should be aware that prior to submitting their thesis they are required to either attend a workshop on the electronic submission process or demonstrate their competence in the technologies/programs required for such process. Information about the workshops or “testing out” of the workshops is available at the same website listed above. Additionally, the Department of History continues to maintain a collection of theses produced by our graduate students and requires students to submit a paper copy of their completed thesis prior to graduation.

Suggested Thesis-Option Schedule

First Semester HST 600, two course electives
Determine Thesis topic/Themes
Second Semester HST 681, two course electives
Complete an approved thesis proposal, establish supervisory    committee, and begin research/writing.
Third Semester HST 677, HST 681, one course elective
Writing chapters of thesis
Fourth Semester HST 678, two course electives
Completing and defending thesis



All incoming graduate students should meet with the Director of Graduate Studies who will
explain the program, evaluate their records and recommend additional work if deficiencies are found. The Director of Graduate Studies will also coordinate and monitor your graduate program. Students should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies each semester and their thesis advisor frequently to ensure that they are meeting academic requirements and deadlines. Ultimately it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that all graduation deadlines and requirements are met.


Application for graduation must be filed in the Graduate College Office not later
than the date printed in the calendar of the final term or semester in which the degree requirements will be completed. Graduation application forms may be obtained in the Graduate College Office. A receipt for the diploma fee must be attached to the application before it will be accepted by the Graduate College.


The James E. Morrow and Drinko Libraries offer immense possibilities for study. The library
has a special collection of Confederate materials, thousands of government documents,
microforms, video cassettes, filmstrips, slides, video tapes, and films. The university also
operates on-campus computer labs for students.


Since 1950 the department has supported the Marshall chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the
national honor society for history students. This honorary, in conjunction with the Charles Moffat Lectureship in History, annually invites an historian of national reputation to participate in a two day schedule of teaching and lecturing for the entire university community.

Assistantship/Financial Aid

The department grants graduate assistantships that include a tuition waiver and a stipend. In order to apply for a graduate assistant position, students should prepare a statement explaining why they want to be a graduate assistant. This statement, and three letters of recommendation, should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies by March 1. Applications will be received after this deadline, but in order to receive full consideration of your application ensure that all required materials arrive by March 1.

The department also awards the Rosanna A. Blake and Fred E. Hulse Scholarship in
Confederate History, which includes a $5,000 stipend and a tuition waiver. Students applying for this scholarship must submit an official copy of all college transcripts, two letters of recommendation, an official copy of the GRE scores, and a written example of their work in history to the Director of Graduate Studies by February 1. This scholarship is awarded every other year. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for information concerning the scholarship’s availability and the expectations of students receiving this award.

The department also awards annually the Dr. Robert F. Maddox Memorial Thesis Research
Award. This award is designed to assist a student to finance his or her thesis research.
Applicants should submit an approved thesis proposal (not to exceed three typewritten pages) and an explanation of projected research expenses required to complete the proposed thesis. Applications for this $200 award must arrive at the Department of History office no later than the first day of classes after Thanksgiving.

Assistantships are also available through other university offices. Often these graduate
assistantships include both a tuition waiver and stipend, but the financial details should be
ascertained from the specific office involved. Students may want to consult with the Director of Graduate Studies for advice in seeking non-departmental assistantship positions.
Finally, students should ensure that the Director of Graduate Studies has their current email
address, as the director will maintain a graduate student mailing list used to inform students of financial aid opportunities, tuition waiver possibilities, internship opportunities, and general announcements.