Program of Study

Overview of available major and minor fields, credit-hour requirements, mandatory coursework, and other important notes about the program of study for the M.A. in History.

Program of Study 

Core Courses

All History M.A. students are required to take the following Core Courses (15 credit hours in total):

  • History 605: Research Methods (if possible, this should be taken in the student's first semester)
  • History 697: Introduction to Public History
  • History 621: Introduction to Digital History OR History 607: Introduction to Oral History
  • History 608: Public History Practicum
  • History 603: Thesis Preparation OR Exam Preparation

Major Field Courses

All History M.A. students choose one of the following three Major Fields and take 15 credit hours (if they are working toward the Thesis option) or 18 credit hours (if they are working toward the exam option):

  • Americas: 5 (Thesis option) or 6 (Exam option) content courses with at least one course on Latin American/Borderlands history
  • World: 5 (Thesis option) or 6 (Exam option) content courses on the history of regions, peoples, and cultures primarily outside of the Western hemisphere
  • Public History: 2 Public History methods courses, 2 (Thesis option) or 3 (Exam option) content courses, and HIST 618, giving credit for a second internship experience.
In total, M.A. students in the History department will this take 30 (Thesis option) or 33 (Exam option) credit hours in order to graduate.

Exam and thesis options

Students may choose to complete the M.A. by Thesis or Examination.

Thesis option: Completion of 30 credit hours of course work, 15 in the required Core Courses and 15 in the student's chosen Major Field. The thesis topic must be in the Major Field. Following an oral defense, it must be approved by a thesis committee consisting of the thesis director and at least two other faculty members, one of whom must come from outside the History Department. The committee requires prior approval by the Department Chair and the Academic Unit.

Exam option: Completion of 33 credit hours of course work, 15 in the required Core Courses and 18 in the student's chosen Major Field. The exam consists of 2 written examinations, one covering the competencies addressed in the Core Courses and one in the Major Field, and an oral examination. A committee will evaluate the written and oral examinations on their content and the relevant areas of history. The committee will consist of three faculty members, normally the two faculty members who administer the examinations and a third faculty member who may be in the History Department. The committee requires prior approval by the Department Chair and the Academic Unit. 

Course Work Outside the History Department

Students have the option of taking up to 6 hours of course work outside of the Department. Those hours must be directly relevant to the student's academic program, and can be taken only with the consent of the Director of Graduate Studies. In a student's approved graduate program, no Pass-Fail courses will apply, unless the History Department itself creates Graduate Pass-Fail courses.

Independent Studies/Directed Reading Courses

Students have the option of taking 6 credit hours of Independent Studies (HIST 601) as part of their coursework in either the major or the minor field. Enrollment in HIST 601 requires permission of the Instructor and the DGS.

Foreign Languages

Admission to the M.A. program in History does not require foreign language proficiency. However, for thesis or exam work in certain areas of knowledge, one or more foreign languages or knowledge of other specialized research tools may be required. 

Satisfactory Progress and Good Standing

  • all students are expected to make steady and satisfactory progress toward the completion of degrees. Students who are not enrolled for a period of more than 12 months will be considered to have withdrawn from the program. For further information, see the Graduate Catalog of the School for Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies.
  • whenever any student's cumulative quality-point total falls below 3.00, the student will be placed on academic probation until the student regains a 3.0 average or is dismissed. Students are ordinarily not permitted to continue on academic probation for more than one semester.
  • failure of non-degree students to maintain a 2.00 average will result in termination of enrollment.

Graduate Certificate in Public History

In addition to the M.A. in History, students can also earn a graduate certificate in Public History. For more information, please visit the Public History website here. 

Graduate Certificate in Medieval & Renaissance Studies

Graduate students at the University of Louisville can also earn a certificate in Medieval & Renaissance Studies. For more information, please see here.

Accelerated BA/MA Program 

This program allows a history major to use a maximum of six hours of graduate course work towards both a BA and an MA.  After completing the undergraduate program and receiving a BA, the student will enter the graduate program and complete the remaining requirements for an MA.

To be considered for admission to the accelerated program, students must:

  • have a minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 and a GPA of 3.35 in history.
  • complete an application for admission to the graduate program (including Graduate Record Examination scores (GRE) and two recommendations) no later than the end of the junior year (application details are described below).

In addition, students must retain a GPA of 3.35 in history (have a B+ in graduate history courses) during their senior year to remain in the program.


Graduate Student Life

Further helpful tips and advice about graduate student life in the College of Arts & Sciences can be found here. Particularly helpful are links to various forms you will need to fill out at some point during your studies.

The American Historical Association maintains an online guide to graduate study in history with a special section dedicated to the M.A. in history. In addition, you will find tips on careers, writing, Ph.D. programs, and overall graduate student success.