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Thesis Option

Requirements: 500, 501, 21 elective credits selected in conjunction with adviser to help advance the student’s research agenda and professional goals, and 6 thesis credits for 33 credits total.  Elective credits may include independent studies, readings and conference classes, workshops, internships, or classes in other disciplines, in addition to regular catalogued history courses. Students in the MA program may count up to 9 total credits from courses numbered 590, 594-598 toward their degree.  Thesis credits (Hist. 593) must be used to research and write the thesis; other courses may not be used to do part of this work. Rather, other courses should help the student gain the professional, contextual and historiographic specializations and skills necessary to complete a thesis. One year of a single foreign language at the collegiate level is also required to graduate, but these credits will not be counted toward the 33 required to graduate. Someone who is fluent in a second language might be allowed to test out of the language requirement.

Students who wish to do the thesis option as a culminating activity should declare this intent during the application process, but must do so officially no later than the end of their first semester, or before completing 9 graduate credits. (Students waiting longer than this will be required to make a special appeal to switch from the portfolio to the thesis option. They may also need to take additional courses to meet thesis option requirements.) Prior to beginning the thesis, and under the guidance of their thesis advisor, the student will craft and defend a written prospectus of their topic and research plan. The student will create a supervisory committee of (usually) three faculty members to approve the prospectus, assess the student’s thesis, and administer and evaluate an oral thesis defense.

The thesis must assert an original argument, place it within a broader historiographical context, ground it in primary and secondary sources, and lay out its significance. It should be well written, and follow the professional style manual preferred by historians, for it will be published on Scholarworks and available to the public. For students interested in pursing a Ph.D., the MA thesis generally serves as their official writing sample when applying to doctoral programs.

The student will defend their thesis in a formal and public forum, guided by their thesis committee and facilitated by their advisor. The student will present orally (generally 10-20 minutes) a summary of their findings, then answer a series of analytical questions about it.