History M.A. Handbook

The History M.A. requirements include a total of 30 credit hours with 6 credit hours in core courses, 12 credit hours in a primary field, 6 credit hours in a secondary field, and 6 credit hours in thesis work. All coursework must be completed in six years

Students may take advantage of several options for mentoring at NC State. 

  • Your fellow students are the best resources for information on housing and hang outs. They can also be valuable resources in helping you adjust to the demands of graduate school. 
  • Faculty: Ask for help from the professors teaching your courses if you are having trouble with your assignments or want to improve your performance. If you encounter a problem in one of your courses, attempt to resolve the problem in conversation with your professor before seeking assistance from other faculty members unless doing so is not possible.
  • Advisor: The advisor oversees the student’s graduate education, performs an annual evaluation of the student's progress, and chairs the committee that will conduct the final oral examination. Students consult with their advisor on class selections, thesis schedules, and other curricular issues. Advisors are not automatically assigned to History M.A. students. The Director of Graduate Programs serves as advisor to all History M.A. students until they arrange for an advisor. Students must select and ask a faculty member to be their advisor as soon as possible. They should ask a faculty member whose research interests or methodological approaches complement their own. Students should notify the Director of Graduate Programs and the Graduate Programs Assistant through the Advisor Form as soon as a faculty member agrees to serve as advisor.
  • Other Committee Members: In consultation with the advisor, students choose two additional committee members from among the faculty with whom they have taken classes. One member, along with the advisor, represents the primary field. The other member represents the secondary field. In addition to the department’s full-time faculty, special faculty (part-time or adjunct faculty) who are members of the NC State graduate faculty may serve on committees. Other part-time and adjunct faculty may also serve on committees with Graduate School approval. Faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro may serve as members if they are on the graduate faculty at their respective institutions. At least two of the three faculty on the committee must be historians.
  • Director of Graduate Programs: Students may consult with the Director of Graduate Programs on issues related to curriculum not addressed by the advisor. Students may also seek assistance from the Director of Graduate Programs on issues not resolved through conversation with professors or with the advisor or on issues for which they do not feel comfortable discussing with another faculty member.

The History Department offers a number of funding opportunities for graduate student education, research, professional development, and travel. Award amounts for travel and opportunities for additional work in the History Department depends on the availability of funds each year. Additional funding opportunities are available through the NC State Office of Scholarship and Financial Aid. 

Full-Time Continuous Registration: The History Department considers nine hours a full load. Students on the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) must be full-time students. NC State enforces a continuous registration policy. After students are admitted to the Graduate School and enroll for the first time, they are required to be enrolled each semester excluding summer sessions until they have either graduated or terminated the program. In cases of emergency, leaves of absence may be granted for one semester or one academic year. A leave of absence does not stop the  “clock” for students to complete their degrees. MA students must complete all requirements for the master’s degree within six (6) calendar years, and doctoral students must attain candidacy for the degree within six (6) calendar years and complete all degree requirements within ten (10) calendar years. In all cases, students must be registered in the semester they take their oral examinations and intend to graduate.

Advising Meetings: Students must consult with their advisor on course selections each semester. They should review the schedule of courses and the program requirements and bring a proposed list of courses to their advising appointments. History students who have not yet chosen an advisor must meet with the Director of Graduate Programs. Advisors must release the advising hold to enable students to register for courses.

Register for Courses: Students may enroll in most classes themselves through MyPack Portal at the enrollment appointment. Sign up for thesis hours--Master’s Thesis Research (HI 695) and Master’s Thesis Preparation (HI 699)--with your advisor. If you do not see your advisor as an option in MyPack Portal, ask the Graduate Programs Assistant. Students must also see the Graduate Assistant to submit the paperwork for restricted classes, like Independent Study (HI 599) and inter-institutional classes.

The degree requirements for History M.A. include a minimum of thirty hours of coursework and must be completed within six years. Graduate-level classes at NC State are numbered 500 and above.

Thesis Courses: In the six hours of Master’s Thesis Research (HI 695), the advisor will help students develop a research and writing plan. The advisory committee will review thesis chapters and recommend changes while the work is in progress. Students typically take three hours of HI 695 in each of their final two semesters. Students who have fulfilled all degree requirements except the thesis must enroll in at least one hour of Master’s Thesis Preparation (HI 699) in order to meet the University’s continuous registration requirement. Sign up for thesis hours (HI 695 and HI 699) with your advisor. If you do not see your advisor as an option, ask the Graduate Programs Assistant.

Transfer Courses: NC State allows students to transfer graduate coursework that earned a B or better. These courses may be graduate credits earned at other universities, graduate credits earned while enrolled in an undergraduate program at NC State, graduate credits earned while enrolled in a previous graduate degree program at NC State, or Post-Baccalaureate Studies (PBS) or Non-Degree Studies (NDS) graduate credits earned at NC State University, or any combination thereof. Students must provide an official transcript and syllabus for graduate classes taken at another institution. The Director of Graduate Programs and the Graduate School must approve transfer courses as relevant to the course of study. The earliest class, including transfer classes, starts the six-year window to complete the M.A. degree. See the Graduate Assistant for the appropriate paperwork for transfer credit. The combination of transfer and inter-institutional credit hours used toward a degree in the History Department may not exceed twelve credit hours.

Inter-institutional Courses: In consultation with their advisor and with approval of the Director of Graduate Programs, students may take graduate-level course(s) inter-institutionally at Duke University, North Carolina Central University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, or University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill while enrolled in the M.A. program. When scheduling these courses, students should be aware that other institutions use different numbering systems, and they should also remember to plan travel time. If students find a graduate-level course offered at one of these institutions that is not offered at NC State, they should email the instructor for permission to enroll in the class. Approval for inter-institutional courses requires an email from the instructor for approval for inter-institutional enrollment. Students must bring a copy of the email to the Graduate Assistant who will provide the appropriate paperwork. The combination of transfer and inter-institutional credit hours used toward a degree in the History Department may not exceed twelve credit hours.

Independent Study Courses: Independent Study (HI 599) consists of individualized study conducted under the supervision of graduate faculty. Students may include a maximum of six hours of Independent Study (HI 599) in the plan of graduate work.

Dual-Level Courses: Note that many history graduate courses are “dual-level” and include undergraduates taking 400-level credit and graduate students taking 500-level credit. Students who attended NC State as an undergraduate may not receive credit for a 500-level course previously taken at the 400-level.

Incomplete Grades: The grade of Incomplete (“IN”) may be given in any course at the discretion of the instructor for work not completed because of a serious interruption in the student’s work not caused by their own negligence. A student who receives an “IN” must complete the unfinished work to have the “IN” converted to a final grade by the end of the next semester. Otherwise, the “IN” will be automatically converted to “F” or “U.” In special cases, the Graduate School grants an extension of a student’s incomplete grade. See the Graduate Assistant for the appropriate paperwork.

A student may pass and advanced [third-year] course in a foreign language with the grade of ‘C’ or better to meet the requirement. An equivalent 300-level FL course taken at another university, either prior to enrollment in the graduate program or after, may also fulfill the requirement, once an official transcript is submitted for review and approved by the Director of Graduate Programs. Students anticipating taking a 300-level FL course at NC State (or equivalent at another institution) after matriculation into the graduate program should consult with the Associate Department Head of FLL before taking the course. 

The Department of Foreign Languages and Literature offers a certification exam to fulfill the language requirement. The certification exam consists of translating material from the foreign language into English. Students should secure language certification ideally in their first year of coursework but definitely before they defend their thesis. Students needing preparation for the exam should register in the fall semester of their first year for either FLF 401 (French), FLS 401 (Spanish), or FLG 401 (German) as “Credit Only” or “Audit.” These courses cannot count toward degree requirements and should not be included on the plan of graduate work. Students who already have the requisite proficiency may contact the following faculty members to sign up for the certification exam: for French, Dr. Dudley Marchi; for German, Dr. Helga Braunbeck; and for Spanish, Dr. Tom Feeny.  For all other languages offered by the Department, students should contact Associate Department Head Dr. Dudley Marchi, and he will refer you to a faculty member specializing in that language.

Required Secondary Field: History M.A. students are required to complete six credit hours in a secondary field. Students choose their required secondary field in consultation with their advisor. The secondary field must be “distinctly different” from the primary field. For example, students may not have a primary field in nineteenth-century US history and a secondary field in twentieth-century US history. Students may also choose a secondary field outside of History from departments with graduate programs.

Optional Minor Program: Graduate students in the History Department have the option of completing a graduate minor program. The minor program work will usually be from a single discipline that in the judgment of the advisory committee provides relevant support to the major program. In consultation with their advisors, History M.A. students may choose to complete a minor program outside of History (such as Public History, Anthropology, Sociology, Political Science, or Public Administration). A minor program is typically nine credit hours. The minor program may replace the History M.A. secondary field requirement as long as the minor program requires six or more credit hours. When a student selects a minor program, the advisory committee must include a representative of the minor program. The minor program credits on the Plan of Graduate Work must be approved by the graduate advisory committee member representing the minor and, in some cases, the DGP from the minor program.

Public History Secondary Field or Minor Program: History M.A. students may complete a secondary field or minor program in public history but should be aware that two or three classes alone do not prepare students for careers in public history. If that is the student's interest, then he or she should consider transferring to the Public History M.A. program.

A Graduate Certificate Program (GCP) is a prescribed set of regular graduate-level academic courses, designed by an academic department or program, and taken for credit by lifelong education students (PBS) and/or current degree program students. Students may double count six credit hours for History M.A. degree requirements and graduate certificates and graduate minor programs. Upon completion, the GCP will be designated on the student’s transcript and the student shall receive a certificate from Registration and Records. Consult the Graduate School’s website for a complete list of all fields offering graduate certificates. In particular, graduate students in History and Public History may be interested in the following certificate programs:

The Plan of Graduate Work lists members of students’ advisory committee and the courses that they plan to take to fulfill degree requirements. Students should choose both their advisory committee and their courses in consultation with their advisor.

Create and Save a Plan of Graduate Work: In the first semester, students should “Create” a Plan of Graduate Work through MyPack Portal. Each semester when students register for classes for the next semester, they should “Save” updates to their Plan of Graduate Work. See the Graduate Schools SIS: User Resources page for video tutorials on creating your plan of work.

Courses on the Plan of Graduate Work: Students must list their core courses, major courses, minor courses, and thesis courses. In most cases, History students must list all these courses, even courses for their minor field, as “Major” courses. Students whose minor field is not evident on the Plan of Graduate Work should include a “Comment” identifying their minor field. (Students who complete a minor program rather than a minor field should list their minor program classes as “Minor.”) Students including inter-institutional courses on their Plan of Graduate Work should include a “Comment” listing the institution, course number, and course title. Students including an independent study on their Plan of Graduate Work should include a “Comment” identifying the course topic. Students may only list courses that fulfill degree requirements. They should not list courses, like foreign language courses, that do not fulfill degree requirements. Students may only list graduate-level courses on the Plan of Graduate Work.

Committee on the Plan of Work: In most cases, students should list their advisor as their “Chair” and all other members as “Member.” (Students who complete a minor program rather than a minor field should list their minor program representative as “Minor.”)

Submit Plan of Graduate Work: Once they have chosen their committee and settled on their course schedule for their last semester of classes, students must “Submit” their Plan of Graduate Work. This may usually be completed once students have completed 18 credit hours, or at the beginning of the second-year for full-time students. At this point, students should have finalized their Plan of Graduate Work with the correct courses to fulfill their degree requirements and with the correct members for their advisory committee. Once students click the “Submit” button, their Plan of Graduate Work will be routed to their committee, then the Director of Graduate Programs, and then the Graduate School for approval. The Graduate School requires that the Plan of Graduate Work be submitted and approved before students may submit the request for a permit to schedule the M.A. oral examination. The process of securing the necessary approvals may take several weeks. For this reason, it is imperative that students submit their Plan of Graduate Work by the beginning of their second year and, if this is not possible, no later than the beginning of the semester of graduation. If students need to revise their Plan of Graduate Work after they have submitted it, they must ask the Graduate Assistant to reset it, and then the Plan of Graduate Work may be re-routed to the committee, Director of Graduate Programs, and the Graduate School for re-approval. 

Six-Year Clock: The degree is intended to take two years to complete, though some students take longer. All degree work must be completed within six calendar years from when students began taking courses (including transfer courses) applicable to their M.A. program. In extremely unusual circumstances, extensions may be granted with successful appeal to the Graduate School, but these are very rare.

In most cases, the thesis is a “case study” limited to a specific time period and geographical area. Students are expected to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of relevant events and issues. They should also show an understanding of the historiographical context for their work. Students might consider the following questions: Does your research revise or challenge major historical interpretations? Are your sources or approach innovative? How does your study complement similar work for other regions or countries? Students may examine copies of past theses in the departmental conference room (Withers 358) or through the Library’s online catalog.

Thesis Formatting: Students must follow specific formatting requirements for their thesis. Obtain a copy of the Graduate School’s Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Guide. The Graduate School Thesis Editor strongly recommends that students attend at least one session of the ETD Workshop on thesis preparation. Students must follow the formatting procedures exactly. To save themselves some formatting headaches, students may use the Graduate School’s ETD Template.

Apply to Graduate through MyPack Portal: Students must apply to graduate through MyPack Portal by navigating to Student Self Services > Degree Progress/Graduation > Apply for Graduation. Students should ideally complete this step when the when oral exam is scheduled. Students who need corrections to their name must fill out the Name Change/Marital Status Change form. Students who wish to have the diploma sent to an address other than their Home/Mailing address must select the “Create Diploma Address” button. Students who have a privacy block on their account must check the “privacy settings” on MyPack Portal to make sure that their name will or will not appear in the graduation program according to their preferences. Finally, students who would like to walk at graduation should purchase academic apparel. For further information, see the Registrar’s help guide.

The History Department also requests that graduating students fill a departmental form for graduation clearance so that we can add your name to our commencement program.

NC State has three official graduations per year: at the end of the fall and spring semesters and after the second summer session. The History Department holds commencement ceremonies at the end of the fall and spring semesters and incorporates summer graduates into the fall commencement ceremony.

Students who successfully complete their oral examination after the Graduate School deadline for graduation that semester may still walk that semester, but they will officially graduate in the following semester. If relevant, these students must be sure to submit the final error-free version of their thesis before classes start the following semester to avoid incurring tuition and fees; this is called the No Registration Required ETD Review Deadline.

Schedule the Oral Examination: First, students must arrange a date for their oral examination with their advisor and committee. The oral examination should be scheduled for mid-way through the semester of graduation or at least one week prior to the Registration Required ETD Review Deadline. Second, students must then ask the Graduate Assistant to reserve a room for the defense. Third, students must submit an oral examination request form to the Graduate Assistant. Finally, students must fill out a form with the Graduate Assistant to be included in the graduation program. These steps should ideally be completed at the beginning of the semester but absolutely must be completed at least three weeks prior to the proposed examination date.

Preparing for the Oral Examination: Students should meet with their advisor to discuss the nature of the exam and what will be covered. The oral examination focuses on students’ major concentration as well as their thesis. The committee will ask questions to gauge students’ knowledge of themes, issues, and events in the coursework and thesis. In defending the thesis, students should be able to give an oral summary of their major findings and conclusions, the nature of the sources used, and the work’s contribution to the historiography. The committee may also ask how certain courses contributed to thesis methodology or conceptualization. Under University policy, all oral examinations are open to the public. Students should bring a copy of their thesis to consult during the examination. Students must bring at least one title page of their thesis for the department’s bound copy and any additional title pages for the committee’s copies and for their personal copies.

Once students receive an unconditional pass in the final oral examination, they may then begin the process for the Graduate School-required Electronic Thesis & Dissertation (ETD) Review. After receiving an unconditional pass, students have 24 hours to submit the completed thesis, as a PDF, through the ETD Submission System. This step must be completed before the No Registration Required ETD Review Deadline or Registration Required ETD Review Deadline, depending on the semester the student intends to graduate. The ETD Editor will review the ETD file and provide required corrections within three to five business days from draft submission, but the turnaround may be longer during deadline times. The ETD Review corrections are required by the Graduate School in order to be cleared for graduation. After the ETD Review, students must also make any revisions required by the committee before they submit the Final Error-Free ETD for graduation. Students must complete the final thesis submission, with all corrections, ideally within two weeks of the final oral examination but absolutely before the Final Error Free ETD Deadline. For further information, consult the Graduate School’s pages on Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Students may purchase bound copies of the thesis from Wolf Xpress. Students are not required to provide a bound copy of the thesis to the Graduate School or the Library, but they are required to provide a bound copy with an original signed title page to the History Department. Students should ask their advisor and other committee members their preferred format for their copy of the thesis.

Students should first seek to address grievances informally with the person(s) responsible for the action or decision being grieved or with the Director of Graduate Programs as appropriate. If the issue is not resolved satisfactorily, the student may seek a formal resolution by discussing the matter with the Department Head. A formal resolution will require a written complaint. In most instances not involving a crime, a student’s confidentiality can be maintained. Students should direct allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation to the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED). Students may also seek assistance through the Counseling Center and Student Ombuds Services.