Guidelines for the M.A. Thesis in History

The MA in History with "research option," which is intended for students who plan to pursue doctoral studies, requires the completion of an MA thesis.

Thesis Proposal

  • The candidate presents a five to ten page proposal plus bibliography, first to a three-member thesis committee and, with its approval, to the Graduate Studies Committee for its approval. The proposal indicates the topic and its significance as an example of original research that contributes to historical knowledge.
  • In addition to describing the primary sources to be used, the proposal presents a hypothesis and research strategy (methodology).
  • The proposal is accompanied by a bibliography of the relevant secondary literature. The bibliography is not part of the proposal proper, but is appended to it (i.e., not counted as part of the 5-10 page length).


  • While there is no specified requirement, typically the thesis will be between fifty and one hundred pages in length.
  • All theses include an introduction, one or more substantive chapters, and a full bibliography of all primary sources used and secondary sources cited.
  • Other sections (such as a preface, acknowledgements, an epilogue, or appendices) are permissible, when relevant or necessary, but are not required).
  • The format for references and citations is the Chicago Manual of Style.

Thesis Committee and Defense

  • The thesis committee consists of three tenure-track faculty members in the School of Arts and Humanities, two of whom must hold appointments in Historical Studies.
  • The committee Chair should have qualifications appropriate to substantive supervision of research on the chosen topic.
  • All three members must approve the quality of the final thesis, which the student presents in a one-hour oral defense.

Students submitting a thesis must follow all guidelines and dates for submission established by the Graduate School and the School of Arts and Humanities